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The Best Women’s Gym Shorts

Women doing pistol squats
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Call us optimistic, but as soon as temperatures start to rise, we’re thinking about switching our go-to leggings(opens in new tab) for a pair of breezy gym shorts. Whether you’re gagging to get back to group exercise classes or getting excited about al fresco workouts, if you like your sessions sweaty, shorts are non-negotiable.

But, much like shopping for jeans and swimwear finding the perfect pair of workout shorts can be a minefield. How short is too short? Should you go two-in-one or cycling style? Do they pass the squat test? And, the dealbreaker, are they going to ride up mid-sesh and chafe your thighs? So many questions.

Fear not, we’ve done the legwork (sorry) for you and picked out the best women’s gym shorts to shop now for running, weight training, yoga and more.

To round out your workout wardrobe, shop the best women’s gym wear including the best gym leggings, best women’s gym tops, best high-impact sports bras and best gym trainers. And of course, you’ll want to carry your kit in one of the best gym bags for women.

The Best Women’s Gym Shorts

The North Face Women's Flight Series Stridelight 2-In-1 Shorts

(Image credit: The North Face)

The North Face Flight Series Stridelight 2-In-1

A high-performing pair with supportive inner pants and serious breathability

Specifications

RRP: £80
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Tie waistband 
+
Thick, comfortable inner pants
+
Hidden zip pocket

Reasons to avoid

-
Not that much give in the waistband

In true North Face style, these contain all the tech needed to ensure you stay comfortable and dry while exercising. The FlashDry fabric is moisture-wicking so there’s less damp-shorts drama, plus the outer shorts – upon close inspection – are perforated, making them extra breathable.

The inner pants are thicker and supportive than most, making them some of the best we’ve come across. In fact, if you felt comfortable doing so, you could go without underwear and there’d be no risky exposures while in the gym.

The waistband is thick and although it’s not particularly stretchy, it’s still comfy and has a discreet tie-cord waistband. A hidden zip pocket in the back is ideal for storing little items, plus there’s a larger mesh pocket on top. Although slightly more expensive than most pairs of shorts, the technical features and fit impress.


Contur Newfound Shorts

(Image credit: Contur )

Contur Newfound

Sleek, well-fitting shorts available in a range of colours

Specifications

RRP: £39.90
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek and shiny 
+
High waist
+
Several colours

Reasons to avoid

-
Waistband is pretty tight

There are plenty of attractive hues in the seven choices available, but we fell in love with the bright-blue shade called petrol. The comfortable fit and supportive high waistband make these shorts suitable for all gym-based workouts. They offer impressive coverage when squatting and don’t wrinkle, crease or move around during HIIT workouts. Instead, the smooth, almost wet-look fabric stays put. This fabric also contains UV sun protection to help guard your skin against damage during outdoor workouts.


Lorna Jane Trackside Phone Pocket Bike Short

(Image credit: Lorna Jane )

Lorna Jane Trackside

A brilliant combo of chic and soft

Specifications

RRP: £65
Sizing: XXS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Useful phone pocket down the leg
+
High waistband for good coverage

Reasons to avoid

-
Lighter colour does show crotch sweat

This fashionable pair work well as daywear and while light-coloured tight shorts can be risky, we can report these are camel-toe free! The fabric is thick and feels delightfully soft, even after a wash. The phone pocket on the side of the leg is handy and means your phone is always by your side, quite literally. We did think the phone pocket might cause the shorts to slip down, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. It might be a different story if you wear them running, but for our gym workouts, it was a welcome addition.


Pour Moi Energy Gym Shorts

(Image credit: Pour Moi)

Pour Moi Energy

Quality black shorts elevated with summery florals

Specifications

RRP: £15.40
Sizing: 8-18

Reasons to buy

+
Pretty floral design 
+
Relatively affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
No inner pants 

These plain black shorts have gorgeous floral panelling down the side of the leg. Although these don’t have inner pants, they don’t gape excessively; still, they might not be the best shorts to wear for hip thrusts.

The two side pockets are useful to carry odd bits in, and the thin waistband doesn’t dig in and can be worn at any height you please. We wore ours a little higher for extra tummy coverage and found the shorts practical for all types of exercise. Wear them a little lower when squatting to avoid exposing any bum cheek.


Under Armour Play Up 3.0 shorts

(Image credit: Under Armour)

Under Armour Play Up 3.0

An affordable, practical pair that suit all styles of workout

Specifications

RRP: £18.90
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Roomy without being too baggy
+
Side pockets 
+
Comfortable inner pants

Reasons to avoid

-
No way of tightening the waistband

Although described as running shorts, we’ve worn these for both resistance and HIIT workouts, and can confirm they were perfectly suitable. There are side pockets, although no zips, and the inner pants are really comfortable and don’t rub or itch. The shape means they can sit comfortably either higher up the stomach or on the hips. 


Nike Air Dri-Fit Fast 7in Mid-Rise shorts

(Image credit: Nike)

Nike Air Dri-Fit Fast 7in Mid-Rise

Best for an unmoving waistband

Specifications

RRP: £39.95
Sizing: XS-L

Reasons to buy

+
Large waistband pocket
+
Pretty design 

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be a squeeze to get on

The first thing that stands out with these Nike shorts is the pretty abstract print which means they can easily work as daywear on hot days, and the bonus is that the pattern keeps sweat patches well hidden. They are a little tough to get on because the thick waistband doesn’t have that much give; however, when they’re on they don’t budge, avoiding the danger of camel toe or wedgies, and they sit at a comfortable level on the stomach. The waistband has a built-in zip pocket, plus there’s a small pocket down the leg which can fit a phone.


WIT High Rise Shorts

(Image credit: WIT )

WIT High Rise Shorts

Best for squatting

Specifications

RRP: £47.50
Sizing: XS-L

Reasons to buy

+
Totally squat-proof 
+
High-waisted 
+
Super-soft

Reasons to avoid

-
May be too short for some

If it’s short shorts you’re after, these little WIT numbers are for you. We wore these for a tough leg day workout – squats, lunges, hip thrusts… you name it, we did it – and had a friend keep an eye out to catch any see-through moments and there were none! Made with an opaque knit, these offer full coverage and a high waist that provides excellent support. They’re also super-stretchy, so we were able to move freely. 


Nike Air Dri-Fit Fast 7in Mid-Rise Running Shorts

(Image credit: Nike)

Nike Pro 365 Shorts

A gym wardrobe staple that can handle any workout

Specifications

RRP: £27.95
Sizing: XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth fabric 
+
No camel toe 
+
Short with just enough cover

Reasons to avoid

-
If you want a high waist, avoid 
-
Relatively thin 
-
Very short 

These great shorts will fit the bill for most activities, from gym-based exercises through to running and cycling. The fabric is a little thin, but we didn’t experience any see-through issues when squatting and although they’re short, we can confirm that our bum cheeks stayed covered. 

If you’re a fan of a thicker waistband, then these might not be to your liking, but they’re still tight and supportive, even with a thinner band. These also wash well and never lose their shape. 


MP Women’s Velocity Seamless Cycling Shorts

(Image credit: MP)

MP Women’s Velocity Seamless Cycling Shorts

Pretty ombre shorts that keep everything tucked in

Specifications

RRP: £38
Sizing: XXS-XXL

Reasons to buy

+
Very high-waisted 
+
No seams so no chafing
+
Handy key pocket in the waistband

Reasons to avoid

-
Very tight-fitting – you may need to size up

These aren’t just great for the gym – the ombre design makes them great for day-to-day wear too. The extra-high waistband keeps everything tucked in and the high waist is so thick that it even comes with a small zip pocket that’s ideal for keys or a card. Plus, the fact there are no seams means no chafing.

One thing to consider, though, is the tight fit. These are incredibly close-fitting, and although they may stretch in time, it may be worth ordering a size up.


Adidas Marathon shorts

(Image credit: Adidas)

Adidas Marathon Shorts

A more affordable pair with a classic design that’s suitable for all workouts

Specifications

RRP: £23
Sizing: 2XS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Not restrictive
+
Comfortable inner pants
+
Fashionable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Might gape a little too much for some 

Everyone needs a pair of staple black gym shorts, and these are ideal for runs as well as gym workouts. They aren’t too tight-fitting and the waistband has plenty of give as well as a tie which can tighten or loosen the shorts.

Although they are baggy (which helps avoid chafing and makes them more breathable) these come with inner pants so you can rest assured that you won’t be exposed. A very well hidden inner pocket is also built in.


PE Nation Gravity Short

(Image credit: PE Nation)

PE Nation Gravity Short

A payday treat with a colourful design that’s summer-ready

Specifications

RRP: £82
Sizing: XXS-XXXL

Reasons to buy

+
Mid-rise shorts 
+
Hidden pocket on the inner 
+
Tie waistband 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

PE Nation’s shorts will set you back a fair bit, but they’re thick and of superb quality, comprising a comfortable tight pair of inner cycling shorts covered by a looser pair of mesh shorts. These shorts have actually been created for tennis, with a mesh pocket that’s ideal for holding a spare tennis ball, but we found they were brilliant for gym workouts. The waistband is thick with a drawcord, and who doesn’t need to loosen their shorts on days when feeling a little bloated? The colour also stands out, without being garish. We’re big fans!


Pocket Sport Claude Shorts

(Image credit: Pocket Sport)

Pocket Sport Claude Shorts

Longer shorts that offer extra coverage and won’t slip

Specifications

RRP: £48
Sizing: XXS-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Handy hidden pocket 
+
A little longer on the leg
+
Waistband gripper so no falling down 

Reasons to avoid

-
Lighter colours show sweat

These cycling-style shorts are a little longer on the leg than most and the nine-strong range of colours is brilliant – the deep burgundy fig’s our fave. There’s also a built-in waistband gripper that removes any risk of them slipping down when exercising. 

As well as gym-based workouts, these are great for running. An inner pocket is handy and the stretchy fabric is flattering without being too tight. We also found them easy to get on and off, where some similar styles can be quite tough to pull on.

Lucy is a freelance journalist, and former health and fitness editor across various UK women’s magazines. She is also a level 3 personal trainer and is trained in pre- and post-natal fitness.