From headbands to carbon fiber-equipped running shoes, there’s no shortage of fitness gear claiming to boost your athletic performance. While many products’ supposed benefits are just marketing bluster, some fitness attire really does make a difference. Workout shorts are definitely one of those items.
When you’re in the middle of a tough gym session, the last thing you want is to be distracted by cheap shorts that are too baggy or restrict your movement. The ideal pair of workout shorts will stay out of the way and keep you comfortable so you can focus on the task at hand. Beyond that, there are several other features to consider, including pockets, liners, and high-tech fabrics that wick moisture and combat odors.
To help you find the ideal pair for your needs, we’ve highlighted 10 high-performing shorts from brands like Nike, Rhone, and Lululemon in this guide. Grab a few pairs and feel the difference in your next workout.
Ten Thousand Interval Short
Aesthetically simple and technically exceptional, the Interval Short does everything right. Laser-cut holes add ventilation, the lay-flat waistband stays in place without pinching you, and the outer shell wicks moisture and never clings. You can also opt for an inner liner for extra support, and multiple pockets provide easy access to essentials.
Nathan Men’s Essential 9” Shorts
The hydration pack specialists at Nathan recently came out with an apparel line that deserves your attention. The company’s Essential Short features a blend of polyester and elastane that is soft against the skin, wicks sweat, and is supremely stretchy—perfect for workouts that really get you moving. Beyond comfort, you’ll enjoy functional features including multiple pockets and reflective details for extra visibility when exercising outdoors.
Lululemon T.H.E. Short 9” Liner
Lulu has quickly become a major player in men’s fitness apparel, and the T.H.E. Short shows why. The recycled polyester mesh fabric is lightweight and dries quickly, and the shorts have a roomier fit in the thigh for better freedom of movement. They also come with a liner that features a supportive 3D pouch and smooth flat-lock seams for reduced chafing.
Nike Flex Stride Shorts
Nike is synonymous with quality fitness gear, and the Flex Stride shorts definitely live up to that standard. The soft inner liner is breathable and supportive, while multiple pockets provide ample storage. Plus, a slimmed-down drawcord waistband eliminates bulk and offers a secure, distraction-free fit.
Adidas AEROREADY 3-Stripes 8” Shorts
Straightforward training shorts with a touch of street style, this pair from Adidas can handle it all. The lightweight fabric and breathable mesh panels will keep you cool, the flat waistband won’t shift around, and zip pockets will keep your valuables from bouncing out during a jump squat. And with its affordable price point, you can grab a few pairs and stock up.
Rhone Mako Short
With their lightweight, four-way stretch fabric coated with a quick-drying DWR finish, Rhone’s Mako shorts can keep up with your most strenuous workouts. Multiple zip pockets and a Lycra-lined waistband make them functional and comfortable, too. You can even customize them: Throw in an optional inner liner and choose between seven- and nine-inch inseams.
Saxx Kinetic Sport
Saxx first made a name for itself with its highly supportive underwear, and now the company has branched out into other fitness apparel, too. The Kinetic Sport features a lightweight outer shell and a unique compression liner (it’s equipped with the company’s signature BallPark pouch for extra support), for a friction- and chafe-free fit.
Under Armour Men’s MK-1 Shorts
The MK-1 Shorts from Under Armour feature moisture-wicking fabric, side ventilation panels for extra breathability, and an anti-microbial treatment to reduce odor—all at a very reasonable price. They’re another great option if you want to stock up.
Brooks Sherpa 7” Short
Brooks specializes in running shoes and apparel, and its shorts make a great pick for runners. The Sherpas offer a lightweight and quick-drying outer shell and a comfortable liner, as well as several thoughtfully designed extras, including a key loop and a zippered pocket below the back waistband (a stable area for carrying a phone while running).
Vuori Kore Short
The Kore Short is designed for guys who follow a do-it-all approach to physical activity. The quick-drying, odor-blocking fabric offers excellent stretch, the 7.5-inch inseam falls comfortably above the knee, and the breathable liner adds extra support for any workout. They’re also available in a variety of colors and patterns—a rare feature among utilitarian gym shorts.
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