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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
Everlane ReNew Air Shorts
Everlane has a big selection of some of the best menswear staples you can buy online these days, from tees to masks to its great-looking denim. Add the brand’s athletic shorts to that list. These ReNew Air shorts are just what your activewear’s been missing, stylish enough to throw on for a coffee run, but just as great when you’re ready to hit the gym.
They’re machine-washable and easy to care for, and they’re also comfortable to wear, made from a combination of recycled polyester and elastane. Thanks to their four-way stretch, they work well in just about any workout situation, and they even wick away moisture to keep you dry. The comfortable shorts come with a seven-inch inseam for a good all-around fit, along with a drawstring to tighten them up before you take off on your run.
Outdoor Voices High Stride 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 seven-inch inseam and they hit a little above the knee, perfect for running stairs or wearing while doing lunges.
OV made them completely out of recycled polyester, and you can buy them in three stylish colors, from hunter green, above, to basalt and eclipse/marlin blue. We especially love these shorts because you can stash your phone in a built-in pocket, keeping your hands free and helping you prevent a broken phone. Bonus: They’re also washer-and-dryer-friendly.
Nike Flex Stride 7″ Running Shorts
Nike has a large collection of workout shorts (all of which are good to great) but we think the seven-inch Flex Stride is the company’s best. The shorts are marketed for running with an ultra-lightweight design and a zippered horizontal phone pocket in the back, but they’re still one of the best options for cross-training and lifting as well.
The Flex Stride 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.
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.
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.
Under Armour Raid 10″ 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. Built-in UPF 30 also keeps your legs safe from the sun while you grid outdoors and sweat-wicking, odor-eliminating technology keeps you dry.
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.
Converse Archive Shorts
The most common workout look is modern and minimal. The opposite might be more exciting, as evidenced by these colorful throwback shorts from Converse. They’re made of a durable ripstop cotton (nylon) that can handle any sport or workout session and still look great on the way home. A slightly boxy, loose fit ensures comfort and mobility, plus hip pockets and a zippered back pocket offer enough room for essentials. They’re great for a casual pickup basketball game or weight lifting, but the real upside with these Converse shorts is that you can wear them with your downtime wardrobe as well.
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.
Rhone 9″ Versatility Short
Since its launch in 2014, the menswear brand Rhone has quickly gained the attention of athletes and fashion enthusiasts alike. The brand entered the largely untapped market of premium basics, which has since become a leading genre in menswear.
Rhone’s Versatility short showcases its mastery of high-end essentials, delivering some of the most comfortable and capable shorts for working out. The shorts are designed for, as the name suggests, versatility. This takes the form of quick-drying abilities and UPF 50 sun protection that’s great for long runs, a lightweight anti-odor lining for gym sessions and a high-quality Italian material to keep you comfortable throughout any routine.
Reebok Training Supply Speed Short
High intensity cross-training requires something extra lightweight and stretchy. These Speed shorts from Reebok offer just that. The polyester-elastane plain weave fabric weighs next to nothing and does a great job of wicking sweat – even through long workouts. Plus, an elastic waistband and drawcord ensure a snug fit while four-way stretch allows full range of motion. Pocket setup is solid, with two hip pockets. As mentioned, they’re fantastic for high intensity workouts, but the lightness also makes them a comfortable choice for lounging on rest days.
New Balance Accelerate Running Short
Serious runners often prefer a five-inch short to keep their legs cool and free of excess material, but some lifters and other gym-goers like shorter trunks as well. These Accelerate shorts from New Balance are a great five-inch option. They’re very minimal with a lightweight weave fabric and New Balance’s NB Dry moisture-wicking technology. The shorts also feature reflective details for visibility if you’re jogging on roads at night and side pockets for necessities.