How to pick the right activewear for maximum performance

With spring beginning and beach weather immanent (along with a slight panic our summer body progress is still in winter mode) it's important to have the right gear to help get you back on track. And of course look good while you're at it.

As the concept of what constitutes activewear has broadened, a specific set of rules for what to wear, when to wear it, and why has developed alongside.

Brands like Mr Porter, Nike and The Upside have been at the forefront of this, releasing designs that target the needs of specific physical activities. (Ironically, all available to purchase from the comfort of your sofa. Genius.)

The wellness wardrobe

Jodhi Meares, founder and Creative Director of The Upside, says that the embrace of activewear in daily life coincides with the wellness fad.

"Since we started The Upside we recognised that men's and women's wardrobes were shifting, dress codes were loosening and wellness was becoming a much bigger focus," explains Meares.

Men are now spoilt for choice when it comes to finding gear that helps them achieve peak performance while maintaining maximum style.

Here's how to match your gear to your chosen activity:

Mr Outdoorsy: hiking, running or walking

What to wear

Compression tights, long and thick cotton socks, sturdy sneakers, puffa vest or light jacket


How to wear them

This depends on the seriousness of your hike. Shorts with long, thick cotton socks will keep any bugs away whilst rocking a semi-trend at the same time (black on black, okay?).  You will also need to have a good pair of compression pants (with shorts over the top) that will give you enough stretch on steep inclines and Mother Nature-created stone steps.

Our picks

Dundas Fit compression pants, Stussy stock snapback cap, The Upside Newman tee, Nike running jacket.

Mr Serious: Functional training, weights, boxing

What to wear

Lightweight sneakers with a flat and stable sole, fitted tees, more compression pants, durable shorts, wireless headphones

How to wear them

Loose fitting, low cut (front and side) singlets are never a good look, plus they can actually be a hazard when you're working out so avoid at all costs. Invest in a good, well-fitted wardrobe made of durable, non-fade fabrics and is comfortable to wear whether you're busting out a double session of F45 Hollywood or boxing your way to the state championships.

Our picks

Nike Destroyer training gloves, The Upside PS Trainer Vest, Nike shorts.

Mr Specific: cycling, spin and sailing

What to wear

tech mesh anything, compression pants, high-vis (and we don't mean fluro), water-repellent and wind-resistant jackets, swim shorts.

How to wear them

It's ok to break-free from uniform black activewear for cycling, purely because you really want to be visible if you're skirting in and out of traffic. Something fun and bright will help you stand out, and if you're cycling in a pack it will help your biker buddies tell who you are and avoid an awkward conversation with someone you don't actually know either.  The bolder, the better we say.

High sea style

While these don't traditionally fit into the activewear category, being part of a crew on any serious yacht means you're going to have your work cut out for you.  Get a good boat shoe, for starters. A non-marking sole is a must, and something that you can get a bit comfortable in and can get wet without too many dramas (sea water, or a spilled glass of rose).  

You will also need a lightweight, wind-resistant jacket. If you want to complete the perfect sailing look, opt for a navy short, any kind of striped tee, and a red wind jacket so you can blend perfectly with the Red Ensign flying off the stern.

Our picks

POC Mesh and Stretch-Shell cycling jersey, Orlebar Brown striped tee, Musto Sailing Crew Stretch-Softshell sailing Jacket, Musto sailing sneakers, all from MR PORTER, Saturdays NYC Keigo postal blue shorts.

Mr Chill: yoga, pilates, tai chi

What to wear

Loose fitting shorts, comfy soft cotton tee, a hoodie, rubber slides

How to wear them

First up, ensure you're wearing relaxed fitting shorts (including underwear to avoid any embarrassing blunders on your yoga mat) but not too loose.

A comfy, soft cotton tee is going to come in handy but make sure it's a slightly fitted or made from a fabric with a fair amount of stretch so your shirt doesn't come down over your head as you're doing downward dog.  Also make sure you have something appropriate to wear after your session too – a soft hoodie you can wear as you smash down your post-stretch avo toast.

Our picks

Saturdays NYC Sleep Walk sweat shirt, SUPERDRY Gym Tech Slim Short, THE UPSIDE white muscle tee, Tommy Hilfiger top, Prada rubber slides.

Check out the gallery above to see our selection of the best activewear for men to help get you summer ready.