The best workout shirts for men must do many things well. They must be sturdy, but also breathable. They should look sharp, but not like a billboard. And they should fit, but not restrict blood flow to the extremities. For those in search of the perfect workout shirt, we found the best one for every type of guy.
The Best All-Around Workout Shirt
The Goldilocks of workout shirts, this one clings in all the right places (around the biceps, for example, so that the sleeves don’t ride up and down) and none of the wrong ones (the shoulders, the armpits, and—[shudder]—the gut). It’s breathable enough to prevent soak-throughs, but not so thin that that a brisk day will highlight your nipples to everyone on the track. The v-neck styling is a subtle way of differentiating itself from the crew-collar competition. The best part, though, is that the fabric is infused with little bits of gold, which the company says delays the onset of that dreaded perpetual funk that most every other workout shirt succumbs to eventually. It sounds dumb, but for me, contemporaneously-acquired shirts from other brands have already acquired a certain musk that the Sentry, mercifully, has not.
The Best Cost Effective Workout Shirt
Every brand now makes their own version of sweat-wicking fabric, but after almost three decades on the market, Nike’s Dri-Fit is still a more-than-capable challenger to some of the more expensive counterparts. High armholes and a slim body make the Miler comfortable enough for runs and fitted enough for weightlifting, and the striped pattern politely signals to others that your outside-the-gym outfits, too, are a bit more refined. At half the cost of our other top picks—plus, Nike products frequently go on sale at retailers—this is the most cost-effective solution to the reprehensible cut-off tee collection to which you still cling.
The Best Breezy Running Shirt
Rhone and Nike workout tees are plenty breathable for most runners, but once you start to creep past that 10K distance, you might notice they start to cling. This is where District Vision’s shirt really shines. The cult New York running label’s featherlight shirt is constructed with a proprietary hidden mesh that only reveals itself when stretched. As you run the shirt literally lets in air. This tech works so well that we’d consider using it even if the shirt’s fit were slightly off, but the DV Air-wear is perfect in that department as well. Thanks to laser-cut construction, these tees are neat and tidy around the edges and sit perfectly on any frame, whether you’re in the middle of a run or “recovering” on the couch.
The Best Sleeveless Workout Shirt
In the swampiest of conditions, even the most breathable sleeves can feel like a burden. Enter the performance tank top, or, in the parlance of Iffley Road: the performance vest. It’s made from a layer of breathable tech-infused piqué fabric, mostly polyester. It’s on the extremely thin side, which means it doesn’t leave much to the imagination, but isn’t that what you’re working out for?
The Best Breezy Workout Shirt
A shade looser than the Rhone, this pick from Lululemon deserves its spot in the hallowed, sweaty halls of the best workout shirts for men because it lets in a whole lot of air. That’s thanks in large part to a series of visible, larger-than-usual holes that somehow don’t show any skin. Also, the heathered colorways and contrast-stitched seams provide a nice reprieve from the bright solid colors available at your local sporting goods store. For those of you who aren’t inclined to shill for an athletic apparel giant without an endorsement deal in place, the logo—already small and unobtrusive—is tucked away on the back, just below the neck.
The Best Long Sleeve Workout Shirt
Our review of this mock-neck tee from NY label Jacques in GQ’s first annual Fitness Awards sums up the versatility of this long-sleeve beaut: It has “all the refined, well-tailored, old-world decorum you get from seeing your great-grandpa’s sepia-tinted varsity team photos—but packed with modern comforts under the hood. The quick-drying Italian fabric regulates your body’s temperature, and the bonded seams ensure you’ll stay comfortable and chafe-free no matter how hard you’re pushing yourself. This long-sleeve is just the thing for those crisp, late-autumn days when you have a lunch date at noon and a trail race at 2.”