15 Different Types of Athletic Wear for Women

Keep fit in style with these different types of athletic wear every woman should have in their wardrobe. We got you covered from crop tops and hoodies to joggers and swimsuits.

Woman wearing sportswear, sitting on the ground, leaning on the wall.

Given the rise of the athleisure movement, women’s sportswear has undergone a massive revolution and transformation. From crop tops and hoodies to joggers and swimsuits, the whole dynamics of athletic wear for women has changed a great deal on the basis of this movement which is basically a trend in which fitness and workout-specific clothes can also be worn in a variety of other occasions and settings.

Take a look at some of the most popular types of athletic wear for women, each with different varieties and styles.


Tops are one of the most major and essential types of activewear for women that are available in various styles and designs. It is very important to choose a good quality top for your running or gym session because they can affect your performance.

There is a whole variety of tops that you can choose from according to the one that best fits your style and needs.

Tank Tops

icyzone Workout Tank Tops for Women - Athletic Yoga Tops, Racerback Running Tank Top (XS, Denim)
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This is a type of sleeveless shirt that is typically worn as an undershirt by both men and women. They are often worn with suits and dress shirts, but most popularly and traditionally, tank tops are worn by women as athletic and sportswear.

Tank tops are an excellent fitness clothing option given the way they are designed and manufactured. They usually have large armholes and neck holes that ensure great durability. They also allow passing of air through the fabric during an intense workout session which is why you will see the majority of women wearing these sleeveless shirts during their athletic events.

A special kind of tank top is called a muscle shirt, also known as a shooter shirt in the United States. They were particularly popular back in the 1980s and were normally associated with bodybuilders, surfers, and gym enthusiasts, which is how they got this unique name.

Tank tops are pocketless, buttonless and collarless, and since they are specially designed for a tight fit, they are often made from ribbed cotton.

Long-Sleeved Shirts

Hanes Women's Sport Cool Dri Performance Long Sleeve Tee, Awesome Blue, Small
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These are a great option to include in any woman’s workout or fitness wardrobe. Long tops and long-sleeved shirts are a type of activewear for women who wish to cover their arms while they are working out in the gym or are out in the field.

These kinds of workout clothes are great during warm-up sessions where you can also ditch tank tops and can just begin your workout in your-sleeved tops. They are also often meant to be a tight fit so they are made from materials that easily stick to the body and don’t get in the way of your fitness regime.

Long-sleeved shirts and tops offer a number of benefits as handy activewear for women. They provide a lot of comforts while working out and ensure improved performance. Often made with high-tech polyester which is a moisture-wicking fabric, these shirts draw moisture away from the body and don’t hang on to your sweat.


Neleus Women's Workout Tank Tops,Racerback Athletic Yoga Tops,Exercise Gym Running Shirts,3 Pack,Black/Black/Black,US S,EU M
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Not exactly a tank top but similar to one, Racerbacks are characterized by their “T” shaped back just behind the shoulder blades. This unique shape ensures ease and comfort of movement during athletics for women.

One of the best parts about Racerbacks is their amazing cut that helps one showcase their back muscles and sturdy shoulders. What is even better than this is that when you wear them, you can easily check your form in the mirror during an intense workout and can also analyze the way your muscles work.

Although this sleeveless tank-top like workout clothes are worn by both men and women, they are exceptionally beneficial for women because of the increased comfort and ease of exercise they provide. You can find top-quality Racerbacks at some of the best sports brands like Adidas and Nike and take your workout sessions to a whole new level.


After tops, pants are another vital outerwear clothing element that can greatly determine your performance and efficiency. When choosing pants for your athletic regime, it is very important to go for something that is comfortable, robust, good-quality, and durable.

These are some of the most popular and common types of fitness pants for women, each with its own unique features and benefits.

Sweat Pants

Champion Women's Fleece Open Bottom Pant, Black, Small
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More commonly worn as casual trousers, sweat pants are also some of the most popular types of activewear that are worn by both male and female athletes. The first-ever pair of sweatpants were simple knitted gray jersey pants that were introduced sometime during the 1920s. The fabric used in these sweat pants greatly allowed athletes to run comfortably and also to stretch with ease.

Traditional types of sweatpants sport a more “baggy” style since they tend to be quite loose. However, they are now available in form-fitting shapes that ensure greater flexibility and comfort, especially during running or workout sessions.

Sweatpants are typically made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester and cotton, both of which come with a heavy knit. Most of them contain drawstrings, elastic waistbands, and may or may not have pockets.

The majority of women have been wearing these pants as sportswear in most sporting events and even at the gym since quite old times. They are also quite a good option for the cold weather since they stick to the skin and can keep you really warm.

Sweat Shorts

Under Armour Women's Play Up 2.0 Shorts , Black (002)/White , X-Small
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While sweat-shorts are most commonly worn by men, nowadays even women are wearing them as their preferred activewear and athletic wear. They are as comfortable as sweatpants, except that they are quick drying so they make a great option for the summers.

Sweat shorts offer an excellent alternative to nylon and mesh shorts and they help give you the edge you need to have a great athletic performance. You can easily find them at big fitness brands like Nike or Adidas since they always guarantee the best kind of comfort in the gym, as well as in the outdoor playing field.

The best part about sweat shorts is that they are made of breathable materials such as French terry or sweatshirt fleece which are great at wicking all the sweat and moisture. These materials are also incredibly flexible, making them the ideal sportswear option for a killer leg day!

Bermuda Shorts

BALEAF Women's 10" Active Bermuda Shorts Jersey Walking Knit Shorts Pajama Long Shorts Deep Pockets Black Size XS
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These types of shorts are often worn by women as semi-casual attire and also popularly referred to as the best kind of activewear particularly for a running exercise. They typically reach the start of the knee or may even extend towards the end of the knee which gives them the kind of length that is ideal for gym and other similar athletics.

Bermuda shorts aren’t only easy to manage and comfortable, but they are an incredibly low-impact activewear option that doesn’t stress the body out in any way and allows women to carry on with their running or gym exercises smoothly and freely. They are also often high-waist which means that they stick to the body nice and tight and never give you any inconvenience when you are in the middle of your fitness routine.

Interestingly, during most opening ceremonies of Paralympics and Olympics, the sports team from Bermuda wears red Bermuda shorts.


Starter Women's 29" High-Waisted Performance Workout Legging, Amazon Exclusive, Black, Extra Small
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While leggings or tights are not as popular as Capri pants or sweat shorts when it comes to outwear options for sports, they are actually very beneficial for athletic women who are always on the lookout for comfortable types of yoga pants. If you are also one of those, perhaps you ought to check bandier, one of the market’s best curators that aims to reinvent the ways in which women shop for activewear.

Sports leggings are often high-waist and they extend all the way from your waits to your ankles. One of the most prominent advantages offered by this type of activewear is that they provide a greater amount of warmth during cold weather, as compared to sweatpants. They are also usually made with a piece of performance fabric, best described as moisture-wicking that takes all the sweat and moisture away from your skin while working out.

Leggings and running tights usually have a sort of compression in their fabric that helps them fit on your legs almost like a second skin. This helps provide additional support and also increases the degree of blood circulation to the legs. This feature proves to be particularly beneficial when running long distances since their ability to compress staves off tired legs and gives you quite an edge in your athletic regime.

Capri Pants

Champion Women's Jersey Capri, Black, Small
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Known as the most attractive outerwear for sports, Capri pants are a type of sports leggings that often go all the way to the mid-calf of your leg. They are excellent for warm weather and are often referred to as a comfortable summer staple, especially during workout sessions.

Capri pants are often made from a material called spandex, which is a lightweight synthetic kind of fiber that makes these pants highly stretchable. This stretch allows ease and comfort during intense workout sessions that involve a lot of stretching and flexing of the muscles.

These pants tend to be a tad tighter than other types of pants which makes them extremely useful especially when you have to save your legs during very intense sports or fitness sessions, even during Pilates or HIIT.


There is probably no quicker way to ruin an amazing workout than wearing the wrong kind of socks. Whether you are an average, casual walker, or a big-time runner or marathoner, wearing the wrong socks can truly spoil your entire fitness session.

When choosing workout socks, it is extremely important to consider factors like arch support, comfortable heel, the material, absorbing qualities of the socks, etc.

Check out some of the most preferred types of athletic socks for women, some of which are just truly exceptional in terms of the benefits they provide and the way they guarantee great performance.

Low Cut Socks

No nonsense Women's Mesh No Show Liner Socks, Cushioned, Black, 4-10 (3-Pack)
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These socks have an amazingly thin, protective construction that makes them extremely comfortable and breathable during running and other intense workout sessions. They also come with a ventilated midfoot that provides a kind of elevation during all such physical activities. The midfoot helps keep the socks in place by gripping them to the feet and also protects the foot from blisters.

The best feature of most low-cut socks is that they have breathable mesh panels or air vents that prevent the accumulation of sweat and moisture in the feet. Additionally, they are designed with a Ultimax construction that seeks to provide you increased support and maximized performance and efficiency. Most low-cut socks also have a no-show feature which means that they don’t show from your running or exercise shoes and are almost invisible.

Running Socks

balega Hidden Comfort Light Aqua/Mid Grey SM (US Women's 6-8)
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When it comes to running socks, the most important feature that women should consider is the material of the socks. Choosing the wrong material means inviting painful foot blisters, corns, chafing, and many such skin conditions.

The key is to stay away from those running socks that are 100 percent cotton. This is because cotton is one of those materials that easily get wet and it stays wet for as long as it is on your feet. This means that if and when you sweat from your feet, all the sweat and moisture will just stick to the socks.

The best kinds of running socks are those that are made from moisture-wicking fabrics which makes them quick drying. These include synthetic materials like acrylic and polyester which are highly breathable and non-chafing. These socks also often cushioned from the ankle side which provides added protection to your feet when they need it the most during running.

Elite Micro Socks

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Micro Socks Women’s ASH Small
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These socks are meant for serious runners who wish to exercise with great ease and comfort and are also big on well-designed socks. Light elite micro socks are typically made with a combination of materials including elastane, merino wool, and nylon. They also consist of an ultra-light cushion that promotes minimal cushioning. This greatly helps maximize any athlete’s performance without adding any bulk or weight to their feet.

These types of athletic wear often come with Ph.D., or in other words, Performance in the Highest Degree which is basically a four-degree elite fit system that helps keep the socks in place. They also have ventilation zones that pave the way for increased moisture management and also ensure high breathability.

Some varieties and types of elite micro socks make use of the Patented ReliaWool technology that provides a superior kind of durability, especially in high impact areas.

Compression Socks

Women’s Compression Socks (6 Pack) – S/M – Black, Gray, Navy - Graduated Muscle Support, Relief and Recovery. Great for Running, Medical, Athletic, Diabetic, Travel, Pregnancy, Nursing (8-15 mmHg)
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The athleisure movement has significantly propelled the use of compression apparel especially due to the fact that they have a plethora of benefits to offer to athletes and sports enthusiasts. Just like a compression sports bra, compression socks have several medical benefits associated with them and they don’t only greatly assist in running and other physical activities, but they also really aid physical health.

These socks provide major assistance in your body’s circulation whereby they push the blood and other liquids or fluids out of your legs by creating a pressure gradient. What happens in this process is that the sock sits perfectly well on to the skin and kind of like snuggle around the ankle. In doing so, they create venous pressure that prevents fatigue during intense workout sessions and also prevents any kind of swelling from occurring near the feet.

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effects and benefits of wearing compression socks where it was found that wearing them during exercise can prevent the occurrence of soreness in the muscles and in the legs.


As essential as your socks are, your choice of footwear is equally important. Wrong shoes at the gym or during outdoor running can seriously derail your fitness plans. This is because during any possible kind of workout, your feet are the only part of your body that is actually pushed beyond limits and they tend to take a heavy and a serious amount of impact.

These are some of the most common types of fitness footwear for women that can really help them perform their best during a workout session.

Running Shoes

ASICS Women's Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes,Carbon/Black/Pink Peacock,5 D US
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When you think of running shoes, you are likely to think of brands like Puma and Reebok since they are a few of the really good brands that provide athletic footwear. However, in terms of footwear for women, there are certain things that you one must keep in mind.

There is a difference between men’s and women’s feet which is what causes the main difference between the types of running shoes meant for each of them. As compared to men, women have a narrower heel in relation to the circumference of the ball of their foot. Also, athletic women, in particular, tend to have even narrower heels and high arches as compared to an average female.

So, in terms of running shoes for women, you must look for features like a soft and light midsole in order to cater to the low impact created by a woman’s feet. Also, a breathable mesh on the upper side in order to ensure that there is zero accumulation of sweat or moisture because this can greatly affect the runner’s athletic performance.

You can find some of the best varieties of running shoes at Nordstrom, an American chain that deals with shoes, clothing, etc for both men and women.

Minimalist Shoes

New Balance Women's Minimus 10 V1 Trail Running Shoe, Black/Neo Violet, 5 M US
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These shoes have stirred up quite a debate in the fitness world because some say that minimalist shoes contain a lot of major injury-prevention benefits while others claim that they actually put athletes at a big risk of injuries.

Compared to traditional shoes, minimalist shoes are those that are designed to resemble barefoot walking or running, They have made this possible with the help of being lighter in weight than other fitness shoes, having thin soles and also a reduced cushioning. This creates an opportunity for increased sensory contact between the ground and the foot while also offering maximum protection from physical health hazards.

Nike and Adidas are some of the major brands that did follow the whole minimalist movement and they have come up with shoes that aren’t like the standard or traditional types of athletic shoes. A study was once conducted that compared the effectiveness of minimalist athletic shoes to that of specific foot strengthening exercises.

What the study discovered is that the former may require increased muscle activation to support the foot and in doing so, the researchers of the study attested that the minimalist shoes promote a more natural way of moving in which athletes would be able to run faster and also decrease the risk of getting a foot injury.


Female athletes, in particular, always have to look out for their chest while running or performing any kind of high-intensity exercise. So, in order to do that, they require the perfect kind of innerwear that allows them to restrict movement in the chest area for which sports bras have proven to be the best choice of innerwear.

Sports Bras

Fruit of the Loom Women's Tank Style Sports Bra, Blue Gem with Black/White/Black - 3 Pack, 34
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These have to be the most essential innerwear workout clothes for women and are an absolutely necessary type of activewear. The key is to avoid those sports bras that are 100 percent cotton, and instead go for those that are made from a piece of moisture-wicking fabric.

Sports bras bring exceptional support and comfort to women when they are running outdoors or working out indoors in the gym. One of the defining features of sports bras is that they are tighter than your regular bra, but they should allow you to breathe comfortably and easily.

There are various different types of sports bras that you can get from brands like Nike and Adidas, including compression sports bras, encapsulation sports bras, and a combined version of the two.

Compression bras greatly restrict movement in the chest region while encapsulation bras are not that confining and provide greater support. There are also sports bra tanks, also called shimmels, which are well-suited for low impact activities more than running. These are basically tank tops with a built-in bra shelf that offers increased support and comfort to your chest while exercising.


Isn’t it truly amazing how there is such a huge variety of athletic wear for women and how so many brands are coming with such amazing women’s activewear?

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