When it comes to dressing for cardio, there are several options you can choose from. You can start out wearing just a T-shirt and shorts, wear a single, thick layer, or dress in multiple layers. Time and time again, the multiple layering approach has proven to be the best.

What’s wrong with wearing just one layer?

Wearing just one layer means, especially if we’re talking just a Gym T-shirt and shorts, you are probably going to start your workout feeling cold. Not only that, your muscles will be cold too. Feeling cold can put a dent in your motivation and cold muscles do not perform well and are more likely to become injured.

In contrast, if your just one thick layer – say a tracksuit, you’ll be warm when you start but you’ll soon start to heat up and may find you get too hot as your cardio workout progresses. This might mean you get sweaty and uncomfortable and, if you overheat, you may even have to stop your workout prematurely.

Dressing in multiple layers requires a little more planning but doing so can really help performance.

Proper layering

Layering starts with proper undergarments. These are usually snug-fitted, stretchy and supportive. Compression wear is the ideal choice. Sleeves and legs can be long or short as required. Your next layer is your regular workout layer – shorts and exercise top for example. This provides an extra layer of insulation plus some people feel self-conscious in compression wear. The next layer is a warm-up jacket or similar. This should ideally have a full zip and a hood for easy temperature control and venting. Finally, and only if you are exercising out of doors, consider an outer layer comprising of windproof/waterproof material such as a rain suit and don’t forget a hat and gloves if it’s really cold.

Start warm – remove layers as you heat up

Wearing layers allows you to start your workout feeling warm and comfortable and then remove clothing as you heat up. This will maximize performance while keeping you comfortable. If you feel too hot or too cold, your concentration will be on your temperature and not on your workout which could limit your performance. Wearing layers will free your mind so you can focus purely on your workout. Then, as you slow down and move into your cool-down and stretch, you can replace layers to prevent getting too cold.

Don’t try and sweat fat off…

Contrary to popular belief, sweating more than usual will not help you lose fat faster. Yes, you will lose weight if you sweat heavily, but that weight is only water and will soon be replaced when you next take a drink. Wear layers to stay comfortably warm and remove layers to prevent overheating. Don’t layer up to try and sweat more in an attempt to burn fat faster. If anything, getting overly hot will make you uncomfortable and may mean you can’t work out as hard as you would like to. Similarly, don’t try and sweat out a cold; it just places unnecessary strain on your immune system.

If you want to perform at your best and be comfortable during your workouts, layering is the way to go. Two or three layers are usually all that is required but in very cold or wet climates, you might need more. Add or remove layers as necessary to keep your temperature stable and comfortable.