Every Type Of Underwear You Actually Need For Working Out

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
Raise your hand if you exercise in regular, cotton underwear. If you do, you're all too familiar with that gnarly, wet-bottom feeling during an intense workout. Now, raise your hand if you own a sports bra you don't know anything about, other than that it seems to do its job of taming your floppy boobs. If both your hands are raised, then read on — this story on workout bras and panties is for you. But, the best part of getting acquainted with the sporty undies ahead is that they're guaranteed to change your life once the humidity of summer sets in or if you've got big traveling or camping trips planned (hint: There's lots of moisture-pulling fabric ahead).

To get educated on all things performance bras and underwear, we went straight to the experts — Kirta Carroll, VP of Brand Marketing for SIX:02; Jonny Mabanglo, Product Line Manager at ExOfficio; Rebecca duRivage-Jacobs, Associate Product Line Manager at Moving Comfort; and NYC-based, ACE-certified personal trainer and orthopedic exercise specialist Tracy Helsing — to find out what you need to know before your next exercise. All the sporty intimates you really don't need to sweat over, right up ahead!
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Bikini
"We all know that feeling when your underwear feels soggy. It’s a whole new world when you can start exploring performance underwear that stays in place, keeps you dry, and removes moisture," says Moving Comfort's duRivage-Jacobs. "You don't want to be pulling at your underwear throughout the workout and feel the different stitches on your bare body — none of that makes for an enjoyable experience."

So, let's start with the bikini. While the cut of your undies all depends on personal preference, you really can't go wrong with a classic like the hipster bikini — consider it a safe intro to the workout panty. And, on a hot, muggy day, these will become your go-to.
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"This is your traditional silhouette that’s been around for decades, and we offer ours with a flattering, high-cut leg and lower rise," says ExOfficio's Mabanglo. "I’d recommend this style for someone who wants a bit more coverage, who is not really into the full-cut brief, [but] she doesn’t want to expose too much."
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"Our bikinis have a stylized mesh on the back to lighten up the underwear and create breathability in that peak sweat zone," says duRivage-Jacobs. "We bond the finishing so that there’s no bulk at the leg opening."
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"This workout underwear stays in place better than any other. I can do a million squats, deadlifts, and lunges without any creeping. They are super-comfortable with absolutely no shifting," says personal trainer Helsing. Plus, with its seamless edges, you won't feel any pesky stitching against your bum.
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If you've got outdoorsy travel plans this summer, be sure to stock up on undies in a polyester/Spandex blend that is quick-dry and easy to hand-wash. In fact, all you really need are two or three pairs if you want to pack light.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Thong
The thong. It's a favorite undie style of many women, and sporty underwear makers have taken note and are now catering to those diehard devotees. Plus, these are your go-tos if you can't stand panty lines on skintight leggings.

"Most importantly, you need to forget what underwear you’re wearing when you're working out — that's how you can tell if this is performing well for you," says Mabanglo. "Be comfortable first. Then, see that it travels and cleans well. Once you’re used to it, the thong is one of the most comfortable silhouettes to wear."
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"I love cotton just as much as the next woman, but the activities we engage in these days are not conducive to wearing cotton for a lot of reasons. You sweat and the odor stays on you," says Mabanglo. "It’s very unforgiving." Instead, opt for a blend like Reebok's 74% nylon and 26% Spandex.
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"Our Out-of-Sight thong has no stitch, so it's going to give you minimal panty lines," says duRivage-Jacobs. And, she mentions that the brand sells just as many thongs as it does bikinis, in case you're questioning the comfort level of the thong. Just think of all the silky bottoms you can wear this summer with these sweat-evaporating panties.
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"I hated wearing thongs before I found these gems. They help me stay cool and dry during Spin classes without the embarrassment of panty lines," says Helsing. "I also love how they stay in place during Spin jumps, which is key."
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This one comes in a fun, '80s-inspired print.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Hipster/Boy Short
For every thong wearer, there's also a girl who just wants her butt covered up. That's where the boy short comes in — it's a fantastic option, especially if your bottom-wear is super-flowy, thin, or short. Basically, if you are nervous about indecent exposure, count on this silhouette to make you feel secure. Plus, there are multiple uses for this style outside of the gym.

"Women are being more active, even in dresses and skirts," says Mabanglo. "They’re commuting on bicycles, mopeds, and scooters, so this offers more coverage in a 2- or 4-inch boy short. It gives women freedom."
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"These boy shorts are my favorite for hiking and biking. They are tagless and seamless, which guarantees that I don't chafe or itch," says Helsing.
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Stash these on your backpacking adventures. The sporty, mesh-polyester fabric is super-wicking, and means hand-washing and drying takes no time at all.
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A more affordable hipster is this seamless, low-rise Jockey that comes in an array of fun colors. Its 95% nylon and 5% Spandex, breathable blend has a smooth finish, so there's less friction between your undergarment and bottoms.
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Falke's mesh panels do double duty on this boy short: They playfully reveal skin and provide ventilation to keep that sweet breeze flowing through.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Low-Impact Bra
"Bras are the most essential part of having a great workout," says Six:02's Carroll. "You want to feel confident that you’re supported, that everything fits in the right place, and that the bra is comfortable." And, just as you'd wear different outfits for different occasions, select a sports bra that fits your activity.

If you're heading to a low-impact workout like yoga or Pilates, you can get away with a less-intense bra. In fact, a lighter sports bra is preferred for easy movement, especially for those inversions you may do (a more supporting bra can make you feel too tight). Pretty straps, thinner fabric, and elastic-type bras are your best bet here.
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"We strategically use a power mesh, which is a lightweight lining fabric, and exterior shell fabric, which lightens up the bra to keep that ventilation going," says duRivage-Jacobs. And, if you're the kind of girl who prefers actual cup-and-band sizing over the S/M/L options, this brand offers sizes from A to E (and soon, F) and bands that range from 30 to 44.
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"Rotate your styles and don’t wear the same one all the time. Choose your bras to your unique preferences and personality. The versatility and variety of the bra is important as it relates to your outfit," duRivage-Jacobs continues. This number is so cute that we can't believe it's meant for the gym.
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"[On the backside of this bra,] the straps are so, so pretty, and honestly, I would wear this style bra under a cut-up T-shirt on a regular night out! I love the details under a flowy tank for a good yoga class," says Helsing. "It also stands out on its own if I'm ditching my top during a particularly hard class. And, I don't feel sloppy heading out for a coffee with friends afterwards."
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If you're a bit smaller-chested and looking for a rad, sporty bra for your athleisure outfit, this stretchy (and glossy!) underthing can take you straight from the studio to the street.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The Medium-Impact Bra
We're guessing that most people engage in the "medium-impact" workout that's in between the mild yoga and the insane bootcamp/CrossFit-type classes. For those who live for activities like Spinning, the medium-intensity bras with a more modest cut are for you (so you can bend over and still be comfortable).

If your chest is a bit larger, it's also important to keep some basic sizing knowledge in mind. "Being educated on your size is going to highly benefit you — women should be regularly measured in a traditional lingerie shop, because your body changes and the bra changes over time," says duRivage-Jacobs. "Your cup and band size can then translate to the sports-bra market. Sometimes, women just 'size down' on a sports bra because they want to bring the breast closer to the body, but there shouldn’t be any need to do that when you know your true size."
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"You'll need higher-impact bras if you have a larger chest and need more support," says Carroll. "Try on a lot of different brands and see what works." This seafoam-and-yellow sports bra features wider straps for better comfort.
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"Find out what your comfort level is. Go for a wider band [like the one here], which helps avoid riding up as you’re working out," continues Carroll. "You don’t want to be pulling down your sports bra or feel like you're always peeling it off."
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"Under Armour really is my go-to brand for gym clothes. I love this bra for medium-intensity workouts because it's breathable and keeps me completely dry during my tough bootcamps or lifting sessions," says Helsing. "The fit is great — snug without being suffocating. I love the fun print; it makes me feel like a badass superhero."
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This scoop-neck, floral bra is all sorts of flattering and sweet — and, though you can't see it from the front, it features a sexy, cutout back with an adjustable strap closure.
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Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
The High-Impact Bra
If you like your workouts super-intense (like bootcamp, CrossFit, or any other cardio-heavy routines), or if you've just got big boobs, the high-impact sports bras were designed specifically for you. Says Carroll, "If you have a larger cup size, the higher-impact bras...will better support you." And, since a lot of sweat can accumulate under larger breasts, be on the lookout for that wicking fabric in a soft blend of nylon and Spandex for maximum comfort.
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A comfortable, full-coverage bra like this one is highly recommended for women with big boobs. "It's challenging for my bigger-chested clients to find a bra that is both supportive and cute," says Helsing. But, with a sports bra that fits in the back like a regular bra does (with adjustable straps and hook closure), you can now look great and feel secure, whether you're boxing, doing burpees, or jumping rope.
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If there's a lot of heavy-duty detail going on, be mindful of post-workout care. "It’s important to give your sports bras a really great wash after a workout. You want to get that sweat and bacteria out and feel comfortable when you wear it again," says Carroll. "I know that a lot of people like to let them air-dry to maintain their shape and color." The layered effect with the zip-up feature makes this bra a particularly exciting one to wear to any workout.
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You don't have to resort to a high-impact bra that fully covers you up if you're smaller-chested. Even though this bra is a bit lower-cut, the thick bottom band and padding add support. Plus, the 89% nylon and 11% Spandex blend makes the fit incredibly comfy, like a second skin.
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"Look for a bra that is fully loaded with features, keeping curves firmly in place," says duRivage-Jacobs. "Engineering and design is important to keep these flexible." Search for a style that slips on easily and moves effortlessly with the body, and that is also style-driven and offered in an unfussy, classic silhouette.
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