The Best Underwear For Working Out, According to Gynecologists & Fitness Enthusiasts

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Our top picks from Aerie, Commando, Fabletics, Skims, and more.

<p>InStyle / Kristin Kempa</p>

InStyle / Kristin Kempa

You may think you’ve got the coolest workout set in the game, but the quality of your training is just as dependent upon that thong or pair of briefs you’ve got underneath. The construction of your workout underwear is crucial to your hygiene. While there are stylish options on the market with tech to prevent visible panty lines, compression to smooth your tummy, and colorways to match your sports bras, equally as important is your fabric of choice.

“Two main factors to consider in terms of workout underwear are material and breathability,” board-certified gynecologist Dr. Karen Tang tells InStyle. “You want to minimize moisture and friction which can be irritating to sensitive vulva skin. This is especially important when it’s hot or humid, or for activities like biking or spinning where the vulva can get particularly irritated. With exercise, you may want to go slightly looser than usual for underwear sizing, to avoid friction with running or other rapid movements,” she says.

We took into consideration tips from Dr. Tang, as well as recommendations from OB/GYNs Dr. Iurchenko Olena and Dr. Hina Cheema. Lydia Mok, Community Director at active brand Wondery Outdoors; Alexandra Kondracki, Director of Merchandising at Commando; yoga instructor Dianne Bondy; and fashion blogger Chasity Jernigan also shared their top picks for seamless, no-show, and plus-size workout underwear at a variety of price points and in a range of silhouettes. Ahead, read up on the best of the best in each category and shop your optimal pick by your activity of choice.

Related: Here Are The 13 Best Activewear Brands You Should Be Sporting Right Now

Best Overall: Commando Classic Control Brief

$48 at Amazon.com

$34 at Nordstrom.com



What We Love: It’s fit-tested by real women and many reviewers confirm it doesn’t ride up.

What We Don’t Love: Relatively high price point and not offered in white.



Commando is known for some of the best underwear in the business, and its classic control brief reigns supreme for a variety of workouts, according to customer reviews. (It’s the third-most best-selling item on the site, after a pair of faux-leather leggings and a sculpting bra.) With light to moderate compression and zero seams, the panty, made from a microfiber blend, is smoothing, and there’s a 100% cotton gusset for comfort. It’s resistant to pilling and also machine washable, which makes things easy when you’re ready for another workout stat.

Price at time of publish: $48

Size: XS–3X | Material: Nylon, elastane | Cut: Brief

Best Budget: Fruit of the Loom Women’s Plus Fit For Me Breathable Micro-Mesh Brief Panty

See at Fruit.com

See at Walmart.com



What We Love: The style is tag-free and very lightweight with full coverage.

What We Don’t Love: Some wearers say the fabric feels too thin for their liking or that the waistband height varies depending on the pair.



According to Jernigan these panties are comfortable and fit like a dream. Plus, they’re super-affordable with a 10-pack ringing in at less than $30. With many color options, from classic black and white to shades of purple, these micro-mesh briefs offer full coverage and have a breathable waistband. You’ll feel like you rarely have to replace your workout underwear.

Price at time of publish: $29 for a pack of 10

Size: 6–10 in low-rise; 9–13 in plus-size | Material: Polyester, spandex | Cut: Brief

Best No-Show: Aerie No Show Thong Underwear

See at Ae.com



What We Love: Even though they’re buttery-soft, they still hold their shape even after washing.

What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers report they have a narrow gusset and came too small.



Aerie’s no-show collection is made for wearing under leggings, so it’s a safe bet to avoid panty lines. With raw cut edges that are designed to hide under any outfit, the design is a best seller with wicking properties to keep you dry. What’s more, it comes in 12 colorways ranging from neutrals to cool, ethereal shades. If you prefer a brief, the cheeky fit is available, too, at the same price point.

Price at time of publish: $9

Size: XXS–XXL | Material: Recycled nylon, elastane | Cut: Thong

Best Seamless: Skims Seamless Sculpt High-Waist Thong

$32 at Nordstrom.com

See at Skims.com



What We Love: You simply can’t beat Skims' color selection — this thong comes in 10 shades, from Sand to Onyx.

What We Don’t Love: If you’re not working out in high-rise pants, these will rise way above your waistband.



This Skims thong is a best seller and comes in the wide variety of neutral shades the Kim Kardashian-beloved brand is known for. With strong compression, the perfectly stretchy design cinches the waist without any panty lines. We also love that there’s a wider crotch for added coverage, and interior silicone comprising the waistband to prevent rolling. The gusset is made from 100% cotton.

Price at time of publish: $32

Size: XXS–4X | Material: Recycled nylon, nylon, elastane | Cut: High-waist thong

Best for Under Leggings: MeUndies MoveMe Breathable Thong

See at Meundies.com



What We Love: You can save up to 30% if you opt-in for a membership, which will always keep you well-stocked.

What We Don’t Love: While there are plenty of adventurous prints, there are no nude tones offered in the minimalist classic shades.



Designed for movement, this thong is lightweight and packed with all the tech properties an athlete could ever hope for, from anti-odor, moisture-wicking fabric to bonded seams for invisible panty lines underneath your leggings. Being that most leggings are body-conscious, behaving like a second skin, a thong is usually preferable, and this one is spot-on for everyday activity — especially if you’re running errands or grabbing brunch after a workout class.

Price at time of publish: $22

Size: XS–4XL | Material: Nylon, elastane, recycled nylon | Cut: Thong

Best for Yoga: Lululemon UnderEase Super-High-Rise Shortie Underwear 5"

See at Shop.lululemon.com



What We Love: They come in a two-pack and the fabric is derived from responsibly sourced wood-based materials.

What We Don’t Love: Since the material is thin, some shoppers report that the white shade is see-through.



These soft underwear shorts are extremely breathable and flexible — basically, all you’d want for yoga. In a silky-soft fabric that’s sweat-wicking and has a four-way stretch, the 5-inch length means you’ll be comfortable striking all of your poses without worrying about anything riding up. Wear them under sweatpants or as is and stay comfortable with the chafe-resistant seams and smooth waistband that doesn’t dig in while you’re stretching out.

Price at time of publish: $54 for a pack of 2

Size: XS–XXL | Material: Modal, elastane | Cut: High-rise shorts

Best for Pilates: Victoria’s Secret Logo Cotton Shortie Panty

See at Victoriassecret.com



What We Love: You can choose the width of your waistband depending on your chosen print or colorway, and if you buy in bulk, you save.

What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers report issues with washing, from loose seams to thinning fabric.



Victoria’s Secret has long been a trusted brand for underwear, and the brand’s cotton shorties are a consistent best seller. Offering just the right amount of coverage, the mid-rise cut is secured with a classic logo waistband, and you can choose between thin or thicker bands. A Pilates workout involves plenty of movement and position shifting, so the added coverage of a shortie, as opposed to a thong or bikini, is preferable.

Price at time of publish: $30 for a pack of 5

Size: XS–XXL | Material: Cotton, modal, elastane | Cut: Boyshort

Best for Running: Caterlove Women’s Seamless Underwear No Show Stretch Bikini Panties

$18 at Amazon.com



What We Love: The style is available in four multi-pack assortments at an affordable price point.

What We Don’t Love: Some users report that the underwear rides down a bit when they sit.



For running and active training, it’s best to look for breathable stretch underwear that doesn’t ride up or cause chafing. It’s also smart to invest in multi-packs, as running gear is often replaced since it’s a high-intensity sport. For that reason, a pack you can re-order quickly at a low price point is key. With over 1,500 reviews on Amazon, this pack is best-selling and customers say that they appreciate the seamless appearance when they’re on the go (no visible panty lines here!)

Price at time of publish: $13 for a pack of 6

Size: XS–XL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Cut: Hipster bikini

Best Sweat-Wicking: Knix Zones+ Ultra Leakproof High-Rise

See at Knix.com



What We Love: There are moisture-absorbing panels extending to the waistband at the back; yet, it still washes like regular underwear.

What We Don’t Love: The higher price point.



Bondy says that when she teaches yoga, she wears this “period” underwear to stop the “swamp crotch.” As someone who looks for moisture-wicking and fast-drying materials with odor absorption tech, she says they feel particularly fresh. Meanwhile, Dr. Cheema would approve of Knix’s fabric being 70% nylon, as it works to draw moisture away from the vulva. This underwear is designed to feel snug, but with a relaxed fit, and has over 5,500 reviews and 4.5 stars to prove its protective coverage and support.

Price at time of publish: $39

Size: XS–XXXXL | Material: Nylon, spandex | Cut: High-rise with medium coverage

Best Cotton: Gap Organic Stretch Cotton Bikini

See at Gap.com



What We Love: Sustainable choice with great reviews on fit.

What We Don’t Love: Only available in three shades; sizing runs small according to customers.



If you don’t sweat much while working out, cotton underwear is for you. It’s breathable, which promotes air circulation, and it’s hypoallergenic, according to Dr. Cheema. Gap’s underwear in particular is made from organic cotton, which is grown without the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. It can be thrown in the machine for an easy wash, and most reviewers give these five stars for a great fit.

Price at time of publish: $45 for a pack of 5

Size: XXS–XXL | Material: Organic cotton, spandex | Cut: Bikini

Best Plus-Size: Lane Bryant Comfort Bliss High-Waist Brief Panty

See at Lanebryant.com



What We Love: Not only are they extra-soft, but they also come in a wide range of colors and prints.

What We Don’t Love: The waistband becomes less stable after washing.



Both Bondy and Jernigan consider Lane Bryant a go-to for plus-size workout underwear, with Bondy touting this Comfort Bliss style as the perfect high-waist pair. “I have a tummy so I want that extra coverage to ensure that I’m not constantly fidgeting with my clothing. If the foundation is terrible, expect to have an unproductive workout,” she told InStyle. With a range of colors and even fun, splashy patterns, many of these styles also come with matching full-coverage bras that are just as supportive as the underwear. The panties are made from extra-soft brushed fabric with 360 degrees of stretch, and the full coverage silhouette means there won’t be any rolling at the waistband or digging at the top of the thigh near the gusset.

Price at time of publish: $35 for a pack of 5

Size: 14/16–38/40 | Material: Nylon, spandex | Cut: High-waist brief

Best Bikini: Fabletics No Show Mid-Rise Bikini

See at Fabletics.com



What We Love: You can save up to 80% if you become a Fabletics member with your purchase.

What We Don’t Love: Some people say the crotch area is narrow for a brief, almost veering into thong territory.



With hundreds of positive reviews, this is the best-selling bikini underwear at Fabletics that is ultra-soft and described as “barely there.” They’re low-rise, so if you’re not in a high-rise legging, they’ll still work with your outfit. Most people are delightfully surprised upon reviewing them that they really are a no-show style, as such a claim can be difficult to prove. We love that they come in six different shades with two limited edition colors if you’re trying to collect as many as possible.

Price at time of publish: $17

Size: XXS–4X | Material: Polyamide, elastane | Cut: Mid-rise bikini

Best Boyshort: TomboyX Boy Shorts

See at Tomboyx.com



What We Love: Sustainable, available in a wide variety of colors and sizes.

What We Don’t Love: Some shoppers report the banding around the thigh is too thick or tight.



These boyshorts are famous for a wedgie-free fit and the waistband doesn’t ride up or down, even though it’s made from a super-silky soft fabric. TomboyX is an inclusive brand that values sustainable practices, which is an immediate plus, plus products are fit-tested on bodies ranging in sizes 3XS to 6X, so you can be sure feedback comes into consideration during the design process.

Price at time of publish: $20

Size: 3XS–6X | Material: OEKO-TEX certified cotton, spandex | Cut: Boyshort

Best Brief: Anita Essential High-Waist Briefs

See at Anita.com



What We Love: These have free shipping and are also machine washable at 40 degrees.

What We Don’t Love: Sizing is limited to two different options, which makes shopping difficult if you’re in between sizes.



These briefs are seamless and hug your curves, fitting like a second skin. They have flat bonded side seams and edges that make them invisible under clothes, with an added cotton gusset for comfort. The velvety multi-stretch fabric feels particularly luxe, along with the fact that you can shop these panties in 13 color options.

Price at time of publish: $19

Size: SM–LXL | Material: Nylon, elastane | Cut: High-waist brief

Best Thong: Spanx Undie-Tectable Thong

$22 at Amazon.com

See at Nordstrom.com



What We Love: You can save when you purchase in a bundle.

What We Don’t Love: The fabric quality has inconsistent reviews, with some shoppers describing it as too thick.



This incredibly smooth thong fits like a light hug, according to Spanx’s site. The smoothing waistband is thick but doesn’t ride too high, and it offers a touch of compression that doesn’t feel restricting. Available in seven neutral shades, along with more fun pigments like Wild Rose and Red Pop, the tummy-smoothing pants also have elastic-free edges.

Price at time of publish: $24

Size: XS–XL | Material: Nylon, elastane | Cut: Thong

What to Keep in Mind

Material

Olena reminds us that the most important thing to look for in workout underwear is its ability to manage moisture. A material that combines natural and synthetic threads are sweat-wicking to prevent unpleasant odors and irritation to the skin. So, in this case, look for high nylon, polyester, or cotton percentages. (Victoria’s Secret Logo Cotton Shortie Panty is perhaps the best example of this — it's made of cotton and modal with a high spandex content for a super smooth fit.) However, in general, airy, lightweight fabrics are best.

Cut

Whatever your chosen cut — be it a low-rise brief, thong, or high-waist bikini — it should stretch well so that your movements are not restricted during activity. If you’re unsure which cut is right for you, remember that great workout underwear follows the curves of your body, so try to match up a silhouette to your natural figure. No matter what shape you favor, internal seams, gusset overlays, and waistbands should not be rough against the skin, irritating, or constricting — so be sure to test out these details before undergoing a long workout in new underwear you’ve never tried before.

Size

Never take on a workout in underwear that feels too small. “Workout underwear should fit snugly without squeezing the body,” Olena says. So, how do you know if you’ve bought the wrong size? “If there are marks on the skin after training, consider choosing a larger size.” If you’re in a size too large, your clothing may bunch at the waist and hips, causing discomfort throughout the workout.

Your Questions, Answered

How often should you replace your workout underwear?

Most gynecologists and health experts recommend refreshing your workout underwear drawer every 6 to 12 months, depending on workout intensity. However, key factors to take into consideration include the cleanliness of your undergarments due to proper washing methods. If you usually engage in high-intensity activities that result in excessive sweating, you should look out for stretched elastic or lingering odors even after wash, which indicates it’s time for a refresh. Olena recommends using daily pads to protect the elements of your underwear for longer. Of course, changing out of your workout underwear immediately after physical activity is a must — and you should take a shower, afterward, too. “Prolonged moisture is a breeding ground for yeast infection,” Dr. Cheema says.

What workout underwear should you wear in warm and cold climates?

Properties you should look for in workout underwear for warm weather include lightweight or moisture-wicking fabric to avoid overheating. In colder climates, moisture-wicking is still important, as dampness can make you feel even colder at low temperatures, but you should also choose styles that provide insulation or warmth. In other words, don’t be afraid to opt for thicker underwear.

What are the best workout underwear brands?

While there are plenty of brands that make best-selling underwear for movement (Lululemon, Athleta, Fabletics, and MeUndies, to name a few), Dr. Cheema reminds us that it’s less about the brand and more about the material — which is why we’re here to shed light on the specs. If you’re trying to save and are opting for a lesser-known brand, Dr. Cheema advises to look out for leaking dyes, since some may contain chemicals that can be irritating to sensitive skin, causing inflammation or allergic reactions when there is prolonged exposure.

Why Shop With Us

Sarah Wasilak is a published writer, podcast host, and the Associate Director of Commerce at Popsugar. She writes across the fashion, fitness, and lifestyle categories with a strong focus on amplifying minority voices in her work, showcasing and uplifting a diverse group of people with every story she writes.

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