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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

51 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best plus-size workout tops for women

A workout top should be comfortable and easy to wear. An unobstructed range of motion allows you to move freely so you gain the maximum benefit from your exercise. According to some wearers, fitted workout tops are better because there is no extra material to get in the way. For other people, loose workout tops are far more comfortable during exercise.

Deciding which style of workout top you prefer can take a bit of trial-and-error. Most women invest in more than one style. Classic T-shirts are universally appealing and available in a wide variety of cuts. Sleeveless workout tops, such as tank tops and muscle tees, can help keep the wearer cool. Women who enjoy exercising outdoors in cool temperatures often gravitate toward long-sleeve workout tops.

Wondering which styles belong in your wardrobe? We invite you to continue reading this buying guide on plus-size workout tops where we cover everything you need to know to make your choice a simple one.

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Some sleeveless workout tops have built-in bras for additional support. These tops are highly popular with women who enjoy medium- and high-impact workouts, such as cross-training and Zumba.

Key considerations

Comfort

Comfort is key when it comes to finding the right workout top. It should allow for a full range of motion, and it should not require frequent adjustments to stay put. Some workout tops are more successful at not riding up or shifting than others, such as those with adjustable, elastic, and ribbed hems.

Fit

Your top should fit you well, especially in the sleeves and around the bust. Hem length is another important factor when discussing fit. Some wearers feel more comfortable with waist-length hems, whereas others prefer longer hems that provide more coverage.

Color and style

Whether you’re into bold colors and patterns or prefer neutrals, the best workout tops are the ones you like the looks of. It may sound like a superficial detail, but stylists and fitness gurus agree that wearing clothes that make you feel confident can have a positive impact on your workout.

To preserve the logo on your workout top, wash it inside out to reduce peeling and cracking.

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Features

Material

At one time, cotton reigned as the preferred material for most clothing, including exercise wear. These days, it’s far more common to see workout tops made of synthetic materials like polyester, spandex, rayon, and nylon. These materials stretch to provide a better fit, and they wash and wear better than cotton. They are color-fast, won’t shrink, and are less likely to appear worn out.

It’s also common for modern-day workout wear to have wick-away or odor-neutralizing properties, both of which come in handy when you’re working up a sweat.

Size

Women’s plus-size workout tops are usually available in sizes 1X through 5X. However, it is common to find size discrepancies across different brands. One company’s 1X might fit like another company’s 2X. Fortunately, sizing charts are often provided when ordering this type of athletic wear online.

Another consideration to keep in mind is whether the material will shrink in the washing machine. Cotton/polyester blends often shrink. If you choose this material, you may want to consider sizing up to account for shrinkage.

Style

Classic T-shirt

The classic T-shirt is a popular option for working out. T-shirts are comfortable and easy to match with virtually any type of workout bottom, from leggings to jogger sweatpants. Depending on how fitted it is, a T-shirt may be highly conducive to layering, serving either as a base layer or an outer layer.

A significant feature to compare among T-shirts is collar style. Crew neck T-shirts are common. V-neck collars are also popular, as are bateau necklines, which graze the collarbone.

While classic, T-shirts aren’t without their pitfalls. With a boxy, straight-line cut, they are not always the most flattering pieces. And since they have sleeves, they may reveal sweat stains beneath the arms.

Sleeveless tops

Sleeveless styles compete with classic T-shirts for top rank in workout wear. Countless designs exist, including tank tops, muscle tees, and racerback tops.

A sleeveless top can keep the wearer cool when worn alone. It can also serve as a lightweight base layer. Women who lift weights often prefer sleeveless tops because they can more easily check their form in the mirror. With sleeves in the way, this is harder to do.

With so many differences in cut and style, it may take a bit of time to find the right fit in a sleeveless top. Notably, some women shy away from sleeveless workout tops, citing that the shirts are a bit too revealing for their comfort level.

Long-sleeve shirts

Long-sleeve workout shirts are popular for outdoor wear, though many women embrace these styles for indoor workouts as well. In addition to long-sleeve T-shirts, there are many long-sleeve compression shirts on the market.

Most long-sleeve styles have a crew neck or mock turtleneck, though a few V-neck options exist as well. Certain long-sleeve shirts have thumb holes to prevent sleeves from riding up during activity. Others are lined with fleece to keep the wearer warm in plunging temperatures.

Long-sleeve workout tops are not for everyone. Some women say these styles cause them to sweat more than expected. Others find that long-sleeve styles tend to have much shorter hems than other styles of workout tops.

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DID YOU KNOW?
If you’re doing a lot of up-and-down activity, such as in yoga or Pilates, you may wish to wear a workout top with a long hem that can be tucked into your workout bottoms to prevent it from riding up.
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Plus-size workout tops for women: size

Inexpensive: Basic workout tops cost $15 or less. These styles may be made of cotton, a cotton blend, or a polyester blend. Construction quality is hit-or-miss in this range, and it’s common for these tops to have fairly short lifespans.

Mid-range: Mid-range workout tops run between $17 and $35. Expect to see superior construction quality and better-known name brands on the tags. Workout tops with stylish patterns, cut-outs, and unique strap designs also exist here.

High-end: High-end workout tops cost closer to $50 and are usually made by premium athletic apparel brands. Some are performance-oriented, such as compression shirts and specialty yoga tops. Others wear a higher price tag simply because they are on-trend styles or made by premium fashion brands.

Wash cotton and polyester blends in cool water, and hang them to dry to prevent them from shrinking or warping.

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Tips

  • Keep a spare top in your gym bag. It’s always a good idea to have a backup workout top in your gym bag. In the event your top gets saturated with sweat, you can change into a new one instead of walking or driving around in wet gear.
  • Customize your workout tee. Some women recommend cutting off the sleeves and neckline to turn the tee into a custom muscle shirt.
  • Save worn-out workout shirts. Old workout shirts can be repurposed as clothes to wear during DIY and home improvement projects. Some animal shelters accept gently used clothing and can turn old shirts into pillows or blankets to keep residents comfortable while they wait for their forever homes.
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It’s common for women to purchase the same workout top in several colors. This makes assembling an outfit hassle-free because you already know how the tops fit.

FAQ

Q. Is it a fashion faux pas to mix my workout top with bottoms and sneakers from other brands?

A. According to some stylists, yes. According to the average person, not at all. At the end of the day, your workout getup should make you feel comfortable regardless of matching brands or logos.

Q. Why are so many workout tops sheer?

A. It boils down to material blend. Most cotton and cotton-blend workout tops are opaque, though some styles are more revealing of bra lines than others. It’s common for polyester and spandex blends to appear sheer, especially in lighter colors like pastels, simply because they are lightweight and made of fine fibers.

Q. What is the best type of sports bra to wear with a workout top?

A. Your choice of sports bra should depend primarily on the nature of your activity. Most sports bras are comfortable and suitable to wear with virtually any workout top you choose.

 

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