There is an epidemic of lifters new and old that either take it easy on legs, or skip lower-body weight training altogether. Don’t be that guy. If you’re looking to make leg day a bigger part of your fitness regimen, you’re in the right place. For this story, I tried more than a dozen pairs of shorts popular with weightlifters and squat enthusiasts to find the best lifting shorts you can buy. Here are five of the best I tried, and what you should know before buying.
- Best Overall Lifting Shorts: Lululemon Pace Breaker Short, $68
- Best Budget Lifting Shorts: Soffe Original Ranger Panty Short, $15
- Best for Brand Loyalists: Nike Pro Dri-FIT Flex, $65
- Best for Serious Lifters: Ten Thousand Interval Shorts, $64
- Best for a Classic Look: Y,IWO Quad Slim-Fit Printed Jersey Shorts, $50
- Best High-End Lifting Shorts: ASRV Tetra-Lite Short, $118
What to Look for in Lifting Shorts
Lifting shorts are there solely to ensure you are not naked at the gym. They are not meant to provide any special support while squatting, or do anything; they need to stay the hell out of the way. When lifting heavy, your body is exposed; you have massive weight on your back or in your hands, and any unwanted movements or missteps can cause a failed rep, or a serious injury. With that in mind, these are the features (or lack thereof) you want in lifting shorts.
In short, your lifting shorts should stretch. Preferably a lot. Stretch serves a number of purposes, but the fact that it allows you to move up or down or sideways without pulling, pinching, or resisting is why it’s important. If you do a free squat right now, you’ll feel your pants or shorts tighten around your crotch and slide up your butt a bit. Stretchiness means that movement is never restrictive, which keeps you going up and down without issue.
2. Shorter Inseam Length
If you see guys at your gym wearing slightly shorter than normal shorts, they’re not just showing off their quads. Shorter shorts don’t get in the way during a squat. Shorts that reach toward or below the knee cap.
You lift in long shorts. They make some with ultra-stretchy materials and side slits that allow you to get low without the end of the short catching your knee or restricting your movement. But if you’re uncomfortable wearing 7-, 5-, or even 2.5-inch inseam shorts to the gym, you’re likely better off wearing baggy sweats than long shorts. You really don’t want any clothing that will get in the way of your movement during a squat.
If the shorts are stretchy enough, fit becomes something of an afterthought. But it’s paramount you buy shorts that aren’t too tight around your waist or too baggy around the leg. Again, flowing fabric and anything that can cause a problem is a risk. Don’t size up or down from your usual, and use brands’ sizing guides before buying.
I personally tested more than a dozen shorts for this guide, including all the products recommended below. I wore each for at least two sets of squats, and most across a series of HIIT workouts. After cross-referencing price and performance, I identified the five shorts I’d be most inclined to recommend to a friend. Here they are.