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The right pair of workout shorts won’t just improve your performance at the gym — they could actually motivate you to break a sweat (even if the gym is now your backyard). Plus, it never hurts to look good while you workout, and of course comfort is always key when you’re on the run or move.
Workout shorts are one of the fastest-evolving pieces of clothing in terms of technology, so the list of the best shorts for working out is constantly changing. However, keeping up with gym gear evolution is essential for staying at the top of your game — whether that’s heavy lifting, HIIT training, CrossFit or cardio. The best pairs of workout shorts will wick sweat, prevent chafing and allow you to push yourself to the max. Some workout shorts also boast convenient features such as pockets for your smartphone, keys and other essentials.
If you’re looking to jumpstart a new workout regimen, revitalize a routine you’ve been avoiding or just replace those old, worn-out gym shorts, read on. Below are a dozen of the best shorts for working out.
What Are the Best Workout Shorts for Men?
The best workout shorts to buy will depend on the activity you’re using them for, and your workout style. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Length: The correct length for your gym shorts depends on your workout. Runners can’t have excess material so they usually prefer something around five inches. Lifters often like coverage between their legs and the bench or barbell, so nine-inch shorts are a good choice. Seven-inch workout shorts are a good in-between if you do it all.
Material: The best workout shorts will all have moisture-wicking capabilities to reduce sweat, but there is still a wide range of material combinations. Some shorts also have four-way stretch material, meaning they stretch both crosswise and lengthwise and recover to their original shape.
Pockets: Now that most of us carry a smartphone while working out or running, pockets are a big deal when shopping for the best workout shorts. Regular side pockets are great for walking around before and after a workout, while zippered pockets keep things from slipping out. Sometimes you can find a pair of lined workout shorts with a handy pouch in the liner that keeps your smartphone secure while doing high-impact moves or running.
Fit: Most people like a trim-fit pair of workout shorts for security, but some like a more relaxed fit. This is really up to personal preference but important to note when shopping.
Style: Looking good while working out, whether for yourself or that other person at your gym, is a powerful motivational tool. Consider your personal style and ideal workout gear look when shopping (tip: you can never go wrong with basic black).
The Best Gym Shorts for Working Out
1. Outdoor Voices High Stride 5″ Shorts
Whether you’re a runner or a lifter, these workout shorts from Austin-based Outdoor Voices are a great overall pair, no matter what workout you’re doing. The High Strides feature a five-inch inseam and they hit a little right at mid-thigh, perfect for running stairs or wearing while doing lunges.
OV made the shorts completely out of recycled polyester, and you can buy them in six stylish colors, from river/azure, above, to acai and fern/dijon. But one of our favorite things about the OV shorts is that they have several pockets: two in the front, one zip pocket in the back, and a pocket in the built-in liner.
2. Nike Challenger Running Shorts
Nike has a large collection of workout shorts (all of which are good to great) but we think these seven-inch Challengers are among the brand’s best — especially if you like a bit more leg coverage. They’re made of a polyester that feels super light, and the built-in liner provides just enough support without feeling uncomfortable. Plus, you get front pockets and a rear pocket for your phone.
The shorts are made of Nike’s famous Dri-Fit material which effectively delivers the name’s promise by minimizing sweat. And while these moisture-wicking shorts are at home in the gym or on the track, their minimal style can be paired with everyday sneakers and a regular tee for an extra comfortable errand-running outfit.
3. Lululemon Pace Breaker 7” Shorts
Lululemon might be best known for their yoga pants, but, surprisingly, they also make some of the best workout shorts for men as well. Lululemon’s Pace Breaker short is a great example of Lulu’s slept-on workout gear know-how, boasting premium fabrics and convenient features.
The Swift fabric used for these shorts (engineered by Lululemon) checks all the boxes with four-way stretch, sweat-wicking capabilities, and a lightweight feel that’ll make you want to wear the shorts everywhere. The short’s liner is made of Lululemon’s aptly named OOM (Out of Mind) fabric that provides support without any squeezing or discomfort. This liner also features a pouch to keep your smartphone securely against your thigh while running or cross-training while two hip pockets hold everything else.
4. Ten Thousand Foundation 7” Shorts
Ten Thousand started with the sole purpose of creating perfect workout shorts. The brand got about as close as possible with its Foundation short. The shorts don’t look like anything special, but a few key upgrades make them our favorite pair of workout shorts.
The polyester-spandex fabric is capable of taking a heavy beating — whether from a barbell, the outdoors or ball sports — but the shorts are still very flexible for unrestricted motion. Inside you’ll find a high-quality liner that keeps your bits and piece secure and (unlike many liners) comfortable while you workout. And lastly, the Foundation shorts have a great pocket setup with a zippered pocket that keeps items such as your phone locked down, plus two quick access hip pockets.
5. Tracksmith Session Shorts
Tracksmith is an activewear brand with an eye for style. The brand’s best-selling pieces, like these Session shorts, blend old-school good looks with new-school functionality. This means you get a high-quality nylon-blend fabric, a cut that makes the shorts feel almost non-existent, and a handsome vintage-inspired style.
6. Saxx Gainmaker
If your primary workout is lifting, check out these Gainmaker shorts from Saxx. They work for other activities (running, yoga, whatever), but are especially good in the weight room thanks to more coverage (nine inches), a light-compression mesh liner, and plenty of pocket space. As with all of Saxx’s pieces, the build quality is top-notch, enduring through workout after workout.
7. Patagonia Baggies Lights Short
The Patagonia Baggies are some of our favorite shorts, period. But the brand’s new Baggies Lights give the originals a run for their money — especially for working out. Like the old Baggies, the Lights are meant to be a go-to for amphibious fun, whether that’s running, working out, paddle boarding, surfing, or just taking a dip in the pool. But the new lights switch things up by slimming the silhouette just a bit (so, not all that “baggy”), making the shorts more streamlined for high-intensity activities.
8. Under Armour Raid Workout Shorts
Cutting-edge workout shorts are great, but some guys still prefer a classic, no-frills option. These Under Armour Raid shorts are exactly that with a 10-inch length for maximum coverage and a comfortable yet lightweight polyester-elastane HeatGear fabric. Although the shorts are on the long side, four-way stretch ensures that they won’t stop you from performing any moves. Sweat-wicking, odor-eliminating technology also keeps you dry and smelling decent when you get a sweat on.
9. Vuori Banks Shorts
Eco-conscious sustainability has become a major concern — if not a requirement — for most shoppers. These Banks workout shorts from Vuori deliver on the green front, utilizing recycled plastic bottles to make 44 percent of the fabric.
Vuori’s design philosophy is inspired by the varied fitness culture of coastal California. This translates to a pair of shorts that can transition seamlessly between training, surfing, running and relaxing. The shorts are quick-drying, extra stretchy and stylish enough to rock at the beach bar after a surf or lifting session.
10. Adidas Designed 2 Move 3-Stripes Shorts
If you want to nail modern athletic style, consider these Adidas shorts. They boast the iconic three-stripe look that’s even bigger now than it was in Eighties streetwear. You can wear these shorts with weekend loungewear or even designer wear and grail-worthy kicks if you’re brave. But of course, they’ll still deliver impressive performance in the gym.
The shorts are made of 100 percent eco-conscious recycled polyester for mobility and mesh inserts for breathability. A nine-inch inseam means they might be a bit bulky for running, but great for training and weight lifting.
11. Rhone Mako Tech Short
Since its launch in 2014, the menswear brand Rhone has quickly gained the attention of athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike. And Rhone’s latest workout shorts, the Mako Tech shorts, continue the brand’s winning streak. With an exposed elastic waistband, gusseted seams, and four-way stretch, the shorts are designed for comfort throughout long workouts or runs. Plus, the fabric is DWR treated for use in the rain. But one of our favorite things about the Mako Tech shorts is that you can choose your inseam length (five or seven-inch) and whether or not you want a compression lining.
12. Satisfy Rippy 3″ Trail Shorts
Satisfy Running does things differently, taking style tips from street fashion trends instead of making familiar-looking workout gear. These Rippy shorts, for example, feature a bold reflective tie-dye colorway that you might see at New York Fashion Week. But don’t let the looks fool you: The Rippys are as high-performance, if not better than any great workout shorts. They’re made of a featherweight fabric that feels like nothing, they have a comfortable compression liner, and they have plenty of pockets for your phone and necessities.