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Cotton or Polyester: A Fabric Showdown for Training Cotton or Polyester: A Fabric Showdown for Training

Design: Best Running Shorts

Cotton or Polyester: A Fabric Showdown for Training

Discover the pros and cons of cotton and polyester fabrics for training in this fabric showdown. Explore how these fabrics differ in terms of durability, odor control, and comfort during intense workouts.

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Choosing the right material for training gear is as important as choosing the right kind of exercise for your fitness goals. When it comes to running shorts, two common materials often come into play – cotton and polyester. Which of the two reigns supreme for training? Let’s delve into the matter and dissect each one’s attributes.

Cotton: The Natural Choice

Cotton, known for its soft, natural, and breathable attributes, has been used in clothing manufacture for centuries. Its advantages and disadvantages in the context of training attire include:

Pros of Cotton for Training

  • Breathability: Cotton is a highly breathable material, which allows for excellent airflow, reducing sweat build-up and providing a cooling effect.
  • Comfort: As a natural fabric, cotton is gentle on the skin, reducing the likelihood of irritation or allergic reactions.
  • Absorbency: Cotton has high absorbency, which means it can soak up sweat effectively, making you feel drier and more comfortable during low-intensity workouts.

Cons of Cotton for Training

  • Moisture Retention: While cotton’s absorbency might sound like a good thing, it can be a drawback during intense workouts. Once wet, cotton stays wet, which results in discomfort and an increased risk of chafing.
  • Durability: Cotton garments tend to wear out faster, especially when used for high-intensity workouts where the material may stretch and lose shape over time.
  • Heat Conductivity: Cotton retains heat, making it less suitable for high-intensity workouts in warm conditions.

Polyester: The Synthetic Powerhouse

Polyester is a synthetic fabric praised for its durability and moisture-wicking properties. Here are its pros and cons:

Pros of Polyester for Training

  • Moisture-wicking: Polyester’s top selling point for training is its moisture-wicking ability. Rather than absorbing sweat, it moves it away from the skin to the fabric’s surface, where it evaporates quickly.
  • Durability: Polyester is known for its strength and durability. It withstands wear and tear better than cotton, maintaining its shape and color even after numerous washes.
  • Versatility: Polyester can be treated and woven in different ways to achieve various textures and performance features, making it very versatile.

Cons of Polyester for Training

  • Breathability: Polyester is generally less breathable than cotton, which means it can cause the wearer to feel hot during intense workouts.
  • Skin Irritation: Some people find polyester irritating to the skin, especially during long workouts where the fabric is in constant contact with the skin.
  • Odor Retention: Polyester retains odor more than cotton, which could be a significant disadvantage for those sweaty gym sessions.

Cotton vs. Polyester: Which One is Better?

The answer to this question depends on the type of training you are doing, your personal preference, and the specific product quality.

For low-intensity workouts or activities where you don’t expect to sweat much, cotton can be a great choice for its comfort and breathability.

For high-intensity workouts, polyester’s moisture-wicking and durable properties make it the superior choice. It keeps you dry and comfortable even when you’re pushing your limits.


Cotton and polyester, each with their distinct advantages, serve different purposes when it comes to training. Cotton provides natural softness and breathability, ideal for low-intensity workouts, while polyester, with its excellent moisture-wicking and durability, takes the lead in high-intensity training scenarios. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to the kind of workout you plan to do and your personal comfort preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it bad to work out in cotton?

No, it isn’t bad to work out in cotton. However, because cotton retains moisture, it might not be the most comfortable option for intense workouts or training in hot conditions.

Why do people prefer polyester for athletic wear?

Many prefer polyester for athletic wear due to its durability, lightweight nature, and excellent moisture-wicking properties. Thus, it helps keep athletes comfortable and dry during their workouts.

Does polyester shrink like cotton?

No, polyester doesn’t shrink like cotton. It’s more resistant to shrinking and wrinkling, making it a popular choice for workout apparel.

Can polyester cause skin irritation?

Some people might find polyester irritating, especially if they have sensitive skin. However, many modern polyester blends are designed to be softer and gentler on the skin.

Which lasts longer: cotton or polyester?

Polyester typically lasts longer than cotton. It’s more resistant to wear and tear and holds its shape and color better over time.