Workout Hairstyles for Black Hair That Are Perfect for the Gym

Style and substance all in one...  

Sometimes the occasion calls for a choice between hair or body. You can head out for a run, but ruin your expensive straightening treatment; or you can skip the workout, yet have awesome hair – it really is a perpetual struggle between looking and feeling good at the same time. And if you have natural afro hair, you’ll know this better than anyone, which is why we’ve put together a definitive list of workout hairstyles for black hair. 

So, stop making a decision between a HIIT class and great strands, and start bringing your hair A-game with you to the gym!


cornrow styles: the black view of a young woman with chunky cornrow braids
Chunky cornrows. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Now, you don’t need us to tell you that natural hair lends itself well to uber tight braiding. Whether it’s block braids, French plaits, or micro braids, a plait is guaranteed to hold your hair in place, no matter what you put it through!

If you’re an avid gym-goer, and want a hairstyle that’ll give you ultimate hold, we suggest opting for cornrows (AKA boxer braids) for a look that is as chic as it is strong. And what makes these plaits so great, is that they can be worn whether you have long or short hair, and can be jazzed up with almost any accessory, too! 

The Pineapple

gym black hair ideas: curly black hair pineapple
The versatile pineapple. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Want a style that’ll keep all the hair out of your face, yet won’t ruin the curl pattern of your mane? Then turn to the pineapple look, that really packs a style punch. Simply stack your strands high, tie it in place with a hairband and pin for extra security. Yes, that really is all it takes!

However, if you find your workout leaves your coils looking flat, throw some TIGI Bed Head On The Rebound Curl Recall Cream into your gym bag, for the perfect pre-exercise curl bounce back.

Bantu Knots

woman with bantu knot hairstyle workout hairstyles for black hair
Workout hairstyles for black hair: Bantu knots. Credit:

For a hairstyle that stays tight even during high-intensity workouts, you can’t go far wrong with a bun (or 4!). Now, depending on the texture of your hair, this can be achieved in several ways – some natural hair will lend itself to tight-twisted into buns, while other types might require hair straightening. Credit: @haut_standard

Yet however you go about achieving the look, just know that this style requires a little bit of commitment. But don’t let that put you off: keep in mind that these neat little knots will last a few days, and suddenly it seems oh-so worth it!

Head Wrap

How to wear a headscarf: Woman with pattern headwrap styled in regal style.
Look like royalty with this wrapped style. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

After a full week of tackling your hair to make it look presentable, you don’t really want to worry about what it looks like at the gym, right? Which is why relying on a head wrap is an excellent styling hack. So, if you want guaranteed hold that performs as hard as you do, you know what to do: rock a head wrap!

Editor’s tip: Whatever hairstyle you pick for your workout, we suggest ensuring that your mane in fully hydrated using the LOC, LOCO or LCO method (liquid, oil and cream). For liquid, give the TIGI S-Factor Papaya Leave-In Moisture Spray a go! And for oil and cream, we suggest trying the Dove Advanced Hair Series Shine Revived Treatment and the TRESemmé Botanique Air Dry Curl Cream

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