Choosing Men’s Underwear for Exercise

It’s not unfair to say that as guys we often just want to get going and get on with our exercise and whether or not we have the right underwear for the occasion is something that tends to be overlooked. However, what you might not realise is that much like your trainers or your base layers, the underwear you choose can have a big impact on the success of your workout.

Everything from the materials, to how they fit on our bodies, where the seams lie on the design, and even how well they absorb moisture, can play a part in how effectively you reach your workout goals. What’s more, there are also some types of men’s underwear that can specifically support different sports, activities, and exercises.

So, make sure you take a look through this guide as the team here at Life Style Sports has covered everything you need to know to help you choose the best men’s underwear for your workout.

Best Underwear for Your Body Type

One of the first places to start is with your body type, as this can play a huge role in deciding which type of underwear you need. For example, a guy with wide hips won’t be as comfortable in briefs, whereas someone with a muscular frame might look better in trunks. 

There are a few variables here, so we’ve broken down the four most-common styles of men’s underwear – boxers, briefs, boxer-briefs, and trunks – against five different male body types – slim, athletic, muscular, wide-hipped, and large-waisted – and have explained which underwear style complements which build.

Boxers – for Athletic, Muscular and Large-waisted Men

Boxers typically have a loose fit and were originally designed to be worn by actual boxers when in the ring and training – hence the name! The looser fit was to help these men – who would more often than not be athletic, muscular, or large-waisted – to be able to move around more easily during a fight. In addition to this, the lack of elasticated leg openings that boxers have was a deliberate design choice to accommodate the large thigh muscles of these sportsmen. 

This still rings true today, so if you are of a larger frame, boxers are just what you need for your exercise regime. Some people also find that the billowing leg openings even help accentuate your leg muscles, making your lower body look bigger and more impressive.

Briefs – for Slim, Athletic and Muscular Men

Briefs aren’t a hugely popular choice these days but with their elasticated waistbands and tight fit they’re great for supporting your crotch, and for those with slim or muscly bodies, they can really help show off your stature in a positive light. With briefs you basically need to follow the ‘less is more’ belief in that there’s not as much fabric so you have to be okay with displaying more of your legs. An added benefit is the lack of material gives you greater movement.

However, briefs don’t work for everyone and if you’re on the bigger side they can draw more attention to your waistline and hips. Although, if you do have this body type and you want to wear them, you’ll still be able to make the most of the crotch support. 

Boxer-briefs – for Any Male Body Type

Boxer-briefs are perhaps the most versatile and universal type of men’s underwear as they can be worn by anyone. They essentially combine the best parts of briefs and boxers into one and are a top choice if you’re on the fence about either individual style. 

With boxer-briefs you get the comfy fit that briefs provide on both your crotch and your thighs, leaving your feeling supported across these areas of your lower body. Then, on top of this, you get the extra fabric you get with boxers, albeit as a stretchy material that’s not as loose on your legs. In turn, this underwear won’t leave you feeling as exposed or as self-conscious.

Trunks – for Slim, Athletic and Muscular Men

If you want a tighter fit than boxers and boxer-briefs, but you don’t want the shortness of briefs, then trunks are the best option. These sit a bit higher up the thigh than boxers, have an elasticated waist, and have a fit that’s closer to your skin. 

However, they are also similar to briefs in that they can be good for accentuating a slim and/or muscly body type, but not so much for bigger builds. You do also get extra support for your crotch and legs, but with the additional fabric there’s not as much flexibility with your movement.

Underwear by Material

Different materials in men’s underwear also offer plenty of benefits to the wearer. Like we’ve already mentioned with the underwear styles, there are also some materials that are tighter fitting but stretchy, meaning you can feel secure but still flexible enough – ideal if you were jogging, running on a pitch during a football game or enjoying some yoga. In addition, some underwear comes with material that’s designed for a looser fit, but it’s also very breathable which helps prevent your skin from chafing during rigorous workouts.

This is where having a thorough understanding of the different materials you can find with men’s underwear is essential. So below we’ve broken these down for you and given extra insights into what qualities they offer and how they can benefit you.


Cotton is one of the most common materials used by brands for men’s underwear and it’s a solid, if not quite generic, choice of fabric. It’s good for comfort – especially premium cotton blends – it’s breathable and is effective for ventilation – in other words it’ll keep your downstairs at the right temperature.

However, it’s not great for moisture absorption and as it’s an inexpensive choice for manufacturers, it can be quite cheap and nasty at times. So always check the quality and the percentage blend if you’re considering this material.


Bamboo is proving to be more and more popular as a fabric for men’s underwear, thanks to its softness, excellent breathability, and its impressive abilities to wick away moisture. It’s also even lighter than cotton and has natural antibacterial properties. Although in a similar vein to merino wool, it can absorb lots of moisture and isn’t the quickest for drying. It’s then known to get heavy and can start to smell pretty quickly. So again, maybe one to avoid when it’s hot weather.

Merino Wool

Merino wool is often found in base layers and outerwear but you can also get men’s underwear made from this innovative fabric. It’s produced and woven from the wool of the sheep breed of the same name and it’s renowned for its ability to soak up moisture and its itch-free comfort.

The downside is that if you’re going to be exercising in hot conditions, or you know it’ll be a particularly intense session, merino wool’s absorptive qualities will mean you may well end up with a rather moist downstairs. So these are best saved for the colder months of the year.


You may come across silk men’s underwear when shopping around, but this isn’t a great choice for exercise. Yes, it’s supremely comfy and breathable, but it offers little support and it’s easily ruined by moisture. The advice here is only pursue silk underwear for your private downtime.


You can find spandex in the majority of men’s underwear, especially pairs that are designed for sports. This is because this lightweight fabric is strong, resistant to moisture, and above all very stretchy. These attributes are also what give your crotch and legs support and security, when you’re exercising.
What spandex isn’t great for is getting rid of moisture and the longer you wear it, the warmer and wetter you’ll get. This is of course made worse with warm weather and prolonged, intense exercise, so if you opt for this material, just be mindful of when you intend to wear it.


You may come across silk men’s underwear when shopping around, but this isn’t a great choice for exercise. Yes, it’s supremely comfy and breathable, but it offers little support and it’s easily ruined by moisture. The advice here is only pursue silk underwear for your private downtime.


Nylon is a strong choice for exercise underwear as its smart and durable microfibres are great for getting rid of moisture and keeping you dry. It’s also a similar softness to cotton and will last you a long time. The only thing to bear in mind is that if you wear them for a while, they can start to trap more moisture than they release, so just make sure to change them post-workout.


Polyester is another synthetic fabric that is flexible, lightweight, and highly resistant to wear and tear, however, it’s also another cheap-to-produce fabric that traps heat and moisture. So again, make sure you check what materials or blends of materials are being used in the underwear before you buy them. The chemical ingredients of polyester can also affect those with sensitive skin, so if you have concerns about this, it’s best to avoid this particular fabric.

Micro Modal

Many consider Micro Modal fabric to be amongst the most comfortable choices for men’s underwear. It’s derived from beechwood trees and gets woven into a soft material that’s breathable, antibacterial, and great for absorbing moisture. But like with silk, although it might feel great, it’s not as supportive for exercising.

Underwear Recommendations for your Sport

Before we delve into which underwear is suited to specific sports, it’s worth recapping some of the key info from above, as ultimately this informs what the best choices are for popular sporting activities. Not only have we learned that your body type and shape can get more support from certain underwear styles, the materials also play a big part in helping your performance.

So, to summarise, quality men’s underwear can:

  • Reduce rubbing on your legs and genitals when exercising.
  • Reduce friction between other layers of clothing, such as base layers and shorts.
  • Give support and comfort to your genitals when you’re moving around.
  • Absorb sweat and moisture and wick this away from your crotch area. 
  • Help keep your body temperature more regulated, so either warmer or cooler depending on the conditions.
  • Prevent sweat from seeping through and soaking your outer layers.

From an aesthetic point of view, another positive is that stylish and well-fitting underwear can look attractive and therefore boost your confidence and give you more motivation and determination to achieve your goals.

All of the above are things you can factor into your underwear choice depending on the sport or activity you’re doing when you’re exercising, but some features are more useful than others, so here are the specific ones to look out for:


The best men’s underwear for running, jogging, or sprinting across varying distances should be those that offer comfort, support, and excellent moisture wicking capabilities. With this, we’d recommend boxer-briefs with a blend of materials including, nylon, cotton, and spandex.


Hiking may not have the same level of intensity as running, but you’ll still need underwear that’s durable, breathable, moisture-wicking, and comfy. Merino wool or bamboo briefs would be a strong choice here for colder climes, but if it’s warmer, cotton or polyester blend boxers could help keep you cool downstairs.


When cycling, you’ll want to get the best of everything with your underwear so you have the support you need to keep going. Briefs or trunks with synthetic material blends should do the trick here as you’ll feel secure, you’ll be able to moderate your temperature and have flexibility in your groin and legs.

Football and Rugby

You can apply similar criteria to the above with team sports like football and rugby, but you should also have a big focus on durability. Briefs or trunks are the best choices here as are synthetic material blends. Nylon in particular should provide you with the hardwearing qualities you need to stand up to these contact sports.
A final point we’d like to make is that you should try and get a collection of different men’s underwear that covers all the different bases we’ve discussed in this guide. That way you’ll be prepared for all weathers, exercises, and workout intensities and you can pick and choose how you want to support and showcase your body.

Check out our men’s underwear range here if you want some more inspiration.

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