The Best Gym Shorts for Lifting, Cardio and More

From lifting to running on the treadmill, a good pair of gym shorts makes every aspect of your workout more comfortable.

Gym shorts come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, from running shorts designed to give you as much mobility and ventilation as possible to lifting shorts that keep your legs, hips and entire posterior chain comfortable while squatting, deadlifting and training hard.

To help you get the best possible comfort in the gym, we’ve compared a variety of gym shorts on factors like breathability, comfort, mobility and durability to find what we believe are the best gym shorts on the market.

Our recommendations can be found below, will a complete review of each pair of shorts and a direct link to purchase each pair online. All of the workout shorts on our list are available from, making them easy to buy.

To view our full reviews, scroll further down the page to the price bracket that matches your gym short budget. Alternatively, you can jump straight to our favorite training shorts using the quick links below:

The Best Gym Shorts for $5 to $25

There’s no need to spend a fortune on a pair of gym shorts. Below, we’ve listed two different types of gym shorts that you can buy for less than $25 a pair, both of which are great options from a value for money perspective.

Champion Men’s Long Mesh Shorts With Pockets

best gym shorts on a budget

These gym shorts from Champion are cheap, comfortable and simple, making them a good pick if you’re looking for training shorts that don’t cost a fortune. They also have small side pockets, which are ideal for holding your phone while you workout.

Made from 100% polyester, these shorts breathe well and provide a good level of ventilation in the gym. If you sweat a lot during exercise, you’ll find that the mesh texture does a good job of keeping you cool and wicking sweat away from your body.

Champion calls these “long” mesh shorts, although the fit is pretty standard. The shorts are cut just above the knee and have a moderate fit, creating a good level of mobility. The polyester in these shorts isn’t overly stretchy but provides enough flexibility for most workouts.

If you like heavy compound lifts like squats and deadlifts, you’ll find that these shorts provide a good level of mobility. They fit fairly loosely around the glutes and thighs, meaning you’ll be able  to squat all the way down without them ever feeling tight or uncomfortable.

Champion makes these shorts in more than 20 different colors, from the usual black and gray to navy blue, red, light blue, orange and more. The huge range of colors means it’s easy to pick up several pairs of these shorts and have a different set of clothes for every workout day.

All in all, for less than $25 a pair, these are excellent gym shorts. They fit well, feel comfortable and deliver all of the flexibility and mobility you need for a good workout at a price that anyone can afford.

Click here to check the current price for Champion Men’s Long Mesh Shorts With Pockets on Amazon.

Russell Athletic Men’s Cotton Performance Baseline Shorts

best cotton gym shorts


Made by Russell Athletic, these shorts are a great option if you prefer cotton to polyester. Made from 50% cotton and 50% polyester, they offer the soft feeling of cotton and the ventilation that’s made by a moderate polyester content.

These shorts are also available in a 100% cotton fabric. To choose the 100% cotton shorts, pick the Navy color option on Amazon’s product page.

From a comfort perspective, these shorts are excellent. They have a neutral fit that’s neither too loose nor too tight, making them great shorts for lifting and cardio. The cut is slightly higher than the Champion shorts above, with a total inseam of eight inches and a cut just above the knees.

These shorts provide plenty of flexibility and mobility. They have a neutral fit around the glutes and thighs, making them good for squats and other lower body movements. Because they use light fabric, they won’t weigh you down or get in the way while running or doing other cardio.

Russell Athletic makes these shorts in a variety of sizes, from Small to 4XL. The shorts have an elastic waistband that makes them easy to adjust for a comfortable fit. While you won’t find all of the bright colors Champion offers, Russell Athletic provides a choice of dark color options.

Since there are no big or tall sizes, these shorts aren’t a good option if you have a tall and slim body type. However, most people will be able to find a pair that fits well by using the sizing chart on Amazon.

All in all, if you prefer cotton gym shorts to polyester, these are a great choice. They fit well, feel good and come in a variety of colors. If you have a limited budget and want a comfortable pair of cotton gym shorts, these are a good buy.

Click here to check the current price for Russell Athletic Men’s Cotton Performance Baseline Shorts on Amazon.

The Best Gym Shorts for $25 to $50

Increase your budget to $25 to $50 and you’ll be able to get workout shorts that are made from high quality fabrics and feel more durable. We’ve listed our two favorite pairs of sub-$50 training shorts below, both of which are ideal if you want a mix of comfort and quality.

Under Armour Men’s Raid 10″ Shorts

best under armour gym shorts

Made from a mix of 90% polyester and 10% elastane, these gym shorts from Under Armour fit comfortable and provide excellent mobility, making them a great choice if you like to do squats, lunges and other lower body compound movements.

By far the biggest advantages of these shorts is their fit and fabric. Since these shorts have a 10% elastane content, they stretch easily and provide all the flexibility you need for deadlifts, squats, good mornings and other lower body lifts.

They also have a loose fit around the glutes and thighs, meaning there’s no risk of them feeling overly constrictive or tight. Under Armour makes these shorts using HeatGear fabric, which feels very soft and smooth against your skin to prevent chafing and other discomfort.

One cool feature of these shorts is that they’re UPF 30+, meaning they’ll protect your skin from sunlight on bright days. They also have anti-odor technology, which helps reduce the effects of perspiration during your workout.

Add a Moisture Transport System that wicks away sweat and helps these shorts dry faster than others and it’s easy to see why we like these shorts. The fact that they come in over 20 different colors is also a nice bonus.

These shorts have a 10” rise and will fit most people slightly above the knees. They come in a huge range of sizes, including tall sizes.

Priced from $18 to $49, these shorts might cost a little more than the Champion gym shorts we listed above, but they’re still very affordable. On the whole, these short are a great buy if you’re looking for something comfortable, breathable and designed with real workouts in mind.

Click here to check the current price for Under Armour Men’s Raid 10″ Shorts on Amazon.

Adidas Performance Men’s Essential Shorts

best lightweight gym shorts

These Performance Shorts from Adidas are a great choice if you want something you can wear in the gym or on the running track. While the Under Armour shorts above are perfect for use in the gym, these shorts are perfect for cardio, adventuring and almost all outdoor sports.

Adidas makes these shorts from polyester, giving them a light weight, plenty of ventilation and a smooth texture. They feel comfortable against your skin and deal with sweat fairly well, making them a good option if you train at a high intensity level or live in a region with a warm climate.

These shorts have a fairly tall rise and fit right around your waist, with the cut of the shorts just above the knee. The waistband is elastic with an adjustable drawstring, making them simple to adjust to fit your waist perfectly without moving up or down during your workout.

Because of the relatively loose fit around the glutes and thighs, these shorts are a good choice for movements like squats, deadlifts, leg press and other lifts that require a lot of mobility in the hips and legs.

Adidas offers these shorts in 14 different colors, ranging from black, gray and white to navy, red and green. There are also several options with the trademark Adidas stripes. These shorts are available in a variety of sizes from small to 4XL, unfortunately with no tall sizes.

If you prefer training shorts with a more classic cut and styling, these are some of the best you’ll find. They’re also very affordable, with prices ranging from $14 to $55 per pair depending on the size and color you choose.

Click here to check the current price for Adidas Performance Men’s Essential Shorts on Amazon.

The Best Gym Shorts for $50+

Increase your budget to $50 and you’ll be able to buy the best of the best gym shorts. We only chose one product in this price range — the mega-comfortable AW77 Alumni Shorts from Nike.

Nike Men’s AW77 Alumni Shorts

best cotton gym shorts by nike

The AW77 Alumni Shorts are our favorite gym shorts. At $40 to $80 a pair, they’re also some of the most expensive gym shorts on the market. These 100% cotton shorts fit extremely well, feel as soft as gym shorts can feel and provide a great level of support, comfort and durability.

One of the biggest advantages of these shorts is the fabric Nike uses. These shorts are made from 100% French looped cotton, which feels far softer and more comfortable against the skin than the cheap cotton and polyester blends used in most gym shorts.

If you don’t like the feel of polyester or cheap cotton, these shorts are a great option. They fit comfortably and have a reasonable degree of stretch, making them ideal if you work out hard and do lots of lower body movements that require mobility.

Another advantage of these shorts is their durability. Wash and dry these shorts properly and they’ll last for many years of regular use. If you work out every day, two or three pairs of these shorts (washed every other or third day) are more than enough.

Nike fits these shorts with two large front pockets that you can use to store your smartphone, locker keys or other essentials while you work out. The shorts tighten with a drawstring that’s hidden in the waistband and have a very wide, soft waistband that never rides up your torso.

In short, if you prefer to invest in a good pair of gym shorts that will last for a long time rather than buying a few new pairs every year, you’ll like the AW77 Alumni Shorts. Sure, they cost a little more than most workout shorts, but they’re definitely worth the extra money.

Click here to check the current price for the Nike Men’s AW77 Alumni Shorts on Amazon.

The Best Gym Shorts: Quick Recap

All of the gym shorts on our list will give you the comfort and mobility you need to get through any workout. The best choice for you ultimately depends on what you’re looking for from your shorts and your budget.

Do you have a favorite pair of gym shorts? If you’re a fan of some training shorts that aren’t on our list, let us know the brand and product name in the comments and we’ll keep them in mind for a future product roundup, review or recommendations list.

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