7 Best Workout Shorts for Women in 2021

Best Workout Shorts for Women
Image by Canva Photos

Working out in the summer can be brutal, especially when you’re still rocking last winter’s workout pants. Fortunately, it’s easy to beat the heat with the best workout shorts for women!

Whether you prefer running marathons or going hard at the gym, workout shorts are an essential part of any women’s workout wardrobe. The best options are lightweight, breathable, and stylish, and they can help you go that extra mile, all while supporting and accenting your physique.

Our favorite pair of workout shorts is the Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Shorty Shorts, as it features moisture-wicking fabric and a head-turning style. But there are several fantastic options out there, and this guide aims to show you the top options of the year.

Our Top Picks: Best Workout Shorts for Women

Enhance your workout with any of these excellent shorts:

  • Best Overall: Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Shorty ShortsThe Shorty Shorts are our favorite pick, thanks to powerful moisture-wicking capabilities, comfortable construction, and a flattering fit.
  • Best Budget: Hanes Women’s Stretch ShortsFor just over $10, you can get these top-notch athleisure shorts that are perfect for all your lightweight workouts.
  • Best Athletic: New Balance Women’s Accelerate ShortAccelerate muscle gain and weight loss with the New Balance Shorts, complete with NB DRY technology.
  • Best Running: Women’s Fly By 2.0 Running ShortsRun on the track, treadmill, or around the neighborhood with these highly visible and breathable shorts from Under Armour.
  • Best CrossFit: Cadmus Women’s Workout ShortsIdeal for serious CrossFit athletes, the Cadmus Workout Shorts will support your body and highlight your hard-won curves.
  • Best Compression: BALEAF Women’s ShortsGain the benefits of compression wear with the BALEAF Women’s Shorts, a pair of polyester and Spandex shorts with incredible maneuverability.
  • Best High-Waisted: C9 Champion Women’s ShortsEmbrace your inner Champion and workout in style with the C9 Champion’s Women’s Shorts.

1. Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Shorty Shorts

The best workout shorts for women overall

Under Armour HeatGear

Brand: Under Armour | Material: 100% Polyester | Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 14 | Price: 💰💰

If you’re searching for the best gym shorts for women, look no further than these Shorty Shorts from Under Armour.

Available in over a dozen charming colors, these shorts are crafted with compression in mind. Moreover, they’re designed to feel like an extension of your skin, keeping pace with your every pose. They also feature Under Armour’s HeatGear moisture-wicking fabric and anti-odor technology to keep you dry, fresh, and clean throughout your workout.

Overall, the Shorty Shorts are lightweight, flattering, and slightly higher cut. These will keep you comfortable regardless of the type of workout you want to tackle.

  • Lots of great colors
  • Wicks away moisture in record time
  • Compression polyester design feels silky smooth on the skin

  • Runs small — consider ordering a size up
  • Thinner material than many women are used to in their sportswear

2. Hanes Women’s Stretch Shorts

The best lifting shorts for women on a budget

Hanes Women Stretch Shorts

Brand: Hanes | Material: 90% Cotton / 10% Spandex | Sizes: SM to XXL | Colors: 2 | Price: 💰

Why are the Hanes Women’s Stretch Shorts on our list of best workout shorts?

First of all, you can’t beat the price. Coming in around $10 per pair, these exceptional shorts are as affordable as they come.

They’re also made from 90% cotton, with a splash of Spandex. This provides a flattering fit that stretches around your natural curves and works with your body during workouts.

Speaking of workouts, these are ideal for weightlifting due to their superior breathability and see-through-proof design. Wear them to the gym, or use them during your everyday activities — the comfortable fabric and longer design are perfect for all your athleisure needs.

Unfortunately, the Women’s Stretch Shorts don’t excel in workouts or sports where you plan to sweat up a storm, as the cotton fabric is known to soak and hold moisture. Still, a bargain deal for a pair of sweet shorts.

  • True to size
  • Spandex offers unbridled movement
  • Soft, snug material that’s perfect for athleisure wear

  • No elasticity around leg seams
  • Only comes in two plain-jane colors — black and grey

3. New Balance Women’s Accelerate Short

The best athletic shorts for women

New Balance Accelerate Shorts

Brand: New Balance | Material: 100% Polyester | Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 24 | Price: 💰💰💰

From New Balance, we have the Women’s Accelerate Shorts. This is one of their best selling items and one of our top picks on this list of best workout shorts! The design is as fun as it comes, with two dozen colors and shades to choose from. Or, if you prefer, you can stick to the safety of black.

These shorts feature NB DRY moisture-wicking technology, which pulls moisture from your skin and shoots it outwards to evaporate. In terms of design, these shorts feature a crepe brief, an elastic waistband, and reflective detailing for those late-night low-visibility workouts.

These are relatively short at 2.5 to 5 inches, but they’re made to be comfortable when you’re working out. They also have a small internal pocket for extra convenience.

  • Dry in just a few minutes
  • Fantastic leg coverage and they don’t ride up
  • Comfortable for all types of athletics, from jogging to the gym

  • Can be unflattering on some body types
  • Internal pocket is fine, but it’s only 2 by 2 inches, enough for a single key

4. Women’s Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

The best running shorts for women

Womens Fly By 2.0 Shorts

Brand: Under Armour | Material: 95% Polyester / 5% Elastane | Sizes: XS to 3XL | Colors: 39 | Price: 💰💰

Look fly with the Women’s Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts from Under Armour. These polyester and elastane shorts are perfect for running thanks to their moisture-wicking design (necessary for any serious runner), breathable mesh panels, and lightweight construction.

Try on one of the 39 different color options, pull the drawstring closure taught, and hit the treadmill with confidence — these comfy shorts have you covered. And, if night jogs are more your thing, you’ll feel ever-so-safe with the reflective logo and bright colors keeping you visible.

As a bonus, these are the best plus size athletic shorts due to the generous size range, which goes from XS to 3XL!

  • Comfortable fit and waistband
  • Lightweight and airy, plus quick to dry
  • Perfect for running and general exercise

  • Sit below the stomach, which can accentuate tummy rolls
  • Sweat distorts the design and makes it see-through in some colors

5. Cadmus Women’s Workout Shorts

The best CrossFit shorts for women

Cadmus Workout Shorts

Brand: Cadmus | Material: 85% Polyester / 15% Spandex | Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 23 | Price: 💰💰

For serious CrossFit athletes, it doesn’t get much better than the Cadmus Women’s Workout Shorts.

These shorts feature a unique blend of polyester and Spandex fabrics, which work together to support your waistline and move like an extension of your skin. Not to mention, the four-way stretch and quick-drying fabric keep you nice ‘n cool during all your intense workouts. 

As for comfort? The flatlock seams all-but eliminate chafing, and the silky-smooth finish feels like heaven on the skin.

If you don’t mind us saying, these are the best booty shorts for gym wear and the best booty shorts for CrossFit. A high-performing, stylish pair of shorts for women looking to improve their physique while highlighting their natural curves.

  • Lovely, smooth material
  • Drys quickly, despite thicker fabric
  • Features a convenient cell phone pocket

  • Fabric can be clingy
  • Reviewers consistently recommend ordering one or even two sizes up

6. BALEAF Women’s Shorts

The best compression shorts for women

BALEAF Compression Shorts

Brand: BALEAF | Material: 87% Polyester / 13% Spandex | Sizes: XS to XXL | Colors: 10 | Price: 💰💰

If you want to take advantage of all the workout benefits offered by compression wear, the BALEAF Women’s Shorts are an excellent choice.

If you’ve ever worn compression shorts, you know how fitted and flattering they can be. Compression shorts hold everything in, while offering support via increased muscle oxygenation and decreased muscle soreness. The BALEAFs offer that and more.

Although they only come in solid colors, the BALEAF’s overall quality makes this easy to look past. With their high-performance blend of polyester and Spandex, you get the ultimate in breathability and freedom of movement. These shorts also boast a high rise waist and feature a small hidden pocket for your phone, keys, or cards. Perfect for all types of exercises.

  • Extremely affordable
  • Stretchy without losing shape or riding down
  • Compression capabilities keep you comfortable and ready for action

  • Lighter colors are see-through when wet
  • Pocket only holds phones up to 5.5 inches

7. C9 Champion Women’s Shorts

The best high-waisted workout shorts for women

C9 Champion Womens Shorts

Brand: Champion | Material: 90% Polyester / 10% Spandex | Sizes: XS to XL | Colors: 4 | Price: 💰💰

The C9 Champion Women’s Shorts are some of the best high-waisted shorts for working out and running. Not only are they stylish, but they’re functional, too! The polyester and Spandex waistband remains snug against your belly button, while the shorts themselves offer a bit more breathing room, keeping your legs airy and cool. The inside also features an inner brief with “Duo Dry” technology, which wicks away sweat and moisture.

Not to mention, there is a zip pocket on the back, making these a well-thought-out pair of workout shorts for the gym, track, or court.

Enjoy fantastic freedom of movement and take your exercise to the next level with these stellar shorts from Champion.

  • Cute, flattering design
  • Elastic waistband feels great and holds shape
  • Shorts stay in place during all types of workouts

  • Very short shorts; may not be everyone’s taste
  • Waistband doesn’t control the tummy region like compression shorts

What to Look for in the Best Workout Shorts for Women

Stretching in the Best Workout Shorts for Women - Cottonbro Pexels
Image by Cottonbro / Pexels

What should you look for when choosing a pair of the best workout shorts for women? There are three primary considerations: material, size, and style.

1. Material

When it comes to material, there are four primary types of fabrics found in workout wear:

  • Polyester
  • Elastane
  • Nylon
  • Cotton

Polyester, elastane, and nylon are all synthetic fabrics with similar properties. That said, polyester is the most common due to its overall quality, moisture-wicking properties, and breathability. It’s also quite affordable and easy to integrate with brand-specific technologies like UA HeatGear and NB DRY.

Although cotton is comfortable, it’s not as commonly found in workout wear as the other materials. That’s because it’s not as stretchable nor quick to dry. That said, it can be blended with the synthetic fibers mentioned above to produce an affordable and comfortable athleisure garment.

2. Size

After you’ve considered the material, it’s time to think about sizing. If your workout shorts don’t fit, what’s the point? 

To ensure you choose the right size for your body, you have to know your measurements. The three most important? Waist, hips, and inseam.

The best way to get these measurements is by using a flexible tape measure. Simply wrap the tape measure around your waist or hips and compare the number against your favorite brands. It’s that easy!

Do note that every brand has its own sizing guidelines, meaning you may be a small from Under Armour but a medium from Champion. Pay close attention to the size charts on product pages, and you should be fine.

For reference, here’s a simple chart showing common measurements for small- to large-sized workout shorts.

WomensSmallMediumLarge
Waist26” to 28”28” to 30”30” to 33”
Hips36” to 38”38” to 40”40” to 43”
Inseam3”3”3.5”

3. Style

Last (but certainly not least), we have style. After all, nobody wants to work out at the gym or on the track without the right ensemble!

The best workout shorts for women come in two primary styles. There are the shorts that rest tightly against the skin, and those that offer a bit more breathing room. Both work well in various workouts, and the right fit is mostly a matter of preference. The only real caveat? If you plan on doing hardcore stretches or gymnastics, you may want to choose a skintight option that contours with your body.

You’ll also need to think about colors and patterns. The best workout shorts for women come in dozens of different colors. Choose the one that suits your vibe, and get back to your workout in style!

Our Process

For this guide on workout shorts for women, our team spent 4 hours researching the most popular options from over 30 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each pair of shorts. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 workout shorts for women on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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