Should You Exercise Without Underwear?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you ever pulled on a pair of compression leggings, only to find your underwear uncomfortably bunched or twisted? Or worried that your panty lines might be visible to the person behind you in yoga class? Maybe you're just tired of stopping to make not-so-subtle adjustments during your run or walk. Whether it's due to comfort, aesthetics or ventilation, the "unmentionable" question may have crossed your mind at some point. And it's about to get, well, mentioned: Do you really need to wear underwear while working out, or is it ever okay to go commando?
With advances in today's high-tech workout gear, stepping out sans skivvies is a lot more acceptable—and comfortable—than it used to be. Many styles of fitness leggings are designed with form-fitting, seamless fabrics and opaque panels, allowing you to safely ditch the drawers without worrying about any uncomfortable chafing or embarrassing peek-a-boo moments. Similarly, many types of running shorts come with a built-in liner that pretty much does the job of underwear, minimizing any chances of wardrobe malfunctions during stretching time.
Fitness trainer Rui Li is one of the many who chooses not to wear underwear underneath her workout pants. "I don't find it necessary, and I'm not a fan of the visible panty line through the spandex," she says. "Many women will often choose thong underwear [to avoid lines], which I'm always surprised by, because how comfortable is a constant wedgie?"
As a runner, Matt Fitzgerald, author of "The Endurance Diet," points out that nearly all running shorts come with a built-in liner, and adds that "riding a bike with underwear under your bike shorts would be insane. " Acting as a representative of the male perspective on the to-wear-or-not-to-wear dilemma, Fitzgerald says that the only exercise in which he does sometimes wear underwear is weightlifting because it doesn't generate as must sweat and it's not a high-friction, repetitive-motion activity. "For me, it's really a comfort question," he says. "If you can exercise comfortably with underwear under whatever else you're wearing, there's no harm in it. But standard underwear types, such as cotton briefs, are not very comfortable in most activities because they hold moisture and exacerbate friction."
That said, moisture and heat are a recipe for bacterial and yeast infections, so it's important to choose workout bottoms with wicking fabrics to keep you dry down there. Even with the right fabrics, some degree of sweat is inevitable, so try to change and shower or rinse off as quickly as possible after exercising. And, of course, wash and dry your pants or shorts before wearing them for the next session.      
If you're still unsure about going commando for fear of someone getting a glimpse of your goods, rest assured that there are plenty of leggings designed to keep everything under wraps. For peace of mind, try on your pants at home and do a "flash test" with a trusted loved one to ensure that you can do even the deepest squat without risking any indecent exposure.
Of course, if you suffer from any type of exercise-induced incontinence—you know, when a leaky bladder has you avoiding jumping jacks like the plague—going panty-free may not be a possibility. In that case, you may want to choose underwear designed to absorb leaks or consider wearing a liner during workouts.

Is Commando a No-Go?

Still can't wrap your head around eliminating that lower layer? No problem—there are plenty of comfortable, hygienic underwear options designed specifically for working out. Cotton isn’t a terrible choice, but there are also options made from high-tech, antimicrobial fabrics that will move with you, wick away moisture and boost the freshness factor.
"Breathability is really important, because of the billions of microorganisms that live in harmony, keeping each other in check in the nether regions," Li says. "Should oxygen be restricted, it will likely kill off some forms of organisms while encouraging the growth of others, thereby upsetting the delicate ecosystem. Additionally, any kind of slight rubbing from the material will turn into a major rash after however many miles you've walked or run, [which is not only] physically uncomfortable, but can cause ingrown hairs and leave you more exposed to infections."
Just as with new fitness apparel and shoes, be sure to test out your new workout underwear before wearing them to a race or a long boot camp class.
So, do you or don't you? If you don't wear underwear during workouts, what’s your reason?  

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MRPEABODY 8/13/2019
Go naked or wear 'em on your head, Whatever it takes to get it done! Please focus on form since most people are nervous to step out and start a new program for fear of being judged to begin with.
Give 'em the support that really matters, lol! Report
MAWMAWJ2 4/9/2019
And now, thanks to this enlightening article, every time I see a man out biking I'll have the image of his sweaty commando junk pressed against his seat burned into my brain. Thank you for that. Report
LIN1263 3/6/2019
Yes I wear underwear that are not cotton. I bought them at a outlet store, made by Puma, 3 pairs seamless regular type for $5.00, same store different brand, 3 pair similar seamless soft fabric fitted boxer underwear $4.00. Outlet stores are cheaper then Costco and some sell Costco products at a lower price as well. Report
ALASKINI 1/31/2019
And it's annoying that plus-sized "sport" underwear is generally in the range of $25-35 a pair and is very hot to wear. If anyone has found options, I'd love to hear from you! Report
ALASKINI 1/31/2019
not if you have persistent, um, runs! Report
Commando it is. Report
Interesting.... Report
With loose fitting shorts I do. My PT shorts have a built in liner, so no. With compression gear I do not wear underwear, it defeats the purpose of the gear - it would be like cramming underwear in your cycling shorts... not gonna happen!
I agree with @BBEAGAN... No suggestions for men?
I realize this site is mostly women, not sure how I ended up here, but I am getting a bit tired of it... Report
What a very lnterested thought, thanks for shsring. Report
Really. Report
If nothing is showing when you go commando, then I say, go commando. Report
What an interesting thought! Report
I would NEVER go without undies while working out. Maybe at home but certainly not in public. I wouldn't be able to perform properly for fear of my butt seam giving out during a deep squat. Who wants to see my bare butt cheeks? No-one. Yes the undies get sweated in and I shower either at the gym or as soon as I get home so no harm no fowl. As for VPL issues. I am more worried about not looking like an amateur and having good form than whether someone can see the lines from my granny pants. Report
I've always gone commando for comfort when working out. Sweat running down my back and pooling is uncomfortable, so I wear a micro thin "Always" liner. All good. Report
I am actually 100% behind going commando. I find it just feels more comfy. Also less laundry hahahaha Report
This was not something I ever thought about. Report
Whatever floats your boat. I wear cotton and, yes, it does get wet. However, I just come home and wash up and change them. I, personally, would not be comfortable sans underwear. Report
Interesting... Report
Huh. Would have never thought to exercise without underwear. I also would have never thought the question warranted an article, but what do I know? Report
I'm of the generation that wouldn't dream of going without underwear. Glad other people have choices. Report
Just curious, can't even imagine. To each their own I say as long as it doesn't hurt anyone in the process, enjoy !!! Report
I love my compression tights because they give my knees excellent support for running. But I do not DARE go without opaque underwear because since the "tights are so tight" there is always the fear that one day they will explode, especially since I wear them day in and day out to exercise. Anyone else have a similar situation? And on the subject of activity and clothing, I have always wondered how those MMA women fighters keep their clothing secure... Report
Very interesting! Report
Something to think about! Report
interesting.... Report
Wow! interesting, I agree! Report
Interesting! Thank you! Report
I am a big fan of the New Balance underwear. They wash out and dry quickly - great for travel too. Report
Most of my shorts have underwear built in, I don’t see the point in doubling up on it. As far as leggings, I don’t usually. I also only own one pair and they’re dark/thick.
Couldn’t imagine working out without a sports bra, though! Report
Never thought about not wearing underwear. Report
I vote for under ware a bra is a must to get a sports bra. Report
I need my undies. I feel more comfortable, and I have never had a problem with infections, friction or anything else. It wicks up all my sweat and I feel so much better.

Has anybody asked a doctor if one is healthier? Just curious. Report
I don't wear underwear as I do have very fat thighs so I sweat alot there. I don't wear underwear for that reason as I would get a lot of infections due to that. Report
I don't mind going commando, I hate underwear and brassieres. And I see that the crotch area would be covered, but what about butt crack sweat? What protection is there for the hiney and the sweat that will bleed through the fabric that way? Report
Nope, I wear underwear. I may look into this options mentioned. Thanks for the info Report
Why are there no suggestions for men? Are there no choices out there for them? Report
Great thought Report
Going commando is for newborns and kilt-wearers,, in winter. Report
Ok then.. Report
I remember the day someone in workout pants went commando for pilates class. I will never go commando after seeing that. Report
I absolutely HATE the expression "going commando;" not sure why! As for wearing underwear or not, it really depends on the type of exercise I am doing. If it's my gym workout (cardio and weights,) I am wearing spandex leggings that fit securely so I don't also need underwear. When I used to run, and when I ride, I do wear it. As almost everyone else said, I can't imagine why this would be an issue; do whatever feels comfortable. Report
Never though about it. Report
This is something I never I thought about but I will consider some of the underwear that was recommended here. I'm a little surprised that you didn't recommend anything for men though. Report
Wow!! With all the issues in the world to lose sleep over, I can't believe this would be one of them... I didn't know this was such a problem for some :/ Report
Interesting read and makes alot of sense. But, while working out, visible panty lines has NEVER been a thought for me on what I wear. Report
Weird and informative! I read the article just because the headline was so strange. Gotta say, the information opened my mind. I do wish they had consulted an actual doctor instead of a fitness trainer as their expert though. Still, good read! As the kids say, "You do you, Boo." Report
Walmart has hanes underwear that is breathable and microfibre. I did think that wearing underwear under wicking clothes seemed counter intuitive. But happy that the industry caught on. Report
I have never thought of not wearing underwear when working out, it doesn't bother me to wear them so "if it ain't broke then it don't need fixing" as my dad used to say.
Whatever works for a person and makes them comfortable, got to get that exercise in! Report
My Granny taught me to never leave home without wearing clean underwear and this is a practice that I continue to this day. As with anything, it's a personal choice of the individual. Thanks for the article! Report
I’ve been going commando now for years and my workouts have never been better! One of the best choices I’ve made since choosing to workout! Report