Three Masculine of Center Workout Looks for Hitting the Gym in Style

I love working out — my anxious thoughts quiet down, I’m focused on my body’s functions, and after a heavy lifting session, my body looks the way I like it best: muscular and wide-shouldered, and more conventionally “masculine.” I feel so much healthier after a good gym session.

That said, finding comfy workout garb that also reflects my gender is not easy. For me (a white genderqueer average-to-thin-bodied person assigned female whose body needs no visible accommodations to work out), there are two major issues when striving for masculine of center presentation at the gym. First, men’s clothing is not designed to accommodate a body with boobs or hips, even relatively small and narrow ones like mine! Second, mass-produced men’s activewear is overwhelmingly NOT CUTE. Wearing a boxy tank top and long shorts that ride up my buttcrack does not at all make me feel comfortable in my body or gender, so I look for clothing in the women’s section and try to own it.

If you’re facing similar obstacles, I hope these outfit ideas will be helpful to you:

Look #1: Embrace the Stretch

Photo via the author

I am not a fan of my boobs. Like many MOC folks, I prefer to bind my chest under my favorite t-shirts and button-downs. However, binding in the gym is a bad idea. It’s such a bad idea that I still try it every once in awhile to remind myself how bad it is. Passing out under a barbell is not a good look!

The way I deal with potential chest dysphoria at the gym may seem counterintuitive: I wear the stretchiest, most unsupportive sports bra I can get away with (a low-impact activity like yoga lends itself best to this technique). Non-constricting pieces like compressionless bottoms and structureless tops help me forget about my body’s secondary sex characteristics, giving my mind the space to relax and feel my body’s breath, elongations, and contractions. When I’m feeling extra self-conscious about my chest, I throw on a loose unisex tee — ideally one made of soft, quick-drying fabric.

Look #2: Sporty Streetwear

Photo via the author

Not all workouts require head-to-toe sweat-wicking technology. The air-conditioned climbing gym I visit is perfect for sporting MOC items that I also wear out and about, like my denim cutoffs, but any of your favorite bottoms will do as long as they let your little leggies move! Joggers are another staple for these situations.

The tank top pictured here is from Doughnuts & Deadlifts, started by addiction recovery advocate Krissy Mae Cagney and influenced by amazing trans athlete/Cagney’s BFF Chloie Jönsson. D&D donated profits from this extremely popular pride design to Equality Nevada.

Look #3: A Boi Can Dream


1. Tee 2. Shorts 3. Socks

If I could go on a shopping spree right now, I would snatch up a couple pairs of the Ranger shorts from Doughnuts & Deadlifts. I believe strongly in the power of short shorts for every gender presentation, and the model’s legs in the sample picture are very aspirational for me! I’ve also heard that men’s tops from Lululemon are almost worth the money (the color of this one is called “heathered bordeaux drama”). Throw in some sick high top socks and I’m ready to hit a PR — or just take a bunch of locker room selfies.

Fellow MOC folx, what are you wearing to the gym these days?

Kat Williams is a Midwestern writer of essays, jokes, and lengthy apologies. She lives in Austin, TX with her beloved pug mix, Chunkler.

Kat has written 1 articles for us.

17 Comments

  1. Short navy gym shorts from the men’s department (although they have weird netting inside which I guess has something to do with cis male genitalia but they’re not boardies so like why would you not wear underpants to the gym??).

    Loose fitting t-shirt that I can tuck into shorts when doing overhead movements.

    I have always hated the idea of wearing anything tight to the gym as it makes me feel even more body conscious in a place that actively focusses on bodies. Is there any actual scientific benefit to wearing tight stuff?

  2. My go-to shirts are T shirts with the sleeves cut off. It has the double positives of helping to minimize my chest AND keep me considerably cooler than having even just T shirt sleeves.

    For shorts I do prefer longer, kinda baggy shorts mostly because I CAN’T STAND my thighs touching anything in general, but especially sticking to weight machines or an erg (or any associated chafing). As I’m getting back into erging though, I’m remembering why baggy shorts aren’t the best choice for that, so I’m kinda in the market for longer shorts, preferably not skintight but like if I’m just going to erg skintight is fine because I’m used to that after rowing in college but it’s not my fave for doing other workouts, that won’t get caught in the erg.

    And due to health stuff, I have a wide variety of RIDICULOUS compression socks. They’re nifty in both that they help a lot in preventing me from passing out (though uh, not enough that I don’t freak people like my poor PT when I was doing PT for my ankle) and also that they get my presentation from DUDEBRO to ?????? gender-wise

  3. Hi everyone, thank you for the great article. I’m a non-binary transguy and yoga enthusiast, and I just wanted to let you know I’m in the process of developing “all gender” yoga shorts. We’re hoping to launch the Kickstarter campaign for them by the end of the year (the video is in production) and we hope to donate a percentage of sales to LGBTQIA and animal rights causes. The shorts are super comfy and I designed them myself after years (a lifetime!) of trying to find something comfortable and non-gender-specific to wear for yoga that would not be too revealing and that would allow range of motion. Anyway, if that sounds of interest to anyone here, please feel free to check out the website. It’s http://www.radialwear.com – I will post info. there once the campaign is up and running, and there are also new Instagram and Facebook accounts up that I will populate once I learn more about how to do that :). Thanks again for the great article~!! Ari

  4. Sports bra and T-shirt with the sleeves cut off always helped with the boob dysphoria pre top surgery. It seemed counter-intuitive to show off a sports bra but boobs are noticeable either way and a shirt stretching across my chest was always THE WORST.

    I’m also so on-board with short shorts for all genders!

  5. I think they’re called basketball shorts but to me they’re just gym shorts. As in like gym class at school in the aught years.

    Men’s department ones are longer of course but the one pair women’s I have are thicker and sturdier without being volleyball short.

  6. Just any baggy tshirt, rugby shots and undershorts. I cannot do anything without undershorts, because i have thighs, and they rub. I dont really think about my gender presentation in exercise gear, its mostly practical reasons, like rugby socks are thick enough that my boots fit, or shorts with pockets to hold my mouth guard.

    I almost always wear shorts over trousers unless im outside in freezing temps. Also i prefer sleeveless baggy tshirts to ones with sleeves. Basically seeing the muscles i am working and building makes me feel stronger, and positive about my body. It reminds me of things i can do, instead of wallowing in things i cant.

  7. I love this!! Joggers are all that I wear, I’ve been able to find some in the women’s sections which fit well and look sporty, not particularly feminine. I have a handful of plain men’s sports t shirts that I wear but they are all really long (to be roomy enough to not be tight on my boobs) and I feel like a little kid when I wear them 🙁 I’m really self conscious of wearing tank tops and shorts because of my body hair, I wish I wasn’t. The tip about wearing stretchy and unsupportive sports bras is so true!! Thanks for this article.

  8. Basketball shorts, usually from the men’s section because pockets! sleeveless tee for the freedom of movement and it just feels better, and a backwards baseball cap to keep hair out of my face. I call it my Super Dyke outfit.

  9. My workout bottoms are all athletic stretchy pants that I cut into at-the-knee shorts. My tops are old t-shirts cut into tanks or I have a couple tanks that have the drawstring at the bottom so it stays put during downward dog.

    I present masculine and have noticeably hairy legs and pits. It took me a long time to get comfortable with that at the gym. I also freakin love doing Zumba. And damnit, I’m really good at it! I’ve got hips and a butt that are excellent for shaking. But I used to feel weird about moving my body in a way that emphasizes my womanly parts while dressing and looking quite masculine. Over time, I just decided FUCK IT, I love dancing and it feels great and who cares what anyone else thinks! I can be masculine AND be proud of my booty shaking abilities!

    Thank you for this article!

  10. Basketball shorts and a baggy Stonewall tank top that says “SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY, GET OVER IT” in huge letters. It makes me feel defiantly strong. I almost always have hairy pits and often have hairy legs. I usually feel nervous about my hair while I lace up my trainers, but by the time I get out into the gym, I forget about it. Until I’m lifting weights and showing off my furry underarms, at which point I feel gleefully badass. Which is a lovely feeling, because I am not badass.

  11. I was VERY ALARMED in my first (and subsequent) yoga class to realise I was the only person not wearing leggings.

    I usually wear baggy t-shirts and cropped sweatpants that show off my hairy calves, and a scowl.

    It is possible that I’m not really cut out for yoga.

  12. Honestly a strong aversion to typical women’s fitness wear was one of the biggest reasons I didn’t adopt a fitness practice for years and years! (I’m a CrossFit convert now of about 6 months’ standing.) Whatever my gender presentation may be, it seems not to allow for things like lycra tank tops or leggings.

    Finally a queer strength training class I wanted to check out convinced me to tackle the problem and get a pair of jogger pants. Felt really, really weird at first! but now I barely even feel awkward when I run into the grocery store after a workout in ’em. I wear those with normal t-shirts and have also branched out into various shorts configurations. The kind that are like soccer shorts attached to a more fitted inner layer are kinda nice if you’re doing any upside-down work.

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