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What Lies Beneath: Performance Underwear and the Wear-or-Go-Bare Debate

August 7th, 2015

_DLC8121 (1)You’re ready to hit the gym. You’re sporting a lightweight, Lycra-blend tank top, breathable microfiber shorts, a pair of moisture-repellant socks and top-of-the-line cross-trainers.

As for your underwear?

You picked the first pair you found in your drawer.

Excuse the pun, but if you fit that description, you’re behind the times.

You may not have heard, but skivvies have entered the realm of high-performance duds. “Technical” undies, as they’re sometimes called, provide stretch and support while keeping you cool and comfortable as you put your body through the paces.

Unlike its traditional cotton counterpart, technical underwear wicks sweat from your nether regions, helping you avoid embarrassing crotch stains and uncomfortable bacterial infections. It typically features edging designed to eliminate chafing, and antimicrobial treatments to combat odor.

Of course, you’ll pay a few bucks more for a pair of briefs that promises all that. But if they take you the extra mile, aren’t they worth it?

 Here, three pair of unmentionables worth a mention:

If a thong’s your thing, check out Nike’s Dri-FIT Low Rise Women’s Thong. It’s made of a sweat-absorbing polyester-spandex blend and has flat-seam construction to minimize irritation.

For more coverage, try Lululemon’s Light As Air Hipster. Its laser-cut construction helps eliminate VPL — visible panty lines, that is. Moisture-wicking fabric and a bonded cotton gusset enhance comfort and breathability.

For the gents, we favor Under Armour’s Iso-Chill 6” Mesh Boxerjock. Its quick-drying fabric helps disperse body heat; an antimicrobial treatment keeps stink at bay.

Cant I Just Go Commando?

laurrrrelThe wear-or-go-bare debate has been argued in gym circles since long before performance underwear hit the scene. The fact is, some workouts are best done commando, while others demand that you keep your knickers on.

Let’s take a look at three popular ways to work up a sweat:


If you’re an avid spinner or cyclist, drop the drawers. Wearing cycling shorts with underwear creates friction, chafing and regret with every pedal stroke.


Avoid redundancy by ditching the underwear and relying only on the liner found in most quality running shorts. You’ll not only spare yourself irritation, but the mortification of pulling at your wedgie every quarter-mile.


In any class that emphasizes stretching and flexibility, let discretion be your guide.

If you wear form-fitting tights without underwear, you leave little to your classmates’ imagination with every pose you strike. Pair a performance thong with those leggings, and the only thing they’ll notice is your fabulous form.

Similarly, male yogis who show up to class with boxers under their shorts risk revealing more than their intentions to get fit. Instead, opt for a pair of athletic shorts with a built-in moisture-wicking liner to keep the family jewels dry, supported and concealed.


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