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Which workout shorts are best?

Exercising in regular shorts can be done but not necessarily the most comfortable. Workout shorts are specifically designed to absorb moisture, be lightweight and have a comfort level that won’t result in chaffing, irritation and any other nuisances during workouts. They may include special fabrics that help keep you dry and absorb odors, so that you’re not too soaked and smelly when you complete your workout. They’re also great for wearing around the house as lounge shorts when you want comfortable shorts. If you’re looking for workout shorts that are lightweight and will stay dry, the Nike Men’s Dry Training Shorts are the best choice. 

What to know before you buy workout shorts


Some shorts you can get away with have inaccurate sizes, but workout shorts are different. These shorts are relied upon to stay tight yet comfortable around the waist when working out, and if the size is off, the shorts can be too loose or tight. Even though many workout shorts come with drawstrings, they still might not be helpful if the size isn’t accurate. Sizes will vary in shorts depending on the brand and type of shorts. Still, manufacturers typically have a sizing chart that accurately designates the proper size for you, depending on your waist and hip measurements. 

Short cut vs. long cut

Some workout shorts might fall right above the knee, covering the knee, or high up in the mid-thigh area. Even though mid-thigh shorts are typically the lightest shorts, not everyone is comfortable with their legs exposed and instead prefer wearing longer shorts such as basketball shorts. If you prefer to have less of your legs exposed, opt for shorts covering the knees or slightly above the knee. Some shorts are two-in-one shorts, combining an outer short with compression shorts on the inside. This allows you to wear slightly higher shorts and lower the compression shorts below the outer layer. Overall, the length of the shorts will depend on your personal preference.

What to look for in quality workout shorts

Quick moisture absorption

Nike has its notorious Dri-Fit technology that helps shorts absorb moisture and evaporate the moisture away very quickly. This allows you to do your intense workouts and not have to worry about being too drenched in sweat. Most brands have their own quick-drying fabric in their shorts, making workout shorts some of the best shorts to wear when running, being in warm conditions, playing sports or completing exercises. 

Zipper pockets

Not all workout shorts have pockets, so having workout shorts with zipper pockets is even more of a luxury. Zipper pockets can be a vital feature in shorts because you’ll have no worries working out as your items will stay secure in the pocket. Putting your phone in an open pocket during workouts can be risky, especially if the pockets aren’t too deep. It may be best to just empty your pockets before working out, but if you must keep your personal belongings close to you, zipper pockets provide the most security for them. 

Towel loop

Even though shorts can have quick-drying technology, that doesn’t mean your face does. Towel loops can be convenient when you have to wipe yourself off during workouts. Simply fold or roll your workout towel into a feasible shape, and you’ll be able to slide right through the loop. Some people prefer to tie the towel to the loop, and in some cases, the loop can hold keychains if needed. 

How much you can expect to spend on workout shorts

Workout shorts can cost $15-$100, depending on brand, quality, size, color and more. There will be workout shorts in the $15-$35 range with quick-drying features and machine wash capability. If you want more unique color options to choose from, workout shorts can range from $35-$60, where these will use lighter fabrics. Workout shorts in the $60-$100 range tend to have more unique color patterns and designs and special features such as zippable pockets. 

Workout shorts FAQ

Are workout shorts machine washable?

A. Workout shorts can be machine washable depending on the type of material and manufacturer. Many shorts are typically made out of polyester, and you can wash them in a washer. The manufacturer will label the shorts machine washable or not. Some may only be washed in cold water because if it’s washed in hot or warm water, it can shrink. 

Why do workout shorts use drawstrings?

A. Drawstrings are one of the most convenient pieces of shorts because you can adjust how tight they fit, and they’re extremely light. Zippers could be uncomfortable if used with workout shorts, as you’re engaging in constant movement, and friction against the zipper can occur. Drawstrings stay out of the way during workouts and are so light that you barely notice that they’re on the shorts. If you want your shorts to be the lightest they can be, there are workout shorts without drawstrings fitted towards a specific size. However, those types of shorts can be a risk because if your weight significantly decreases or you put a considerable amount of items in your pocket, the shorts will be loose and may be unwearable. 

What are the best workout shorts to buy?

Top workout shorts

Nike Men’s Dry Training Shorts

Nike Men’s Dry Training Shorts

What you need to know: Perfect for basketball games, these shorts are lightweight and can be used on the court or in the gym. 

What you’ll love: Features Nike’s Dri-FIT technology that wicks moisture away and helps keep the shorts dry. There are a variety of colors and designs from which to choose. 

What you should consider: This option can be pricier than other brands. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top workout shorts for the money

Under Armour Men's Tech Graphic Shorts

Under Armour Men’s Tech Graphic Shorts

What you need to know: Under Armour is another major brand for athletic gear, and these graphic shorts are stylish yet affordable. 

What you’ll love: The special polyester material allows the shorts to dry fast. They’re machine washable and have an elastic waistband that stays out the way during workouts. 

What you should consider: Some buyers found this option too thin to wear.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Surenow Mens Running Shorts

Surenow Mens Running Shorts

What you need to know: Featuring a two-in-one design, these shorts have an outer shorts layer and then a compression shorts inner layer. 

What you’ll love: While both short layers are extremely light, the compression shorts help absorb all the moisture and odors. The back zipper pocket is perfect for securing items.

What you should consider: The shorts run small. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Ade Hennis writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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