Until a few years ago it was virtually impossible for plus-size people to find gym clothes that would fit them. Fortunately, it now seems brands are catching on to the fact that, actually, people of all sizes work out – so we’re starting to see more and more variety in the workout gear that’s available to us, which is as it should be.
However, it’s fair to say that not all products are created equally, and just because something goes up to a seemingly bigger size, it doesn’t mean it will actually be fit for purpose (we’re mostly looking at you, size 12 garments that are labelled as XXL). That said, for every brand that’s left us feeling disappointed, there are many collections that actually do fit and truly deliver in every aspect.
There’s no denying that shopping for sports bras, gym leggings, running jackets and comfortable T-shirts isn’t quite as easy as it should be. While there are a fair few brands, such as Nike, Adidas and Good American, that have plus-size ranges, alongside high street stores, including H&M and M&S – plus the indie brands that are catering to different body types – the majority of them are only available online.
It’s no secret that it’s virtually impossible to shop for these products in real-life bricks-and-mortar stores. Full-size ranges are often online exclusives and, aside from spending a fortune just to do a mass try-on, there’s not really any other option to find the perfect kit.
But that’s where we come in – we’ve done the hard work for you, gathering the best of the best, so you know whether it’s worth splashing the cash or not. Keep reading to discover our favourite plus-size gym wear that will help you work out in both style and comfort.
Read more: Best running shoes for women that really go the distance
Whether you shop exclusively on the high street, prefer to scour the internet, or want a brand that’s independent, there’s something here that will please, fit and suit everyone.
One of the first brands to branch out into plus-size sportswear (Nike even had a plus-size mannequin in its Oxford Street flagship store), Nike’s selection is impressive and the sizing is generous – its 3XL equals a size UK30-32.
Whether you’re looking for high-waisted leggings to lounge around the house in, or you need the infamous Dri-Fit material for some more intense training, there is a style, fabric, length and colourway to suit just about every occasion and every body. Plus, we’re giving Nike a bonus point for modelling its range on real people. Seeing what garments actually look like on bodies that look like ours, instead of just a cut-out image, really takes the guesswork out of online shopping.
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A former fashion-stylist colleague put Girlfriend Collective on our radar and we’re so glad they did. Alongside the inclusive sizing, the brand’s imagery really is a breath of fresh air in the fitness industry – which, as we are all well aware, could be a whole lot more inclusive than it currently is.
The entire range – which is made up of sports bras, leggings, unitards, dresses and shorts – is made from sustainable, ethically sourced fabric, which is something of a rarity in the plus-size fashion world. In fact, the sheer amount of choice of styles makes you forget you’re shopping plus-size. We’re particularly fond of the high-waisted pocket legging (£70, Thesportsedit.com) for a secure, comfortable pair of leggings that won’t roll down.
While shops, including Selfridges, stock them, disappointingly they don’t carry the full XXS-6XL selection (in fact, Selfridges stock only up to XXL). We recommend shopping from The Sports Edit, which has the biggest selection out of all the UK stockists
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Lizzo has come to steal the crown of the legacy that Kim Kardashian started – and while KK’s brand, Skims, goes up to a 4X, Yitty trumps it and goes up to 6X. The tagline, “Shapewear reimagined”, rings very true and the selection of bold, neon colours and metallic finishes means this is gym wear that’s designed not to be hidden.
The high-waisted pureluxe minimal leggings (£79, Fabletics.co.uk) makes our list for having an innovative “no-roll” waistband, making burpees slightly less of a struggle.
However, the one downside is that Yitty is part of the Fabletics group, which uses a subscription-based model to offer VIPs the best discounts. Pay £49 a month to be able to buy two pairs of leggings for £40, or don’t subscribe, and pay £79 for one pair.
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When it comes to size inclusivity, Lululemon wouldn’t be our first thought, but its leggings do go up to a size US20 (UK24) as standard – and it’s worth noting that they are generous sizes, too. In fact, we’d recommend sizing down because they have good stretch and are quite roomy. On the other hand, tops and bras only go up to a size UK20 and we found them to be on the smaller size – so, depending on your dress size, they might be best avoided.
The Align range (£88, Lululemon.co.uk) is designed for yoga and is our choice thanks to the super-soft fabric, which will leave you absent-mindedly stroking your thighs. The downside? We found these can have the dreaded ability to roll at the waist, so we wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing them to an active, cardio-based workout class. That said, we’d be in our element wearing these while lounging around at home or if travelling on a long journey.
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Straight off the bat, we wish M&S would increase its sizing beyond a 24. It’s also worth noting that it doesn’t carry many – if any – bigger sizes in store, so it’s always best to shop online, which seems a shame when M&S is one of the few remaining stores that’s thriving on the high street. However, the Goodmove range of sportswear is impressive and comprises everything from shorts, T-shirts and leggings to workout equipment, hoodies and more.
With prices ranging from £6 to £99, it’s a relatively affordable choice, and there’s a wide range of fun prints, patterns and designs to choose from, which all come in matching sets. Want a sports bra and running jacket to match your leopard-print leggings? Consider it done.
One gripe is that for those of you who have a long torso – like our tester – you might find that some of the tops and jumpers run too short. Nevertheless, kudos to M&S for proving that you can find sports luxe on the high street at a reasonable cost.
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Like Nike, Adidas is really doing the most in the plus-size gym-wear department. From jumpers and T-shirts to bras and leggings, the brand does everything and goes up to a size 4X, which is the equivalent of a UK32-34. The collection rivals other sportswear brands when it comes to overall choice and performance, too. Plus, its sports luxe range and swimwear are also available up to a 4X.
But the product that we love most of all? The period-proof leggings (£35.75, Adidas.co.uk). They come complete with absorbent layers and a discreet lining, so you never need to worry about leaking during a class again. A clever move and a real market leader, this is something we’d like to see other brands take on board and be inspired by.
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Although H&M’s offering of gym wear might be small, it’s also perfectly formed, if you ask us. It might be made up of only a few pieces, but the sizing is generous, items are comfortable and the prices are affordable.
We love the jersey-style leggings (£17.99 for two pairs, Hm.com) for yoga, stretching or Pilates. Plain black, and in sizes up to a 4XL, they’re made from 50 per cent cotton – something that makes them a lot more breathable compared with other, similar products that are made from synthetic materials. You can also buy high-waist shaping tights (£18.99, Hm.com), which feel comfortable for high-impact activity, especially if you prefer something more secure for working out in.
If you’re only just discovering H&M’s plus-size range (we recommend checking out the brand’s dresses and T-shirts, too), it’s worth creating an account, because you’ll receive 10 per cent off future orders.
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When it comes to catering to plus-size customers, ASOS has always been a leader in the field, so it comes as no surprise that the brand has a dedicated workout range: 4505. With some of the most inclusive sizing (available from 8-30) and colours ranging from plain black to metallic teal, you’ll finally know what it’s like to be spoilt for choice.
We love the sports bras for comfort and support, plus everyday basics like these black curve leggings are in no short supply (£18, Asos.com) to ensure you’re looking your best at the squat rack.
Now, all we need is for the entire ASOS 4505 curve range to be available on the high street, so we can finally live out those teenage shopping experiences we missed out on.
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While Khloe Kardashian’s brand is often overshadowed by sister Kim’s, it’s actually more inclusive (coming in an impressive range of sizes, from XS right through to a 5X) and more practical than some of Skims’ designs. Known for everything from its shaping collections, jeans, swimwear and dresses, the brand also does a small range of gym wear.
The sports bras are as comfortable to wear as they are chic, and the leggings are quick dry – the waist bands will not roll down for love nor money, yet remain comfortable and supportive.
In terms of shipping, everything comes from the US, and you have the option to either pay for duties and taxes up front or on delivery (we recommend the former to avoid being stung by unexpected fees). Delivery takes between one and 12 days, depending on which option you choose.
Visit Goodamerican.com now
For the latest discounts on activewear and other fitness offers, try the links below:
For more inclusive fashion favourites, try our list of best plus-size stores for women