CrossFit became an international craze at the same time that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts garnered mass adoption and scientific support. Along with changing how people workout, these frenetic exercise routines changed the expectations and requirements for modern sportswear.
Clothing that keeps up with the intense workouts we put our bodies through has practically become a necessity for those who are serious about their training. One of the most popular kinds of performance clothing today is compression shorts.
- Features to consider in Good Compression Shorts
- The Best Compression Shorts 2020
- 1. Neleus Performance Compression Shorts
- 2. NIKE Women’s Pro Compression Shorts
- 3. Under Armour Heat Gear 2.0 Compression Shorts
- 4. Tough Mode Womens Compression Shorts
- 5. Champion Powerflex Compression Shorts
- 6. 2XU Men’s Core Compression Shorts
- 7. Yogipace Pocketed Women’s Compression Shorts
- 8. Shock Doctor Compression Shorts
- 9. Aero Tech Women’s Compression Shorts
- 10. NIKE Men’s Pro Shorts
- Guide to Buying the Best Compression Shorts
- Bottom Line
Features to consider in Good Compression Shorts
Companies that sell compression shorts have made some pretty lofty claims about the performance-enhancing benefits provided by these articles of clothing. While some scientific studies don’t fully back up claims of enhanced performance, the general consensus is that compression clothing can have beneficial physiological and psychological impacts on athletes—especially for recovery.
Compression shorts are great for a wide range of exercise routines and athletic purposes including cycling, running, weightlifting, and team sports. But you shouldn’t just run to the store and pick out a pair of compression shorts at random—finding the right compression shorts for your purposes requires that you pay attention to a few key features.
It’s important to remember that most compression shorts are essentially very tight underwear. This means they should be worn directly on the skin. It also means your preferences for underwear might carry over into what kind of compression shorts would work best for you.
Compression Shorts Length
Compression shorts, like underwear, come in varying leg lengths. This can be a make or break aspect for whether the compression shorts are right for you. Longer legged compression shorts provide compression over a larger area of your thighs while also protecting from chafing during workouts.
However, long-leg compression shorts can be uncomfortable for many and can also result in the wearer getting hotter during exercise. This might be good if you’re working out in colder climates, but it could lead to discomfort. The ideal length for compression shorts is entirely up to your preferences and is something that might require some experimentation to dial in.
Compression Shorts Materials
The most common materials used in compression shorts are polyester and spandex (sometimes called elastane or Lycra). Some compression shorts companies use nylon instead of polyester. Nylon and polyester are fairly similar materials, with nylon tending to be a little warmer and stronger.
The main difference you’ll find in material components of compression shorts is the relative ratio of polyester and nylon to spandex. 85% polyester to 15% spandex is a fairly standard ratio, with a variance of 5% either way. Generally, the higher the spandex percentage is, the stretchier the material is. Stretchy material is good to provide mobility, but too much stretchiness can reduce the compression effect.
Compression Shorts Gender
The gender to which a pair of compression shorts is marketed isn’t an essential consideration, but it’s one that you may want to keep in mind. There aren’t any hard restrictions that require differentiation between these products for men and women, even if some minor changes might make a pair fit slightly better for men than for women, or vice versa. In general, sizing down on a pair of men’s compression shorts should allow them to fit women well, though the reverse isn’t necessarily true due to the different shape that some women’s shorts have.
Compression Shorts Construction
The last key aspect to consider when looking for the best compression shorts for you is how the shorts are constructed and the quality of that construction. Just as what materials the shorts are made of is key, how those materials compress your lower body is equally important.
One of the biggest differences you’ll notice with compression shorts offerings is where the seams are placed. Strategic placement of seams will change the way the compression shorts feel when you wear them while also impacting how they adapt to your body movements. The seams can make wedgies more common or result in chafing depending on your body type and the construction of the compression shorts. Keep an eye on seam placement while going over the compression shorts options.
The Best Compression Shorts 2020
The Neleus Compression Shorts are made with an 85 percent polyester, 15 percent spandex blend. The fabric is machine washable and offers great breathability and quick drying to keep you comfortable throughout your workouts. The HeatGear fabric helps you stay cool while providing sweat-wicking capabilities.
These compression shorts are the ideal thickness for offering strong compression without limiting mobility or decreasing comfort. The seams are sturdy and placed strategically to provide excellent mobility without causing chafing during strenuous activity. Expertly crafted with an 8-inch inseam, these compression shorts provide excellent coverage of the thighs.
The construction of the Neleus compression shorts provides body-hugging comfort and performance-enhancing compression while maintaining its position on your body. The wide waistband and long legs make these some of the best compression shorts for running or cycling on the market, especially when factoring in the cost-effectiveness of this product.
With over a thousand Amazon ratings from satisfied customers, the Neleus Compression Shorts have made their mark as one of the best-reviewed products on the market. Reviewers make a special note of the excellent value provided by these compression shorts for their cost.
The NIKE Pro Women’s Compression Shorts are crafted with an 83 percent polyester, 17 percent spandex blend. These compression shorts utilize Dri-FIT technology for enhanced sweat-wicking during bouts of intense training. The 3-inch inseam provides good thigh coverage while offering excellent mobility. The waistband elastic is made of 67 percent nylon, 22 percent recycled polyester, and 11 percent elastodiene (a spandex alternative) for excellent hip-hugging capabilities.
Crafted to hug the body tightly from all directions, these compression shorts offer ideal support for glutes and upper quads. The seams are intelligently placed to reduce friction and avoid excess chafing during intense movement sessions.
The added mesh inserts provide exceptional breathability for improved comfort even during long workouts. The NIKE Pro Women’s Compression Shorts have a uniquely-designed waistband that can lay flat or be folded over depending on the wearer’s preference.
The NIKE Pro Women’s Compression Shorts have the most Amazon ratings and the highest average review score on our list, making them the stand-out #1 Best Seller in Women’s Sports Compression Shorts. With over 700 ratings, these compression shorts have impressed just about everyone who purchased them.
Unlike other products on this list, the Under Armour HeatGear 2.0 Compression Shorts utilize a three-part blend which consists of 56 percent nylon, 40 percent polyester, and 4 percent elastane (spandex). Nylon is known to provide a stronger and slightly denser final product that provides increased compression at the cost of slightly higher heat retention properties.
Nylon and spandex are very similar in performance, but nylon wins out in terms of tensile strength, which helps to increase the compression qualities of these shorts. Nylon is a less common and slightly more expensive material compared to spandex, contributing to this product’s increased cost compared to most other offerings on our list.
Intelligently crafted, these Under Armour compression shorts have excellent seam placement that provides maximal 360-degree comfort during intense training sessions. The seams running along the inner thigh angle towards the front of the leg to prevent friction while providing top tier slip protectiosn, so your compression shorts always remain comfortable and in place.
With over 500 Amazon reviews and a very high average rating, the Under Armour HeatGear 2.0 Compression Shorts boast the second-highest total review score on our list. Reviewers are especially impressed by the comfort and ventilation provided by these compression shorts.
Tough Mode Apparel’s Womens Compression Shorts are constructed with an 85 percent nylon, 15 percent spandex blended fabric. These compression shorts are soft on the skin while providing great stretch and compression capabilities to help them remain snug and in place during workouts.
While these shorts are offered in various colors and print designs, the plain black ones are the cheapest for those looking for a no-frills offering. The plain black compression shorts don’t even have a logo printed on them, which is nice for those who prefer minimalist sportswear.
The material is thick to provide solid compression while preventing transparency even when stretching the fabric to its limits with high-mobility movements. Designed with a wide, flat waistband, these Tough Mode Compression Shorts stay in place while you stay on the move.
Tough Mode Apparel stands behind the quality of its products by offering a 30-day money-back guarantee. With Prime shipping and free returns, these are the perfect option for giving compression shorts a shot if you’ve never used them before.
With over 600 Amazon ratings and a total review score around four and a half out of 5 stars, the Tough Mode Apparel Women’s Compression Shorts are a time-tested and proven product that’s worth your money. Combine their excellent review score with their money-back guarantee and it’s hard to go wrong with this excellent product.
Made with an 84 percent polyester and 16 percent spandex blend, the Champion Powerflex Compression Shorts are comfortable while also providing solid compression and mobility performance. Utilizing quick-drying Champion Vapor technology, these compression shorts stay dry and cool during rigorous activities.
The material is machine washable and designed to prevent pilling and shrinking. The inside liner is also brushed to provide enhanced smoothness and comfort against your skin.
Designed to keep everything in place comfortably, the Champion Powerflex Compression Shorts provide firm compression. Seams are intelligently located to avoid friction and chafing while making sure that these compression shorts don’t slide out of place, even during intense workouts.
The comfort and performance offered by Champion’s compression shorts make them some of the best compression shorts for weightlifting. The flexibility offered by these shorts provides a great range of motion without sacrificing the undergarment’s ability to remain in place while squatting or even during more complex movements such as cleans.
The Champion Powerflex Compression Shorts have raked in over 2,000 Amazon ratings with a solid average score. Reviewers are most impressed by how comfortable these compression shorts are, even during prolonged high-intensity activities like hiking and Tough Mudder events.
As is common with the more premium compression offerings, the 2XU Men’s Core Compression Shorts are made with nylon instead of polyester and have a 72 percent nylon, 28 percent elastane (spandex) blend. The blend is 2XU’s PWX (Power Weight Flex) signature fabric, which offers supreme compression with a lightweight feel and excellent flexibility.
The material of these 2XU compression shorts also provides UPF 50+ sun protection and antibacterial properties. Employing moisture-wicking technology, these compression shorts remain cool and dry for enhanced comfort during intense training sessions.
The 2XU Men’s Core Compression Shorts are crafted to provide the highest level of compression performance by utilizing graduated compression technology. The seams and waistband are designed to offer excellent compression without creating unnecessary friction and chafing.
Seams running along the sides of these compression shorts allow for enhanced compression and strength. The shorts are designed to remain in place through full ranges of motion and even during explosive movements. These compression shorts are great for training and competition alike thanks to their great performance and superb comfort.
As mentioned above, the 2XU Men’s Core Compression Shorts have some of the highest Amazon ratings on our list. This product doesn’t have the massive following that other products on our list have, but the company has many popular reputable products available for sale, so this isn’t anything to worry about.
The Yogipace Pocketed Women’s Compression Shorts are constructed with compression fabric that offers 4-way stretching capabilities for an excellent, compressive fit that stays in place during workouts.
The material also offers UPF 50+ sun protection, making these a great option for outdoor activities. The fabric also has moisture-wicking properties to keep you cool and dry during intense training sessions.
The material is thick and sturdy while providing pliability to offer excellent mobility and compression at the same time. There are two, deep exterior pockets that are great for things like phones and wallets. There is also a small, interior pocket that can safely secure keys or cards.
The Yogipace Pocketed Women’s Compression Shorts come in 7-inch and 10-inch inseam variations for those with long legs, or those who like to have greater thigh coverage. The seams are intelligently placed to avoid excess friction and provide excellent compression simultaneously. Topped with a wide, elastic waistband that features a drawcord, these ladies’ compression shorts are snug and stay in place throughout long runs or bike rides.
With over 250 Amazon reviews and an average rating that approaches 5 stars, these compression shorts have earned a sizable base of satisfied customers. Reviewers are especially pleased by how well these compression shorts stay in place, as well as the quality and utility of the added pockets.
Constructed with a four-way stretch, dual-mesh fabric, the Shock Doctor Compression Shorts provide firm compression and excellent breathability. Their material provides moisture-wicking capabilities while also being able to stretch and shift with every movement, so that the shorts don’t ride up or cause friction during workouts and competition.
The included Bio-Flex Cup provides ventilation and protection for private parts without restricting mobility thanks to its tapered design. The cup utilizes a gel perimeter to reduce discomfort during intense bouts of activity.
Designed to provide premium ventilation for comfort throughout competition, the Shock Doctor Compression Shorts are a great choice for gameday undergarments. The seam placement is well thought out to provide solid compression without creating excessive friction and chaffing, and the wide waistband keeps these compression shorts neatly situated on your body during play.
The Bio-Flex Cup is capable of absorbing and transferring shock from impacts of up to 100 miles per hour. This makes them great options for sports like baseball, lacrosse, and hockey to provide comfort and protection throughout play. This combo package provides the benefits of a jockstrap and compression shorts in one convenient package.
With thousands of Amazon ratings, the Shock Doctor Compression Shorts have an average score of well over 4 stars. These are ranked as an Amazon Best Sellers in both men’s and boy’s Sports Compression Shorts. Reviewers are especially impressed by the value offered by this combo package of compression shorts and a protective cup.
The Aero Tech Women’s Compression Shorts are made from a blended fabric that has an 84 percent nylon, 16 percent spandex composition. Nylon is a slightly more sturdy and dense material compared to polyester, which gives these shorts stronger compression than most other options.
On the other hand, nylon is also more expensive, and due to the long-legged construction of these compression shorts, material costs drive up its price to make these the most expensive women’s product on our list.
The high-quality materials are stitched well with basic seams that maintain a tight fit. The simple design offers dependability, but these compression shorts lose out on the comfort scale compared to other female compression shorts on our list.
The fabric is put together using a four-way stretch tricot knit that provides excellent compression and flexibility at the same time. The waistband is narrow but provides good support to keep everything in place during workouts.
With nearly 750 Amazon reviews and an average rating of about 4 out of 5 stars, the Aero Tech Women’s Compression Shorts haven’t failed to impress many of its users. Many of the reviewers praise the compression of these shorts for their ability to tighten up loose areas of the thighs.
The NIKE Men’s Pro Shorts are crafted from a 90 percent polyester, 10 percent spandex blend. This is a slightly lower spandex content than standard compression shorts. The result is a pair of compression shorts that are a bit less compressive, but more comfortable than average.
The reduced compression provided by these shorts is likely to be a make or break aspect for many would-be purchasers. Some may be more comfortable in compression shorts that fit a little looser than competitors, but the performance benefits of compression may be lessened as a result.
The excellent seam placement and high-quality materials combine to make these very comfortable compression shorts. They utilize Dri-FIT technology to help keep you dry throughout your training sessions. The 6-inch inseam provides good thigh coverage to prevent chafing.
Over 500 Amazon reviewers have resulted in this product receiving an average score of above 4 stars. While the total score is strong, there are a fair number of 1-star reviews compared to other offerings on our list—but don’t let this dissuade you from purchasing the product. A vast majority of these bad reviews are complaints about receiving inauthentic products, so make sure you purchase these shorts directly from Amazon.
Guide to Buying the Best Compression Shorts
Compression clothing is not a new trend, but it has begun to make a bigger splash in recent years. Part of the reason why these kinds of clothes have become popular is due to the rise in popularity of high-impact exercise routines like CrossFit and other WOD programs.
While there’s no doubt that compression shorts are immensely popular, there is some doubt surrounding what they actually do. Clothing companies have made some pretty bold claims about the benefits of their compression wear, but some of those claims haven’t panned out when put to the test.
Let’s look at what experts and medical professionals have said or demonstrated that compression shorts really do.
What Do Compression Shorts Actually Do?
Compression gear can provide a number of benefits for athletes looking to improve their performance and enhance their enjoyment of training.
Compression Shorts Can Help With Recovery
One of the more well-researched benefits of compression shorts is their ability to aid in recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Most serious athletes have experienced DOMS at some point in their careers, and many people involved in training experience mild to severe DOMS on a fairly regular basis.
According to Jessica Hill’s study on compression gear’s effect on recovery which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, compression shorts have a positive effect on recovery from DOMS (called exercise-induced muscle damage or EIMD in the study).
Furthermore, the study also indicated that compression clothing helped athletes achieve their maximal jump height more quickly after strenuous exercise when compared to no treatment. While regaining your ability to jump might seem trivial to some, the significance of this is the implication of compression clothing’s ability to help you reduce the time between optimal output training sessions.
In an interview with Men’s Health, Hill stated that compression shorts “may increase blood flow to the muscles,” which can aid in the recovery process. This benefit is associated primarily with wearing compression clothing after workouts, but there is no harm in wearing them during exercise. In fact…
Compression Shorts Can Improve Your Running Game
According to this 2017 study, compression sleeves can modify biomechanics (in a nutshell, how your body moves) and reduce the perception of pain in Achilles’ tendons. A separate study from 2016 concluded that runners can “improve variables related to endurance performance (i.e., time to exhaustion) slightly, due to improvements in running economy, biomechanical variables, perception, and muscle temperature” by wearing compression shorts.
Compression Shorts May Improve Proprioception
One of the big benefits offered by compression shorts is the feeling wearers have when using them. Proprioception is a fancy science word that basically describes your internal sense of where your body parts are in relation to the rest of your body even when you can’t see them. As this 2018 study concluded, “compression garments may improve proprioception.”
Many compression clothing wearers claim that they have a better sense of the movements they execute while wearing compression gear. This enhanced sensation may be primarily psychological, but even that effect is meaningful in and of itself.
If you believe and feel like wearing something improves your ability to perform or your enjoyment of training, then that’s reason enough to wear it. After all, no studies have shown that compression clothing presents any danger to users.
This means the answer to the question of whether or not there is a reason to wear compression shorts is “there’s no reason you shouldn’t.”
What About Copper Compression Shorts?
You may have seen ads touting the amazing pain-relieving benefits of copper-infused clothing and compression shorts. Tommie Copper, Inc. was one of the leading companies of this new “breakthrough” in sportswear technology.
While advertisements showed people claiming to no longer need medication or surgeries thanks to Tommie Copper’s clothing, there was no science to back any of it up. The claims were considered so flagrantly unsupported that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charged Tommie Copper with deceptive advertising.
These FTC charges resulted in Tommie Copper paying a $1.35 million settlement while also requiring them to remove all ads and claims of the benefits provided by copper compression shorts that weren’t fully supported by good science.
In short, no, copper clothing doesn’t help with pain or performance.
Now that we’ve cleared up what compression shorts can (and can’t) do, let’s talk about what you should be on the lookout for when shopping for the best compression shorts for you.
Compression Shorts – What to Look For
Earlier in this article, we talked about three primary aspects to consider when hunting down the best compression shorts: length, materials, and construction.
When it comes to length, finding the right fit is more about personal preference than any other factor. Many people prefer longer legs in their compression shorts to prevent inner thigh chafing that can easily occur during strenuous activity, while others prefer the freedom of short-legged shorts.
Chafing is caused by friction when your skin rubs against something. This chafing gets especially bad and can result in painful, unsightly rashes when bare skin covered in sweat rubs against itself or loose garments.
Compression shorts, especially ones with long legs, can prevent your bare skin and your dangly bits from rubbing around. This works due to how tightly the shorts keep everything packed in while covering up any part of your leg that can contact the other leg during exercise. Avoiding chafing is important for your comfort, but also your health, as severe chafing can have some pretty serious complications.
Depending on your build and the specifics of your anatomy, you might have chafing issues in different areas and with different pieces of clothing. Finding compression shorts that will properly address your troublesome chafing regions will go a long way in improving your enjoyment of exercise.
For men, it’s generally considered poor taste to wear most compression shorts as outerwear. This is due, in part, to the fact that men’s compression shorts are thinner and designed as a replacement for underwear. The other reason it’s frowned upon to wear compression shorts and nothing else for men is a simple matter of the anatomical differences between men and women.
This means that style is generally not that important when it comes to finding the right compression shorts for men. Women, on the other hand, often don’t cover up their compression shorts, and as such may want to take into account different style considerations.
As a result, compression shorts for women tend to come in a lot of different styles, colors, and prints. Finding the compression shorts that speak to your personality may be reason enough to branch out to different offerings. Having said that, you could always buy a few different pairs to change up your workout wardrobe from time to time.
Compression shorts are an excellent addition to your exercise gear collection. While they may not have as drastic an impact on your athletic performance as some may claim, there is good science backing up many of their beneficial applications.
Compression shorts can help increase your enjoyment of exercise by providing you with enhanced comfort. The ability for compression shorts to keep everything neatly packed together while also keeping you cool and dry are great reasons on their own to use them during your training sessions.
This list is full of great options, but there are lots of other products out there that may suit you better. Finding the right compression shorts for you is likely going to require a little bit of trial and error. Whether you enjoy running, cycling, wrestling, weightlifting, kayaking, or just going for walks, compression shorts can provide you with enhanced comfort throughout your endeavors.