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Gym shorts, also known as workout shorts, are a critical part of your athletic wardrobe. They not only wick away sweat but also keep you comfortable and give you a sense of style.

Finding a pair that fits right and matches your workout style can mean the difference between going the extra mile or calling it quits after a few minutes.

To help narrow your search, Healthline reviewed gym shorts based on the following criteria:

  • Customer reviews. Online customer reviews from Amazon and brand websites helped determine placement on this list. These shorts have mostly positive customer reviews.
  • Material quality. These gym shorts feel good when you put them on and move with you as you work out. They’re also durable and should hold up after countless cycles in the washing machine.
  • Features. These shorts may offer side pockets, zipper pockets, hidden pockets, breathability, moisture-wicking material, a variety of colors, and other features.
  • Affordability. You can spend a fortune on athletic shorts. Although some pricier styles may be what you’re looking for, these shorts are moderately priced, with just a few picks on the higher end.

Here are the 12 best gym shorts of 2021 for both men and women.

A note on price

General price ranges are indicated below with dollar signs ($ to $$$). One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.

Note that the same pair of gym shorts may vary in cost based on size. As such, the prices below may reflect the average cost of all of a particular product’s sizes.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $20
  • $$ = $20–$30
  • $$$ = over $30
Healthline

Best overall for men

Under Armour Men’s Raid 10-Inch Workout Gym Shorts

Price: $$

With a near-perfect customer rating and simple, no-frills design, the Under Armour Raid 10-inch shorts earned the top pick for men.

These multifunctional shorts are made with HeatGear fabric that wicks away sweat and keeps you dry while protecting you from the sun. Plus, they’re lightweight, ultrasoft, and designed with the perfect length in mind — they hit right above the knee.

Side pockets and four-way stretch capability make these shorts ideal for the gym, cross-training, running, basketball, and casual wear. They’re available in sizes XS to 4XL tall.

Best overall for women

Outdoor Voices Hudson Short

Price: $$$

Known as the go-to short for just about any activity, the Hudson Short from Outdoor Voices earned the top slot for women.

Lightweight, stretchy, comfortable, and made from recycled polyester, these quick-drying shorts feature a built-in brief liner, extra-wide waistband, and zippered pocket.

They’re a bit on the shorter side, and the color choices are limited — black, evergreen, and kalamata — but they come in sizes ranging XS to XXL.

Best budget for men

C9 Champion Men’s 10-Inch Mesh Short

Price: $

It’s hard to say no to a pair of men’s shorts that are comfortable, functional, and affordable — and these C9 Champion shorts fit the bill.

Made with polyester, these loose-fitting shorts come with a 10-inch (25-cm) inseam, side pockets, plenty of ventilation, and a drawstring to adjust the fit.

These C9 Champion shorts are available in sizes S to XXL and come in six colors, including black, gray, maroon, and dark blue.

Best budget for women

Baleaf Women’s High Waist Workout Biker Short

Price: $

If you want comfort and compression at a reasonable cost, check out the BALEAF Women’s High Waist short.

Available in three lengths — 8-inch (20-cm), 5-inch (13-cm), and 2-inch (5-cm) — these shorts are ideal for the gym, running, cycling, yoga, or casual wear.

The lightweight fabric is a polyester/spandex blend, which gives these shorts a lot of stretch, and the high-rise wide waistband gives you maximum coverage while bending and stretching.

These shorts come in a variety of colors, with sizes ranging from XS to 5XL.

Best running for men

Baleaf Men’s 5-Inch Running Athletic Shorts

Price: $$

Running feels like a breeze in these men’s Baleaf athletic shorts. Runners will appreciate the lightweight, quick-drying woven fabric and the polyester/spandex blend that keeps you dry and gives you the freedom to move in every direction.

The shorts also sport a built-in mesh brief, two side pockets, a rear zip pocket, and an inner drawcord to keep the shorts from sliding down. Plus, they come in at least 25 colors, with sizes ranging from S to XXXL.

Best running for women

Under Armour Women’s Fly-By 2.0 Running Shorts

Price: $$

The Fly-By 2.0 reflective women’s running shorts from Under Armour are lightweight, comfortable, and packed with features.

Made with polyester and elastane, the shorts move with you while wicking away sweat. These shorts feature a breathable mesh panel for extra ventilation, as well as a built-in brief.

The Fly-By 2.0 comes in sizes XS to XXXL and a variety of colors, including blaze orange, exotic bloom heather, eclectic pink, and basic black.

Best weight training for men

Adidas Men’s Designed 2 Move 3-Stripes Cool Shorts

Price: $$$

Some gym-goers swear by tight spandex shorts when lifting weights, but plenty prefer the roomy, longer style provided by the Adidas Men’s Designed 2 Move 3-Stripes Cool Shorts.

Made with recycled polyester, these shorts are simple, stylish, and designed with sweat wicking in mind. The mesh inserts add targeted airflow, while the Climacool ventilation helps manage heat and keep moisture away.

The side pockets are on the shallow side but work great for car keys or a small phone.

The Designed 2 Move comes in over 20 colors with sizes ranging from XS to 5XL.

Best weight training for women

Under Armour Women’s Play Up 3.0 Shorts

Price: $$

Simplicity meets style in these women’s gym shorts from Under Armour. The Play Up 3.0 is touted as the most comfortable shorts for training — they’re light, stretchy, and move with your body.

What’s more, the polyester material wicks sweat, dries fast, and boasts anti-odor technology.

Side pockets and a large waistband add comfort and convenience while sizing from XXS to XXL guarantees that these shorts fit a variety of body types.

Best biking for men

Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts

Price: $$$

The Sponeed Men’s Cycling Shorts come with a gel padding made of breathable spandex that wicks away sweat to keep you dry and comfortable for long distances.

These bike shorts fit tight like compression gear but have enough stretch to offer unrestricted leg movement while cycling. The elastic band with a silicone grip keeps them from riding up, which is key when putting in the miles.

These cycling shorts come in sizes S to XXXL.

Best biking for women

Beroy Women’s Cycling Shorts

Price: $$

If your backside is screaming every time you get on a bike, you might want to up your game with a pair of these padded bike shorts from Beroy.

Super soft and engineered to eliminate chafing and abrasion, these cycling shorts are made with polyester and spandex and come with a built-in 3D gel padding that offers cushioning where you need it most.

The Beroy cycling shorts come in a variety of fun colors and styles, including turquoise, orange, and multicolor. They’re available in XS to XXXL.

Best compression for men

Under Armour Men’s HeatGear 2.0 Compression Shorts

Price: $$

The Under Armour Heat Gear 2.0 Compression Shorts claim to act like a second skin for your toughest workouts.

Made from polyester and elastane, these shorts are lightweight and ultra supportive.

The antimicrobial technology fights bacteria and odors, while the sweat-wicking material keeps you dry even through your toughest workouts. Plus, the four-way stretch allows movement while still providing adequate compression.

This product ranges from XS to 4XL.

Best compression for women

Nike Women’s Pro Training Shorts

Price: $$$

Nike is known for making solid training shorts that hug in all the right places. That’s why the Women’s Pro 3-Inch Training Shorts gets the top pick for compression.

Made with a polyester/spandex blend, these shorts have a skintight fit without making you feel restricted. The wide waistband adds extra comfort, and Nike’s trademark Dry-Fit technology keeps you dry when the sweat starts flowing.

The Pro Training Shorts come in a variety of colors, with sizes ranging from XS to XXL. They have a 3-inch (8-cm) inseam, so they’re on the shorter side.

Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, weight lifter, or yoga practitioner, finding athletic shorts that fit, keep you dry, and look good are key to a great workout. Here are some tips to help you choose the best gym shorts.

  • Length. Length is a personal preference. Some prefer “barely there” running shorts, while others like the feel of shorts that hit above the knee. In general, shorts come in 3-, 5-, 7-, and occasionally 9- or 10-inch lengths (8, 13, 18, 23, and 25 cm, respectively).
  • Material. Moisture-wicking material is a top priority when choosing gym shorts. Look for lightweight shorts with ventilation panels and breathable fabrics.
  • Pockets. Pockets are like the length — a matter of personal preference. Some people need a place to stash their keys, phone, credit card, chapstick, and anything else they can fit, while others like the lightweight feeling of pocket-free shorts.
    • You can typically find side pockets and a small, zippered key pocket in the waistbands of several types of shorts. Some brands even have a pouch in the liner that keeps your phone secure.
  • Fit and style. Gym shorts come in all fits and styles, making it easy to find a pair that works for your workouts. One way to ensure the right fit is to look for gym shorts designed for the activity you’re doing.
    • For example, running shorts are often cut a certain way to avoid chafing and riding up. Biking shorts are tight or compression-fit so that the material doesn’t get in your way.
  • Sustainability. When possible, try to shop with companies that make clothing with recycled or sustainable materials.

Comfy gym shorts that stay dry and give you the freedom to move are essential for any workout. When shopping for shorts, look for breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics that are designed for maximum movement.

Other factors to consider include side pockets, length, ventilation, colors, fit, and style. If possible, try on several styles and brands to get a feel for the fit before you buy.