The right pair of workout shorts can inspire you to train longer, harder and more often. On the flip side, the wrong pair — too baggy, too tight, too falling apart — can leave you feeling uninspired, lethargic and possibly wanting to stay home and eat ice cream rather than get to work.
In other words, your workout shorts can have a big impact on how you train, and how you ultimately look and feel. So it’s important to — like that old guy said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — choose wisely.
With that in mind, here's a 12-pack of shorts that will set you up for success no matter how you take your endorphin rush. From running to CrossFit to hoops to biking, they'll support and elevate your training, driving you forward to achieve your best. Bonus: you'll likely look a bit more stylish too.
Ten Thousand Interval Short
Most of us don’t have the budget — or time — for 12 different pairs of shorts for 12 different activities. We’d prefer one pair of shorts we can wear for virtually every athletic pursuit. If that describes you, the Interval is perfect. Featuring a thick no-pinch waistband, a few well-placed pockets and an ultra-wicking shell (plus a comfy liner for $10 more), these shorts easily accommodate kettlebell swings, med ball tosses, box jumps and bench presses. Also: tennis.
Lululemon Pace Breaker Short
Made from lightweight fabric with just the right amount of stretch, these well-designed shorts suit everything from dog walking to deadlifts. The liner is soft and supportive and features a clever little phone sleeve that'll keep that essential device from bouncing all over the gym. The construction is durable, too, so you can work out as hard and as often as you like and lower the cost-per-wear in the process.
Under Armour MK-1 Shorts
If these shorts were a sex position, they'd be missionary. But you know what? People like missionary. And for a very low price, there's a lot to like here. The fit is streamlined but not too snug, and UA’s patented HeatGear fabric provides lightweight comfort that minimizes moisture. They’ve also got anti-odor technology — and two mesh pockets to hold all that money you’re saving.
New Balance Accelerate 5 In Short
Best for Running
With a five-inch inseam, these shorts are short but not too short. They’re also lightweight and moisture-wicking thanks to NB DRY technology, making them a favorite of marathoners. Hand pockets and drop-in pockets at the waist keep your keys, money and energy gels secure.
Reebok CrossFit Austin II Shorts
Best for CrossFit
If you’re partaking in this particularly punishing form of training, you need apparel up to the task. These stretchy, ultra-lightweight shorts from Reebok — the CrossFit experts — are equipped with side slits at the hem to give you freedom of movement on WOD staples like burpees, lunges and bodyweight squats.
Vuori Kore Short
Best for Yoga
For poses like downward dog and warrior II, you want to keep things classy with a liner. These shorts, from laidback-California-cool brand Vuori, not only offer a breathable boxer-brief liner, but also they’re uber-comfortable thanks to quick-drying four-way stretch fabric and a roomier fit.
Jordan Jumpman Fleece Diamond
Best for Shooting Hoops
The diamonds on the sides are a nod to MJ’s Bulls days, back when he was swishing fadeaways and posterizing opponents nightly. The soft knit fabric makes them comfy, while the pockets are a good place to put your hands — when they aren’t mimicking the “I don’t know” shrug after draining too many 3s, of course.
Adidas Condivo 20 Shorts
Best for Coed Soccer
Named after the Italian word for flavor, the Condivos should add a little spice to your weekend kickarounds. The lightweight and breathable AEROREADY fabric will have you zipping around the pitch like a young Roberto Baggio. They're versatile enough for other activities, too, like watching soccer and playing FIFA.
Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts
Best for Hiking
The recycled polyester/spandex fabric wicks moisture and allows you to move with comfort on the trails. A boxer-brief liner with odor control lets you focus on the hike, not the funk. And the logo on the left leg glows when illuminated, making you — and your fine taste in outdoor brands — easier to spot when the sun sets.
Hylete Fuse Short
Best for Obstacle Course Racing
These smooth, stretchy shorts from Hylete offer a larger leg opening for added room and flexibility — so if you can’t get over that climbing wall, it’s on you. They also feature a ton of pockets, three different lengths and a waistband system that can make the drawstrings either interior or exterior. Thoughtful.
Rogue Black Ops Shorts
Best for Weightlifting
These no-nonsense training shorts are perfect for your no-B.S., all-out days in the weight room. The elastic waistband with mesh venting helps you keep cool while you’re tossing around iron, and the loose fit and 8-inch inseam allow for unrestricted mobility during squats, deadlifts and lunges. Yes, you can wear them for cardio, too.
Elevenpine Uprising Short
Best for Biking
Not quite ready for the nothing-but-spandex look? These clever shorts employ zippers and Velcro straps to convert from form-fittingly close to comfortably loose in seconds. For an extra $35, you can score a combo deal with the Liberator Liner and enjoy some critical long-distance padding.