When it comes to your hottest, sweatiest workouts, even the best workout leggings don't cut it. To stay cool and have the freedom to really move during a set of burpees or lunges, workout shorts are your best go-to.
Choosing the best men's workout shorts for you is nearly as important as using correct exercise form. On the list of things you definitely don't want: bulky materials, a too-tight waistband and uncomfortable seams that might chafe.
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If you're on the hunt for a few versatile, functional workout shorts for men, these are your best options. They provide the support, comfort and breathability you need to perform your best (while looking your best, too).
How We Chose
We talked to a physical therapist and a stylist, and polled some everyday athletes, to make sure we found the best men's exercise shorts available now. We narrowed down their picks based on the following criteria:
Manufacturers typically market workout shorts according to gender, so we have listed men's picks below. In some cases, men's shorts are built to support greater weights and tend to be longer in length or roomier in the front than women’s versions due to anatomical differences. So people with bigger bodies or who like a looser fit may want to opt for men's versions.
1. Best Overall: Rhone Versatility Short
Available two different lengths, this short lives up to its name. It has mesh ventilation, durable Italian fabric and even UPF 50+ protection so you can keep your skin safe during outdoor HIIT running workouts. The flat-lock seams also ensure a chafe-free workout and comfort for wherever you're headed next.
You can even choose between a pair with built-in compression shorts (lined) or not (unlined). But if you plan to use these for more intense workouts, go with the lined version, says Sam Becourtney, DPT, CSCS, a New York–based physical therapist.
You can buy the Versatility short in two different colors and two lengths in sizes S to XXL.
Buy it: Rhone.com; Price: $78
2. Best for Comfort: Lululemon Pace Breaker Short
Made of a lightweight, four-way stretch fabric, this short is so comfortable you may forget you're wearing it.
"This is one of Lululemon's most popular shorts," says personal stylist Cassandra Sethi. "It's a perfect pick to wear to any type of workout or even just lounging around on the weekends."
You can buy Lululemon's pair in many different colors — which are often updated seasonally — and three different lengths. This short is available in sizes XS through XXL.
Buy it: Lululemon.com; Price: $68
3. Best Two-in-One: Nike Flex Stride Men's 5" 2-in-1 Running Shorts
The best part about Nike's men's 5-inch shorts? They have a pair of compression shorts built right in. The lightweight fabric on these is ideal for any kind of high-intensity workout, according to Becourtney. And the inside drawstring keeps your bottoms in place through all your HIIT workouts.
These come in two different colors in sizes XS through 4XL.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $55
4. Best for Running: UnderArmour Lauch Run 7" Shorts
Under Armour's Launch Run shorts are the perfect pair for a busy schedule. In addition to the usual pockets, there's a special internal pocket that's big enough to easily store your phone and snug enough to prevent bouncing, Sethi says.
And the quick-drying, anti-odor fabric is a big plus: you can wear these from the treadmill to lunch without any unwanted aroma.
These are available in more than 10 colors, sizes S through XXXL.
Buy it: UnderArmour.com; Price: $35
Late-night and early-morning runners will love Bearbottom's running shorts. The gray stripe across the bottom of each leg reflects car lights, promising a safe workout.
Personally, Becourtney is a fan of the phone pouches built within the side pockets. These snug inner pockets keep your phone, keys and money safe during the bumpiest of hill sprints.
You can buy these shorts in two inseams (the 5.5-inch is our favorite), six different colors and sizes S through XXL.
Buy it: Bearbottom.com; Price: $45
6. Best for Lifting Weights: Ten Thousand Foundation Short
If you're big on hitting the weights and getting in some serious barbell work, this is the pair for you. Ten Thousand's shorts are resistant to tearing and perfect for cranking out rep after rep.
"The best part of this pick is that you can customize the short completely, tailoring it to your wants and needs," says Sethi. "It's available in eight different colors, you can choose a 5-, 7- or 9-inch inseam, as well as liner or no liner."
Truly a foundational men's short, these come in sizes XS through XXL and look good enough to wear out and about after your gym session, too.
Buy it: TenThousand.cc; Price: $68
7. Best Compression: Vuori Limitless Compression Short
No one enjoys an overly tight pair of men's exercise shorts. That's why Vuori's version is the ideal choice for those who want support and compression without feeling restricted, according to Becourtney. You can wear these under a pair of looser shorts or on their own.
Vuori's shorts are available in sizes XS through XXL.
Buy it: VuoriClothing.com; Price: $54
4 Tips to Find the Best Men's Workout Shorts for You
1. Find Your Ideal Length
Shorts can range anywhere from a 5-inch to 11-inch inseam (the length from the bottom of the crotch to the bottom of the short leg). And although inseam length is a personal preference, different lengths may work better for different workouts, according to Becourtney.
The shorter bottoms are great for running, walking or hiking because these activities don't usually involve much side-to-side movement. The shorter the shorts, the more chance that they'll ride up uncomfortably.
Longer 7-inch and 11-inch shorts are best for interval training or weight lifting because they're usually loose, flowy and hang lower, so they won't ride up while you train.
2. Choose Your Favorite Liner
Most men's workout shorts have a built-in liner, a layer of fabric that acts like a secret pair of athletic underwear. This is a a nice feature because it provides support and eliminates the need to wear boxers or briefs under your shorts, Becourtney says. (Wearing underwear, especially bulky or cotton underwear, under your workout shorts can trap sweat and increase the risk of chafing.)
But there are two types of liners, which feel different on your body.
Compression liners are like a pair of snug Spandex compression shorts, best for workouts with a lot of jumping or quick movement. You can also compression-only pair of men's workout shorts (like the Vuori option above) if you don't want your shorts to move while you train.
Mesh liners are a little less supportive but feel softer and offer excellent breathability. They're ideal for low-impact activity.
3. Look for the Right Fabrics
The best pair of workout shorts are stretchy, flexible and quick-drying, Becourtney says. Look at the label or product details online to find a good athletic fabric.
You want a pair that's made with some sort of Spandex, nylon, polyester or Lycra blend. These synthetic materials have a lot of give, allowing you to sprint, squat and lunge freely in every direction. Plus, they dry quickly even during the sweatiest workouts.
Avoid workout shorts that are 100 percent cotton. These absorb moisture, tend to dry slowly and can trap some funk.
4. Opt for Drawstrings
Most men's exercise shorts have an internal drawstring or cord that helps keep them in place while you train, Becourtney says. These aren''t necessarily a must, but make a nice bonus.
But if you're doing a lot of repetitive activity (like running), choose a pair with a small or slim chord so it doesn't get in the way during your workout.