Are Running Shorts Good For Working Out at The Gym?

Running shorts are probably one of the most comfortable athletic wear. It’s very light, breathable, and quick-drying. But is it good for working out at the gym?

I tried doing it with the most common gym exercises that requires short performance from squats to deadlifts to cleans and snatches. Here’s what I concluded.

Running shorts can be used for working out at the gym and they perform well for any type of workout like squats, cleans, and lunges. In addition, it has a light and breathable moisture-wicking fabric that increases overall comfort.

In this article, we will compare running shorts from gym shorts as well as look at how running shorts perform when doing common gym workouts. 

Running shorts vs. gym shorts: What’s the difference?

Running shorts vs gym shorts

Running shorts are usually shorter and are made of light, moisture-wicking fabric. The whole idea behind running shorts performance is that it has to be light, breathable, provides a wide range of motion, and is chafe-free. These features are necessary to provide comfort for the runner. 

There are 4 common types of running shorts, V-notch, split, 2-in-1, and compression shorts which are almost always made with polyester, or nylon with some elastane. 

Gym shorts, on the other hand, don’t necessarily have to be made with light and moisture-wicking fabric.

As long as they’re stretchable and comfortable, they can be a gym short. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that running shorts are automatically superior to all types of gym shorts. There are some high-quality gym shorts that feel great for both gym workouts and running.

An example of this type of shorts is the ones commonly used in CrossFit. These are made with high-quality, moisture-wicking fabric (polyester and elastane) that is breathable and light. You can check them out on Amazon.

(Related: Do Running Shorts Make a Difference In Running?)

How Running Shorts Performs While Doing The Most Common Gym Workouts

To know how running shorts perform with different types of workouts, I wore 4” 2-in-1 running shorts made of 100% polyester and 4’’ V-notch shorts made of Nylon for a week and performed all the exercises listed below at least once using each type of shorts. 

Why polyester and nylon? As I mentioned earlier, most running shorts are predominantly made with these two fabrics, making it the ideal type of fabric for this experiment. 

By the way, I’m using Lixada 2-in-1 shorts which I highly recommend. Aside from being a good pair of running shorts, they are also very affordable. You can check them out on Amazon.

Leg Workouts (Squat, Deadlifts, Lunges, Step-Ups)

Both running shorts performed well when I was doing leg workouts. I haven’t noticed any limitation on the range of motion.

However, I do like to point out that initially, the lining on the 2-in-1 shorts (which is like a compression short but thinner) feels like it’s gonna rip when I go wide with my stance and deep with my squats. 

I did find a solution, though. I pulled the lining up so that it’s tighter on the crotch area. Once I did that, the problem was solved. 

Olympic Weightlifting (Snatch and Cleans) 

Squat cleans

Running shorts work decently with Olympic lifts. Even in deep catches. 

However, if you’re not too proficient with the cleans, the bar might rub your thigh when you’re wearing short-length unlined shorts. This can result in discomfort and irritation in your thigh after doing many repetitions. 

Another problem that could also arise is having holes on the lining of your lined shorts that results from the rubbing of the bar to your thigh when doing cleans. Because linings are usually thinner than compression shorts, they get damaged faster.

Other than that, running shorts are okay for weightlifting. However, I’d prefer compression shorts or longer shorts for cleans.

(Related: Why are Running Shorts so Short? A Guide to Running Short Lengths)

Yoga/Vigorous stretching

Running shorts offer a wide range of motion making them great clothing for yoga and other vigorous stretches. 

Just be careful with unlined running shorts that are short in length. They could expose your underwear in certain poses.

CrossFit and HIIT

I love doing CrossFit and HIIT workouts in running shorts and here’s why:

Running shorts are light, cool, and quick-drying making them comfortable for workouts that make you move a lot and sweat a lot. 

Breathable shorts help cool down your body which could potentially lead to better performance. 

Aside from that, the constant changing of movement requires versatile running shorts which is exactly what running shorts are. 

I can jump, run and lift using running shorts without worrying about the limitation of the range of discomfort from the heat and heaviness of the cotton fabric. 

Overall, running shorts did a really fine job tackling some of the most common exercises in the gym. Not that I did not include upper body workouts because there’s no need for them when tackling running shorts. 

Advantages of Running Shorts Vs. Cotton Gym Shorts

  • Lighter
  • Wicks away moisture
  • More breathable 
  • Dries quickly after a workout
  • You’ll generally feel more cool and comfy while wearing them when working out

I’m comparing it only to cotton gym shorts because technically, gym shorts made of polyester, nylon, or any moisture-wicking material will work the same way with running shorts. They may just be a little longer or may lose some features like back pockets and slits but they will almost feel the same.

The Wrap Up

Running shorts are a very versatile type of athletic shorts. They are very light, breathable, and quick-drying which is ideal for doing all types of exercises. 

Therefore, if you have a pair of running shorts at home and you’re thinking about using them to do gym workouts, go ahead. Running shorts are good for any type of gym workout. 

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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