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The best cheap workout clothes that are just as good as Nike, Lululemon and more

If you know where to look, you can get inexpensive workout clothes that are just as good as the big name brands.

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Inexpensive but high-quality workout clothes are available if you know where to look.

Senita Athletics

"Dupes" are common among beauty products like facial cleansers, hair dryers and makeup -- they're high-quality products from lesser-known brands. It's like buying the generic Crisp Berry Crunch cereal instead of Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries. But when you're on the hunt for a good value, brand status doesn't matter.

One other arena with a handful of fantastic dupes is the world of athleisure. As fitness and wellness continue to grow, more and more people are looking for high-quality activewear that fits well. And, more and more people are also realizing how ridiculous it is to drop $100 or more on a pair of workout pants or leggings. 

As someone who's been trying and buying workout clothes for a long time (coming up on 10 years since I started working out consistently), I have a pretty good idea about which brands are worth looking at and which ones aren't. Here, I detail the brands that have become my go-tos over the last decade and exactly which types of apparel they're good for.

Read more: The best foam rollers for relieving muscle soreness

Senita Athletics

Price range: $20 to $40 per item

Stocks: Women's clothes only

What to get: Leggings, sports bras, shorts, crop tops 

Senita Athletics is a newer workout clothes brand. In fact, I just found out about Senita Athletics a couple of months ago, but I've been blown away by every piece of clothing I've ordered. The digital-only storefront stocks leggings, sports bras, shorts, T-shirts, tank tops, crop tops and swimwear for women. 

I can speak mostly to the leggings and shorts. It's an intense struggle for me to find workout shorts and leggings that fit my legs and my waist, and this struggle has ended in a lot of dressing room exasperation. Senita Athletics has pretty much solved that problem for me: Every pair of Senita shorts I own fits comfortably on my legs and waist and doesn't make me feel like a busted can of biscuits. 

If I had to recommend Senita Athletics to one group of people, it would be people who have curvier figures and have trouble finding pants, shorts and leggings that fit comfortably.

Target

Price range: $10 to $50 per item

Stocks: Men's and women's clothes

What to get: Leggings and pants, tops, sports bras, shorts (men)

Target has phased out its previously popular partnership line with Champion and replaced it with its own native activewear line called All In Motion. I was skeptical at first because I loved the Champion C9 line, but most of the All In Motion pieces I own have performed fantastically. 

I highly recommend the sports bras from this line, but proceed with caution when it comes to leggings. All In Motion offers several styles of leggings and they've been hit or miss for me. While I have no problem ordering sports bras or tops from All In Motion online, I'd go try on leggings in the store. 

I also wasn't a fan of their shorts because of the busted-can-of-biscuits problem above, but if you have thinner legs, I say go for it.

All In Motion also has an extensive menswear collection, too. Although I can't speak to the fit of the men's clothes, I would imagine that the fabric quality is just as good as the women's.

Old Navy

Price range: $10 to $30 per item

Stocks: Men's and women's clothes

What to get: Basics like T-shirts and tank tops, leggings 

Old Navy is known for its inexpensive but decent quality everyday wear. The retailer's activewear selection upholds those same values. I love Old Navy for basic clothes that I may or may not wear as actual workout clothes. 

For example, I have these knit joggers that I wear just for lounging around the house. I also have these high-waisted leggings that are great for cross-training or high-intensity interval training workouts.

For men, Old Navy has a large selection of T-shirts, tank tops, sweatpants, shorts and underwear, as well as sport-specific clothing like golf shirts and slacks. 

Champion

Price range: $10 to $50 per item

Stocks: Men's and women's clothes

What to get: Base layers, socks, underwear

Champion, a long-standing brand that has partnered with various retailers on apparel lines (like the phased-out Target C9 I mentioned earlier), also has its own native line of clothes and is a great brand to shop for base layers and basics. 

Base layers are worn under other clothes when exercising outdoors in the cold, but can also be used as loungewear. Champion has a great selection of base layers for men and women, with prices as low as $12 for some items. As for socks, all of my favorite workout socks are from Champion. I especially love this trio of crew socks

Some of Champion's other items can be on the pricey side -- around $50 for a pair of leggings, for example -- but still don't match the high prices of big name brands.

Gap

Price range: $15 to $30 per item

Stocks: Men's and women's clothes

What to get: Tank tops, T-shirts, leggings

When I talk about Gap activewear, I don't mean Athleta, which is Gap's recently acquired luxury line of athleisure for women. I'm talking about GapFit, the inexpensive line of activewear you can find in Gap stores. 

I've never been particularly impressed by GapFit's selection of shorts for women, but they do have a pretty wide selection of leggings. For the most part, all GapFit leggings I've owned have fit well, although some tend to slip and slide during intense workouts. They also have plenty of workout tanks and T-shirts in the $15-$20 range.

It seems that the men's activewear collection isn't as robust as the women's but that's not to say you won't come across some great finds. 

FlexxFit

Price range: About $20 to $40 per item (£15 to £30)

Stocks: Women's clothes only 

What to get: Leggings, sports bras, crop tops

FlexxFit, a UK-based activewear brand, creates fashion-forward activewear -- much of which verges on loungewear -- for women. The company ships internationally and offers mainly leggings and sports bras.

I find FlexxFit workout clothes to have incredibly soft fabrics, which is awesome for comfort, but not always awesome when actually working out because they slip around until you get so sweaty that the fabric actually sticks to you. I also find that FlexxFit sports bras aren't supportive enough for high-impact activities like running -- because of those reasons, I've designated my FlexxFit clothes to activities like walking and biking. 

I'm not at all saying that FlexxFit clothes aren't worth buying, but I am saying to choose your activities wisely. If you like butter-soft activewear for walking or relaxing, FlexxFit is a great option, but I'd go with another brand, such as All In Motion, Senita Athletics or DoYouEven (below), for intense workouts. 

DoYouEven

Price range: $20 to $60 per item

Stocks: Men's and women's clothes

What to get: Pants, shorts, shirts, outerwear, leggings, sports bras

DoYouEven is not the least expensive brand on this list, but the average prices still fall below the likes of Nike, Reebok and Under Armour. This is a high-performance brand designed for people who take their workout clothes through a lot of dynamic activities: DoYouEven is loved by weightlifters, CrossFitters and bodybuilders.

My experience with this brand is that the fabrics are extremely stretchy and stay put during compound movements such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. They also hold up well in the wash; my DoYouEven leggings and sports bras don't show any signs of loose threads or tears even after a year. 

In my opinion, DoYouEven clothes are worth the small premium compared to brands like Old Navy, Gap, Champion and All In Motion. 


The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.