When I first started lifting, I had no mentor, nothing. I was completely on my own. I started with one of the best-starting programs, Greyskull LP, but nowhere in that powerlifting monstrosity did it ever say to wear a hoodie! So, why do bodybuilders wear hoodies while working out?
Well, contrary to popular belief, most of the time it’s just for comfort. Hoodies are incredibly comfortable to wear in the gym, especially against the rough and rigid barbell. However, some people like wrestlers need to use it to cut weight fast. And some people believe working out in a hoodie burns more calories, which is partially true. Also, some bodybuilders do it to be less intimidating, but some also suffer from body dysmorphia. So, that’s why bodybuilders wear hoodies at the gym. There’s no “official” reason, but usually, it’s just comfortable.
Let’s cover it!
The Biggest Reason: Comfort
I honestly don’t know why I used to get so mad at people wearing hoodies in the gym. Don’t worry, I don’t get mad at that anymore, I get mad at those that don’t rerack their weights. (looking at you Ian)
Anyway, I decided to start wearing a hoodie. I lived in the middle of nowhere Minnesota at the peak of our winter in January. The gym had like zero insulation and was colder than my ex-girlfriend’s heart. (brrrrr)
I never actually like owned a hoodie, nevertheless wore one. But I decided to buy one because I thought it’d be a good fashion choice. (eh, that’s debatable, I looked alright in it)
But, I saw my role model Mr.Swenroid (he’s not actually on roids, just my super buff physics teacher) wearing a hoodie before he squatted 500 lbs and went, “hmm, maybe I should try it”.
I thought maybe there was something magical to it, maybe it made you lift more, I didn’t know!
A New Addiction Had Formed
But honestly, I fell in love with it. I was so used to wearing shorts and a t-shirt every day at the gym. It was always so cold, the cold barbell would hit my skin, when I was squatting it would feel really uncomfortable, etc.
I mean, I dealt with it, I didn’t really care to be honest.
But once I went to the hoodie, I never went back. You see, that hoodie makes the gym experience like 1000x better. You’re warm, you feel comfortable, the barbell doesn’t feel as rough on your neck (lats), it keeps you warm again, and again, warm, but that’s when I realized something.
Most Gyms Are Naturally Cold, For Good Reason
That’s when I had a 500 IQ revelation, most gyms are actually cold, on purpose. If you have a room full of sweaty people trying to run, lift weights- doing things that raise their body temperature, the last thing you want to do is have the heat on.
You’re going to be giving your clients heat-strokes and nausea if they are working out in a room that’s hot already.
But for me, the gym just gets too cold at times. I’ve always been someone that likes the warm. I barely use the AC in my car, I only use the heat function to blast heat at me and nothing else.
Overall, the takeaway is: Gyms are cold, hoodies are comfortable, makes the bar feel better, and makes the gym experience more enjoyable.
Why Do Bodybuilders Wear Hoodies While Working Out? I Thought They Also Burned Calories?
So, some people believe that wearing a hoodie at the gym burns more calories. This is true and false.
First, just wearing a hoodie doesn’t ‘burn more calories’ necessarily. And, regardless, it would add very little calories burned at the end of the day.
However, depending on the hoodie, it might actually burn more calories and help you grow muscle, here’s why:
Weighted Hoodies and Backpacks Can and Will Burn More Calories
So, when COVID-19 hit and all the gyms closed, you may have read my posts from 7 months ago (at the time of writing this, Oct 2020) of how I managed to stay in shape.
I wore a hoodie, jacket, and my backpack with all my school books and ran for 60 minutes every day.
Intense, devastating, and taxing. Holy smokes, that workout really took it all from me. The military has actually been doing it for years, they make their soldiers go ‘backpacking’ to build their cardiovascular endurance.
When you add a ton of weight to your body, your cardiovascular system gets taxed incredibly hard, and your muscles work really hard. This is no longer a bodyweight run, this is added weight, and your body has to actively carry that.
If you truly don’t believe that ‘backpacking’ or running with weighted stuff doesn’t burn more calories, go and try it yourself and tell me what you think.
I was able to run 60 minutes without even needing to stop at a decent pace. When I put the backpacking stuff on, after 7 minutes I was sitting there panting almost at the point of collapse. (Given, I did have 70 lbs on my back)
Adding Weight To Your Hoodie
So you have many ways to do this.
- First: Buy a super heavy hoodie. The one I bought from H&M was actually like pretty heavy, so it worked out.
- Second: Wear multiple hoodies/jackets. (This worked well when I went on my runs in the winter, never felt hot because it was so cold out)
- Third: Wear a backpack with your hoodie with tons of weight in it. Or alternatively, wear a weighted vest.
This will add a ton of weight to your hoodie/run. I don’t recommend wearing this stuff if you’re weight-lifting unless you actually need it. I know a few guys at my fire department/sheriff’s office do weight training in their gear so they are better equipped to deal with problems in the field.
But unless you need it for something like that, just save it for the running. You’ll get taxed enough from just the weighted running itself.
Wrestlers Use Them For Cutting Weight
Back when I wrestled, my best friend Ken had a little problem one morning before we headed to a competition. My man was 2 lbs over about 3 hours before the weigh-ins.
As you can imagine, the coaches gave him enough ripping. But, Ken needed to cut the weight and fast.
Well, you can’t lose fat nor 2 lbs that fast. So what was the option? Ken put on three hoodies in his backpack and started running/bicycling.
The goal was to make him sweat as much as he could. I even encouraged him to spit in a cup the bus ride there.
He made weight, thankfully.
But if you’ve ever been to a wrestling competition and see people in hoodies running back and forth constantly sweating like no man has ever sweated before, now you know.
A lot of wrestlers will find themselves at the gym trying to sweat as much as they can to make sure they make weigh-ins in the morning, or some competitions even have weigh-ins the night before now. (I like the version of weighing in the night before…I like eating)
Well, Why Don’t The Wrestlers Just Have a Good Diet In The First Place?
If you could answer this question, you would be paid millions of dollars from every wrestling coach out there.
Nobody knows why Ken decided to eat 6 pieces of cake the night before his match, nobody knows why Elijah had two pizzas the morning before his weigh-ins. Nobody knows.
Yes, you’re right. In wrestling, you burn hundreds-thousands of calories at practice. I don’t even know how these guys gain weight during wrestling.
But, it’s just the nature of the sport I guess. Everybody loves eating. If you like wrestling stories, I recommend reading Nearfall by Joe Reasbeck, he wrote an incredible book talking about it. (That book inspired me to join wrestling!)
But next time your friend asks, “why do bodybuilders wear hoodies while working out?” and you see the words ‘USA WRESTLING’ on the back and there’s a coach with his arms crossed across the gym. Now you know somebody screwed up big time. (maybe pray for him haha)
Why Do Bodybuilders Wear Hoodies While Working Out? Well, Body Dysmorphia
Here’s a sad reason bodybuilders wear hoodies while working out. Body dysmorphia.
Some bodybuilders feel they aren’t enough and want to hide their bodies. I’ve heard it a few times before, at my gym, and it’s especially prevalent in the newer guys.
No matter which way you spin it, a lot of people join bodybuilding because they don’t like how their body looks and they want to improve it. And this usually never goes away.
I covered more of this in my post, Why Do Bodybuilders Tan, where I discussed how body dysmorphia in the bodybuilding community is usually just covered up and ignored, sadly.
There’s a lot of guys that feel they are too small, or don’t have enough muscle.
Or even worst, there are guys out there that make fun of small guys. When I first started working out, a ton of people made fun of me- which almost made me quit!
(I hate it when people say, ‘people at the gym don’t care about you, so just ignore them’, unfortunately, many gyms have weird people that do judge)
It all worked out though. All those people are still small as they were in middle school and they all constantly compliment me on my muscles. I still resent them for what they did though. (I never let go of things, maybe that’s why my GF dumped me???)
Never Be Scared To Show Your Body. Ever.
But let’s be clear of one thing. Rome wasn’t built in a day. I suffered from anorexia when I started out, and I got bullied hard for trying to escape it.
Never be scared to show your body. Let them hate, let them bully you. You know what? If you don’t quit, and you keep lifting, and keep eating. In just 2 years you’re going to be able to stomp on them and get rid of anything in your way.
(But, I’m serious. If you just don’t give up and keep busting your behind every day in the gym, they’ll never make fun of you again, they’ll be too scared of you beating them)
Some Bodybuilders Do It To Be Humble (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Explanation)
In a few threads on the internet, people have asked this: why do the biggest guys always wear a hoodie in the gym?
Well, here’s an interesting quote by Arnold Schwarzenegger about it.
The better you get, the less you run around showing off as a muscle guy. You know, you wear regular shirts, loose shirts-not always trying to show what you have. You talk less about it. It’s like you have a little BMW-you want to race the hell out of this car, because you know it’s going 110. But if you see a guy in a Ferrari or Lamborghini, they slide around at 60 on the freeway because they know if they press on that accelerator they are going to go 170. These things are the same in every fieldArnold Schwarzenegger
Wow, if he wasn’t spot on about it.
I used to constantly flex and talk about bodybuilding in my first 1-2 years. I mean, I wasn’t as bad as maybe Preston was, but I was still a little annoying with it.
Now I barely even bring it up. People know I’m a bodybuilder by just looking at me. I think part of it was a huge insecurity I had of my body growing up, but once you get to a certain phase in bodybuilding, you just don’t care about showing it off anymore.
Some of those huge guys in the gym feel the same way. They don’t want to try and ‘intimidate’ or ‘look big’ to anybody, they just want to lift and be humble about it.
And in my experience, if you find somebody like that: they’re going to be your best source on anything bodybuilding. Those quiet massive guys in the gym are the true bodybuilders, and generally, the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
It Covers Sweating Better
Some bodybuilders have reported wearing a hoodie in the gym because it covers up their sweat better.
What is Certain Dri? It’s a prescription-grade antiperspirant. It does a fantastic job of covering sweat. Is this product placement? No. I just sweat a ton.
Like, I used to wear hoodies and dark clothes at school to hide my sweat marks. But people would still notice because it got so bad.
I wasn’t even nervous or anxious or anything, I just sweat all the time. I mean people in my class noticed it too, I had incredible confidence and always laughed off my armpit sweat, but like- I don’t know why it ever came?
Truthfully, I suspect that it was because me and my girlfriend at the time would walk and talk in the hallways before class started. And maybe that was too much cardio for the “massive bodybuilder” I am.
Honestly though, Kai Greene is one of those bodybuilders that sweats just as much as me, if not more. And he wears hoodies to cover up some of that sweat better too, as a t-shirt isn’t as absorbent.
Trying To Hide From Competitors
If you follow many famous bodybuilders, you’ll find out that a lot of them lift at the same gyms. It’s actually really weird.
Like, here I am at a gym where I barely even see anybody in my town ever at. Meanwhile, in California, you got 800 bodybuilders all in the same 300 square foot room?
When you’re doing a bodybuilding competition, it becomes incredibly hard to stay on diet/on track in general on the last few weeks before a competition.
Around this point is where people haven’t eaten above 1200 calories for 12-14 weeks on end, their workouts are incredibly grueling and tough, they’re sitting at 5-7% bodyfat.
Point is, some people will cheat on their meals or workouts. If they see their competitor at the gym absolutely shredded in a t-shirt or something, they might not cheat on their meal.
The idea is, the hoodie will cover up their muscles and hide that information from their competition.
Is it a long shot? Yes. Does this happen? Probably not. But, it’s probably happened at least once in bodybuilding’s history, so that’s one answer to why do bodybuilders wear hoodies while working out?
Conclusion of Why Do Bodybuilders Wear Hoodies While Working Out
So, there’s no ‘real’ reason behind wearing it other than it’s comfy. And sure, there might be other things at play like body dysmorphia, trying to use psychological warfare against the competition, or somebody on the wrestling team ate a pasta dinner against coaches’ wishes.
But at the end of the day, if you like wearing a hoodie, wear one. If you don’t, don’t. Regardless, lift your hardest everyday and EAT BIG!