Health & Fitness

12 Best Gym Shorts For Men | Tried & Tested By Gym Rats & HIIT Hounds

  • Sep 5, 2023
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12 Best Gym Shorts For Men | Tried & Tested By Gym Rats & HIIT Hounds

After 20 years of training in the gym, running and doing HIIT classes, I’ve realised that not all gym shorts are created equal. In fact, with so many brands on the market it’s impossible to make an easy decision. That’s why we’ve tested five brands and pairs of athletic shorts that WE WOULD BUY AGAIN.


What we’re looking for

What we feel deserves to be included in our guide comes down to the following key elements of athletic short construction and user experience:

  • Fabrics – Do they wick away sweat and are they chaff resistant?
  • Design – Do they offer a contemporary and stylish design?
  • Comfort – Do they ‘pinch’ anywhere? Do they run too small, too large, or just right?
  • Versatility – Can they be worn for running, yoga and other activities?
  • Price – How much do they cost? And how much is too much for a pair of gym shorts?

You’ll find some brands have been omitted from this guide. That’s not because they were bad, but because nobody on our team could confidently vouch for them. Examples include Under Armour and Uniqlo — both great brands but not ones our team actually wear.

Our selection

We decided to put five of the most popular pairs on the market to the test over a 12-month period.

To help us decide which brands to choose, we spoke with the DMARGE editorial team, with each staff member picking a brand they had purchased in the past: Ben — our resident Londoner wears — Gymshark, Luc wears Alo, Romer wears Nike and Fin… wears whatever brands send him.

You’ll find our top picks below as well as some alternatives in case you prefer a shorter or longer leg length. Most of the shorts below feature as part of the brand’s permanent collection, meaning they should be in stock all year round. However, brands like Nike have a tendency to remove product lines every season, so keep an eye out for changes and we’ll do the same.

At the premium end of the scale: 7″ Alo Repetition Short

During the pandemic, we went on a bit of an Alo spree and picked up a lot of their gear. Honestly, not all of it was great. We found the tops to be too figure-hugging while the singlets and tanks were way too relaxed throughout the body.

Thankfully, we didn’t have the same problem with their shorts. We purchased the Alo Repetition Short in both 7″ and 9″ and can safely say they’re some of the best gym shorts I’ve ever worn. They were so good we purchased them in light blue, burgundy, green and navy blue.

I’m 187cm (6’2-ish) and the 7″ Alo Repetition Short is my preferred choice; they’re really well constructed and have a premium feel to the fabric and design. There are plenty of secure zip-pockets and the waistband is flat elastic which I prefer over ruffled alternatives. The shorts also have a lining so your junk won’t fall out when you’re doing an ab workout — always a bonus.

If you like really short shorts in the gym, then Alo is not the brand for you. Their 5″ Running Short is made for running and doesn’t have the gym-ready aesthetic you’ll most likely be looking for.

Explore the full range of Alo shorts.

An everyday no-fuss gym short: Gymshark 7″ Arrival Short

Gymshark burst onto the scene a few years back and is now a billion-dollar company, and their spot on our best gym shorts feature reflects this meteoric rise. We picked up a pair from their basic line called the Gymshark Arrival Shorts in plain black. These are no-fuss gym shorts that you can wear into the ground for six to twelve months and then throw out (or recycle…) without feeling too bad about the expenditure.

They are 7″ in length which seems to be the standard for most shorts these days. Sadly, the Arrival Shorts unfortunately don’t have a zip pocket for keys, but that’s not exactly a deal breaker at this price point. These shorts also come in over 12 colours which is super cool.

Alternatively, Gymshark make the Apex Hybrid Shorts which we think look great and do feature zip pockets if that’s more your vibe. The Apex shorts also have a flat elastic waistband which is a favourite feature of ours. Gymshark calls it a ‘stay put’ waistband which makes good sense. If you’re on a budget go for the Arrivals, if you’ve got a little more to spend, try the new Hybrids.

What we’re not loving

Gymshark doesn’t seem to make shorts with those handly little zip pockets. We can only assume it’s so keys or coins that don’t dig into your ass when you’re bench pressing.

One pair that we overlooked when shopping was the Gymshark Studio 6″ Short. These to me feel like the best pick of the Gymshark bunch.

Gymshark is a really well-priced athletic brand which explains why it’s so popular all over the world. We also think the younger generations are looking for different brands that are not what their parents wear / wore.

Explore the full range of Gymshark shorts.

For yogis and gym rats: Lululemon License To Train Shorts

Lululemon has come a long way in men’s gym gear. Whilst some of you may still see it as a ‘chicks’ brand, their gym gear is actually a personal favourite of mine. The brand has two main product lines of shorts, the classic Lululemon Surge Short and the newer linerless License To Train Shorts.

We picked up a pair of the Lululemon License to Train shorts over Christmas time and have been really impressed with the fit and colour range, they also have a small lining that keeps your nuts away from public viewing. A few things we did notice was the range tends to fit smaller than others, so a medium was slightly on the small side. We also noticed the elastic waistband didn’t have a lot of stretch to it. These are far from dealbreakers, they just offer a more structured garment which some of you may prefer. If you need lining in your shorts, get the License to Train Lined Short 7″.

If you’re looking for a looser fit then the Surge Short is your best option. It’s your classic gym short which comes in a range of lengths from 4″ to 9″. Yes, who loves short shorts? Personally the 7″ is always preferred but the 4″ works well if you like them short.

Lululemon shorts all have the little sip pocket for keys, the usual flat elastic waistband and a rip chord to tighten. Lastly, if you’re after a more basic short for gym and running, check out the linerless Lululemon Pacebreaker Shorts.

Explore the full range of Lululemon shorts.

High-performance gym shorts: Nike 20cm Dri-FIT Flex Rep Pro Collection

After a few years of increasingly bad press, you might not be so inclined to go for Nike‘ shorts, and we totally get that. On the other hand, we’ve been wearing Nike for 20-plus years and there are a few products that they always deliver on. Namely, their shorts: the Nike Dri-FIT Flex Rep Pro Collection are a pair we picked up a while ago and have been wearing these along with their Nike Stride Shorts for a very long time.

The Nike Dri-FIT Flex Rep Pro Collection is made purely for the gym and workouts, and Nike has gone all out with their design. You’ll notice they don’t look like your average pair of gym shorts. Rather, they’re designed for high-intensity movement with cuts down the legs to improve mobility and breathability. They’re stretchy in all the important areas to keep you moving freely and are remarkably comfortable overall. The only downside would be the pretty high price point at $100 a pair.

Alternatively, we also like the simpler Nike Stride Shorts with their flat waistband and shorter leg length. These are very much your no-frills shorts which I use in the gym and for HIIT classes, even though they’re made for running.

Explore the full range of Lululemon shorts.

Born for heavy workouts: Ten Thousand Interval Shorts

If you haven’t heard of Ten Thousand then you’ve simply not been living your best life. This challenger brand is all about muted colours, high-tech fabrics and no-BS design. That’s why we’ve selected the Ten Thousand Interval Short as the fifth and final pair of gym shorts in this guide.

The Interval Short is Ten Thousand’s most popular short and it’s pretty clear why that’s the case: their construction and fabric are miles better than anything else we’ve tested in this roundup. They’re comfortable thanks to the flat elastic waistband and have zip pockets so you don’t lose your stuff. I would say their colour range is a little on the boring side — it’s mostly black, grey and a few reds — but what they lack in colour they more than make up for in performance.

We love how you can choose from a range of customisable options with these shorts, including length and lining. We opted for the 7″ linerless shorts in black… because you can never have too many black shorts.

What we love about this short

5-inch, 7-inch, 9-inch, lined, unlined they make so many variations of their shorts it’s hard to find a combination that doesn’t suit you.

If you’re more of a minimalist, then we recommend the Ten Thousand Session Short, it’s a paired-back version of the Interval Short and comes in two lengths and only a few colours. They also offer the option of lined or unlined to suit your fancy.

If you’re in need of a concealed carry holder, then try the Ten Thousand Tactical Shorts. They have it all.

What we don’t like

Unfortunately, Ten Thousand doesn’t ship worldwide. Just to the US and Canada. We recommend buying them from other retailers if you live outside of these countries.

Explore the full range of Ten Thousand shorts.

Other athletic shorts you should consider…

How we tested

We’ve been using various brands of gym shorts for decades and here’s how we tested them:

  • Over 300 F45 classes
  • A combined 40 years of daily workouts
  • Hundreds of kilometres run, including 2 City2Surf runs
  • Countless MMA classes

Why trust us?

  • We have over 40 years of combined experience sweating our asses off through all sorts of exercise and sports.
  • We purchased and wore every one of these pairs of gym shorts.
  • As activewear tragics, we’ve purchased more than our fair share of good and bad gym shorts. Some which were worn once, and never again.
  • The selection is based on first-hand experience.
  • We analysed data to understand the products and brands that were most popular with our readers.

Our experts

We chat with everyone we know, including our contributors and staff to discover what they wear and why. Here are just some of the people we asked.

  • Luc Wiesman – Founder of DMARGE, F45 regular
  • Finlay Mead – Resident fitness editor
  • Ben Lucas – Owner of Flow Athletic
  • Romer Macapuno – social media editor, MMA gym specialist

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by menshealthfits.
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