best workout shirts for women

Staff, Courtesy of Reebok

Gone are the days when poor-fitting cotton tees were the standard workout top. Now, the market is filled with options that support athletic performance to ensure you have the best, most comfortable workout (at least from an apparel perspective). This can be overwhelming as you try to make sense of offerings that’ll be best for any given day’s activity and weather. But there are certain things to look for to help you feel your strongest while you’re working up a sweat.

Your workout top should allow complete freedom of movement and keep you dry and comfortable. Women’s workout shirts, in particular, are generally more form-fitting, and the recommendations below combine all these features.

The Expert: I’m an avid runner who has spent the better part of the past 18 years running in the mid-Atlantic, specifically the Washington, D.C., area and Annapolis, Maryland, where I live now. The weather can be somewhat unpredictable, ranging from hot and muggy to cloudy and chilly, so I have plenty of experience testing a variety of workout shirts across the seasons. Besides running, I keep active with spinning and strength training, so I have experience with workout shirts that perform just as well in the gym. My health and fitness writing has appeared in a range of top publications, including The Washington Post, Mashable, and Insider.

Finding the Right Workout Shirt

Material is an especially important factor to consider regardless of what your workout is and where you’re doing it. That’s because a moisture-wicking and breathable workout shirt will keep you the most comfortable. The best workout shirts are made of technical fabrics, like polyester, nylon, and stretchy elastane or spandex. Technical fabrics allow sweat to easily evaporate—so you stay drier and cooler—and move with you. Polyester is terrific at wicking sweat as you heat up, whereas nylon is lightweight, very durable, and stretchy. Wool is another great fabric for workout shirts, because it’s naturally sweat-wicking, temperature-regulating, and odor-fighting. It performs well in all seasons but can be a bit more expensive than other fabrics. Overall, these materials help keep you performing at your best.

Sweat-Approved Apparel: The Best Workout Leggings for Women • This Year’s Most Comfortable Women’s Running Shorts • 13 Women’s Spandex Shorts That Don’t Ride Up • The Best Base Layers for Runners • 7 Great Short-Sleeve Wool Shirts • We Tested Sports Bras. These 20 Are the Best. • Moisture-Wicking Underwear for Every Activity

Depending on your activity, you might value a snugger fit—for example, during a high-intensity session—over a more relaxed fit that’s better suited to a yoga workout. This is also, of course, a matter of personal preference. And if you’re working out inside or outside, you’ll likely weigh style differently, preferring a long-sleeve workout shirt in fall and winter and slim-fit tank top or crop top for weight lifting or steamy summer days.

Some workout tops include extra features that help them stand out, like UPF to help protect you from the sun or anti-odor technology to keep you feeling and smelling fresh.

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How We Evaluated

In addition to my own experience and input from Runner’s World staff, I researched the market and online reviews to recommend the best workout shirts for women. I prioritized shirts in stretchy, breathable fabrics and selected tops based on their performance first, followed by the comfort, cost, and style of each. This article includes options that work well for a variety of activities—running, yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, and more—so you’ll be covered no matter your preferred workout. Although each top includes a suggested activity (or activities), all the shirts work well for running, too. Read on to learn which 10 women’s workout shirts made the cut.

Best Running Shirt

Brooks Distance Short Sleeve

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running
  • Sizes: 0–18
  • Materials: 88% polyester, 12% lyocell

When it comes to running shirts, the Distance is ideal. It dries quickly as you work up a sweat, so it’s a terrific option for humidity and heat or just an intense run. It’s also super lightweight and soft, thanks to the addition of lyocell. This shirt stays put without being too fitted, providing optimal comfort.

  • A bit short for people with longer torsos

Best for a Gym Workout

Lululemon Swiftly Tech Short Sleeve Shirt 2.0

Key Specs

  • Best for: HIIT workout, running
  • Sizes: 0–20
  • Materials: 54% nylon, 40% polyester, 3% elastane, 3% X-static nylon

The Swiftly Tech stays in place and doesn’t bunch, making it great for your most strenuous workouts. Its slim, body-hugging fit isn’t too tight, and the seamless design prevents chafing. Plus, an anti-stink technology woven into the fabric means you can stash it in a gym bag and wear it again the next day without worrying about smell.

  • Also available in a “race length” for people with shorter torsos
  • Durable

Best Long-Sleeve Running Shirt

Under Armour Tech Twist Crew Long Sleeve

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running
  • Sizes: 2XS–2XL
  • Materials: 100% polyester

This Under Armour top is great on its own in chilly weather but also works well as a base layer for colder workouts. I love it for runs because it has a relaxed fit, and its lightweight, stretchy material moves well with me. This top is also quick-drying and boasts anti-odor technology to keep you feeling fresh even after an especially tough session.

  • Flattering cut
  • Soft, barely-there feel

Best for Extra Sweaty Workouts

Saucony Rerun Tank

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running, HIIT workout
  • Sizes: 2XS–XL
  • Materials: 88% polyester, 12% elastane

The Rerun tank will keep you cool during your most intense workouts. It’s extremely lightweight and stretchy, with a back that is entirely mesh so you won’t overheat. “With a flattering boxy cut and practically weightless feel, this tank sees me through hikes, runs, and sweaty workouts on the hottest days,” says one Runner’s World staff member.

  • Delicate material calls for special care—the gentle cycle and hanging to dry—to avoid snags

Most Versatile

Old Navy UltraLite Racerback Rib-Knit Performance Tank

Key Specs

  • Best for: Strength training, yoga, easy runs
  • Sizes: XS–4X
  • Materials: 62% polyester, 33% rayon, 5% spandex

This tank is my go-to pick for almost any activity, be it an easy run, weight lifting, or yoga. It combines coverage and performance in plenty of fun color options. The flattering fit and soft, light feel performs just as well during a workout as lounging on the couch or running errands, though it isn’t as moisture-wicking as some competitors.

  • Available in petite, regular, and tall lengths and more than 30 colors
  • Very affordable
  • Not ideal for high-sweat workouts

Best Wool Blend Shirt

Smartwool Merino Short Sleeve Tee

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running, hiking, outdoor workouts
  • Sizes: XS–XL
  • Materials: 87% Merino wool, 13% nylon

Wool is a great fabric for working out because it’s naturally temperature-regulating, and this Smartwool pick blends that with a lightweight feel. The tee’s slim, longer fit offers flattering coverage that won’t ride up. The offset shoulder seams prevent chafing if you’re wearing a pack while hiking or trail running. As a RW staff member describes, this top absorbs sweat and isn’t too heavy for high-intensity workouts.

  • UPF 20+
  • Temperature-regulating for all-season use

Best for Layering

Kitsbow Moraine Long-Sleeve Tee

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running, hiking, mountain biking
  • Sizes: 2XS–4XL
  • Materials: 100% polyester

The Moraine is a technical tee designed for all seasons, so its fabric stays cool, dry, and warm as the conditions around you change. If you’re looking to hit the trails or work out in the elements, this long-sleeve is terrific for its versatility and stay-put ability. Underarm mesh side panels dump excess heat, and the next-to-skin fit layers nicely. As one RW staff member summarized, it’s soft but doesn’t feel overly synthetic. She wears it while mountain biking, running, and hiking. Note that it’s quite fitted and can run small, so consider sizing up.

  • UPF 30
  • Underarm mesh panels keep you cool

Best Tank Top

Reebok Mesh Back Tank Top

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running, HIIT workouts
  • Sizes: XS–XL
  • Materials: Polyester

For a high-sweat session, this Reebok tank top works exceptionally well to keep you comfortable. It’s breathable, thanks to mesh paneling on the back and a sweat-wicking fabric, and its racerback cut also helps keep you extra comfortable and aired out. Plus, the tank has a long, flattering cut that’s fitted without being constricting.

  • Breathable and lightweight

Best Short-Sleeve Shirt

32 Degrees Cool Fitted T-Shirt

Key Specs

  • Best for: Running, HIIT workout
  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Materials: 90% polyester, 10% spandex

This short-sleeve option is ideal for a hot day or extra sweaty session. Its moisture-wicking material will keep you dry, and a touch of spandex ensures the shirt moves with you. This shirt is soft and breathable, offering all-day comfort. Reviewers rave about pairing it with casual wear, and the soft color options don’t look like traditional workout gear.

Best Crop Top

Lemedy Yoga Crop Bra Top

Key Specs

  • Best for: Yoga, strength training
  • Sizes: S–XL
  • Materials: Nylon and spandex

If you’re looking for a stylish crop top to pair with your favorite high-waisted leggings, the Lemedy is a terrific option. Besides being a stylish, inexpensive option, it’s super comfortable, offering a form-fitting cut, soft material, and a built-in sports bra. You might want to size up, however, because it runs small.

  • Plenty of color options
  • Great support without having to wear a sports bra
  • Limited sizing options, and it runs small

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