Choosing the correct shorts for your weekly workout shouldn’t be taken lightly – as they can often be the difference between a sub-standard and a successful fitness session. While it can be argued that runners will require athletic mesh shorts that are spacious with a high cut to reduce overheating (and maximising movement), those who put themselves through studio and gym workouts will need a longer leg and coverage for those angled stretches and lunges.
If you’re training indoors you may also want to think about breathable fabrics that draw moisture away from your skin, leaving you feeling fresh and dry, both during and after exercise. And, just as importantly, you’ll want a pair (or pairs) that are stylish, so as to give the message you’re as serious about your workouts as you are your wardrobe – a statement of intent.
But which shorts are making waves in the international market right now, and what separates one from the other? With so much choice and quality available, we’ve put together this guide to help you discover some of the best active gym shorts designs from around the world – all made by the most celebrated sports houses – created to strike that fine balance between performance and style.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Gym Shorts
What are the best athletic shorts?
Lululemon, Nike and Adidas are known to make the best athletic shorts, however, brands like Uniqlo, Outdoor Voices and other emerging brands are making a name for themselves.
Do you need to wear underwear under gym shorts?
It all depends on what sort of gym or workout shorts you have. Most dedicated gym shorts will have some sort of liner, whether it be a pair of compression shorts or a brief-style. These shorts don't require you to wear underwear.
However, some gym shorts are more like generic shorts, so you will need to wear some underwear underneath. Unless you want to go commando, which we don't recommend.
Why are there different lengths of workout shorts?
There are several different lengths of workout shorts, with most ranging from 5-inch to 9-inch. In general, the shorter the short, the faster you will be moving. 4-inch shorts are great for runners, for example, because they do just enough to provide coverage where you need it, while allowing your legs to move to their fullest.
For gym and workout shorts, you should be looking at 7-inch or 9-inch shorts.
What You Need In A Good Pair Of Gym Shorts
- 2 in 1 (Mesh & Liner)
- Compression liners
- Sweat-wicking fabric
- Phone pockets
- Zipper pockets
- 5-7 Inch Length (depending on HOW you workout)
Here are our top picks so you can find a pair of the best mesh workout shorts.
With such an extensive range of high-performance gym shorts, picking out a pair isn't always easy, but if we had to choose one style, the Critical Short would be our pick. With a roomy regular fit and being made from a fabric blend that includes elastane for some added stretch, they'll accompany you everywhere you need to go.
One of their standout pieces is the Mako Unlined workout shorts, designed for those who enjoy variety in their exercise, from yoga and gym to hiking and running. They are made from a four-way stretch, moisture-wicking fabric, and feature a media pocket for small music devices. However, all of Rhone’s gym shorts are pretty impressive, so pick the ones best for you.
Their Rec Shorts have a 7” inseam and are made for both running and gym workouts. They’re lightweight, stylish and stretchable, and are available in four well-considered colourways that will effortlessly slip into your existing sportswear collection. Although, we highly recommend checking out all of their gym shorts, as most of them have similar awesome features.
Lululemon has a fantastic range of men’s gym shorts, but they all tend to cater for one specific sport or workout, so you’ll have to go for the short designed for whatever workout you prefer. If we had to single one out though, Lululemon’s Pace Breaker short is a versatile short made for the serious fitness fanatic who demands comfort and performance. Suitable for both running and training, they’re made using lightweight, quick-drying fabrics that can be worn comfortably with or without leggings for year-round practicality. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re super stretchable - helping you conquer any type of terrain with maximum movement.
The Eighth Avenue Quad Short is made from a silky-feeling and stretchy Micro Modal Blend fabric, derived from the cellulose of Beech trees. It's incredibly breathable and comfortable, and is environmentally friendly. You'll be looking and feeling a million bucks when pumping some iron.
Barbell’s gym shorts are specifically designed to combat the frustration and disappointment many men face when shopping for the perfect workout shorts. Created for men with athletic legs, their men's workout shorts feature one of the most comfortable fits that will move with you. Ultra-light, high-performance, and exceptional quality fabric means their workout shorts always feel ultra-comfortable.
The Phantom Short is one such pair that can be used across multiple areas. Moisture-wicking, crafted from Barbell's Flextek fabric for ultimate comfort, and with plenty of pockets and zippers to keep essentials close, they're a perfect all-rounder.
Echt’s range of gym shorts feature classic silhouettes that’ll allow you to use the shorts for a variety of workouts. Echt’s gym shorts manage to effectively wick sweat away from your body while providing all-day comfort. Reinforced seams mean they won't fail you when you're on the squat rack and zipped pockets will keep your keys and phone close to hand. What more could you ask for?
These Hybrid Shorts are possibly some of the best around. A little pricier than some competitors, you actually get two pairs of shorts. An outer lightweight pair and an inner pair of compression shorts connect together, or can be worn separately. Both have pockets to increase versatility, and both are made from premium materials that not only help you when running, but provide adequate stretch and breathability when in the gym.
With products such as the Franchise Short, it's easy to see why. Well-styled and providing everything you could need from a capable gym short: stretch, sweat wicking properties, pockets and a breathable lining (and available in multiple lengths), they exhibit all the qualities you need.
The Interval short is a great all-rounder, being lightweight and stretchy enough to be used for wherever you see fit. You can have them lined or unlined, and you can choose from a range of inseam lengths, allowing you to custom-build the perfect pair of gym shorts.
Vuori’s gym shorts are built with innovative design and stacked with technical features; comfortably created for your active life. With more versatile gym shorts, Vuori’s range comprises go-anywhere, do-anything type shorts. They feature anti-odour, moisture-wicking and quick-drying properties meaning you can comfortably wear them for several days in a row without feeling too dirty. Available in an extended range of sizes and in multiple good-looking colour options, Vuori’s got some of the best men’s gym shorts on the market.
Their All Over Shorts are an ideal example of this, made to accompany you on a variety of adventures from walking and running to trekking and gym sessions. They’re made from a four-way stretch, water-repellent fabric and feature a handy inner pocket for your car or house key. Available in different lengths, colours, and the option to get them either lined or unlined, Olivers Apparel’s All Over Short are perfect for any workout.
Their range of shorts are ideal for both strenuous workouts and casual, laidback days. Most shorts are mid-thigh length and have a regular fit, meaning these shorts are extremely versatile and can be worn for a number of activities. You can’t go wrong with a pair of Reigning Champ gym shorts; they’re classy, comfortable and seriously on-trend.
New Balance’s range of top-of-the-line gym shorts designed will take your game - no matter what it is - to the next level. If you're looking to seamlessly blend functionality with fashion, durability and enhanced performance, look no further - their collection of men's gym shorts are designed with what matters most in mind, your goals.
From comfortable rest day favorites, to four-way stretch performance shorts, Myprotein’s gym shorts range has something for every activity; you’re guaranteed to find your perfect fit. None of their shorts are over US$50, but they still are ridiculously high-quality with moisture-wicking and soft, comfortable fabrics. Myprotein might not have the branding appeal afforded to some others on this list, but when you're hitting new PBs in a pair that cost a fraction of others in the gym, who cares?
This ultra-light running aid has been created with stretch woven fabric for unrestricted movement, with an inner mesh lining promoting optimum breathability. They’re also quick-drying, with added reflective detailing for when the light falls yet the challenge remains.
Those sponsorships mean Reebok has to provide clothing that is up to the task of working to the highest level, and that's exactly what you get, with their range of gym shorts for men.
Simple, affordable and versatile, a pair of Reebok gym shorts are all you need for training sessions. All Reebok shorts are infused with ultra-lightweight tech to give you freedom of movement. Designed to wick moisture, you’ll keep cool in both style and comfort.
Available in a great selection of colours, patterns, and leg lengths, Nike has gym shorts specifically designed for running, yoga, weight training, as well as some versatile gym shorts, if you’re a fella who dabbles in a wide range of workouts.
Ministry of Supply
Ministry of Supply's Newton shorts are feather-light and breathable. Moisture-wicking, and featuring S.Cafe Silver threading to help naturally control odour, even after the toughest of workouts, these gym shorts will keep you feeling fresh at the gym.