If you lift weights, you know that having the right gear is vital for your success, your safety, and your comfort. That includes, of course, your weights, as well as accessories, like bar clamps, resistance bands, belts, wrist wraps, elbow sleeves, lifting chalk, and shoes; however, there’s another vital piece of gear that a lot of weightlifters overlook that’s equally as important: your shorts. That’s right, the shorts you wear to lift weights has a huge impact on your experience – as well as your overall success.
Despite what many may think, finding a great pair of bodybuilding shorts is actually a lot harder than it seems. They need to fit right, they have to be supportive, they should move with your body, and they absolutely need to be comfortable. They should be lightweight, wick sweat away, and prevent chafing, too.
Many athletic short brans are seemingly stuck in the 90’s with overly baggy, overly long shorts that not only hide your quads but make for uncomfortable movement when deadlifting or squatting.
Heck, maybe you’re fancy and even want some additional features, too, like secure zip pockets that you can use to keep essentials, like your keys and phone, close-at-hand. If they make you look good, that’s certainly an added bonus. That’s a tall order to fill, and given the fact that there are so many workout shorts on the market, trying to find a great pair (several, actually, as you definitely want to have a few backups) can be quite a daunting task.
Whether you want to kick-start a new workout routine, or you’d like to enliven your existing regimen by replacing your old, warn-out, and tattered bodybuilding shorts, keep on reading. Our editorial team has invested a great deal of time in finding the best shorts for bodybuilders, and after scouring the myriad of options available, they’ve narrowed it down to a handful of outstanding pairs, which they’ve compiled below.
Gym Shorts for Bodybuilders: Key Factors to Consider
Before you head out to the store or start browsing online and dropping your hard earned coin, you’ll want to make sure that you’re buying something that will fit well, feel great, and actually LAST a long time.
Gym clothes take a beating. They get stretched in all directions, get worn very frequently, and get drenched in sweat on the regular. Finding a product that does the job it’s designed to vs generic gym shorts like those for basketball is key to getting a bodybuilding short worthy of the name.
Are the shorts cut with an athletic fit in mind?
Whether it’s a button down, trousers, a T-shirt, a jacket, joggers.. or anything else you wear, the way your gym shorts fit should be your #1 priority. If they don’t fit properly, you’re going to be uncomfortable, and it goes without saying that if you’re uncomfortable, well, you’re going to be less likely to wear them.
In that case, what was the point of buying the shorts in the first place? If you’re shorts aren’t fitting correctly and that is constantly on your mind then it will distract you from the task at hand, which should be establishing a solid mind-muscle connection and lifting some heavy ass weight!
So, to avoid chaffing and distractions get a pair of gym shorts that are cut with big quads and glutes and designed to move WITH YOU as you perform your exercises or poses.
Do the shorts have any level of adjustability?
Some days you’re bloated, some days you aren’t. Even just a ½-inch difference in the size of your waist can have a huge impact on the way your shorts fit, and in turn, will have a huge impact on your comfort.
Many bodybuilders go through seasons of bulking (winter usually) and seasons of cutting (spring/summer) and as such their weight can fluctuate significantly between those two modes.
It’s not cost effective to have two entire sets of workout clothes for when you go bearmode and when you go ottermode. Thus, it’s prudent to try to find a pair of shorts that fit with enough room to allow a little expansion and contraction and IDEALLY have an elastic waistband, perhaps with the support of a drawstring or velcro, to accommodate regular size fluctuations.
Do they come in optimal 4″, 5″, 6″ or 7″ length?
While the mainstream fashion media are ecstatic that “short shorts are finally back for men” anyone who has been squatting heavy ass weight over the last five years will tell you they never went out of style in the first place!
See the problem with shorts that are longer than 7″ is that extra fabric will bunch up around the knee or just kind of hang there in the way when you’re trying to do things like squat ass-to-grass or do box jumps.
We recommend starting with the shortest and working your way up until you find a happy middle ground, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but Legs and the Three Short Lengths instead.
Finding a pair of workout shorts that not only conform to your massive quads but are also short enough to allow for maximum mobility (as well as show off them hard-earned quads) is imperative in shopping for the ideal pair of bodybuilder shorts.
Is the fabric designed to hold up to constant torture and sweat drenching?
The material the shorts are made of will have a significant impact on your comfort. The best bodybuilding shorts are made of moisture-wicking materials, as these materials help minimize sweat, and will prevent any sweat that does occur from collecting and sticking on your skin, which is super important.
Walking around the gym with soggy shorts and butt-crack sweat lines isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s downright embarrassing. Moisture wicking materials are an absolute must in our opinion.
Examples of materials that have good moisture wicking capabilities include polyester, polypropylene, nylon, micromodal, bamboo, recycled plastic bottles, coconut, or some combination of these quick-wicking fabrics.
Do they have enough pockets to actually be utilitarian?
If you want to keep anything within hand’s reach while you’re training, a pair of workout shorts that feature pockets would be a wise choice. There are different types of pockets to consider; for example, standard side pockets, zippered pockets, and snap- or Velcro-closure pockets.
If you like to workout with music having a pocket for your phone is nice. At the very least having a small pocket for a gym locker key is imperative as just carrying it around is not an ideal solution (ask us how we know lol).
Yes, you are buying gym shorts to use at the gym but odds are that over time you will be stopping places on the way to the gym as well as on the way back from the gym. For these situations in between workout sessions it’s definitely helpful to have at least one pocket like a normal pair of shorts.
Besides being functional do they look good too?
Believe it or not, looking good while you’re working out is kind of important. Why? Well, because when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you’re more motivated.
That said, before you start shopping for shorts to wear for your bodybuilding sessions, considering the style you’d like before you start shopping is wise. Consider your personal taste and style and the look you want to convey, and choose a pair of shorts in a style and color that reflects those things.
Looking good for bodybuilders will involve being tight in the right places and loose in others. You want something that will sit well on your waste but also augment your glutes and quads. Depending on your height you will want to be considering 5″, 6″ or 7″ knee lengths.
The best way to pick a length is to go to a store that offers multiple lengths and try them on. Only by seeing how they sit on your specific body type will you know whether or not they’re something that you’ll be excited to wear every workout or something you feel embarrassed in and thus, something you wouldn’t want to buy.
The care. Before you buy a pair of workout shorts, it’s wise to consider the care instructions. Shockingly, we’ve actually seen hand wash and line dry only gym shorts! That said, make sure that you check out the care instructions before you make your selection; for the ultimate ease, choose shorts that are machine washable and that can be tumbled dry.
The Best Gym Short Brands for Bodybuilders
As with pretty much everything else related to workout gear, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to gym shorts; in fact, there’s literally an endless array of options to choose from in an assortment of sizes, fits, materials, features, and more.
Sure, if you’re dedicated to just Nike or Adidas they definitely have weightlifting oriented product lines that will work great no doubt. That said, the following brands are, in the opinion of our editorial team, the best of the best in terms of brands that were designed from the get-go to be accommodating to muscular and athletic body types.
Based in Austin, Texas, Outdoor Voices offers top-quality workout shorts for all types of athletes, from runners to weightlifters, and everyone in between. They use a variety of high-quality, lightweight, moisture wicking materials, they offer an assortment of fits, lengths, and sizes, and their catalog features a large selection of styles and pockets. Their shorts are machine washable, too.
While they might be best known for yoga pants, believe it or not, Luluemon actually makes some great men’s workout shorts, too; their Pace Breaker shorts are an excellent example. They feature a casual, yet visually pleasing look, and they’re lined with Luleulemon’s own OOM (Out of Mind) fabric, which is designed to offer optimal support without squeezing your bits and pieces. The liner features a pouch, too!
Headquartered in the heart of LA, YoungLA is one of the most popular fitness clothing brands. They offer an array of workout shorts that are ideal for all types of activities, from running to HIIT, and from basketball to climbing – and everything in between. There’s an assortment of styles and sizes, and all are made of top-quality materials and are masterfully constructed.
Similar to YoungLA, Born Tough is an LA-based men’s fitness apparel brand that really captures that LA-city vibe well and takes their core market to heart with a dazzling variety of tops and bottoms offered in a simple yet effective color palette of black, olive green, white, and grey. They also have a wide variety of shorts that have built-in compression legs and liners if that’s what you prefer.
While many of these short brands target a more broad “athletic” market Jed North is bodybuilder-centric through and through with shorts designed to accommodate quads-of-the-gods. Jed North has developed somewhat of a cult following particularly for their Motion Sweat shorts which are sweat short material but offered in a shorter athletic cut that is flattering AF for those who don’t skip leg day.
We are no stranger to Rhone as they make some fantastic joggers but they’re also quite famous for their training shorts. While Rhone is broader in their product matrix, offering a bunch of athletic-oriented daily-friendly options, their training-specific shorts like the Mako Tech Shorts (lined or unlined) are some of the highest quality available and come in both 5″ and 7″ lengths for different sized customers.
You have probably seen Ryderwear products in the gym without even knowing it as they are the makers of one of the most popular bodybuilder shoes on the market in their D-MAKs, brought to fame first and foremost by the one and only Kai Greene. In addition to shoes Ryderwear has a large shorts lineup as well, with a slightly longer average length than some if you prefer a 7″+ lengths.
Perhaps one of the most popular bodybuilding/fitness brands of the decade Gymshark took the fitness world by storm by being one of the first mainstream brands offering subtly tailored workout clothes with quality workout-oriented materials. Gymshark proves they’re still at the cutting edge of fitness trends with awesome retro-inspired offerings like the Recess 3″ shorts that look like perhaps one of the best posing shorts ever made.
While Chubbies may have a bit of a college frat bro turned semi-serious golfer there is no denying their popularity. With quality modern breathable and sweat-wicking materials Chubbies is at the forefront of convincing men that it’s not just okay to show off some thigh, it can actually be quite sexy! If you’re sick of bland blacks and whites then Chubbies wide selection of bright colors will surely offer something to match your personal aesthetic.
Bamboo Ave is a lesser known player on the scene with a more limited product lineup, focusing exclusively on flexible, breathable athletic-inspired shorts made with a fabric comprised of recycled or “upcycled” plastic bottles and coconuts! Yup, you read that right, these shorts have coconut in them! Available in 5″ and 7″ lengths with or without liners these are a bit more flowy than other tighter-gym specific offerings making them great all-arounders.
Skinny Yoked Summary
There has been no other time, perhaps minus the 70’s, to be alive as a man who is proud of his quads. No longer are men confined to the parachute-sized baggy athletic shorts of the 90’s and 2000’s. Today there are a dazzling variety of shorts designed specifically for men who like to work out and regularly tackle leg days with a vigor that results in impressively sized legs worthy of showing off.
We can’t pick a favorite brand and if we had more money our closet would contain pieces from every single shorts brand mentioned above, you really can’t go wrong with any of them and your final purchasing decision will likely come down to a balance of cost and personal style.
Regardless of which brand you go with investing in a pair of athletic cut bodybuilding-oriented shorts will not only encourage you to get to the gym but will allow you to feel confident in the process, and that my friends is what we like to call a win-win scenario!