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Whether you’re a professional athlete, an occasional exerciser, or anyone in between, a new workout wardrobe might benefit both your style and performance.

Compression items, such as compression shorts, are one popular type of workout apparel. They may even benefit your workout by providing support, comfort, and more.

However, you may wonder how to choose a pair that’s right for you, what qualities different products offer, and what the best types are.

When considering which compression shorts should make the cut, we considered:

  • Material quality. Exercising requires movement and can produce lots of sweat, so we gave extra points to shorts designed with fabrics that are breathable, sweat-wicking, or have excellent stretching abilities.
  • Extra features. We didn’t want to forget the little things that really set a pair of workout shorts apart, such as hidden pockets, special waistbands that stay in place yet are comfortable, cooling gel inserts, and more.
  • Customer reviews. When it comes to workout gear, people who have purchased and worked out in the apparel can offer key insights. We looked closely at people’s reviews to help evaluate products.
  • Price. We know that budgets can vary, so we tried to include compression shorts at a variety of price points.
  • Size. We looked for products available in a range of sizes.

Here are 8 of the best compression shorts for working out in 2021.

Best overall men’s compression shorts

Under Armour Men’s HeatGear 2.0 Compression Shorts

Price: $$

Under Armour shorts are known for their close fit.

This pair checks many of the boxes for general exercise compression shorts: a good length that stays put, fabric that wicks sweat well, ventilation, and seams that won’t chafe.

These shorts also stretch well in all directions to allow for a variety of activities.

Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shorts are made from 84% polyester and 16% elastane. They feature an elastic closure and a wide waistband.

Best overall women’s compression shorts

Champion Women's Absolute Fusion Shorts

Price: $$–$$$

Like Under Armour, these Champion compression shorts have a fabric that wicks away sweat. The shorts also dry quickly and will not chafe.

Suitable for a variety of activities, they have a 3-inch (7.5-cm) waistband to keep them in place and a 7-inch (18-cm) inseam.

Champion Women’s Absolute Fusion Shorts are made from 87% polyester and 13% spandex.

Note that the price of these shorts can vary by size.

Best budget-friendly compression shorts

Neleus Men's 3-Pack Compression Shorts

Price: $

If you exercise all week long and need shorts you can purchase in multiples without breaking the bank, Neleus Men’s 3-Pack Compression Shorts may be the shorts for you.

The Neleus 3-pack is an affordable option that can be worn on its own or under a pair of athletic shorts for additional support and coverage.

As a bonus, many different color options are available.

The Neleus Men’s 3-Pack Compression Shorts are made from 85% polyester and 15% spandex. They have an 8-inch inseam, based on size medium.

Note that the single dollar sign above reflects the price per pair of shorts, and these shorts are sold in a pack of three.

Best compression shorts for blood circulation

Copper Compression Recovery Shorts

Price: $$

Compression products are already designed to help support and protect your muscles.

Copper is said to help increase circulation, which some people look for when choosing compression shorts.

While copper might not sound the most flexible, these shorts allow for a full range of movement. They’re multipurpose shorts, meaning you can wear them for a variety of activities.

Plus, the company’s happiness guarantee ensures that if this isn’t the pair of shorts for you, you can return them.

Copper Compression Recovery Shorts are made from 88% copper nylon.

Best compression shorts with pockets

Baleaf Women’s High Waist Workout Biker Short

Price: $–$$$

Sometimes you need your phone or keys close when you’re working out.

Along with pockets large enough for your cell phone, these shorts have a high rise waistband that stays in place while you exercise.

Additionally, they’re made from moisture-wicking fabric that stretches well, so you can participate in many different activities while wearing them.

BALEAF Women’s High Waist Compression Exercise Shorts are made from 87% polyester and 13% spandex. They have an elastic closure and high rise, wide waistband.

Note that the price of these shorts may vary depending on the size and color selected.

Best alternate compression shorts with pockets

Yogipace Women's Active Workout Shorts

Price: $$

These shorts have deep side pockets that are spacious enough to hold your phone and other belongings.

Yogipace Women’s Active Workout Shorts also have a wide waistband with a hidden pocket in it, as well as a drawcord for a secure fit.

One potential downside is that these shorts are only available in black, though that color is a popular one in workout clothing.

Additionally, Yogipace Women’s Active Workout Shorts can run small, so you may want to size up.

The fabric these shorts are made from offers ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) 50+, and 7- and 10-inch (18- and 25-cm) inseam options are available.

Best short compression shorts

Nike Women's 3" Compression Shorts

Price: $$$

If you’re looking for shorts that can be used for workouts yet also fit under a dress, Nike has just the shorts for you.

Nike Women’s 3″ (7.5-cm) Compression Shorts are a truly compact option and our favorite short shorts.

Keep in mind that these shorts are tight throughout, so double-check the sizing or consider sizing up if you’re in doubt.

Additionally, the waistband gets great reviews for comfort and stretch, and customers say the shorts hold up well for a variety of activities.

Nike Women’s 3″ Compression Shorts are made from 92% polyester and 8% spandex.

Best compression shorts for cycling

Beroy Women’s Cycling Shorts

Price: $$

With many size and color options available, it’s easy to customize these shorts for your needs.

This can be important when you’re spending long periods of time on a bike.

In addition to the sizing options, the padding in these shorts gets great reviews from customers.

The shorts are also ventilated, and the fabric wicks away moisture, so they are designed to keep you as dry and cool as possible while biking.

beroy Women’s Cycling Shorts with 3D Gel are made from 80% polyester and 20% spandex.

If you’re in the market for some new compression shorts but not sure where to start, consider the following:

  • Use. Consider when you plan to wear compression shorts, whether that’s while biking, running, weightlifting, or for another purpose. This can narrow down the types of shorts you’ll want to consider.
    • For example, if you’ll be doing a lot of biking, you may want shorts with good coverage and some gel pads.
  • Style. Think about the style of shorts that’ll be most comfortable and practical for you. Do you prefer any specific type of material or length? Do you have a color preference?
  • Features. Decide whether you need any special features, such as pockets, a specific waistband, a high or low rise, or other special features.
  • Reviews. Take a moment to read some reviews online. Reviews from fellow consumers can be a great way to determine how a pair of compression shorts will fit and feel, its durability, and whether it’s a good value for the price.

Many brands, styles, and types of compression shorts are available. They’re also geared toward different exercises and preferences.

By taking some time to think through your specific needs, learning how we selected products, and looking through this list, you should be set for success when it comes to purchasing the right pair of compression shorts for you.