serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews

Why Men Should Run Shirtless

posted by Chris Barber


I run with my shirt off.  You’re welcome ladies.  I run shirtless any chance I get; 55 degrees is about my threshold.  As you can see from this picture though, I’m shirtless and the spectators are in heavy coats and knitted caps.  It probably was less than 55 degrees that day.  I recently read a blog, Feet Meet Street, about the Shirtless Coalition.  Well, I’m not one to join too many Coalitions, unless of course it’s Coalition Forces (or better known as US Forces) and freeing a country is involved, but the shirtless debate struck a chord with me.  So I’m here to tell you, if you are male, it’s fine.  I do it all the time.  Sorry ladies, but it’s just another one of those double standard things.  Trust me, I would love for you to be able to run shirtless too, it’s great for your running body; however, it’s just not socially acceptable.  Maybe someday we’ll get enough judges in the supreme court to overturn this terrible law, but until then, us men must maximize our right to run shirtless!  We will run shirtless at any chance we get.  So come on men!  Show your body off with pride!  You earned it, whether by running 20 miles or drinking 20 beers, it’s your body and be proud of it!  Do it for the women!  That’s not reason enough?  Well then here are some other reasons to run shirtless:

Running Style: I feel so free when I run shirtless.  I’m able to run in the most natural form possible; minus the whole shorts and shoes thing.  Honestly though, running without a shirt does allow me to concentrate more on the arm pumping portion of my running form.  Most runners ignore the importance of pumping your arms.  If you have forgotten how to pump your arms then I suggest you run shirtless.

Temperature: It’s obviously much cooler (yeah, there’s a double meaning there) to run with your shirt off.  Your body is able to release the heat and cool itself down easier.  Running shirtless is also a great way to leverage the breeze.  That’s right, I leverage things you can’t even see.  Like a boss.

Suntan: You get a great suntan in places you wouldn’t normally tan while out on the golf course or building a house; you know, things men do.  Women are able to sit outside by a pool all day and get an even tan but that is not a socially acceptable way for a man to tan his upper body.  The only acceptable activities for men are running or boating…or running on a boat, that’s acceptable too.  Run that extra mile and get sunburned so you can see what areas of your body you need to work on.  The areas that are most burnt are the ones that stick out the most.  Try to push those areas back in.

Positive Ego boosting: No matter what you look like, girls are going to look at you.  Don’t look at what their reaction is, just know they are looking at you.  That’s how you boost an ego.  At the beginning of this spring I had a very good looking girl take my picture with her camera phone as I ran by shirtless.  However, I later noticed she was standing in front of a High School…with a book bag.  Ego boost or awkward?  Well, I’ve never had an awkward moment in my life.

Overall Fitness: If you are running with your shirt off you are going to start thinking about what your overall body looks like, not just keeping your weight down with running.  Running with your shirt off will make you realize that you need to work on those pecs and maybe do some crunches, leading to an overall fit body.  It’s all about symmetry.

Go for a shirtless run men!  Show your battle scars and lower back tattoo off with pride!

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  1. superchuck says:

    Let’s not forget the absence of bleeding nipples when you run without a shirt. Usually at least…

  2. Chris Barber says:

    @superchuck Oh yeah, nice one. I tape my nipples in the winter for sure!

    I once had a field grade officer come in my office after a run with blood stains around his nipples on his T-shirt. The Non-Commissioned Officers that I worked with said the office smelled like copper, but I think they really meant iron. Either way, it was a difficult leadership situation for me to not join in on the fun with them. It was pretty gross and hilarious.

  3. Biz Runner says:

    This is great stuff. Think of the money you save on buying shirts! Who needs a wicking dri-shirt when you’re shirtless? And you save on laundry too…

  4. runner1 says:

    You’ll love my P-tree plan: I’m wearing an old, throwaway shirt to the start line that I’ll ditch before the race starts. Then I’ll wear my race shirt on the way home (so as not to offend other MARTA passengers). Shirtless running is way better, especially when you don’t have to carry your shirt or try to pick it up on the way back from a run!

  5. Chris Barber says:

    @Biz Runner, I like the way you think. That’s why I dig your blog. Saving money is so hot right now.

    @runner1 I’ve seen people wear trash bags at the start of races for this reason too. I’m not sure what’s better for the environment, leaving a trashbag behind or an old T-shirt. Trashbag is definitley the cheaper way to go…

  6. Nitmos says:

    I agree. Didn’t women burn their bras in prtest at one point? That’s why I propose the moisture wicking shirt burning.

    Thanks for the link. Rock on.

  7. [...] didn’t know?  Shirtless running is so hot right now.  At any rate, I have run the Peachtree Road Race about 8 times.  As you may [...]

  8. Kevin says:

    Great blog! Good points on running shirtless. I would do it, but I am pale skinned and would get burned to a crisp! I will have to try it out on an early morning run before the sun comes up though.

  9. Chris Barber says:

    Yeah, the sun is stronger during the afternoon/evening than in the morning. If you are just easing into shirtless running, then it is probably a good idea to start in the morning. Plus, not as many people will probably see your pale skin…

  10. Elmo says:

    Hell, I met my fiancee while jogging in the park shirtless. She commented that I had a cute bellybutton. So I agree, do it!

  11. Crow says:

    Running shirtless in winter is good. As a kid I used to get sunburns but I don’t now, because whenever possible I’m shirtless if running or working outside (meaning whenever I can keep my core temperature stable and warm enough, so only prolonged or heavy near-freezing rain, snow or wind will stop me). While there’s not much strength to sunlight in winter, it’s very warming if it’s there, and gradual and consistent exposure to it prepares me for strong light in the summer too. If you look at various stats for critical sunburns and cancers like melanoma, they are usually found in people who do not prepare, but instead wait till it’s too hot to justify NOT taking a shirt off; people who cover up for all but the hottest and brightest days of the year then lay out like toast on a beach during a tropical holiday. The shock to unprepared skin is what does the damage. So if you want to run shirtless safely in either extreme, make a habit of it so you are prepared and know what to expect, and how far your effort and energy will take you. If you’ve never done it, and want to, the best time to start is as early in the spring as you feel inclined to try. Just bear in mind that sun in mid spring, like out of a cold deep blue March sky, can be stronger than you think, especially if you’re anywhere south of a latitude running through canada and the UK.

  12. MS says:

    Great post and reasons in support of shirtless running. Overall, a great way to be comfortable, flexible, and build a tan.

    The only thing I will respectfully disagree with you on is how laying out by the pool is not “socially acceptable” for guys. You should probably brush up on what is “socially acceptable” for guys. Being from a college/university/urban area in Florida, I will tell you that there are quite a few guys – from teenagers to seniors – lounging out by the pools and the beaches. Running shirtless gives me the perfect base tan so that I don’t burn at the pool/beach, which are pretty much the only times I get to tan.

    1. Chris Barber says:

      I was referring to guys laying out by a pool for the sole purpose of getting a tan. Guys shouldn’t care about their looks that much. Also guys shouldn’t have to work at tans, it should come naturally from outdoor activities like running, golf, or building a house. If a guy is going to be at a pool it should be to drink beers, look at girls, or play an underwater game, not to get a tan. If a guy is at the beach he should be playing volleyball, surfing, or selling popsicles. I agree that many men are at pools and beaches, I live in Atlanta and during the summer every pool is covered with men and women alike, but usually all sexes are in the pool playing beer pong on a floatie. I think we’re on the same page here. Thanks for the comment MS!

  13. [...] running with any unnecessary gear strapped on.  I don’t trail run with an iPod, iPhone, shirt ( if temp above freezing), or even water belt (if under 20 mile run).  However, I do run with a GPS watch so I can make up [...]

  14. Chris says:

    And now all you need to do is lose those shoes. Shirtless, barefoot running is truly the way to go.

  15. Ted Houk says:
    Since 1996, I go shirtless above 28°F, gloveless above 40°, my range is -50 to 104°, though I haven’t been in Wisconsin temps since 1977. Min temp here is 10°F. BTW it is legal for women to go topless, there was a $29k lawsuit about it in Central Park a few years back, but it would stretch their ligaments. I am shameless, so should you be.

  16. Blake says:

    “Show your battle scars and lower back tattoo off with pride!”

    lower back tattoo… !!! LOL