7 Best Workout Shorts That Look and Feel Amazing

Stay comfortable and move easily in Under Armour Raid Gym Shorts

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Shorts are staple exercise wear, especially in warmer weather, but not just any pair of shorts will do. For the most comfort and performance, you'll want a pair of shorts that wicks away sweat. You'll also want to opt for shorts that don't chafe, roll up, or slip down as you move. Workout shorts should also be lightweight and breathable.

Reviewed & Approved

The Under Armour Men's Raid Gym Shorts are one of our top choices for their four-way stretch and lightweight fabric. We think Lululemon's Wunder Train High-Rise shorts are also a great choice because they wick moisture and dry fast.

"When shopping for shorts, I recommend looking for lightweight, stretchy fabric. I want my shorts to feel comfortable and breathable. The waistband should be stretchy and not too tight." says Stephanie Thomas, certified personal trainer, ACE-Certified Health Coach, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, and bridal fitness coach in Annapolis, Maryland. "When you try them on, do a 'squat test' to see how they feel when you're moving," she adds.

Depending on the type of activity you do, you'll also want to look for shorts with extra features, like pockets, anti-odor technology, and compression.

To select the best workout shorts for every activity, we reviewed dozens of shorts from the most trustworthy apparel brands on the market. We then reviewed each pair and made our selections based on quality of material, technical features, affordability, size range available, and more.

Based on our research, here are the best workout shorts on the market.

Best Men's Overall: Under Armour Men's Raid Gym Shorts

4.8
Under Armour Men's Raid 10" Shorts

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Anti-odor technology

  • Built-in UPF 30

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • May be too thin for some

These Under Armour Raid Shorts are our men's best overall pick because they're comfortable, ultra-soft, and lightweight. The shorts’ four-way stretch construction allows for easy movement in any direction, so these shorts are ideal for all types of exercise. The lightweight material wicks away sweat and the anti-odor technology fights odor-causing microbes, keeping you cool, fresh, and dry.

Fans of the Raid shorts also love the pockets, elastic waistband with drawstring, and the choice of numerous colors. Overall, they’re an excellent choice for comfortable, durable, all-purpose men’s workout shorts.

Material: Polyester, Elastane | Sizes: XS-4XL and Talls | Care: Machine wash | Pockets: Yes, side pockets

Best Women's Overall: Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Short 6"

4.9
Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Short 6"

Courtesy of Lululemon

Pros
  • Fast-drying

  • Flattering high-waisted look

Cons
  • May be too tight for some

  • Expensive

Lululemon is a top brand in athletic wear and these shorts are no exception. Because the fabric is fast-drying, sweat won't linger. These shorts will keep you comfortable during your most intense workouts, which is why they're one of our best overall selections.

The shorts have a high waist and drawstring waistband so they won't slide down and there's even a hidden pocket in the waistband for your keys or ID.

These shorts have a comfortable fit that isn't restrictive so you can wear them for all your training needs. They come in six different colors and sizes 0-20.

Material: Polyester, Lycra | Sizes: 0-20 | Care: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low | Pockets: Yes, in waistband

Best Men's Budget: Champion Men's Long Mesh Short with Pockets

Champion Men's Long Mesh Short with Pockets

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Durable

  • 17 color options

Cons
  • May be too thin for some

If you’re looking for comfortable, durable, and lightweight men’s workout shorts at an affordable price, we recommend these Champion Men’s Long Mesh Shorts. They’re made of a lightweight, super-soft, mesh material that offers superior ventilation and breathability on hot days. Perfect for all types of sports and activities, these shorts are on the baggy side and hit just above the knee.

They have an elastic waist and drawstring, so you don’t have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions when you’re working out or playing basketball. The side pockets are perfect for stashing your keys, wallet, or phone. Despite the reasonable price tag, these shorts are extremely durable and won’t wear out or fade. And with so many colors to choose from, you may decide you need more than one pair.

Material: Polyester | Sizes: XS-4XL | Care: Machine wash | Pockets: Yes, side pockets

Best Women's Budget: Under Armour Women’s Play Up Short 3.0

Under Armour Women’s Play Up Short 3.0

Amazon

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Moisture-wicking

  • Anti-odor technology

Cons
  • Run small

Another excellent and affordable option from Under Armour, we love that these Women’s Play Up Shorts are designed to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable during your workouts.

Lightweight and extremely breathable, they feature UA’s signature Moisture Transport System that pulls sweat away from your body, keeping you cool and dry. There’s plenty of room to move, so you can perform all types of exercises without feeling restricted.

Exercisers love the short’s flattering fit and the wide, elastic waistband. Available in numerous fun color combinations, the Play Up shorts also feature odor-resistant technology to keep them smelling fresh.

Material: Polyester | Sizes: 2XS-2XL | Care: Machine wash | Pockets: Yes, side pockets

Best for Running: Nike Dry Tempo Short

Nike Women's Dry Tempo 3-Inch Running Short

Courtesy of Zappos

Pros
  • Lightweight

  • Fully-lined

  • Over 50 color combination options

Cons
  • Lighter colors can be see-through

These women’s running shorts from Nike are a perennial favorite for runners, thanks to their performance, quality, affordability, and comfort. They feature a 3-inch inseam, curved hem, and a fully-lined mesh brief that provides superior comfort, excellent coverage, and full range of motion.

Thanks to the breathable mesh side panels and Nike's signature sweat-wicking fabric, we like that they keep you cool and dry no matter how much you're sweating.

These lightweight shorts are sure to become your go-to shorts for warm-weather, outdoor exercise, and gym workouts. Available in dozens of colors, they’re so affordable that you may be tempted to buy more than one pair for when the other is in the laundry pile.

Material: Recycled Polyester | Sizes: XS-3XL | Care: Machine wash | Pockets: Yes, internal "media" pocket

Best for Squats: Jed North Men's Fitted Shorts

Jed North Men's Fitted Shorts

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Zippered pockets

  • Contoured for snug fit

Cons
  • Shorter fit may not work for everyone

Lifters will look forward to leg day at the gym just so they can wear these comfortable, lightweight, and extremely functional Jed North shorts. Featuring an athletic fit, we love that they lightly hug the thighs, but still offer plenty of room to move in order to perform perfect, unrestricted squats.

The fabric is exceptionally soft and smooth, with lots of stretch and flexibility so you don’t have to worry about rips or tears at the bottom of a squat. There’s room to stash your phone or other essentials in the two wide side pockets with zippers that are easy to open and close.

We love that these comfy shorts allow you to focus on improving your squats rather than paying attention to irritating or uncomfortable clothing. Available in several colors and sizes, the Jed North fitted lifting shorts are shorter than your typical gym shorts, but they still provide enough coverage for most exercisers.

Material: Polyester, Spandex | Sizes: S-3XL | Care: Not listed | Pockets: Yes, side zippered pockets

Best for High-Intensity Exercise: Hylete Iris Short

Hylete Iris Short

Hylete

Pros
  • Fully-lined

  • Zippered pockets

  • Four-way stretch

Cons
  • Expensive

We love that these shorts have a built-in no-show breathable mesh liner that doesn't ride up or limit your range of motion, even when you're sprinting or doing other high-intensity exercises. The high-stretch waistband and four-way stretch fabric move with you while you exercise, but the shorts still stay in place without digging into your sides.

Side zipper pockets keep your valuables secure while you're out on a run and are big enough to fit most phones. Durable and lightweight, these high-quality shorts will last you a long time. The athletic shorts come in a range of colors and in sizes 0 through 14.

Material: Nylon, Polyester, Spandex | Sizes: XS-XL | Care: Machine wash cold inside out, tumble dry low | Pockets: Yes, side zippered pockets

Final Verdict

Our top men's selection is the Under Armour Raid Gym Short for its ultra-lightweight and anti-odor fabric that makes it a go-to shorts for every workout.

Our best women's overall selection is the Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise short for its four-way stretch, quick-drying fabric, and compression that allows for a flattering and functional fit.

How We Selected the Best Workout Shorts

We selected the best workout shorts by reviewing dozens of options from well-known athletic apparel brands with proven track records for quality. We then researched product details and customer reviews, paying particular attention to best-selling products that are available in a wide range of sizes and are versatile enough for every type of workout.

We also looked for shorts made with stretchy fabric to provide a comfortable fit and compression when necessary. Lastly, we considered shorts made with lightweight, breathable material that is easy to care for and moisture-wicking.

What to Look for in Workout Shorts

Material

Workout shorts come in all sorts of materials. The best materials will wick away sweat and allow your skin to breathe. Avoid cotton, which will hold moisture, and instead look for lightweight fabrics like polyester, spandex, fleece, and nylon.

Compression

Consider whether or not you will want compression in your workout shorts. If you are a runner, you may wish to use compression shorts for performance benefits and recovery. Compression gear should be tight without being restrictive. Most compression garments will be labeled as such.

Fit

Some people prefer tighter clothing, and others more loose-fitting garments. Workout shorts come in a wide range of lengths for both men and women. Check the inseam length on the label before making a decision. Loose-fitting shorts may be a hazard during some types of activity where they could get caught in machines.

Additionally, some brands offer a more inclusive range of sizes for petite or plus-sized individuals. Look for brands that provide these sizes if you need them before choosing a store to browse.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are workout shorts better than yoga pants?

    Workout shorts are not better or worse than yoga pants. The decision to wear either shorts or yoga pants comes down to personal preference. However, depending on what type of activity you plan to do, one may be better suited than the other. For instance, if you're running outside in the summer, workout shorts may provide better ventilation to keep you cool.

    On the other hand, if you're practicing yoga, wearing more form-fitting yoga pants may be better than shorts that you constantly have to pull down throughout your flow.

  • How does your clothing affect your performance?

    Clothing does not affect your performance significantly most of the time. However, there is some evidence that compression garments may be beneficial for reducing muscle soreness.

    If you wear clothing that holds in sweat, it could be uncomfortable enough to make you stop mid-workout, hindering your performance. And tighter clothing with rough seams could lead to chafing.

    While these factors may not affect performance directly, they will significantly reduce your level of comfort and enjoyment during exercise.

  • What are the benefits of workout shorts?

    Exercisers may prefer workout shorts in the summer months or when working out in warmer climates because they tend to provide more ventilation and breathability when compared to other exercise pants.

    You also may find shorts less restrictive than yoga pants or joggers, especially for exercises that require more movement in your legs, like running or dancing. It's always good to keep a few pairs of workout shorts in your athletic wardrobe rotation for more versatility.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Christine Luff, ACE-CPT is a writer for Verywell Fit covering running, which she lives and breathes. Her passion for the sport filters through all aspects of her life—as a fitness writer, avid runner, certified running coach, certified personal trainer, and mom of two very active kids.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Engel FA, Holmberg HC, Sperlich B. Is there evidence that runners can benefit from wearing compression clothinng?Sports Med. 2016;46(12):1939-1952. doi:10.1007/s40279-016-0546-5

  2. Beliard S, Chauveau M, Moscatiello T, Cros F, Ecarnot F, Becker F. Compression garments and exercise: no influence of pressure appliedJ Sports Sci Med. 2015;14(1):75-83.