19 Best Workout Shorts for Men in 2023 That Look Pretty Great Outside of the Gym, Too

There’s a big difference between the absolute best workout shorts for men and the stained sweatpant cutoffs you’ve been wearing for bi-weekly crunches and leg lifts (plus plenty of lounging) in front of the TV this past year. It doesn’t matter if you’re hitting your local gym five times a week or committing to a weekly vinyasa flow, a solid pair of shorts are the key to crushing your reps versus saltily going through the motions while your sweaty, heavy bottoms cling on for dear life.

Over the past couple years we’ve sweated in a wide array of different gym and running shorts. To single out the ones that are a cut above the rest, we’ve considered price, durability, handfeel, and a slew of other variables. Like, is the stretchy performance fabric actually breathable and moisture-wicking enough to stave off a nasty case of swamp crotch? If there’s a lining, does it actually stay put or does it ride up after the third deep lunge? Where are the pockets and can they actually succeed at holding the things one needs while pounding the pavement or speeding your way through some mountain climbers without impeding your movement? And, of course, do the shorts look good enough that you wouldn’t mind running some errands in them on the way back from the gym? 

A whole lot of questions you’ve probably never sat down and considered but have definitely confronted at the most inconvenient times. But that’s what we do and we’ve considered a lot. Below, a curated selection of the best workout shorts for men we’ve found, including some stood-behind Fitness Award winners from the years past. They should help you make some gains and look pretty good doing it. 

To see more of the best workout clothes and gear hand-picked by GQ editors, check out the 2022 GQ Fitness Awards.

The Best Workout Shorts, at a Glance

Skip all the chitchat and get straight to it—our top-pick workout shorts, here and now.

  • The Best Workout Shorts, Overall: Outdoor Voices High Stride, $58
  • The Best Budget Workout Shorts: Uniqlo ultra stretch active shorts, $15
  • The Best Workout Shorts for Getting After It at the Gym: Ten Thousand Interval short, $68
  • The Best Training Shorts: Rhone Mako workout shorts, $74
  • The Best Workout Shorts for Runners: Tracksmith “Van Cortlandt” shorts, $68
  • The Best Workout Shorts for Swimmers: True Tribe active swim shorts, $220
  • The Best Workout Shorts for Yogis: Lululemon Balancer shorts, $88
  • The Best Workout Shorts With Multiple Pockets: Olivers All Over shorts, $68
  • The Best Workout Shorts with Compression Liner: District Vision Aaron shorts, $175

The Best Workout Shorts, Overall: Outdoor Voices High Stride

Outdoor Voices 5″ High Stride shorts with pockets

Outdoor Voices has been producing some of our favorite workout shorts for years, and the multi-tasking High Stride shorts might be their best yet. (Hell, it’s so good it earned itself a 2022 GQ Fitness Award.) While they seem mostly marketed towards runners (c’mon, “high stride?”), these shorts are apt for any sweaty endeavor: hiking, lifting, humid summer train commutes, and beyond. They’re also super lightweight and available in lined or unlined versions. While too many shorts lack pockets—whether as a style choice or because they’re just too short to accommodate them—these have two side pockets, deep enough to carry your phone and more, plus a back zippered pocket for those precious valuables. The five-inch inseam makes for some great thigh-bearing fit checks, while a seven-inch inseam is available for a little more modesty. They’re also crazy stretchy if you’re looking to finally hone in on your ability to do splits.

The Best Budget Workout Shorts: Uniqlo Ultra Stretch Shorts

Layer 2

Uniqlo ultra stretch active shorts

If you’re really trying to get the most mileage out of your gym shorts (that annual membership isn’t cheap, after all), it’s likely you’ll want a pair that can pull double duty and moonlight as your day-to-day shorts. Uniqlo’s ultra stretch active shorts have got the credentials for the job, helping you push yourself at the gym courtesy of a sweat-wicking, quick-drying stretchy fabric, plus an elastic waist and zip pockets that ensure your phone is along for the ride. Meanwhile, the minimal design steers it well clear of obvious activewear territory so nobody will bat an eye when you wear it as your daily driver. Plus, for just $15, you can stock up in multiples to help you stretch your laundry timelines. 

The Best Workout Shorts for Getting After It at the Gym: Ten Thousand Interval

Layer 3

Ten Thousand Interval short

The workout legends at Ten Thousand got their start back in 2014 with a simple pair of exercise shorts and a shirt. We dug version 1.0, which we tried back in 2015, but the company has spent the intervening years making small tweaks and adjustments to the design that have tipped the scales even further. The updates to its staple Interval shorts maintain its extremely minimal aesthetic, but add a bunch of little hidden touches like hidden zipper pockets that have spurred its rise in popularity in gyms around the country. The thing you’ll notice the most as you actually train in these GQ Fitness Award-winning shorts, though, is how they move. Thanks to the un-bunchable, pinch-free waistband and extremely flexible shell, the short both somehow molds perfectly to your body and expands easily with your movement. If you’re looking for the best shorts for going absolutely nuts on the battle ropes, look no further.

The Best Training Shorts: Rhone Mako

Layer 7

Rhone “Mako” workout shorts

The Rhone Mako shorts are a little bit “gymmier” than something you might want to be seen in on a regular basis, but that’s all in service of performance. Their stretchy fabric feels smooth against your skin, and yields that satisfying swish-swish rustling noise with each successive stride. They’re versatile and flexible enough to handle a variety of high-intensity cardio programs, including jumping jacks and HIIT workouts,  and weightlifting. Plus, their full-zip, standalone phone pocket at the hip is the best-executed and most secure version out of all the shorts we tested. Shorts are available in two inseam lengths (seven inches and nine-inches), which means regardless of your height, you’ve got options if you’re looking to bare some thigh.

The Best Workout Shorts for Runners: Tracksmith Van Cortlandt 

Layer 4

Tracksmith “Van Cortlandt” shorts

Who wears short shorts? Runners wear short shorts. And nobody designs more serious running kits (with shorts of various lengths) than Tracksmith, the Boston label that transplants Chariots of Fire–era aesthetics onto modern marathon-ready gear. Take these thigh-high split shorts—a perennial Fitness Awards winner—inspired by Japan’s Hakone Ekiden—a legendary 218-kilometer relay race—fashioned from plush, antimicrobial mesh. You’re not going to be able to fit your phone into the 2.5-inch inseam, but the shorts manage to make space for two internal pockets that hold your keys or one of those race-day sports goo packets. 

The Best Workout Shorts for Swimmers: True Tribe Active 

Layer 5

True Tribe active swim shorts

Professional swimmers might favor the streamlined fit of a Speedo, but if you’re not looking to bare it all at the local community pool when you swim laps, swim trunks are always the move. Parisian brand True Tribe’s shiny nylon spin on the genre are more like dress trunks, and nabbed a Fitness Award a few years back for their swagger and sheer versatility: the gleaming reflective surface will jazz up your fits no matter whether you’re wearing them to lift at the gym or party poolside in Miami. 

The Best Workout Shorts for Yogis: Lululemon Balancer

Layer 1

lululemon “Balancer” shorts

For those who’d rather slip into a sturdy Eagle pose over cycling through several bench reps, finding bottoms that are moisture-wicking and extremely flexible (for the myriad of ways you manage to contour your limbs) are imperative. Lululemon’s Balancer shorts are made from their fastest-drying fabric, a breathable and ultra-stretchy blend thanks to the added Lycra. The straight-leg silhouette will keep the shorts from getting in the way of your zen, while zippered pockets will keep all your important stuff securely in place (so you don’t lose your zen after realizing your ID slipped out somewhere between the third and fourth vinyasa).

The Best Workout Shorts With Multiple Pockets: Olivers All Over

Layer 6

Oliver’s “All Over” shorts deliver on the promise of any superlative gym shorts (soft, stretchy, and chafe-resistant fabric, available in a dozen rad colors) but then kick that up a notch with not just two, but a trio of pockets—two on the hips, one hidden inside—that’ll carry all your necessaries at the gym. The water-repellent finish also ensures that you can take your workout routine outdoors and not have to worry about getting absolutely soaked (by inclement weather, at least), which is one of the many reasons why these shorts have been such a fixture in our Fitness Awards. 

The Best Workout Shorts with a Compression Liner: District Vision Aaron

District Vision Aaron Layered Mesh Trimmed Shell Drawstring Shorts

District Vision Aaron Layered Mesh-Trimmed Shell Drawstring Shorts

Haven’t you heard? Stylish people love District Vision. Helmed by two fashion veterans, the brand is making some of the most stylish and high-performing workout gear. These five-inch shorts feature a super-stretchy compression liner (which helps to improve blood flow and can even boost your post-workout recovery) plus a surprising assortment of pockets for your energy gels, your phone, and other workout essentials. The built-in compression lining even eliminates the need for you to buy an additional pair of compression shorts. Overall, these are a kick-ass pair of shorts, and that peekaboo District Vision logo is a great IFKYK for other stylish athletes.

Plus 10 More Workout Shorts We Love

Layer 13

Outerknown Outbound stretch volley short

As any of Outerknown’s products, these shorts thrive at the beach. But with details like a quick-drying four-way stretch fabric, secure zip pockets, and a comfy elastic waistband that also holds towels, you’ll know these are built to break a sweat at the gym.

Layer 3

NikeCourt Dri-FIT “Advantage” tennis shorts

Get extra mobile in these breezy shorts featuring overlapping side vents and a mesh-lined elastic band to keep you oh-so-cool from the waist down.

Layer 4

Vuori “Banks” shorts

These shorts are equipped with anti-odor properties so you can go as hard as you want without the hard funk.

Layer 8

Alo 5″ Adapt running shorts

These deceptively simple running shorts with a universally flattering 5″ cut mask a handful of party tricks: a hidden pocket for tucking away your cards and keys, plus interior briefs for securely tucking away everything else. Add to that a wildly lightweight fabric and drawstring waistband for the perfect fit, and you’ll understand why we’re such big fans. 
Layer 9

Lululemon T.H.E. workout short

Lululemon’s shorts are made from a buttery smooth, cool-to-the-touch fabric that feels super luxurious. The shorts aren’t as substantial as the Outdoor Voices and Rhone shorts, but that also makes them plenty breathable.

Layer 12

Satisfy Running Rippy 3″ trail shorts

Most gym-bound shorts are either dead simple or are bright enough to see from space. Okay, so these tie-dye joints aren’t exactly quiet, but they’re more subdued in their own way and are definitely the coolest sorts out there—they just happen to also be some of the best for running. They’re svelte enough to be streamlined but roomy enough for your essentials like energy bars, keys, and phone (don’t worry, they’re all sweatproof). They’re light as a feather yet durable for long running sessions. And on top of all that, the fabric feels a hell of a lot like silk, which means you can forget about chafing.

Janji 7 multi short

Janji 7″ multi short

If you’re a runner who loves their energy gels, Janji says you can fit up to 50 of them. We haven’t verified that (mainly because we don’t love energy gels) but there are a crap-ton of pockets—hidden and discreet—all over these shorts.

Patagonia 5 Baggies

Patagonia 5″ Baggies

Man, we love Baggies, and the fact that they’re great workout shorts (among many other things) is why we’ll always have a pair stashed inside our dresser. The nylon is durable, the lining is appreciated, and they come in more colors than a pack of Skittles. 
Champion Mesh Shorts

Champion Mesh Shorts

Champion’s basketball shorts are a classic in the category, bar none.
miler running base running short

Miler Running base running short

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top