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The Best Gym Shorts for Every Kind of Workout

All of the best training and recreation options. None of the jorts.

best gym shorts for every workout
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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 — as that old guy said in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — choose wisely.

Gym Shorts Terms to Know

Before you find the right pair for your next sweat session, it helps to understand some of the common terminologies. Here are some definitions to terms you'll see in our list of the best gym shorts.

DWR: Stands for “durable water repellent,” a coating added to fabrics to make them water-resistant.

Inseam: The measurement taken on the inside of the leg, from the crotch to the hem.

Nylon: A synthetic thermoplastic linear polyamide known for being strong, durable, elastic, easy to clean and water-resistant.

Outseam: The measurement taken on the outside of the leg, from the top of the waistband to the hem.

Polyester: A category of polymers commonly used in clothing and home furnishings. They can be naturally occurring or synthetic. Generally speaking, polyester is a strong material that’s stain-resistant, water-resistant and wind-resistant.

Polygiene: An antimicrobial silver chloride treatment applied at the finishing stages of textile production to control odor in a garment.

Spandex: A fiber made of a long chain of a synthetic polymer composed of at least 85 percent of a segmented polyurethane. It’s stretchy while retaining its length and shape. It’s durable, smooth, comfortable and resistant to abrasion. Also known as Lycra and Elastane.

How to Pick the Best Gym Shorts for You

There are many styles of gym short — from the light-as-air to the more robust. Depending on what fitness activity you favor, you’ll want to choose a short that matches your needs. First up, we’ll cover the inseam. The standard inseam lengths for almost any style of gym shorts are 5 inches, 7 inches and 9 inches. A 5-inch inseam short will land somewhere in the region of your mid-thigh, while 7 inches is the typical short length. For those looking for more coverage or protection, the 9-inch inseam is a little more appealing.

Next, let’s chat fabric. Polyester is the go-to fabric for most workout clothing — essentially plastic woven into fiber and then made into cloth, it’s durable, resists wrinkles, is lightweight and wicks moisture. Lately, many brands are moving to partially or completely recycled polyester, or innovative materials like plant-based yarns and fabrics, in an effort to combat the polluting effects of fashion. If you want to experiment with a non-polyester fabric, just know that innovation typically comes with a higher price tag — if you can afford it, go for it, but if not, polyester is still a solid option.

Lastly, let’s briefly cover fit. Runners, the best gym shorts for you are styles that are minimal, lightweight and shorter (5 inches or less) for easy movement. Weight trainers, you should opt for a longer style (think 9-inch inseam) that offers more coverage and protection. For the multi-discipline fitness enthusiasts, go for personal comfort over being tied to one style.

With all that in mind, here's a boatload 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.

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How We Tested
variety of different gym shorts
Ben Emminger

Through our various training disciplines and fitness-related activities, we’ve sported plenty of workout-ready bottoms. Through intense leg days, heart-pounding agility training, calming yoga flows and more, we’ve tested a number of these shorts, noting the apparel’s resilience, comfort, and added features like lay-flat waistbands and convenient pockets. Now, let’s get into our top picks. Plus, if you look good, you train well, so bonus points were given on style and look as well.

Now, let’s get into our picks of the best gym shorts.

BEST OVERALL GYM SHORT
Ten Thousand Interval Short
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BEST UPGRADE GYM SHORT
Lululemon Pace Breaker Lined Short
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BEST BUDGET GYM SHORT
Brooks Run Within 7-inch Linerless Short
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BEST RUNNING SHORT
Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts
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BEST WEIGHTLIFTING SHORT
Legends Luka 7-inch Short with Liner
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BEST SHORT FOR CROSSFIT
Reebok Workout Ready Strength Short
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The Best CrossFit Shoes of 2022
reebok nano x2, puma fuse and nike metcon 7
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From circuit-crushing mainstays to budget-friendly bests, there’s a CrossFit shoe for everyone on this list.

LEARN MORE

BEST SHORT FOR GOING SHIRTLESS
Born Tough Air Pro 2-in-1 7-inch Liner Short
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BEST SHORT FOR CASUAL CYCLING
Elevenpine Uprising Short
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BEST SHORT FOR WORKING FROM HOME
Olivers All Over 5.5-inch Inseam Short
Olivers
BEST SHORT FOR SHOWING OFF THE THIGHS
Satisfy Space‑O 2.5-inch Distance Short
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BEST SHORT FOR HANGING OUT POST-WORKOUT
Mack Weldon Ace Sweatshort
Mack Weldon
BEST SHORT FOR YOGA
Vuori Kore Short
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BEST SURF SHORT
Birdwell 311 Nylon Board Short
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BEST BASKETBALL SHORT
Jordan Dri-FIT Air Diamond Short
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BEST SOCCER SHORT
adidas Condivo 20 Short
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BEST CLASSIC SWEATSHORT
Champion Reverse Weave Cut-Off Short
Champion
BEST SHORT FOR OBSTACLE COURSE TRAINING
Hylete Fuse Short
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