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The Best Workout Shorts for Women

You probably have a variety of different workout shorts in your closet, but are they really the best ones for the types of exercise you do? Not all exercise shorts are suitable for every kind of workout, so it’s important to find different pairs that are ideal for particular physical activities. Running shorts won’t be ideal for yoga or pilates, for example, as they’re a little more restrictive than the ideal biker shorts, leggings or flowy yoga pants. You’ll want a pair that’s breathable when you’re working up a sweat, and also roomy enough to allow for free movement. Take a look at our top 5 picks from Amazon that include some well-known brands that you know and trust, as well as duplicates from more expensive retailers. You don’t have to break the bank to invest in high quality shorts that’ll be the best companion for your high or low-intensity workouts.


Buyer’s Guide: Things to Look For



Comfort, Fit and Style

It goes without saying that your workout shorts have to be comfortable – they should be versatile enough to take you from low to high intensity workouts with ease. But what about the fit? And which style of shorts is best suited for which kind of physical activity? Personally, I prefer tight-fitting workout shorts for almost every exercise. Yoga, pilates, running – you name it. Biker shorts are my go-to, and they can also be stylish enough to be worn while out and about. Workout shorts come in different lengths, too, so keep this in mind if you prefer shorter lengths or a bit more coverage. Whether you like wearing biker shorts or loose-fitting jogging shorts (like our Under Armour and Nike recommendations below), there are tons of different fits and styles available.


Material and Breathability

It’s important to purchase exercise shorts that are going to be breathable – the last thing you want is to overheat and become a sweaty mess during your workout. This goes hand in hand with comfort and fit. Each of our recommendations are made of either 100% polyester or polyester/spandex combinations, which are the most common for any style of workout shorts. When deciding which ones will be the best fit for you, keep an eye out for statements like “sweat-wicking”, “moisture-wicking” or “sweat-resistant”, as these will often be made of the most breathable and cooling fabrics.


Durability: Are They Squat-Proof?

Do you incorporate squats as part of your regular workout routine? If so, investing in workout shorts that are “squat-proof” may be worth considering. If a pair of shorts or leggings are “squat-proof”, this simply means that the material won’t burst at the seams when you’re mid-squat. Yes, this can definitely happen in the glute area, and you don’t want to be caught with a pair of split shorts in the middle of your workout. To avoid this, go for materials that are durable and well-made, particularly at the seams. Thicker materials can still be moisture-wicking and perfect for physical exercise, so consider squat-proof shorts if you’re concerned about having a wardrobe malfunction at the gym.


Maintenance and Care

While most women’s workout shorts will be made of materials that are machine washable, it’s always important to check the manufacturer instructions to best take care of your shorts. The safest bet is to wash yours either separately or with like colors, and on a gentle, cold cycle. You can either toss them in the dryer (usually, but always check first!) or hang dry your shorts to prolong their lifespan. If you wear your workout shorts during heavy exercise, it’s likely that you’ll need to wash them frequently. It’s important to do this correctly to avoid any pilling or premature wear and tear.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of women’s shorts are best for the gym?
A: This will vary depending on which exercise you plan to do and your comfort needs. You might opt for tight, polyester/spandex bike shorts for yoga, cycling or weight training, but more loose-fitting shorts for running, hiking or playing sports such as basketball. You’ll likely have a variety of workout shorts that you bring out for different forms of exercise.
Q: Do you need to wear underwear with women’s workout shorts?
A: Many workout shorts for women have built-in underwear so you don’t have to wear any, but this is completely up to you and your comfort preferences. Keep in mind that you’ll have to wash your shorts after each wear if you go without underwear, so you can put on a pair to avoid frequent washing.
Q: Do workout shorts need to be squat-proof?
A: If you plan to do weight training incorporating squats, it’s important to invest in workout shorts that are squat-proof (i.e., they won’t split at the seams when performing squats). However, this isn’t essential if you don’t include squats or deep lunges in your workout routine.

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Editor’s Choice – BALEAF Women’s High Waist Biker Shorts

Rating: 95%

Top 5 Best Workout Shorts for Women








Editor's Choice
Editor’s Choice – BALEAF Women’s High Waist Biker Shorts

87% Polyester, 13% Spandex



Runner Up – CRZ YOGA Women’s Naked Feeling Workout Shorts

71% Polyamide, 29% Spandex



Customer’s Choice – Under Armour Women’s Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

100% Polyester


100+ To Choose From

Best Classic Brand – Nike Women’s Pro 3" Shorts




Best Breathable – Nike Women’s Dry 10K Running Shorts

100% Polyester

Xs-3xl Tall

5 Incl. Black, Gray And Pink Combinations

1. Editor’s Choice – BALEAF Women’s High Waist Biker Shorts

It doesn’t get more versatile than high-waisted biker shorts that come in 3 inseam lengths and 37 colors to choose from. These workout shorts from BALEAF are a #1 Best Seller on Amazon for a reason, and finally you don’t have to spend upwards of $100 on a simple pair of workout shorts from expensive retailers. With 2 pockets on each side to hold your phone and keys – plus a larger hidden pocket on the inside waist – these shorts are perfect for any kind of workout.

BALEAF offers sizes ranging from XS to 3XL, so these will be suitable for both petite and plus-size women. No matter which color you choose, these polyester and spandex shorts aren’t see-through, yet are still super breathable and wick away sweat. The unrestrictive gusseted crotch allows for free movement to perform at your best during low and high intensity exercises. At a super affordable price, you can pick up these staple biker shorts in many different colors and styles. 


Comes in 3 inseam lengths, 37 colors and styles
3 pockets to fit your valuables while on the go
Moisture-resistant polyester/spandex combination


Visible branding on the back may not be preferable for some

2. Runner Up – CRZ YOGA Women’s Naked Feeling Workout Shorts

Bike shorts come in all shapes, lengths and styles, but some of the most popular are the 3-4” inseam biker shorts – like this pair from CRZ YOGA. The polyamide and spandex combination makes for the perfect workout companion. They’re stretchy enough to allow free movement, they’re squat-proof (which I touched on in our buyer’s guide above) and are perfect for those high-intensity, sweaty workouts when you need a breathable outfit.

You get your pick of 44 colors and 3 inseam lengths to choose from (3”, 4” and 6”), and sizes range from XXS all the way to XL. My favorite of the bunch is the 4” length in the color Melanite (pictured), as it’s the perfect alternative to standard black and offers a nice silvery shine. Pair these shorts with your favorite supportive sports bra and you’ll be set for any kind of workout.


Comfy and stretchy fabric, perfect for yoga, cycling or weight training
44 color options
3 inseam lengths to choose from


Some colors aren’t available – check your size first before selecting a color

3. Customer’s Choice – Under Armour Women’s Fly By 2.0 Running Shorts

If you’re in the market for breathable and comfortable running shorts, Under Armour delivers with the Women’s Fly By 2.0s. You can’t go wrong with a classic gray pair, but if you’re after something different there are over 100 styles and designs to choose from. This is by far the most variety we’ve seen on our list, and given that these shorts are super affordable, you can mix and match by picking up a few styles if you can’t decide on one. 

They’re made of 100% polyester and have mesh panels on each leg for extra breathability, which is a must for running shorts. The lightweight polyester will wick away sweat while you’re working out so you never feel restricted or uncomfortable. I always swear by brands that I know and trust, and since Under Armour is a well-known athletic brand that’s been around for years, you know you’ll be getting top quality every time.

The one downside that may not be to everyone’s liking is the cut of the shorts. They’re classified as mid to low rise, so keep this in mind if you only wear high-rise as it’s the most comfortable and flattering for your shape.


The most color options on our list (over 100 to choose from)
Loose fitting, great for running
Lightweight fabric wicks away sweat


Mid-rise waist may not be as comfortable to those who prefer high-rise shorts

4. Best Classic Brand – Nike Women’s Pro 3" Shorts

It wouldn’t be a roundup of the best workout shorts without a pair of the classic Nike Pros. These 3″ shorts have been around for years and are versatile enough for all kinds of workouts. You’ve probably seen both men and women sporting them while out for a run or training in the gym. The sizes include XS all the way to XXL to cater to women of different shapes and sizes. Nike incorporates their trademark Dri-FIT technology which evaporates sweat from the body and allows you to move freely and comfortably during any workout. 

Keep in mind that these are the 3″ version of the Nike Pro, and they may be a little on the shorter side for women who aren’t comfortable being so exposed. Much like the Under Armour shorts above, the elastic waistband is tight fitting and not so flattering on every body shape. If you have an athletic build and don’t mind showing off your midriff and thighs, these will be perfect for you. But not all of us have washboard abs and will be comfortable wearing them as is – which is why they’re a great option to wear as bloomers under a tennis, cheerleading or other athletic skirt.


Nike’s Dri-FIT technology is designed to wick away moisture
Versatile for many different workouts
Gusseted crotch for extra freedom to move around comfortably
Can double as bloomers to wear under skirts


Waistband isn’t as flattering for every shape, elastic may dig into the waist and accentuate any lumps or bumps
Mostly neutral colors only – not as much variety as others on our list

5. Best Breathable – Nike Women’s Dry 10K Running Shorts

One of the most lightweight and breathable shorts you can find are the Nike Women’s Dry 10K Running Shorts. They’re made of 100% polyester and keep you cool during workouts of any physical intensity. Similar to the Under Armour shorts we reviewed above, Nike includes mesh inserts on each side to further enhance breathability – a huge plus when you’re working up a sweat! You never want your shorts sticking to your skin while sweating it out, and you won’t have that issue with the Nike Dry 10Ks. 

You can pick these up in 5 styles and colors which include Black/White/Dark Grey/Wolf Grey; Black; Gunsmoke/Atmosphere Grey/Wolf Grey; Arch Pink/Bronze (pictured) and lastly, Arch Pink/Wolf Grey Heather. While these may seem like a ton of combinations to choose from, there are only 5 pairs (which is far less than others on our list). But if you’re happy with classic black, white or gray styles, you can’t go wrong with the Nike Dry 10K shorts.


Inclusive size variety, ranges from XS-3XL Tall
Breathable mesh inserts wick away sweat from the body
Cooling and comfortable design


Fewest color options on our list