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: Under Armour Women’s Heatgear Armour Shorty
- Best Value: Nike Women’s Pro Bash Shorts
- Best for Running: CW-X Women’s Muscle Support Endurance Pro Athletic Compression Short
- Best for Cross Training: Tough Mode 3” Compression Shorts
- Best for Recovery: Copper Compression Women’s Shorts
Best Overall: Under Armour Women’s Heatgear Armour Shorty
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 a 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.
Under Armour’s patented HeatGear fabric was designed to keep athletes cool, dry, and light, and these shorts are no exception. They feature elastic closure to keep them in place, moisture-wicking quick-dry material, and anti-odor technology to fight microbes that can make your clothes smell. These shorts come in sizes XS to XXL, making them suitable for a wide range of body types.
Drawbacks: While reviews are mostly positive, some customers have complained that these shorts ride up.
- 87% Polyester/13% Elastane
- Moisture-wicking fabric
- Anti-odor technolog
Best Value: Nike Women’s Pro Bash Shorts
Why they’re great: Nike is one of the most established and well-known brands in the world, with decades of experience producing athletic apparel. Their moisture-wicking Dri-FIT fabric has been keeping customers cool and dry for years, and these shorts are just another in a long line of quality products.
They feature flat-seam construction to prevent chafing, and their curved seams are designed to create a flattering fit. With a 3” inseam and compression fit, these shorts can be used as either an outer or base layer during a wide range of activities. They are available in sizes from XS to XXL.
Drawbacks: Some customers complained that these shorts seemed to run small and ride up.
- 3” inseam
- Moisture-wicking Dri-FIT fabric
- Elastic waistband
Best for Running: CW-X Women’s Muscle Support Endurance Pro Athletic Compression Short
Why they’re great: CW-X was developed at the Human Science Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan in 1991. The company specializes in producing high-quality compression gear designed specifically for running and other endurance activities. Their Stabilyx pants are engineered with CW-X’s patented EXO-WEB technology, mimicking the effect of kinesiology tape while also delivering the benefits of compression on the muscles.
Unlike many other compression shorts on the market, these feature graduated compression, which is specifically designed to optimize blood flow in the muscles. They also have a panel that supports the lower back and abdominals. The 4-way stretch fabric is moisture wicking and designed to keep you cool during your runs. Sizes XS to Large are available.
Drawbacks: While reviews are mostly positive, some customers complained that these shorts caused bulges on their thighs.
- Body: 80% Coolmax/20% Lycra spandex
- Support panel: 80% nylon/20% Lycra spandex
- 10” inseam
- Key pocket
Best for Cross Training: Tough Mode 3” Compression Shorts
Why they’re great: Tough Mode’s 3” compression shorts are a versatile option suitable for wear during a wide range of athletic activities. Whether you’re running, cycling, doing yoga, lifting weights, or playing sports, these shorts will keep you comfortable.
Unlike many other compression shorts on the market that are made of material that can be see through during particular activities or movements (like squats), Tough Mode says this isn’t an issue with their products. They are available in sizes XS to XL.
Drawbacks: Despite the company’s claim, some customers have complained that the shorts are see through.
- 3” inseam
- No printed logo
Best for Recovery: Copper Compression Women’s 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: Some customers have complained that these shorts run a bit large.
- Up to 88% Copper Nylon
- High-waist design
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.