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Our jobs here at Garage Gym Reviews are amusing. Sometimes, we’re frustrated at the fact that we’ve had to drill 27 holes into our living room walls to test smart home gym equipment, or that we’ve been tripping over packages of resistance bands for two weeks. 

But other times, we get the immense pleasure of receiving a bunch of new workout clothes to thoroughly test and judge. This guide stems from one of those fun times—I present: A full-fledged guide to the very best workout shorts for women. 

32 Pairs of Shorts Tested 

For this guide, the ladies on our product testing team took nearly three dozen pairs of shorts through various types of workouts, from CrossFit WODs to long runs to Olympic weightlifting sessions. Additionally, we considered our previous experiences with the bazillion pairs of shorts we’ve worn throughout our training years. 

The Best Workout Shorts for Women (2024)

Best Workout Shorts for Women Overall: FLEO Signature Shorts True High Contour

Good for: Everything. Literally everything 

Best Workout Shorts for Women Overall
FLEO Signature Shorts True High Contour
FLEO Signature Shorts True High Contour

Fleo’s True High Rise Contour shorts are one of the brand’s most popular items. Available in 44 colors/patterns, these shorts feature a 4-inch inseam and 4-inch waistband that does not have any elastic (aka, no muffin top to worry about). Described by some reviewers as the most comfortable shorts to ever work out in, the High Rise Contour are made with one of four incredibly soft proprietary materials: Bounce, Monarch, Ninja, and Romey.Both the Bounce and the Monarch material can be found in single-lined or double-lined styles depending on the color. Common to all the fabric choices is their soft, buttery feel and sweat-wicking capabilities. These certainly are not compression shorts but have a tight yet stretchy fit. There are some reports of the legs riding up mid-workout but moreover, users really enjoy the feel and fit of the True High Rise Contour.

Pros:

  • Buttery soft
  • Ultra-high waist 
  • Available in many colors and fun designs
  • Soft, flat seams 
  • Leg openings don’t ride up
  • Waistband doesn’t roll down
  • Moderate 4” inseam (not too short, not too long)

Cons:

  • Some may consider the fabric too stretchy
  • Has a middle seam
  • Lighter colors show sweat pretty badly 

When I first slipped my new pair of FLEO True High Contour shorts on, I immediately sent a Slack to the other testers on our team and said: “I tried these on and audibly gasped.” Seriously! Here’s a screenshot.

FLEO True High Contour Shorts Slack Screenshot

You’ll notice I complain about the price in the above conversation. It’s true that I’m a cheap-O. Some wouldn’t consider $40 to $50 expensive for a pair of shorts, but I wear Target workout shorts and shop at TJ Maxx for the nicer stuff. However, after wearing these FLEOs for dozens of workouts (swear, I prematurely do laundry just so I can wear them again), I can say they are absolutely worth the price. 

FLEO’s “Bounce” fabric is ultra-soft and stretchy, and the high-rise waist and 4-inch inseam provide full coverage with more-than-adequate range of motion. 

FLEO Signature Short True High Contour Specifications

Fabric“Bounce” fabric: soft with springy stretch
SizingXS–XL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam4”
CareMachine-wash and dry

Best Women’s Workout Shorts for CrossFit: Senita Athletics Rio Adventure Shorts

Good for: Exercisers looking for a new take on the traditional CrossFit booty short with squat-proofness and sweat-wicking properties 

Best Women’s CrossFit Shorts
Senita Athletics High Waisted Rio Shorts
Senita Athletics High Waisted Rio Shorts

Offering a snug, compressive fit, the Senita Athletic Apparel’s High Waisted Rio Shorts are well-suited for both cardio and strength training workouts. Made from a thick nylon and spandex blend, these shorts are designed to provide support and warmth. The Rio shorts feature an inseam length of 3.75-inches, side pockets, a high-waisted fit, and are available in three sizes.The Rio shorts do run small, and Senita Athletic Apparel recommends sizing up. Reviews confirm the small sizing as several buyers even suggest sizing up two sizes. The Rio shorts do not have much stretch so if you get a size that is small, so don’t expect it to stretch over-time. Some users found that the legs roll up on runs however, most reviews report that the waistband stays in place even when running with a phone and keys in the pockets.

Pros:

  • Super soft fabric
  • High-rise waist
  • Designed with a wider leg opening than other short shorts
  • Thicker fabric prevents sweat marks but isn’t too hot
  • Great blend of compression and stretch

Cons:

  • Middle seam
  • Pockets don’t hold much
  • On thinner thighs, leg opening may be too wide

HEAR ME OUT. Yes, I chose shorts from a non-CrossFit brand as the best shorts for CrossFit. I know CrossFitters can be picky (*ahem* judgy) about clothes. I am allowed to say this because I am a CrossFitter and also picky about clothes. 

All my CrossFittin’ ladies with thicker thighs need to hop on the Senita Athletics train. This affordable brand creates all sorts of great designs, but the Rio Shorts in particular are great for CrossFit. Intentionally designed with a wider leg opening, these soft, stretchy shorts can accommodate all of the squatting your legs have been doing. 

senita athletics adventure rio shorts

Plus, with a high waist and 3.75-inch inseam, they offer more coverage than other CrossFit shorty shorts, yet without any limitations in range of motion. I’ve had a pair of Rios for two years and they have held up great so far. I plan to get them in more colors!

Senita Athletics Rio Shorts Specifications

Fabric“Skin” fabric: polyester/spandex blend with 4-way stretch
SizingXS-XXL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam3.75”
CareMachine-wash cold, with like colors. No bleach, fabric softeners, or dry cleaning

Best Booty Shorts: Savage Barbell Classic Booty Shorts

Good for: Exercisers who want durable fabric with minimal coverage and maximum range of motion

Best Booty Shorts
Savage Barbell Classic Booty Shorts
Savage Barbell Classic Booty Shorts

Designed to provide both comfort and functionality, Savage Barbell’s Classic Booty shorts are a solid choice for your next workout. Made with a buttery soft blend of nylon and spandex, these booty shorts provide a four-way stretch intended to move with you. Although these are lower rise shorts, there is no need to worry about showing more off you than you’d like on a squat as these are reportedly squat-proof.The Classic Booty shorts feature a 3-inch double-lined waistband, a 2.5-inch inseam, and an oval crotch gusset. They are available in a wide variety of patterns and colors, some of which go on sale quite often. It is hard to find much fault in these well-designed booty shorts.

Pros:

  • 3” double-lined waistband
  • Stretchy, soft fabric
  • Tester’s pairs have lasted for 5 years
  • Many colorways available

Cons:

  • No XL size
  • Fabric is somewhat thin
  • Middle seam
  • Minimal abdomen coverage

These are your “typical” CrossFit-style booty shorts, says Kate Meier, GGR Head of Content and the team member who tested this product. Actually, Kate’s had some pairs of Savage Barbell Classic Booty Shorts for five years that she can still wear, although the logo has peeled off in some places. 

“I’m not sure they’re even meant to last for five years, though?” Kate ponders. Either way, it’s a sign of durability!

With a low-rise waistband and very short 2.5-inch inseam, for many women, these shorts will lack coverage—they’re really intended specifically for those who want less coverage to prioritize range of motion while still covering all of the important bits.

The fabric is on the thinner side, but the oval crotch gusset helps with comfort and confidence. I love that these are available in so many colorways and fun patterns. 

Savage Barbell Classic Booty Shorts Specifications

Fabric“Butter Soft”: nylon/spandex blend
SizingXS–L
RiseLow-rise
Inseam2.5”
CareHand-wash and hang-dry

Best Mid-Rise Workout Shorts for Women: NOBULL Mid-Rise Plush Short 4”

Good for: Anyone who wants a mid-rise short available in several inseam options

Best Mid-Rise Shorts for Women
NOBULL Mid-Rise Ribbed Short
NOBULL Mid-Rise Ribbed Short

NOBULL’s Mid-rise Ribbed Shorts feature, as the name alludes, a mid-rise waistband, 4-inch inseam, and interior waistband pocket. The design is intended to strike a balance between style, function, and performance. The high-stretch blend of nylon and lycra provides a fitted-but-not-tight-fit, with a 4-inch inseam.While the vast majority of reviews appreciate the fit, there are several users who reported the waist to fit large while the rest of the shorts are tight. And a few found the material to provide less than the proclaimed stretch. The mid-rise ribbed shorts boast the signature NOBULL branding on a reflective logo for increased visibility.

Pros:

  • Soft, sweat-wicking fabric
  • Plush heather look is aesthetically pleasing
  • Flat seams 
  • Available in many inseam lengths

Cons:

  • Middle seam
  • Lots of buyers seem to run in-between sizes
  • Limited sizing
nobull mid rise shorts 4 inch

I tested the NOBULL High-Rise Ribbed Shorts, and Caroline Lubinsky, GGR staff writer, tested the NOBULL Mid-Rise Plush Shorts. Ultimately, we decided the Plush version deserved a place on this list. 

In Caroline’s words, these shorts are “Comfortable, squat proof, and soft. I forgot I had them on during my workout, which is always a good sign. They do show sweat a little bit but they’re neon blue, soooo… it comes with the territory. They’re not showing horrible sweat stains, so I’m impressed.” (If you opt for a non-neon color, you may not have this issue.)

“They’re more expensive for shorts, but I would purchase them again for sure,” Caroline says. “They stay put during workouts and come in fun colors.”

NOBULL Mid-Rise Plush Short Specifications

Fabric86% nylon, 14% Lycra®
SizingXS–L
RiseMid-rise
Inseam4”
CareMachine-wash, hang-dry

Best Running Shorts for Women: Alphalete Stride Short

Good for: People who want a high-waisted short with a loose leg opening

Best Women’s Running Shorts
Alphalete Stride Short
Alphalete Stride Short

Alphalete’s Stride Shorts strike the unique balance between comfort and performance. Featuring a woven short design with compression liner, these shorts are designed to be wider at the hips and have a high-cut split hem for improved mobility. The double layer prevents visible sweat marks. The spandex underneath has the potential to ride up a bit when running however, that is not surprising given the style.If you plan on running in dimmer lighting, these may be a great choice as they come with both reflective tape detailing on the hem as well as the Alphalete Athletics logo on the center back. Sitting slightly above hip height, the Stride Shorts have a higher rise with an elasticated waistband for comfort. There are also two zippered pockets to securely store essentials when out and about.

Pros:

  • High-waisted
  • Zippered pockets, baby!
  • Loose leg opening
  • Boy-short style liner
  • Inclusive sizing

Cons:

  • Woven fabric wrinkles easily
  • Liner sticks out from bottom outer hem
  • Liner rides up a bit

Nicole Davis, GGR editor and our tester for this product, really enjoys them: “I like these. They’re super comfortable and not too short (3-inch inseam), which I appreciate. The spandex underneath does ride up if you’re sitting down and then stand up, and while running, but I think that’s to be expected with this style,” she says.

alphalete stride short back

“The woven short outside is cut a bit wider at the hips—on the site it says it’s for increased mobility—which is noticeable, but it’s fine, I think. Just something to be aware of if you’re particular about the look of your workout shorts. They come up to about belly-button height on me, so high-rise but not in a bad way.”

Additionally, between the zippered pockets on each side (yay!) and soft, stretchy woven fabric, Nicole says these performed great during all kinds of workouts, including runs.

Alphalete Stride Short Specifications

Fabric80% nylon, 20% elastane
SizingXXS–3XL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam3”
CareMachine-wash cold, hang to dry

Best Lined Workout Shorts for Women: Lululemon Hotty Hot Short

Good for: Exercisers who want a wide-leg short with a liner that stays put

Best Women’s Lined Shorts
Lululemon Hotty Hot Shorts
Lululemon Hotty Hot Shorts

Lululemon’s Hotty Hot Shorts are the perfect combination of performance and style. Featuring a lightweight, sweat-wicking fabric, these shorts are designed to give runners a comfortable way to perform their best. The zippered pocket on the side and second pocket inside the liner make it easy for you to bring the necessities (like your cell phone and car keys) when you are going long distances.One of the best parts about these shorts is that they come in both 2.5-inch and 4-inch lengths, and can be bought in low-rise and high-rise versions, depending on your preference.The built-in liner may ride up during your run, but it definitely offers extra coverage, especially for the 2.5-inch version. If you run in faint lighting, these would be a great choice, as many of the color options are bright.

Pros:

  • Durable fabrics and seams
  • Many available colorways
  • Wide leg opening
  • Stay-put underwear liner

Cons:

  • High-rise option isn’t always available 
  • Pockets are small
  • Expensive (it’s lulu)

These are excellent for working out, Caroline says, and they are her go-to shorts when her laundry is all clean.

These shorts are not compression-based, and instead are more loose-fitting in the leg, Caroline says. “This is generally my personal preference when it comes to working out, because I feel like my legs can breathe.” 

“There is a drawstring inside the waist, which I have cut and tied myself (versus just pulling on it to make it together),” she continues. “I don’t have any issues with a waist gap since there is a drawstring. I do wish there was slightly more leg room, but it is enough to make my legs feel fine.”

lululemon hotty hot shorts

The Hotty Hots are weird in that they come in mostly low-waist (“Ew,” Caroline quips) but occasionally, high-rise and mid-rise options pop up online. She has a pair of mid-rise Hotty Hots, which hit decently below the belly button for her, and high-rise, which land right under her belly button. Caroline is 5 feet, 9 inches tall, for reference.

Bonus points for durability: “These don’t show any signs of wear, and I’ve had both pairs for probably two years now,” Caroline says. “I actually throw these in the dryer and have never had any issues with them shrinking or pilling. They are excellent durability-wise.” 

Lululemon Hotty Hot Short Specifications

FabricBody: 86% Polyester, 14% Elastane. Hem band: 90% Recycled polyester, 10% Lycra® elastane. Liner: 89% Polyester, 11% Lycra® elastane.
Sizing0–20
RiseLow, mid, or high
Inseam2.5” or 4”
CareMachine-wash cold, tumble-dry

Best Bike Shorts: Athleta Transcend 7” Bike Short

Good for: Those looking for a longer pair of shorts with no top seam and ultra-smooth fabric

Best Bike Shorts
Athleta Transcend 7” Short
Athleta Transcend 7” Short

Athleta’s 7” Transcend Shorts are a great option if you are looking for a classic biker short. Made from a comfortable, sweat-wicking fabric with all-around stretch, you can wear these both in and out of the gym. Reviews applaud the buttery soft fabric that feels like a second skin.Not only are they comfortable, but they are breathable as well, which can be unusual for tighter-fitting shorts. There is a front seam which can be uncomfortable for some individuals, so if you are prone to those issues you may want to try them on before you buy.Featuring a hidden waistband pocket, you can bring smaller items like keys or cards if you are wearing these in your everyday life. The Transcend Shorts are available in a few colors and have a 7 inch inseam.

Pros:

  • Long inseam prevents chafing
  • Waistband lays flat and does not gap
  • Fabric is unbelievably soft and smooth
  • Hidden waistband pocket
  • UPF 50+ fabric

Cons:

  • Bottom seam digs into thicker thighs
  • Middle seam
  • Collects pet hair like crazy

I love a classic biker short. However, it’s often hard to find a nice pair that doesn’t dig into my thighs where the bottom seam lies. The Athleta Transcend Bike Shorts surprised me with a flattering fit: The waistband sits flat on my waist with no gapping, and the bottom seam doesn’t cut off blood supply to my lower leg (some shorts seriously feel that way). 

athleta transcend bike short

Plus, the fabric is buttery smooth and stretches in whatever way my workout needs it to. I’ve worn these for hiking, biking, yoga, running, walking, and lifting weights—and they’ve performed well through it all. 

My only complaint with these shorts is that the fabric collects pet hair by the boatload. I find myself using a lint-roller multiple times per day when I wear these. I do love that I can throw these in both the washer and dryer and not have to worry about pilling or loss of elasticity. Hooray for lazy girl fabrics!

RELATED: Biking vs Walking

Athleta Transcend 7” Bike Short Specifications

Fabric“Vitafree”: Nylon/Lycra blend
SizingXXS–3XL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam7”
CareMachine-wash and dry

Best Yoga Shorts for Women: Lululemon Align HR 8” Short

Good for: People who enjoy doing yoga in longer shorts

Best Yoga Shorts
Lululemon Align HR 8” Short
Lululemon Align HR 8” Short

Comfortable, breathable, and buttery soft, the Lululemon Align High-Rise 8-inch shorts are made for life in and out of the yoga studio. Made with Lululemon’s Nulu fabric, the 8-inch Align shorts offer the right blend of support and comfort. The material is soft and stretchy while still being breathable and sweat-wicking.Reviewers applaud the lightness and comfort of the shorts but also report pilling. If you order a lighter color, rest assured that they won’t be see-through, as light colors are double lined for coverage. There’s also a hidden pocket in the high-rise waistband where you can put your keys or a card.The main customer complaint seems to be that the bottom seam is tight on the mid-thigh.

Pros:

  • 8” inseam means you won’t flash anyone during downward dog
  • Many colors available
  • Buttery fabric with 4-way stretch

Cons:

  • Will not hold up to barbell workouts
  • Tend to pill after a while
  • Bottom seam may be too tight on thicker legs
woman doing yoga in lululemon align shorts

Kate Meier, GGR Head of Content and product tester, swears by lululemon Aligns. “These are my favorite,” she says. “They’re buttery soft, and they don’t squeeze your leg and give you that biscuit-out-of-a-can look. I love that they come in three length options—I tested the 8-inch and bought myself two pairs of the 4-inch inseam afterward.” 

“There are more patterns and colors and style combinations than I can count,” she continues, “but most importantly: high rise. A beautiful high rise.”

The Aligns fit true-to-size in both inseam lengths that Kate has, and Lululemon offers sizes from 0 to 20. 

These shorts are not super compressive, as they’re meant for yoga and not high-intensity training. Kate can explain: “I have done CrossFit in the 8-inch pair. They don’t move much, but as I know with my Align leggings, this fabric won’t hold up to a barbell’s knurling. Which is fine, because they aren’t really meant to. So I would just be selective about when I would wear them.”

Lululemon Align HR 8” Short Specifications

FabricBody: 81% Nylon, 19% Lycra® elastane
Lining: 90% Nylon, 10% Lycra® elastane
Sizing0–20
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam8”
CareMachine-wash cold, tumble-dry low

Best High-Waisted Workout Shorts for Women: Born Primitive New Heights Booty Shorts

Good for: Exercisers who want shorty shorts with a high waistline

Best High-Waisted Workout Shorts
Born Primitive New Heights Booty Shorts
Born Primitive New Heights Booty Shorts

Backpacking off the design of Born Primitive’s popular Renewed Vigor Booty Shorts is the new, high-waisted booty short, New Heights Booty Short. These form fitting shorts use a longer inseam for comfort throughout your workout which measures 3.5-inches (on a medium).Available in eight colors and in sizes extra-small through 2XL, these comfortable shorts are well suited for a variety of body types. The higher rise is intended to keep you covered through every movement (think squats) and to stay in place during your next sweat sesh. There are some users who report the shorts do ride up and that the higher waist affects how they look in the front. But the vast majority of users find them comfortable and functional.

Pros:

  • Ultra-high-rise waist (above the belly button on my 5-foot-6-inch frame)
  • Thicker, durable fabric
  • Seams lay super flat

Cons:

  • No pockets
  • Bottom seam tends to roll up on me
  • Bright/light colors will show sweat

We have quite a few high-waisted picks on this list, but we thought the Born Primitive New Heights Booty Shorts deserved their own shoutout for their durability and high waistline. I tested these and was pleased overall, despite my general disliking of booty shorts. I may be in my 20s, but I’m an old lady at heart and I prefer more coverage most of the time.

born primitive new heights booty short

Anyway, the New Heights Booty Shorts are pretty compressive in the waist, which I like. The fabric is thicker than that of most other shorts I’ve worn, and they feel durable, like I’ll still be wearing these in several years’ time. I feel like these can handle a good amount of abrasion and stretch. 

The fabric also seems to wick sweat better than most, although I did get some sweat spots in the bright pink color I tried. 

I must admit, the bottom seam kept rolling up (to an almost-annoying level) during a CrossFit workout with power cleans, rowing, and seated dumbbell press. However, the seam never dug into my thighs, which is a huge bonus for me. 

Born Primitive New Heights Booty Short Specifications

Fabric87% Nylon, 13% Lycra
SizingXS–2XL
RiseHigh-rise
InseamNot specified, estimated about 3”
CareWash on cool, hang dry

Best Form-Fitting Workout Shorts for Women: Alphalete Amplify Short

Good for: Anyone who wants their butt to look phenomenal 

Best Form-Fitting Shorts
Alphalete Amplify Short
Alphalete Amplify Short

Created with an Italian yarn blended together using a full-interlock knit construction, Alphalete’s Amplify Shorts are designed to highlight curves, provide support, and move with your body. These high-waisted shorts utilize a 3-tiered, tapered waistband which is form-fitting and offers a solid level of compression. There is no front seam which creates a streamlined look.Adding a stylish touch, the Amplify shorts feature a back scrunch seam detail as well as leg and glute contouring panels to accentuate curves. This rear seam adds a unique look but may feel uncomfortable to some who prefer a seamless design.The Amplify shorts are available in 15 vibrant colors and in sizes XXS through XXL. The Alphalete wordmark logo branding can be found knitted in white on every color option.

Pros:

  • Will make your butt look amazing
  • Compressive fabric 
  • Moderate 4.5” inseam for full coverage 
  • Many colors available
  • Seamless

Cons:

  • Lighter colors are sheer and show sweat badly
  • Seamless, but fabric can bunch up around the crotch
  • Runs small due to the compression 

Full stop: These are THE shorts for a bangin’ booty. I tested the Alphalete Amplify Leggings and Kate tested the Amplify Shorts, and we are in full agreement that whatever Alphalete is doing is magical. 

“I’ve never seen my butt look so amazing,” Kate says. “These are like those Tik Tok pants. We could do a Tik Tok on these shorts.” 

“They have that ruching along the buttcrack that is like MagicEye for butts,” she continues enthusiastically. YOUR BUTT WILL COME ALIVE. It’s insane.” 

woman wearing shorts in a gym

The material is compressive and sweat-wicking, and you can machine-wash it. However, these shorts seem to run quite a bit small, likely due to the compressive fabric. Kate and I both recommend sizing up, especially if you tend to be in between sizes. 

“Because these run small, they aren’t the most comfortable for dynamic workouts,” Kate says, “but someone with a slimmer build might feel differently. I did several weight training sessions as well as several metcons in them. They don’t bunch up, and they withstand squats well.”

Alphalete Amplify Short Specifications

Fabric51% Polyamide, 38% Polyester, 11% Elastane
SizingXXS–XXL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam4.5”
CareMachine-wash on cold, hang dry

Best Workout Shorts for Women With Pockets: Athleta Salutation Stash Short 5”

Good for: A moderate rise, moderate inseam, and pockets that actually hold onto your shiz 

Best Workout Shorts With Pockets
Salutation Stash Pocket II 5" Short
Salutation Stash Pocket II 5" Short

Designed for yoga and studio practice, Athleta’s Salutation Stash Pocket II Short features a 5-inch inseam, improved waistband, fewer seams, and the signature Powervita fabric for a buttery soft yet supportive feel. The Powervita fabric is both sweat-wicking and quick-drying to keep you cool, dry, and comfortable during your next workout.Thanks to the large side stash pockets, you can securely bring your phone or other small essentials on your next outing. And if you happen to be outdoors, these shorts are rated UPF 50+ for the utmost sun protection. Unlike most workout gear, the Salutation Stash Pocket II can be machine washed and dried.There are several reviewers who found these shorts to run small so consider sizing up if you do not want an ultra-tight feel. Some also reported the short legs rolling up or waist rolling down but, given the tight nature of these shorts that is to be expected to some extent.

Pros:

  • Pockets that actually work 
  • Multiple inseam options
  • Soft, compressive fabric

Cons:

  • Middle seam on these is particularly, er, problematic for me
  • Waistband folds over during some movements
  • Bottom seam was slightly tight for my thighs 

The Salutation Stash shorts are the very first pair of shorts I’ve worn that I actually feel comfortable stashing my phone in. Most workout shorts with pockets can hold my car key and a credit card, max, without items starting to peek out during a walk or run. 

athleta salutation stash pocket short

With these, I can walk my pup sans fanny pack because my stuff stays put. I’ve run up to 3 miles in these with my phone in one pocket and my key, ID, and a doggy bag in the other, with no issues. 

Athleta’s Powervita fabric is soft, smooth, and the right amount of compressive. My only real complaints with these is that the middle seam can be unflattering and the bottom seam is a bit too tight for my legs, but that obviously won’t be the case for everyone.

Athleta Salutation Stash Short Specifications

Fabric“Powervita”: nylon/Lycra blend
SizingXXS–3XL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam5”
CareMachine-wash and dry

Best Shorts for Outdoor Workouts: Senita Athletics Baseline 5” Short

Good for: Affordable, quality workout shorts that you can also use as swim shorts and hiking shorts 

Best Shorts for Outdoor Workouts
Senita Athletics Baseline 5-inch Short
Senita Athletics Baseline 5-inch Short

Made with a fast-drying, cool, and sweat-wicking Lux Fabric, Senita Athletics’ Baseline 5-inch shorts are a tight, compressive short available in eight different colors and patterns.These shorts cost less than $30 and can be used for virtually any fitness activity. Featuring side pockets large enough to hold your phone, keys, or even a snack, and an extra pocket at the base of the shorts, the Baseline shorts are also a solid choice for your day-to-day errand runs.The polyester and spandex blend is definitely snug and Senita recommends sizing up if you’re in between sizes. Some users found the seamed waistband to be constricting and the legs to ride up when running. Be sure to refer to the sizing guide when deciding on a size.

Pros:

  • Durable, swim-proof fabric 
  • Super fast-drying
  • 2 inseam lengths available
  • Very affordable 

Cons:

  • Sold out often in many colors/inseams
  • Middle seam
  • Fabric bunches a little bit around the hips

You can run in ‘em. You can swim in ‘em. You can hike in ‘em. These are perhaps the most versatile pair of workout shorts I’ve ever owned. I have two pairs, and they are a go-to for every type of workout and outdoor activity

These are a best-seller for Senita and it’s clear to see why. Senita’s Lux fabric, which is a blend of polyester and nylon, is extremely breathable and quick-drying. The seamed, wide waistband stays put through everything and I have snagged these during tons of bushwhacking hikes and haven’t had any issues—no dethreading of seams or holes or pilling. I’ve also swam in these and the color is holding fast.

senita athletics baseline 5 inch short

The fabric is insanely wicking; it feels almost like a swimsuit. The only callout I have is that they are a little short for biking and I chafe a bit around mid-to-upper thigh. People with shorter legs may not run into this issue. 

Senita Athletics Baseline Shorts Specifications

Fabric“Lux”: Polyester/spandex
SizingXXS–XXL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam5”
CareMachine-wash (cold) and dry

Best Budget Workout Shorts for Women: Target All In Motion Sculpt 7” Short

Good for: People who want decent workout shorts for a very low price

Best Budget Workout Shorts
Target All In Motion Sculpt 7” Short
Target All In Motion Sculpt 7” Short

Featuring a high-rise design, side stash pockets, a full waistband elastic, and a soft, stretchy, partially recycled fabric, Target’s All In Motion Sculpt 7-inch shorts are both stylish and versatile bike shorts available at a very affordable price point.The side pockets are deep enough to hold a phone and/or some small valuables for a hands-free experience during your next workout or when running errands. Users find these shorts well-suited for pilates, yoga, and even running sessions as the waistband reportedly stays in place.The material used is a blend of spandex and recycled polyester which is sun-blocking to protect you from UV rays (rated UPF 50+) when exercising outdoors. It is intended to wick away moisture and be quick-drying. However, there are some users who found the lighter colors to show sweat stains. If you are adding these to your wardrobe, consider sizing up one or two sizes as they do run small.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Internal drawcord, full elastic waistband
  • Compressive waist and stretchy fabric 

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other pairs I’ve had
  • Often sold out
  • Can be hard to find in-store

For an affordable pair of cycling shorts, I recommend checking out Target’s All-In-Motion line, specifically the Sculpt 7” shorts. Ringing in at just $20, these compete with other trending activewear brands for a fraction of the price. 

A few years ago, I bought four pairs of these in different colors, and I still have all but one pair, which I left in a hotel room (still very sad about that.) I kid you not, they have held up just as well, if not better, than some more expensive pairs I have. I look forward to wearing them each time.

target sculpt short

Notably, these are some of the only longer shorts I own that don’t squeeze my thighs at the bottom seam. The wick sweat well and stay in place while working out. For $20, they’re worth a try for everyone, in my opinion. 

Target All-In-Motion Sculpt Shorts Specifications

FabricRecycled polyester/spandex
SizingXS–XXL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam7”
CareMachine-wash, tumble-dry

Best Plus-Size Workout Shorts for Women: Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Ultralight Run Short

Good for: People who need more sizing options in high-quality workout shorts

Best Plus-Size Workout Shorts
Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Ultralight Run Short
Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Ultralight Run Short

Made with 90% recycled plastic bottles and 10% spandex, the Girlfriend Collective Black FLOAT is a lightweight run short designed to be sweat-wicking, squat-proof, and provide just enough, but not too much, compression.The soft feel keeps you comfortable while the material provides protection from the sun (rated UPF 50+). While these shorts lack side seams in order to prevent chafing, there are reviewers who found the bottom seam to be unforgiving.The FLOAT short does come with a small center back pocket where you can store small keys or cards. While many appreciate the lightweight nature of these shorts, some did find the material to feel too thin.The inclusive sizing is rather impressive as sizes range from XXS all the way through 6XL.

Pros:

  • Inclusive sizing from XXS–6XL
  • 90% recycled fabric
  • Recyclable (again!) with ReGirlfriend
  • No side seams
  • UPF 50+ fabric

Cons:

  • Recommended you lay flat to dry (time-consuming)
  • Colors may bleed during first wash
  • Soft fabric collects pet hair and lint

Girlfriend Collective was one of the first activewear brands to make comfy clothes in a truly inclusive size range. Constructed from fabric made of recycled water bottles, Girlfriend Collective athletic shorts are also environmentally friendly. 

I have these shorts in my regular size and can confirm they are as comfortable as “ultralight FLOAT” sounds. These shorts feel like nothing—I repeat, nothing. It’s almost alarming how naked I feel when wearing these. (The downside to this is that the fabric needs near-constant lint-rolling.) 

WIth a high-rise waistline and 4.75-inch inseam, these shorts offer great coverage while retaining full range of motion. I prefer to wear these for yoga and mobility work over anything, since they’re so stretchy and light, and not as compressive as other pairs I own. 

Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Ultralight Run Short Specifications

Fabric90% recycled plastic bottles (RPET) and 10% spandex
SizingXXS–6XL
RiseHigh-rise
Inseam4.75”
CareMachine wash cold and lay flat to dry

Other Workout Shorts We Tried

Despite there being more than a dozen top picks on our list (it’s so hard to choose!), there are even more shorts we want to call out, for good or for bad. Here’s a comprehensive list of other shorts we bought and  tried specifically to create this guide, with a quick blurb on how we feel about them. 

  • Lululemon Fast and Free High Rise Shorts: These are great, like just about anything from Lululemon, but we felt the Aligns were a better overall pick. These would be a good option for running in longer shorts. 
  • Under Armour Fly-By 2.0 Running Shorts: A basic short from a well-known brand, these are just fine, but we think there are better options at this price point. For around $20 to $30, I’d recommend something from Target’s All-In-Motion line. 
  • Adidas 3-Stripes Shorts: Another basic short from a popular brand, these Adidas shorts are good for lounging and running errands. 
  • Core 10 Race Day High Waist Compression Short With Pockets: We didn’t have any issues with these affordable shorts on Amazon, but again, I think the Target lines are better in this price range. 
  • New Balance Q Speed Breathe 2-in-1 Shorts: These are… Interesting. Our testers weren’t a fan of the biker-length liner in combination with the run-style outer layer. 
  • Baleaf 8″ High Waist Shorts: These start at less than $20 on Amazon and they’re decent around-the-house or walking shorts. 
  • Brooks Chaser 7″ Shorts: These give granny vibes with their long inseam and extra-wide leg opening. They’re like capris but in shorts. Definitely comfortable, but not flattering. 
  • Reebok Chase Booty Shorts:  An OG pair of booty shorts, these were once a go-to for CrossFit athletes, but there are much better options available now. 
  • Born Primitive Double Take Booty Shorts: We liked these, but we chose the high-waisted version for our top picks list. 
  • FLEO Power High Rise: We’re big fans of these, but we didn’t want to saturate our guide with FLEO shorts. We do recommend them! 
  • FLEO Signature Shorts Apex Contour: Ditto. 
  • NOBULL High-Rise Ribbed Shorts: These were okay, but our testers liked the plush version better. 
  • NOBULL Short 2”: A 2-inch inseam is honestly really short, and these always wind up in the bottom of my drawer as a last resort for me, because I don’t feel comfortable in them. 
  • Vuori Studio Pocket Short: Three words: Problematic. Middle. Seam. Very soft, though! 
  • Nike Women’s Pro Training Shorts: These are just your basic compression shorts, and they’re a good option if you want something to wear underneath loose, unlined shorts. They’re also good for lounging and sleeping. 
  • Lululemon Wunder Train Shorts: Our tester says these are very compressive and run small, so keep that in mind if you have thicker thighs. They come in lots of fun colors and have a great high-rise waist. 
  • Savage Barbell High-Rise Booty Shorts: We recommend the regular Savage Barbell Booty Shorts as the best booty shorts; these are the exact same but with a high-rise waist. 
  • Constantly Varied Gear (CVG) Shorts: Our tester was not a fan of these, saying “These are definitely not for people with big thighs. I got a size small and the waist was too big and the legs squeezed the crap out of my thighs.” These may work for people with thinner legs. 

How We Chose the Best Workout Shorts

In a few words: We wore them. Duh. To get more granular, here’s exactly how we judged these shorts during the various workouts we wore them for: 

  • Purchasing and delivery
  • Appearance (colors, patterns) 
  • Fit, rise, and compression
  • Workout performance 
  • Pockets
  • Fabric and durability 
  • Customer reviews
  • Return and exchange policy
  • Customer service
  • Value 

During our testing, we took detailed notes to answer the following questions: 

  • How is the waist-to-thigh seam ratio? (Is there a gap in the back?)
  • Is the rise accurate to what’s stated? 
  • Does the bottom seam squeeze the thighs? 
  • Does the fabric lay smooth overall? Does it have four-way stretch? 
  • Are there pockets? Where on the shorts are they (front, side, or back pockets)? Do they have zippers? Can they actually hold your things? 
  • Do they ride up during any movements? If so, which ones? 
  • Do you chafe while wearing them for walking, running, or other workouts? 
  • Do you have to constantly pull the thigh seams down or waist up? 
  • Are they sweat-proof or do you look like you peed yourself after 10 minutes?
  • Does the fabric collect pet hair or lint? 
  • How did they hold up in the wash? Can you even throw them in the wash or do you have to hand-wash and hang-dry them? 
  • Have you noticed any pilling after a few wears? 
  • Do they stink after a few wears? 

The Importance of Good Workout Shorts

I mean, I’m not even sure I have to explain the importance of good workout shorts, but here we go nonetheless. 

Have you ever quit mid-workout because you’re so damn tired of pulling your shorts down or picking a wedgie? Admittedly, I have. So avoiding those two problems is reason enough to be picky about workout shorts. You can’t get the most out of your workouts if you’re constantly worried about flashing the gym, getting swamp ass, or peeling seams away from your skin where it’s too tight. 

But thinking long-term, choosing good workout shorts is important so you don’t have to buy new ones every year. A good pair of shorts will last much longer than that and save you money in the long run, even if they feel expensive up front. Trust this, as it’s coming from someone who only begrudgingly buys the pricey stuff but is always happy when I do. 

How to Choose the Best Workout Shorts for You 

Everyone has different fit and style preferences, which is why there’s an absolutely outrageous number (14 pairs) of shorts in this guide. Here are a few factors to consider when shopping. 

Material 

You’ll want to hit three key categories here: moisture-wicking, stretchy, and soft. Most workout shorts are made of some blend of nylon, polyester, and elastic materials like Lycra, Spandex, and Elastane. Avoid shorts that are more than 20% cotton unless you want a soggy butt post-workout. 

Sizing

Many brands are expanding their size lineup to be more inclusive. Of the brands that are part of our top picks, the majority offer more than five sizes, in total ranging from XXS to 4XL. Make sure to check size charts, since there is no standardized sizing (unless you’re shopping a brand that uses actual inches for sizing). 

Length

Common inseam lengths are 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 inches. I would say anything between 2 and 4 inches can be considered “booty shorts”; 4 to 6 inches is a moderate length; and anything above 6 inches can be considered a biker short. 

Pockets 

What do we want? POCKETS! When do we want them? Like 17 years ago! 

It’s great that so many brands include pockets in women’s shorts now. However, not all do, so make sure to double-check if lack of pockets is a dealbreaker for you. 

Pay attention to where the pockets are on a given pair of shorts, too. Waistband pockets are generally only large enough to hold important small personal items, such as a car key or ID. Side pockets are often big enough to hold a phone or even a small snack. 

Fit and Comfort

This will be completely subjective, but three main components play a role here: rise, inseam length, and seams. Mostly I want to call out middle seams, which can cause terrible front-wedgies, if you will. Some women are more prone to the horrors of middle seams, and if you feel like you fall into that group, I highly recommend filtering reviews for the keyword “cameltoe” to know if you should just completely skip a pair. 

FAQs About Workout Shorts for Women

What are the most comfortable workout shorts? 

The answer to this is totally subjective and will depend on your preferences for rise, inseam, seams, fabric, and contour. However, our top picks, as chosen by a team of four product testers are: 

Best Workout Shorts for Women Overall: FLEO Signature Shorts True High Contour
Best Women’s Workout Shorts for CrossFit: Senita Athletics Rio Shorts
Best Booty Shorts: Savage Barbell Classic Booty Shorts
Best Mid-Rise Workout Shorts for Women: NOBULL Mid-Rise Plush Short
Best Running Shorts for Women: Alphalete Stride Short
Best Lined Workout Shorts for Women: Lululemon Hotty Hot Short
Best Bike Shorts: Athleta Transcend 7” Bike Short
Best Yoga Shorts for Women: Lululemon Align HR 8” Short
Best High-Waisted Workout Shorts for Women: Born Primitive New Heights Booty Shorts
Best Form-Fitting Workout Shorts for Women: Alphalete Amplify Short
Best Workout Shorts for Women With Pockets: Athleta Salutation Stash Short
Best Shorts for Outdoor Workouts: Senita Athletics Baseline 5” Short
Best Budget Workout Shorts for Women: Target All In Motion Sculpt 7” Short
Best Plus Size Workout Shorts for Women: Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Ultralight Run Short

What are the best moisture-wicking workout shorts?

The best moisture-wicking workout shorts will have nylon in the fabric blend and contain zero cotton. 

Are gym shorts supposed to be tight?

Many women like to wear tight shorts to the gym, but loose-fitting shorts are also totally fine. I personally prefer loose-leg shorts for running and tight-fitting shorts for strength or HIIT workouts. 

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