I’m going to admit that I drew my own conclusions about those who workout in sweatpants and hoodies.
Basically, I’ve always felt it was simply to hide things that perhaps the trainee was embarrassed about.
What better way to hide some additional winter bulk than with a hoodie?
Then again, wearing sweatpants is a great way to hide those chicken legs.
And although my initial feelings were partly right, it turns out that there’s more to it.
So, I’ll cover all the sweatpant/hoodie factors in this article.
The Number One Reason For Wearing Sweatpants & Hoodies
The most obvious reason for wearing sweatpants and hoodies is to keep your body and muscles warm while you warm up. Warm muscles lead to better performance and can help you avoid injury. This is especially true in gyms that are cold or when you’re working out in the colder months of the year.
The “Warm-Up” Reasoning
Okay, so as you can see, the main reason for wearing these items of clothing is simply to keep you warm.
And this is especially true during your warm-up for a workout.
As I’ve mentioned, warm muscles will generally lead to better performance, and it can help you to avoid potential injuries.
Basically, when the muscles are cold they tend to tighten up, which of course may restrict your mobility and flexibility.
Plus, imagine it’s a cold winter’s day, or even that your gym is always exceptionally cold, then it’s going to take you slightly longer to warm up.
That being said, something that you want to avoid is a really long warm-up session, which may cause fatigue and therefore impact your main workout.
So, in effect, by wearing sweatpants and hoodies you are keeping your body warm, which hopefully means that it won’t take you as long to warm up.
This way you avoid pre-workout fatigue and you’re not spending ages on “wasted” exercises.
This also explains why you’ll often see bodybuilders remove these items of clothing as they get into their main workout.
So, in the main, people wear sweats and hoodies for practical reasons, as opposed to personal reasons, e.g. hiding their body.
The Sweats & Hoodies Infographic
Why I Often Wear Sweats & Hoodies
Here’s something that you won’t often hear about, although I know some people feel the same as me.
There’s no two ways about it, I sweat one hell of a lot.
In fact, even walking at a gentle pace, when the temperature is approximately 70F, will produce a few beads of sweat within 10 minutes.
Unfortunately, I am a sweater, and a bad one at that.
So, you can only begin to imagine what I’m like once I start working out.
In fact, I often look as though I’ve taken a shower in my clothes after a particularly intense leg session or something similar.
For me, as horrible as it sounds, I’ll often wear these items to literally “catch” my sweat.
And if I didn’t, the vast majority of my workout would be spent wiping down pieces of equipment.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Surely, wearing sweats and a hoodie is simply going to make you sweat even more!”
Sure, I can’t really argue with that one.
However, I know from personal experience, whenever I wear shorts and a t-shirt, I literally spend about 30 minutes of my workout spraying and wiping down.
So, for me, regardless of the time of year, some additional clothing is a must.
Sweats & Hoodies Are Comfortable
I know for a fact that many people will categorically state that wearing shorts and t-shirt while working out is extremely comfortable.
And, in truth, I can’t disagree.
However, each to their own, as I’m sure that many trainees will find sweats and hoodies far more comfortable to workout in.
From a personal perspective, I am one of these people.
Look, the whole point of going to the gym is to get in a great workout.
And being comfortable allows you to avoid distractions and stay focused.
I know I generally worry about my shorts riding up and sticking to my body during a particularly intense squatting session.
Then again, I often find that my t-shirt is stuck to me, and I end up yanking on it between sets, and sometimes even (dangerously) in-between reps.
So, you should always workout in clothes that make you feel most comfortable, and that won’t detract from what you’re doing.
It Can Help With Squats & Deadlifts (Seriously!)
Perhaps this is just me, although I’m sure there’s at least a few people in the world who’ll hopefully agree.
Okay, firstly wearing a hoodie can actually help you to stabilize the bar more efficiently during squats.
Granted, you should have the bar under control when placed across the back of your shoulders
However, there are those of use who struggle, irrespective of whether we perform high-bar or low-bar squats.
So, having some “extra padding” will help the bar placement feel more comfortable.
Plus, it’s more likely the bar will stay in place, so you don’t have to worry about it potentially sliding off your back.
I know this all seems a bit much, but I know that many people wear hoodies and sweatshirts for this exact reason.
Now, when it comes to deadlifts, answer me this – how often have you scraped your shins when performing deadlifts?
And this typically happens as you approach fatigue and you’re trying to keep the bar close by.
In fact, I have even previously written about how to stop your shins bleeding during deadlifts, as I know this is something that many of us suffer from.
So, once again, wearing sweatpants provides some additional “protection”, especially during a high-intense deadlifting session.
Don’t Believe the Calorie-Burning Hype
I’m sure you’ve seen, or heard of, boxers going all-out while wearing a sweatsuit, or even a black plastic bag, in order to “make weight”.
Plus, many gym-goers will “cover up” in the hope of producing the same results.
However, this doesn’t actually make a great deal of sense, especially in the gym environment.
The main reason that boxers do this is to lose water weight quickly.
In fact, it is estimated that an individual can lose up to 5lbs of water weight per day.
That said, this will take a huge effort and isn’t that worthwhile for us recreational lifters.
A boxer obviously needs to weigh a certain amount pre-fight (as long as they’re not a heavyweight).
So, if they’re struggling with their weight, 15-20 minutes with a jump rope and a sweatsuit can do wonders.
However, the same definitely cannot be said for wearing a hoodie and sweats in the gym.
In fact, the vast majority of us should aim to lose body fat and gain muscle.
Yes, water weight could be a problem for some, but this shouldn’t be your focus in the gym.
And, as I say, wearing “normal” clothes definitely won’t have the same effect.
Furthermore, when boxers do try to lose water weight quickly it can cause fatigue and affect their strength.
So, this is certainly something that you’d want to avoid while working out.
Pros. & Cons of Wearing Plastic Bags to Burn More Calories
There Are Downsides Too
So far, I’m sure it all sounds great, and you’ll no doubt start wearing sweats and a hoodie to the gym from now on.
Okay, perhaps not, but for as many advantages as there are, there also happens to be a number of disadvantages to this extra clothing.
In fact, many of the benefits could actually be viewed as negatives too.
To be honest, this mainly comes down to your body overheating, which can cause fatigue and affect your overall performance.
So, if you’re performing a high-intense workout, or perhaps even doing some cardio or conditioning, you’re obviously going to get hot very quickly.
And these additional layers of clothing may even exacerbate the situation.
In fact, you could even find yourself getting dehydrated if you’re not taking on extra water.
I will also say that these thick, heavy layers of clothing could stick to you as your workout gets “warmer”.
And this can clearly affect your ability to move as your clothes become wetter and heavier.
I guess this should explain why many bodybuilders will remove their hoodies and sweats once their warm up is over.
What to Wear When Going to the Gym
The main reasons for wearing sweatpants and hoodies while working out include:
Keeps your muscles and body warm in cold gyms and during the winter. You don’t require as much effort to “warm up” with the additional clothing. Sweats and hoodies are comfortable. They ensure that you’re not constantly sweating all over the equipment. They help to keep the bar in the palace during squats. You can avoid deadlift “bleeding shins”. And of course – they will cover up winter blubber and chicken legs.
Now for something completely different, but still workout- related. Check out my article about why your mouth tastes sweet after working out. Oh yes, it’s a “thing”!
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.