Your Foolproof Guide to Dressing for Every Type of Workout

In addition to coming to class with a ton of energy and a good attitude, it’s important to make sure you’re dressed for the occasion. Whether that’s cardio kickboxing or a 30-minute bootcamp. Showing up without the right gear won’t only leave you uncomfortable, but you also might have to sit out on certain exercises (and who wants to do that?).

Here’s a breakdown of the basics of what to wear for every type of workout so you can feel prepared.

Best for Running

Runners have the added challenge of dressing for very specific types of weather, which sometimes might be upwards of 90 degrees and downwards of 10 (but, hey, who’s counting?). You’ll want to go with lightweight, breathable fabrics that are sweat-wicking—shorts and a tank in the summer and warm running tights and long-sleeve shirts in the winter. Often these materials are synthetic and not natural, like cotton, which helps hold in heat instead of evaporating it. For shoes, you’ll want to score a pair made specifically for running, since these are specifically designed to help maximize your performance and prevent injury.

Ghost 10 Women’s Road Running Shoes ($120); UA Play Up 2.0 Women’s Shorts ($19); PR Tank 2 ($22)

Best for Cardio Dance

If you’ve never signed up for a cardio dance party, you might expect your clothing decisions not to matter that much, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. This is an exercise where leggings really come in handy (a high kick with a peep show is possible otherwise). You’ll want to select fitted, elastic materials that allow you to move freely. Women should choose a comfortable sports bra that holds everything in nicely, as you can expect quite a lot of jumping up and down. Any exercise shoe should do, though make sure yours offers you the stability you’ll need to stop in place and start moving again instantly.

Hayworth Dark Moon Snake Legging ($110); Bandini Dark Moon Snake Bra ($65); Custom Hayasu Shoes ($105)

Best for Weight Training

The most important consideration when dressing for weight training of any kind is your shoes—you’ll need as much stability as possible and enough flexibility to fully allow you to go through all of the movements required. Look for a flat-soled sneaker designed with weight training in mind. For clothing, opt for items that help you break a sweat (warm up your muscles instead of leaving them too cool and exposed to air). You want your blood to get moving to provide circulation to all of the muscles in your body.

Men’s Weightlifting Powerlift.3.1 Shoes ($63); UA HeatGear® Armour Compression Shirt ($28); UA Rival Fleece Jogger ($50)

Best for HIIT

HIIT classes require lots of movement, both high-intensity and low-intensity, so you’ll want to select an outfit that allows you to transition between both. You’ll likely get very sweaty in this type of class, so opt for breathable fabrics that are towards the baggier side (anything that clings too closely to your skin might be uncomfortable). The same goes for your choice of bottoms—reach for something that’s made of a stretchy material that sits high on your waist so you won’t have to keep pulling them up mid-burpee.

Women’s Holy HIIT Block ($22); All The Right Places Crop 23” ($118); Nike Flex Supreme TR 5 ($60)

Best for Boxing

When you’re selecting an outfit to wear to your boxing class, you want to avoid choosing anything that’s too loose and can get in your way mid-punch. You can expect to sweat a ton too, so the ideal attire is something cool, breathable and sweat-wicking. Like in HIIT, you can expect to do a wide variety of movements, from burpees to jumping rope, so you’ll want to select a pair of leggings that won’t slide down as you reach the floor.

Sculpt Tank II Special Edition ($58); Side Stripe Salutation ⅞ Tight ($89); UA Micro G® Assert 6 ($52)

Best for Cycling

If you’re someone who loves a good spin class, the best thing you can do is prepare with the right clothing to make your workout easier and more enjoyable. First thing first: Get yourself a pair of sweat-wicking leggings, because all that movement will undoubtedly have your quads and calves warmed up to the max. Cycling shoes are a must, as they give you the best support on the bike and lock into place without hassle.

Shimano WR35 Bike Shoes ($50); Nike Pro Hypercool Women’s 20” Training Capris ($50)

Best for Yoga/Pilates

Both yoga and pilates require a lot of mat movement, so you’ll want to make sure your clothing choices stay close to your body instead of loose. Leggings, both cropped or full-length, are best, especially in case the room gets drafty. Tight-fitted shirts can be ideal for these workouts, since you will likely find yourself in upside-down positions where you’ll need both hands on the mat instead of holding your shirt upright.

Renew Racerback Tank ($10); Inspire Tight II ($69); Medium Impact Strappy Sports Bra ($30)

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.