The 7 Best Compression Running Shorts of 2021

Increase blood flow to your legs with this workout gear

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Our Top Picks
Best Overall for Women:
Lululemon Short at Lululemon
"The highly breathable sweat-wicking fabric is the game-changer in this perennial favorite."
Best Overall for Men:
MAVA Compression Shorts at Amazon
"The nylon and spandex shorts have a targeted compression level protecting against muscle trauma and improving recovery."
"Can be worn alone or under a pair of athletic shorts."
Best Short Length for Women:
Athleta Compression Shorts at Gap.com
"The SuperSonic fabric, made with recycled material, is sleek with supportive compression."
Best Recovery Compression Short:
Zensah Compression Short at Amazon
"These compression shorts offer support in the upper leg area, giving you optimal lower leg mobility for your workouts."
"The Girlfriend Collective’s compressive high-rise shorts delivers top-quality compression, keeping you sleek and sculpted."
"Going the distance and toughing out the course means wearing a pair of shorts that stays put, keeping you focused on the road."

Whether you're an Olympic athlete, a weekend warrior, or a beginning runner, you've probably considered buying a pair of compression shorts. Compression shorts are constructed of a stretchy material and form to your body, producing compression (pressure) in your rear and thighs.

Wearing compression shorts while running, cycling, or high-intensity activity, offers athletes plenty of benefits. The shorts can help promote oxygen and blood flow, reducing muscle fatigue, decreasing recovery time, and ultimately enhancing muscle stability.

High-quality compression shorts are designed with fabrics that are breathable, stretchable, lightweight, and sweat-wicking. 

To help you pare down your choices, here are the best compression running shorts on the market.

Best Overall for Women: Lululemon Wunder Train High Rise Short 8"

High Rise Short 8"

Lululemon’s apparel has an enthusiastic, loyal following. So it’s no surprise that readers are enamored with Lululemon's Wunder Train High-Rise shorts. The shorts are ideal for high-intensity training, a spinning class, or a neighborhood run.

They are constructed from the brand's techiest moisture-wicking Everlux fabric. The highly breathable sweat-wicking fabric is the game-changer in this perennial favorite. Four-way stretch with added Lycra fiber for stretch and shape retention keeps the garment from losing its compressive shape. 

A waistband drawcord keeps your shorts in place, so you don’t have to pull them up. The shorts come in sizes 0 through 14 in three inseam options—4, 6, and 8 inches. Chose from colors Gold Spice and Merlot, among several others. 

Best Overall for Men: MAVA Men's Compression Shorts

Score a sleek look for your workouts with the Mava Sports Men’s Compression Shorts, which can either be worn alone or as a base layer. The nylon and spandex shorts have a targeted compression level protecting against muscle trauma and improving recovery by reducing fatigue and soreness. As a bonus, the breathable, moisture-wicking fabric will keep you cool and dry.

Mava Sports Men’s Compression Shorts offer a good amount of compression—more than most compression shorts. A runner who wore them during a Tough Mudder said that the compression provided tremendous support to their hip flexors and mid glutes.

Those who've worn them say that, although the shorts have a stronger level of compression, they are still very comfortable. The shorts come in sizes small to extra-extra-large and come in black and gold.

Best Budget: Neleus Men's 3 Pack Compression Short

If you need to wear compression shorts more than a few times a week, you might want to opt for this three-pack that comes at a steal of a price. These shorts can be worn alone for Cross Fit workouts or under a pair of athletic shorts for when you crave more coverage.

They provide a lot of support and many have gone back to order a second and even third set. Available in extra-small to extra-extra-large, they come in three packs of assorted colors, so you can choose whatever works best with your wardrobe.

Best Short Length for Women: Athleta Ultimate Shortie

Ultimate Shortie

The Athleta Ultimate Shortie pair is perfect for people who don’t want too much fabric to get in the way of their runs. High-waisted, flattering, and comfortable, readers appreciate the wicking, quick-drying, and breathable material. It dries instantly and provides comfort after a high-intensity activity. The breathable fabric makes sure the airflow moves quickly through the shorts.

Whether you're running the hills, taking yoga classes, or hiking the trails, the Athleta Ultimate Shorties consistently stays in place. The SuperSonic fabric, made with recycled material, is sleek with supportive compression. Available in sizes extra-extra small to 3X, it comes in black.

 

Best Recovery Compression Short: Zensah Recovery Compression Short - Hamstring Support

If you've had extensive, intense workouts, you might be needing recovery compression shorts. The compression technology of the Zensah Recovery Compression Short-Hamstring Support is designed to keep your legs warm and to promote blood flow. Keeping them warmer allows for more oxygen flow as well, which helps to reduce soreness after a workout.

The sleek compression shorts are made from a wicking fabric to pull moisture away from the skin, while the flat-seam construction minimizes chafing-induced irritation. These compression shorts offer most of their support in the upper leg area, giving you optimal lower leg mobility for your runs and workouts.

These shorts are unisex, making them an easy pick for those who are interested. Make sure to check out the size guide to pick the size that’s right for you. Available in sizes extra-small/small through large/extra-large, it comes in black.

Best Size-Inclusive: Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Run Short

Black High-Rise Run Short

The Girlfriend Collective’s compressive high-rise shorts delivers top-quality compression, keeping you sleek and sculpted. The four-way stretch fabric is opaque, making them great for any activities, including cycling, running, and squats.

Founded in 2017, The Girlfriend Collective began on a mission to provide sustainable, size-inclusive athleisure. The brand's High-Rise Run Shorts are sewn from yarn made of recycled plastic bottles. Manufacturers take the caps and labels from plastic bottles, shred them into tiny chips, and process them into fibers, becoming yarn. 

You’ll love the “hold you in” support and compression that offers a smooth silhouette. The high-rise run shorts come in sizes ranging from extra-extra-small to 6XL and in a variety of colors inspired by the earth’s terrain, including "Moss," "Earth," "Moon," among others. 

Best for Long Runs: Under Armour Women's UA RUSH™ Run Pocket Shorts

Running Shorts

Going the distance and toughing out the course means wearing a pair of shorts that stays put, keeping you focused on the road. You’ll find a pair of shorts that stay put with the UA RUSH. It’s the gear you’ll want after your most challenging run or workout because it fits great and keeps you dry.

As your body releases energy, the mineral-infused fabric absorbs your body's energy, reflecting it and improving your endurance. The lightweight knit HeatFear fabric breathes, stretching for optimal mobility. 

The features are topped off with a high-rise waist for coverage and support, with a silicone grip on the back bottom hem for a stay-put fit and feel. Available in sizes extra-small to extra-large, they come in black.

Final Verdict

Compressions shorts are an essential and valuable addition to an athletic wardrobe. If you want superior coverage that doesn’t weigh you down, we recommend Lululemon's Wunder Train High-Rise Shorts. Built with moisture-wicking Everlux fabric, they’re lightweight, breathable, and sweat-wicking. To keep the garment from losing its shape, they’ve added four-way stretch and Lycra fibre for stretch and shape retention. The shorts are suitable for high-intensity training, a spinning class, or a neighborhood run.

For men, we recommend the sleek-looking Mava Sports Men’s Compression Shorts, which can either be worn alone or as a base layer. The nylon and spandex shorts have a targeted compression level protecting against muscle trauma and improving recovery by reducing fatigue and soreness. Athletes appreciate the breathable, moisture-wicking fabric, which keeps them cool and dry. Those who've worn the shorts say there is an ample amount of compression—more than most compression shorts.

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