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The best gym clothes for women

That age-old conundrum: what to wear when exercising. Why is it so hard to find leggings that are comfy yet indestructible, a gym top that doesn't ride up when you're in Downward Facing Dog, or a pair of running trainers that don't cost the earth? Never fear, the ever-knowledgeable Mumsnetters are on hand with their recommendations. Read on for the best women's gymwear for 2021.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Nov 22, 2021

Women's gymwear

Best gym leggings

1. M&S Go Move Gym Leggings, £25

A Swears By favourite, these leggings are squat-proof and high-waisted, so they'll keep you feeling supported – no matter how gruelling the HIIT class. Plus, the neutral colour means they won't look out of place with your brightest trainers, and the moisture-wicking finish is guaranteed to keep you dry and cool.

“I got some black sports leggings from M&S last week that promise not to be at all see-through. They are dry fit, high-waisted and very flattering on the stomach."

Buy now from M&S

2. Kalenji Run Warm+ Jogging Tights, £12.99 (was £17.99)

These leggings are perfect for outdoor workouts: they're thermal and have a drawstring waist to keep them firmly in place. But the pièce de résistance is definitely that they've got no seam between the legs, meaning minimum chafing maximum comfort.

“For running when it's dark (and cold), I've just bought these warm running leggings from Decathlon. They're amazing!”

Buy now from Decathlon

3. Sweaty Betty Power Leggings, from £59

They're a bit more expensive, but many Mumsnetters promise you get what you pay for with Sweaty Betty. The Power Leggings come in a variety of leg-lengths and colourful designs, and have all the usual extras – including a zip pocket and moisture-wicking material.

“My squat-proof, belly-squashing, bum-defining best leggings are the Sweaty Betty Power Leggings. They survived a nasty fall off a kerb, where my knee was scraped and bleeding but the leggings were totally unmarked. Quite brilliant.”

Buy now from Sweaty Betty

Related: The fitness trackers Mumsnetters are swearing by

4. ASOS 4505 Colourblock Leggings, £25

Yep, ASOS do exercise gear – and it's every bit as fashionable, functional and affordable as you'd expect. These leggings are high-waisted and smoothing, and, as they're nice and cheap, why not get yourself more than one pair?

“I really like ASOS for sports stuff. They have their own range, 4505, and I've recently got two of these in the sale. They're very thick and smooth the tummy.”

“ASOS 4505 ones are the best I’ve ever worn – high-waisted and thick, but still stretchy.”

Buy now from ASOS

5. USA Pro Womens Leggings, from £22

With PRO-dry technology, a zipped pocket and plenty of stretch, these comfy gym leggings will see you through thick and thin.

“I like USA Pro bottoms. They come up quite high on the waist and stay up during squats.”

Buy now from Amazon

Best sports bras

Sure they can be a bit pricey, but it's definitely worth making sure you have a bra that will do the job perfectly. As one smart Mumsnetter quips, "I spend on my bra and feet and go cheap and cheerful in between!”

6. Nike Rival Sports Bra, £47.95

It's hard to deny Nike is pretty savvy when it comes to activewear, and this sports bra is no exception. If you're after a no-frills, gets-the-job-done option, the moulded cups and racer-back style of this bra should suit you nicely. Plus, the Dri-FIT technology will keep you feeling fresh(ish) all workout long.

“It's utterly brilliant! It gives excellent shape and support. I ran a 10k race in it today and it felt great.”

Buy now from Nike

Just released: Nike's first dedicated maternity range

7. Panache Sports Moulded Underwired Bra, £42

This bra is a firm Mumsnetter-favourite – particularly for those who are larger of nork. Available in cup sizes B to H, it has soft underwiring and wide cushioned straps to hold everything right in place. Plus, it's available in so many colours and patterns you'll find it hard to choose just one.

“I love this Panache one. I'm a 30F and it holds everything down.”

“Another vote for the Panache underwired sports bra here. I’m a 34H and they are great and last ages.”

Related: The best at-home workout videos

8. Shock Absorber Classic Sports Bra, £33

This sports bra offers non-wired support up to an FF cup, and padded, adjustable straps that will keep everything anchored firmly in place. It's been created with high-impact and vigorous sports in mind, so you can be confident it will do its job whatever your PT has you doing.

“The only sports bra I will wear is a Shock Absorber. Expensive, but so damn worth it.”

“Shock Absorber is my go-to sports bra too – I actually ordered two more yesterday.”

Buy now from John Lewis

Related: The best maternity bras, according to Mumsnetters

Best sports tops

9. Longline Thin Strap Vest, £6

Most Mumsnetters agree that, when it comes to a gym top, they want something that will give full midriff coverage and that won't ride up mid-Sun Salutation. Simply layer one of these underneath another looser top, and voilà, you've got yourself an inexpensive but reliable gym top.

“I layer a Next long-line black vest top under a loose T-shirt or gym top – they come down to mid-thigh level so there's no skin on show. You can raise your arms and lift stuff, and your midriff remains covered.”

Buy now from Next

10. Endurance Women's Long Sleeve Top, £9.99 (was £19.99)

Another staple for those among us who are partial to an outdoor workout, this top is designed for cold weather but can also be worn indoors. It's lightweight and breathable, has long sleeves to keep the chill at bay, and is even UPF30+.

“I bought a base layer from Mountain Warehouse. It's one of my favourite tops for running in the winter.”

Buy now from Mountain Warehouse

Related: The best gym bags to cart your kit to and from class

11. TU Active Lavender Grey Vest Top, £10

Comfort is paramount when you're working out, and this lightweight top is perfect if you don't like the skin-tight gymwear look. It's looser fitting and is available up to size 24, which is perfect if you're on the search for plus-size gymwear.

“TU at Sainsbury's do decent sportswear in bigger sizes. The prices are good, too.”

Related: The best water bottles

Best trainers

12. Asics Women's Kayano 25 running shoes, from £43

Absolutely chock-a-block with science-y sounding things like a 'medial support system' and 'FlyteFoam Propel', you're certainly getting what you pay for with these trainers. Mesh on the top of the shoe helps to keep your feet cool and comfy, while all this technology will ensure you'll be comfy and supported however far you run.

“I wear Asics Gel Kayano as they’re ridiculously supportive and cushioned, but pricey. I buy previous seasons’ colours – I couldn’t give two hoots about what they look like, as long as they support my knees!”

Buy now from Amazon

Related: How to return to running after having a baby

13. Nike Free Run trainers, from £44.99

Nike Free Runs are designed to mimic how it feels to run barefoot, and are therefore very comfy. They're lightweight and breathable, and (most importantly) you can put them in the washer when if they need sprucing up.

“I bought a pair of Nike Free Runs and they're great. Very light and very supportive. They also go through the washing machine like a dream. Two years later and I’m only just thinking about replacing them, so they were excellent value for money.”

Buy now from Amazon

14. New Balance Running Shoes, from £17

Although they're often considered a fashion statement, New Balance sure know how to make a good pair of trainers. With prices ranging from £17 to over £100, you'll find something you like whether you're training for a marathon or you only go jogging once in a blue moon.

“I read a load of reviews online then ordered a pair of New Balance – they're now four years old and still going strong, but I only run once a week for between 7-10km.”

Buy now from Amazon

Related: Things to consider before buying your new running shoes