Compression gear has become increasingly popular in the sports and fitness world in recent years. It has been observed to reduce lactic acid levels, increase muscle stability, improve recovery time, reduce cramping, and improve speed and strength results in athletes of all levels.
Compression shorts are one of the key pieces of gear that athletes and fitness enthusiasts use to boost their performance and prevent injuries.
There are a number of things to consider when choosing a pair of compression shorts, including how they fit, the quality of the material, the activity you plan to use them for, and the price.
With that in mind, we made our top picks in five different categories of compression shorts.
- Best Overall: 2XU Men’s Accelerate Compression Shorts
- Best Value: Under Armour Heatgear Shorts
- Best for Running: Wolaco North Moore Short
- Best for Cross Training: CompressionZ Men’s Compression Shorts
- Best for Recovery: Copper Compression Recovery Shorts
Best Overall: 2XU Men’s Accelerate Compression Shorts
Why they’re great:
2XU is a reliable brand for all compression clothing needs, and their compression bottoms are no exception. Started by a professional triathlete, 2XU was created to offer high quality, scientifically-backed compression gear to optimize performance, prevent injury, and improve recovery.
Durable, comfortable, and versatile, these shorts are an excellent pick for just about any activity and body type. They can be used for running, training, and sports. Accelerate Compression Shorts come in sizes XS to XXXL, accommodating men from 4’ 11” to 6’ 11” and 88 to 310 pounds. Choose from solid black or check our their print collection for a variety of colors and patterns.
Drawbacks: It’s difficult to find any negative comments about this solid pair of shorts, but the one major drawback is the price. At nearly $60 a pair, these are the most expensive shorts on the list.
- Compression support to adductor, glute, quad, and hamstring muscles to reduce muscle vibration
- Lightweight flex compression front and back panels
- Antibacterial and UPF50+ sun protection
- Moisture-wicking yarns to help keep you dry
Best Value: Under Armour Heatgear Shorts
Why they’re great: Under Armour has been a reliable name in athletic wear for nearly 20 years. Tired of wearing uncomfortable, sweat covered shirts under his jersey, college football player, Kevin Plank, founded the company to produce shirts made of moisture-wicking fabric that would eventually be mimicked across the entire fitness clothing market. Today, Under Armour offers an extensive line of premium clothing for athletes of all stripes.
At half the price of 2XU’s men’s compression shorts, these are a fantastic choice for anyone in need of reliable compression shorts for any activity. Under Armour’s patented Heatgear fabric was designed to keep athletes cool, dry, and light and these shorts deliver. With sizes XS to 5XL, just about anyone can enjoy the benefits these shorts offer.
Drawbacks: The most common complaint about these shorts is sizing. Some customers have had trouble finding the proper fit when it comes to both compression and length. For this reason, if you’re buying your first pair, it may be beneficial to order more than one size or visit a retailer to be sure the fit is right for you.
- Compression: Ultra-tight, second-skin fit for a locked-in feel.
Ergonomicdesign keeps seams off high abrasion areas & increases durability
- Anti-odor technology prevents the growth of odor-causing microbes
- Wider, 2″ Engineered elastic waistband
Best for Running: Wolaco North Moore Short
Why they’re great: Another company born of necessity, Wolaco’s founder set out to find a better way to carry his keys and cell phone during his workout. Wolaco’s North Moore Short was the first product developed. Founder Terry White launched the product on Kickstarter and received 400% funding in less than 48 hours.
It’s easy to see why this product had such enthusiastic backing. The shorts successfully solve the storage problem by including two secure, water resistant pockets to keep your personal items safe and stable, while never sacrificing the quality of their compression technology. They are highly durable, comfortable, fit great, and provide the right amount of compression where you need it. Their pockets make them our favorite pick for runners, but their quality means any athlete would benefit from these shorts during a workout.
Drawbacks: The most common complaint about these shorts is that larger smartphones or phones with bulky protective cases can be difficult to fit into the pockets.
- Moisture-wicking waistband
- Two sweat-proof, jostle-free pockets
- Comes in both 9” and 6” in-seam
- 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex.
Best for Cross Training: CompressionZ Men’s Compression Shorts
Why they’re great: CompressionZ was founded with the mission of creating high-quality, affordable compression gear. They developed a patented fabric blend designed to feel smooth and comfortable while providing the right level of compression in the right places. Unlike most athletic wear companies, CompressionZ offers just one expertly crafted compression product in each clothing category.
Their compression shorts are comfortable and breathable while offering true compression technology, not just a tight fit. Their anti-itch material and anti-chafing design mean they will keep you at peak performance no matter how long or intense your workout is. Whether you’re doing CrossFit, completing an obstacle race, or just hitting the gym after work, these shorts are all you need to keep your muscles comfortable and secure.
Drawbacks: While this is not a true negative, if you’re new to compression, sizing can be difficult to lockdown. These shorts are not designed to simply fit tightly. Many who are unfamiliar with the true feel of compression wear may size up when the shorts are difficult to get on. Be sure to check the sizing guide based on your measurements and consider your personal compression level preference.
- Breathable and comfortable anti-itch material
- Durable material that retains shape after multiple washes
- Antibacterial material to reduce odor
Best for Recovery: Copper Compression Recovery Shorts
Why they’re great: Copper Compression is one of only a few companies that produces copper infused compression gear. While there is not a wide berth of evidence available regarding the benefits of including copper in athletic wear, Copper Compression claims the copper in their products is has natural anti-microbial qualities that keep you cleaner and dryer longer.
Copper or not, though, these recovery shorts are a great deal. They offer high quality, comfortable compression that supports sore muscles and joints and helps you recover faster. The fabric is breathable and durable, maintaining its shape and strength, no matter how many times you wear or wash your shorts. What’s more, Copper Compression offers a 100% money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied with the results of their product.
Drawbacks: While most people find these shorts a great choice for both workouts and recovery, some have expressed inconsistency in sizing. In some cases, they can run large, resulting in the waistband slipping down during more intense workouts. Because they do not offer a sizing chart for all of their products, it can be difficult to know how to order. But, thanks to their 30-day money-back guarantee, it’s easy to return or exchange if you aren’t completely satisfied.
- Up to 88% Copper Nylon
- Sizes S through XL
How did we choose these shorts?
With the enormous number of options available in the compression gear category, choosing the best products can be extremely challenging. To put together this list, we looked at a number of important factors including the type of compression, the quality of the material, the specific use and associated benefits, and the cost.
Beyond those criteria, we also researched brands, their approach to compression wear, and their reputation with customers. We looked not only at how the product was designed and marketed, but how it performs for real people. We analyzed product reviews from across the web to find both positive and negative trends until we were confident that each product selected will effectively serve the needs of our readers.
What to consider when choosing compression shorts for yourself
Our recommendations will hopefully serve as a useful
- Do you mostly do cardio or strength training?
- If you are a runner, how often and how far do you typically run?
- For sports like basketball or soccer, how often do you play and at what level?
- Do you generally perform your activities inside or outside?
- Do you workout or play in cold weather or warm weather?
The answers to these questions will help you determine what type of compression shorts are best for you. For runners, graduated compression, more durable material, and compartments to store keys or cell phones are useful components. Those who prefer strength training may benefit more from targeted compression that supports the muscle groups being used most.
What are the benefits of compression shorts?
Compression shorts offer a number of benefits both during and after workouts. While the direct performance benefits of compression
The recovery benefits of compression work in two ways – short-term and long-term – both of which also indirectly impact performance. These benefits are the result of the improved circulation and increased blood flow provided by compression clothing.
- When worn during workouts, compression produces short-term results by more efficiently removing lactic acid from the muscles. Lactic acid build up is what causes you to feel that familiar burn when stretching your muscles to their limit. By speeding the movement of oxygen to the muscles and lactic acid away from them, compression allows you to bounce back more quickly between sets and reach your goals faster.
- When worn during and after a workout, compression eliminates or reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the result of inflammation caused by tiny tears in our muscles. While the repair of these tears is, in part, responsible for muscle growth, DOMS can leave us immobilized in the days following a tough workout. By enhancing the movement of oxygen and other anti-inflammatory agents to the muscles, compression helps muscles heal faster, reducing pain so you can get back to the gym or on the road sooner.
What is Compression Gear?
At the most basic level, compression gear is a category of clothing and other accessories designed to fit tightly around the skin.
Compression gear has a wide variety of applications including, medical, fitness, and personal uses such as fashion and travel. It continues to grow in popularity as athletes, doctors, patients, and regular people find more creative ways to benefit from these products.
Check out our What is Compression Gear? article to get a bigger picture of how compression work, its many benefits, and the role it plays in Fitness, Health, Travel, and Fashion.