12 lightweight and breathable activewear pieces perfect for summer workouts
Beat the heat and humidity with this workout gear.
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Just about anywhere you shop these days, you’re bound to find activewear. Every brand seems to have a line full of items ranging from athleisure pieces that are meant for lounging to performance pieces that stand up to athlete level workouts. Given all these choices, it’s easy to buy a top or a pair of leggings only to realize mid-workout you're a soggy mess—especially during the warm weather that summer brings.
While you might be able to get away with wearing certain leggings or tops for workouts during winter, those items may leave you drenched in sweat in the summer sun.
If you’re looking to beat the heat and humidity with workout gear that’s lightweight and breathable, we combed through the internet to find pieces that will keep you sweat-free and cool, no matter if you’re running outside or taking a Zoom HIIT class indoors. Below are 12 lightweight and breathable activewear pieces, including some of our editors’ tried-and-true favorites.
1. A pair of breezy Lululemon shorts
These wildly popular Lululemon shorts have 1,000+ reviews and one of our editors, Courtney Campbell, gushes they are the only shorts she wears to run outside. According to Courtney they are the perfect length and just the right amount of looseness for a “breezier” workout. And happy Lululemon customers also back Courtney up with many saying “the best workout shorts” and “the fit and quality are excellent”. You may want to size up for a roomier fit, as many reviewers commented they sized-up and love the extra room.
2. A loose-fitting tank top from Athleta
This Athleta tank top has a perfect 5-star rating from over 2,300 reviews. Fans of this top love wearing it for activities like tennis, hiking, and yoga. Built-in ventilation holes help keep your body cool, and the open back detail allows for some airflow. As a bonus you can also wear the shirt as is or make it a tie-back shirt, giving you two shirts for the price of one. Many happy shoppers commented they have bought this tank over and over again with one writing, “I have 3 of these tanks in different colors. Material has a bit of stretch without getting baggy. Love the A-line cut and the small opening in the back for a nice flair.”
3. A stretchy onesie perfect for yoga
If you're looking for a bit more coverage for pilates, barre, and the like, look no further than the 5-star rated Elevate Onesie by brand Fourlaps, available in sizes XS to XXL. This adjustable one-piece is made of a moisture-wicking nylon-spandex mix for the perfect amount of stretch, and hits just above the ankle like your favorite pair of leggings. The brand uses recycled, sustainable materials, so you can feel good about your purchase, too.
4. These Nike shorts with added ventilation
With a rating of 4.7 stars from nearly 1,000 reviews, these are one of Nike’s most popular running shorts. These have an elastic waistband, a pocket for cash or keys, and side mesh panels which make your run extra breezy. Reviewers give them high marks for comfort and fit with one exclaiming, “These are the best go-to shorts! Lightweight, breathable, and pair well with anything.”
5. A short, ribbed one-piece
This 5-star rated ribbed onesie combines a tank and bike shorts into one seamless design—what could be easier to workout in than that? Constructed out of nylon and spandex for a stretchy, form-hugging fit, this one-piece works both as a stylish piece of athleisure and low-intensity workout 'fit. It comes in sizes XS to 2X and is available in both black and a bright, eye-catching pink. One reviewer's praises it as "great material, perfect fit, and true to size."
6. A sports bra that doubles as a crop top from Nordstrom
This sports bra from Nordstrom’s fitness brand Zella has over 4 stars from hundreds of reviews. Perfect for summer, it has a high neck which gives better compression to help keep everything in place while working out. The ventilated mesh panel in front and cutout in back help to keep you cool. You can also choose to wear it alone as a crop top, since it’s cut longer in length than most sports bras.
Reviewers of all shapes and sizes rave about the support and fit with one saying, “I have a larger chest and have a really hard time finding sports bras that fit me properly while also providing good support. This bra is the best bra I have EVER owned. It covers everything and keeps them in place.”
7. These Amazon bike shorts that have a cult following
People are obsessed with these bike shorts that have garnered nearly 6,500 reviews and a 4.3 rating. The moisture-wicking fabric will keep you dry during your workout, and the shorts have side and waistband pockets to stash your phone and keys. Fans of the shorts love them for running and hiking. One ultramarathoner writes, “ I wore them for the first time during a 10K race and they served me well. The high waist keeps my tummy in place. The 8" inseam is a comfortable length on my thighs—not too short or long. The legs didn't ride up either.”
8. This incredibly soft Alo crop tank
I bought this tank top from Alo on a whim, and I definitely do not regret it. This tank has become one of my go-to tops for light workouts because the buttery soft fabric makes it feel like it’s barely there. I also love that it’s a crop top that is not extremely short. This is great for someone like me that does not want to show a lot of their stomach. Alo devotees love to pair this with high-waisted leggings and have bought this tank in multiple colors with one reviewer saying, “I have 3 of these and am about to order another. They are perfect with high waist leggings.”
9. This lightweight long sleeve
Old Navy has recently introduced their new “Breathe ON” material, which is lightweight, breathable, and stretchy. This affordable shirt is made with the new material and already has a nearly perfect 5-star rating from over 500 reviews. It has a twist-front hem, which adds some style, and reviewers love the flattering fit and comfort of the shirt, claiming it’s perfect for running errands or for throwing on before and after workouts.
10. A seamless and stretchy tank from Sweaty Betty
Whether you prefer a serious sweat-inducing run or a lighter barre session, this Sweaty Betty tank is perfect for any kind of workout. It’s one of the most popular tank tops on Sweaty Betty’s website with over 700+ reviews and a 4.4 rating. It’s made of sweat-wicking and breathable fabric, and it’s seamless, meaning which means it will keep you dry and comfortable. Sweaty Betty enthusiasts love these tanks with one gushing, “Fab workout top. Lightweight and extremely flattering. Love the length of it as it comes down past your hips and stays down, unlike other tops that seem to creep up as you exercise. Great to layer with other colors too.”
11. These Bandier leggings that celebrities love
Editor and self-proclaimed yoga pants addict, Amanda Tarlton, recently tried the Center Stage leggings from Bandier and loved them so much that she added them into her weekly rotation. This comes as no surprise since the brand is also loved by celebrities like Ashley Graham and Bella Hadid. These leggings are made with a silky-smooth compression fabric and were so comfortable Amanda says, “When wearing them it was like I wasn't even wearing pants—which, for someone who hates pants, is a dream come true.” While they are comfortable enough to lounge in they also held up to the most sweat-inducing workouts.
12. This roomy tank from Target
If you’re looking for a soft and flowy basic tank that won’t break the bank, try this one from Target. It’s made of quick-dry and moisture-wicking fabric and has over 100 solid reviews. It’s recommended for workouts like yoga, barre, and pilates, but reviewers say they also use it for high-intensity workouts like running and training. The tank has a boxy cut for a roomier fit, making it easy to move without feeling constricted. Many reviewers rave about the fit and love that the larger armholes make it more of a “muscle tank.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.