Over my years of running, weightlifting, and martial arts, I’ve developed an immense appreciation for compression shorts.
They’re so much more than just workout clothes—they’re an essential part of my training outfit, as crucial to my performance as my training shoes or moisture-wicking T-shirt.
A good pair of compression shorts can be the difference between hitting your PR and walking away from the set in failure. They can keep you from feeling insanely sore the day after an intense run or Muay Thai session. And, most important of all, they can be more comfortable than any athletic underwear.
In my obsession to find the best compression shorts for my fitness training, I’ve combed through dozens of product reviews and personally tested as many as I could get my hands on.
Below, I’ve put together a list of the compression shorts that proved the best-performing, best-priced, and most comfortable.
Tough as nails, heavy-duty fabric, and sweat-proof, dry-all-day phone pockets make these my favorite compression shorts, a pair that has lasted me for 2+ years of hardcore training and long-distance runs.
Of all the shorts I’ve put to the test, none have been as sturdy or durable as the WOLACO North Moore Shorts.
The fabric is thicker and heavier than any other compression short I’ve tested (300 GSM), which means they’re a bit hotter but won’t wear out, over-stretch, or tear easily. They’re also anti-pilling so I can wash them repeatedly and they’ll still stay in great shape.
The two side pockets are great for my phone, keys, and IDs, and they’re “sweat proof” so they keep their contents dry even if I’m dripping wet. I’ve worn these running, hiking, and doing hot Yoga, and they haven’t once ridden up or been excessively tight or stiff. They’re a pair of shorts I’m always happy to wear.
Under Armour is one of my favorite athletic brands, so when my research led me to these compression shorts, I knew I had to put them to the test.
I wrestled myself into the Heatgear Compression Shorts for a bodyweight HIIT workout and paid close attention to what they could do.
The first thing I noted was how comfortable they were. The mix of polyester and elastane has excellent compression, just enough stretch that I could move easily, and a really nice, thick, solid feel.
The mesh panels provided great ventilation so I didn’t overheat, and helped the shorts to dry out quickly. It’s also moisture-wicking so it pulled sweat away from my body—no chafing, rubbing, or sogginess with these bad boys.
For value, I have yet to find a better option than the DEVOPS 3 Pack Compression Shorts. For the same price I paid for my Under Armour shorts, I got three performance-friendly training shorts that are nicely sturdy and comfortable enough that I keep them in my weekly rotation.
I love that they have a pocket, which lets me keep my phone tucked away out of sight but easily at hand when I’m running, lifting, or boxing. The non-abrasion spandex and polyester fabric is smooth and silky against my skin and comfortable over long hours of exercise.
The shorts come with UPF50+ protection so I can wear them all summer long trusting they’ll keep me protected from sunburn and solar radiation.
The Ten Thousand Compression Short is a pair I can wear with nothing else over it, which makes them a “win” in my book. No need to double up on layers—just slide into these bad boys and hit the trail to run in style and comfort.
The premium-grade Italian fabric feels really sturdy to the touch, and the medium compression is just right for high-intensity training and powerlifting.
Thanks to the silver ion treatment, they won’t smell even if I’m sweating hard for hours on end, but will stay fresh and clean over repeated use.
It’s got just the right amount of support for all my “important bits” so nothing bounces around while I’m sprinting or trail running.
There’s a lot that I really like about the Matador Meggings Shorts:
But honestly, what I think appeals to me most is the insanely wide variety of color options.
Rather than just the usual choices (black, gray, blue, etc.), I’ve got choices like camo, galaxy, rainbow, psychedelic, even geometric patterns. They’re a fun way to spice up my training outfits and draw a bit of attention to my bold style preferences.
Be warned: these are not the shorts to wear on their own. Think of them as the men’s equivalent of ultra-sheer “nude” shorts—much too thin and skimpy not to be worn beneath shorts, unless you want to end up drawing the wrong kind of attention.
But in saying that, I have to point out that they are the softest, silkiest, and most comfortable of the compression shorts on my list. They’re built with runners in mind, offering targeted support (yeah, you know where!), excellent ventilation and breathability, four-way stretch, and both quick-drying and moisture-wicking capabilities.
At 10”, they’re long enough to cover your entire legs to the knees, and snug design and the addition of grippers in the hem keep them firmly in place all run long.
For the days I’m going to hit the gym for a weightlifting workout and want the extra compression to help me set a new PR, the Vuori Limitless Compression Short are my go-tos.
They’ve got enough compression to improve performance but don’t squeeze so tight I can’t bend, squat, or lunge easily. The stretch fabric has enough elasticity to move comfortably with me for better performance across every exercise.
I particularly like the hidden back zipper pocket—it’s perfect for keeping my keys, gym access fob, and slim card wallet close at hand when I’m training, running, or cycling.
I started kickboxing again at the beginning of this year, and these Boxraw Saddler Compression Shorts have made my training so much more comfortable.
The SMRT-TEC fabric is silky soft, smooth against my skin, lightweight, breathable, and has enough elasticity that I can kick, block, and teep with ease.
The mesh ventilation panels are amazing for when the temperature hits 100+ and I’m dripping sweat. They’re nicely tough, too, with a thick, sturdy-feeling polyester and elastane blend that has held up well to repeated heavy sweat sessions and subsequent washes.
Tthey’re very much a “you get what you pay for” pair of shorts. Great quality, long-lasting, and, most important of all, boxing/kickboxing-specific mobility.
What makes compression shorts such a useful addition to your training outfits?