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Men’s Workout Shorts: Buying Guide

Buying mens’ athletic shorts can be a little more involved than you might initially think. These days, there are different kinds of shorts, all specifically made for every sport or activity under the sun.

Men’s Workout Shorts #1: Compression Shorts1

Compression shorts are the athlete’s new jock strap. They provide extra support for the groin, thighs, and hamstrings, as well as extra warmth, reducing chance of pulling or straining muscles. They can also come in handy when trying to protect skin from rashes or chafing. Studies also show compression shorts can help improve blood circulation and decrease chance of blood clots. Compression shorts are commonly used by competitive athletes. For example, triathletes often wear compression shorts in an effort to shave off time and prevent injury during serious training. They are also perfect for male athletes
because they help support the man’s body.

Men’s Workout Shorts #2: Biking Shorts2

While biking shorts are similar to compression shorts, they vary in a few different ways. Bike shorts are recommended for more recreational cyclists, while compression shorts are often worn while cycling by serious athletes and triathletes. Bike shorts are usually made from spandex and compression shorts are made from materials like neoprene, which hug even closer to the body. Most bike shorts have padding sewn in the saddle area to create greater comforter during rides.

Men’s Workout Shorts #3. Basketball Shorts3

Sports such as basketball have their own type of shorts for a few reasons. First of all, basketball shorts are longer than knee length, and roomier than most other men’s athletic shorts. They are also made of performance fabric, which is heavier, than say, polyester in running shorts. While looser fitting shorts are more effective during a game like basketball, legend has it that Michael Jordan requested longer shorts because he habitually held onto his shorts’ fabrics in between plays, and everyone else followed suit.

Men’s Workout Shorts #4. All-Purpose Shorts4

For all-purpose workout shorts, there are several options for men. Looser cotton fabrics or cotton blends are recommended for optimal comfort during sessions on free weight machines or using free weights. Plus, cotton helps to wick away sweat during workouts, washes well, and requires minimal care. It is a good idea to find a looser fit to allow for plenty of movement. Men working out in the gym generally wear shorts with drawstrings, falling to the mid-thigh or longer. However, it’s important to make sure shorts are not too big during gym work outs because extra fabric can get in the way and sometimes even cause safety issues.

General Sizing (Waist in inches)

Men’s Workout Shorts #5. Running Shorts5

Length tends to be an issue with men’s shorts, especially running shorts. Running shorts typically come in three length options – 5, 7, and 9 inches, noted by the inseam measurement.

Running Shorts Sizes:

5 inch – Puma

7 inch – Adidas

9 inch – Nike

Choosing length depends on your body type, personal goals, and comfort level. If you are prone to chaffing at the thighs during runs, it may be smart to invest in a slightly longer pair. It is common for runners to opt for shorter shorts during quicker, shorter runs. Otherwise, make sure running shorts are lightweight and made out of lycra or polyester, which is breathable and helps to wick moisture from skin. Cotton shorts will rub and irritate skin during runs.

Mens’ Workout Shorts: Pricing

Men’s athletic shorts range vastly in price, and can start as low as $2.99 for shorts like Official Issue’s Varsity Inseam Mesh Shorts. Prices can reach up to about $75 for shorts like Reebok’s Crossfit Windowpane training shorts, which are made especially for Crossfit workouts. According to Amazon.com, the top sellers below come from four brands, including Champion, Under Armour, Soffe and Russell.

What are your favorite workout shorts?

Show 5 References

  1. Compression Shorts . LiveStrong. Jun 29, 2013.
  2. How To Select Mens’ Bike Shorts . AeroTech . Jun 29, 2013.
  3. Cespedes, A. Can You Wear Basketball Shorts For Running? . Healthy Living. Jun 29, 2013.
  4. A Guy’s Guide To Buying Comfortable Workout Shorts . Ebay. Jun 29, 2013.
  5. Wischina, B. What To Look For In Running Shorts . Mizuno. Jun 29, 2013.


  • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

    My pick is 7, or 9 inch running shorts - ideally Nike. They are usually made of very light material and are great whether you are lifting in the gym, playing basketball, or sprinting.

  • Jim says:

    Serious cyclists wear bib shorts.... Don't know anyone who'd be happy to do 100 miles without a chamois.

  • Ryan says:

    Funny how I only recently began to invest in exercise attire other than simple basketball and cotton boxer shorts, and I spot this article today.

    I started working out a few months ago, and when it came to more movement-heavy compound lifts the heat and sweat was unbearable. Even at 45% polyester, my boxer shorts just did not keep me cool.

    So I bought a simple pair of 6" inseam compression shorts, and not only are they quite nice to wear normally, I think they're much more comfortable to wear while working out.

    Going from boxer shorts, though, there are pros and cons to the "compression" aspect. Sizing's fairly important -- I went with a small 'cause I'm short and slim, and they were tight-fitting but not didn't feel constrictive and uncomfortable. Definitely pay attention to the length of the inseam, like Caroline mentioned in her article, 'cause a 9-inch inseam is really long when it comes to an "underwear" sort of clothing (but again, I'm short).

    I've just ordered a boxer-brief-style pair to see how those feel. They have that "pocket" sort of thing in the groin so that really intrigues me. And like she said again, they can get pretty expensive (my black 6" Champion's were about $12, but a lot are in $20 - $30 and that's like how much I spend on my jeans at JC Penny), so I'd recommend just trying one pair and going from there.
    But so long as you don't throw 'em in the dryer and/or use fabric softener (they'll ruin the fabric, or so I hear), I'd guess that a single pair should last a long time.

    I just realized that I actually haven't gone running in them yet (oh my cardio is really lacking) so I don't know how that might go down . . . .