Are Running Shorts Good for Working Out? (Pros and Cons)

While most companies today want to sell you a new set of apparel for every specific task, most of us know that some of it can serve multiple purposes. When it comes to running shorts specifically, you may be wondering if there are limits to their use. In particular, you might be tempted to rep a pair of these shorts to the gym. But are running shorts good for working out?

Running shorts make a great alternative for workout attire. However, certain running shorts, such as split-leg or compression running shorts, won’t offer appropriate coverage for gym use. If you’re planning on wearing running shorts to the gym, the ideal length should be at least 5 inches long, and it should provide enough coverage for all movements, such as squatting and lifting.

Keep reading and find out the best uses for running shorts in a fitness context. 

Can I wear running shorts for working out?

man working out with ropes

Specific types of exercises, such as squats or leg presses, may not be appropriate while wearing specific types of running shorts. Split-leg running shorts, for example, may cause some wardrobe malfunctions (this will be covered later in this article). Below you will find a list of exercises you might feel comfortable completing while wearing running shorts at the gym.

  • Treadmill Running
  • Exercise Bike
  • Elliptical Machine
  • Rowing Machine
  • Dumbbell Lifts
  • Bench Press
  • Weighted Lunges

Treadmill Running

Obviously, running on a treadmill is the perfect gym activity for running shorts, as it is the very task the shorts were created to do. 

Exercise Bike

Like running on a treadmill, this form of gym cardio will likely benefit from the increased range of motion offered by running shorts. 

Elliptical Machine

Similarly, the Elliptical machine requires similar movements to running. Running shorts are made from materials that perform well under the friction and stress of this particular movement, making them an ideal activewear for this specific exercise. 

Rowing Machine

Like the exercise bike, the rowing machine requires shorts that allow more mobility in the upper thigh and hips. Running shorts should serve you well in this movement. 

Dumbbell Lifts

Various dumbbell movements such as upright rows, bicep curls, and flies should not be negatively impacted by wearing running shorts to the gym. This really goes for just about any upper-body lift. 

Bench Press

Another upper body lift, using running shorts should not impact your comfort or ability to perform this lift. 

Weighted Lunges

Unlike the upper body lifts previously mentioned, choosing to wear running shorts may actually impact your weighted lunge performance since the short length of running shorts will give you an increased range of motion. Basically, the relative depth of your lunge should increase because the upper thigh will be unimpeded by your apparel.

Are running shorts good for squatting?

man squatting with a barbell

The answer to this question really depends on the running shorts you have. There are at least three different variations of running shorts: split-leg running shorts, V-notch running shorts, and compression running shorts.

Of these three types of shorts, split-leg shorts will be the least compatible with squatting. This is because your upper leg will be too exposed as you reach the bottom of your squat movement. While it won’t necessarily cause any discomfort for the squatter, everyone else in the gym might get a view of human anatomy that they didn’t sign up for! 

A similar problem could occur with compression running shorts, which, though they cover everything, will leave little to the imagination for those around the person squatting. If this concerns you, avoiding these two types of running shorts might be best. 

On the other hand, V-notch running shorts should be fine in most cases. You will always want to check the material’s flexibility before attempting to squat in any shorts; some v-notch shorts might be made with a somewhat inflexible polyester material that can inhibit the range of motion in your squat. Otherwise, this running shorts should cause no problems in the gym.

Is it better to work out in running shorts or joggers?

Whether it is better to work out in running shorts or joggers depends on several factors, including the type of activity you are participating in, your personal style preferences, and the weather. Running shorts are popular for many people who visit the gym, as they are typically comfortable, breathable, and use moisture-wicking fabric

This makes them ideal for activities that involve a lot of movement, such as running on a treadmill, lifting weights, or participating in group fitness classes. Running shorts are also often designed with various zipper pockets that can be useful for carrying keys, a phone, or other small items.

On the other hand, joggers are typically made of a soft, stretchy material. They are often loose-fitting and have a tapered or cuffed leg, which can make them more comfortable and versatile than traditional sweatpants. However, they are baggier and less able to wick moisture than running shorts properly.

Joggers are typically worn for casual activities, such as lounging at home or running errands, but they can also be worn for some types of exercise, such as walking or jogging. Joggers are often warmer and more insulated than running shorts, making them a good choice for cooler weather or outdoor activities.

Ultimately, choosing between running shorts and joggers will depend on your preference and the particular exercises you will participate in. Running shorts may be a better alternative if you’re looking for a flexible, comfortable garment that can be used for a variety of sports. On the other hand, joggers might be the better option if you want something more casual and relaxed.

Can I wear running shorts to the gym?

woman getting ready to jump rope

It is acceptable to wear running shorts at the gym. Due to their comfort, breathability, and moisture-wicking fabrics, running shorts are a preferred option for many gymgoers. They are great for several strength, aerobic, and group fitness exercises. However, running shorts should be suited to the environment and your preferences, but it’s also necessary to consider the particular activities and amenities at your gym. 

For instance, certain gyms may have strict guidelines about attire, and some exercises may call for more coverage or support than running shorts can provide. In these cases, choosing a different workout clothing may be the better option. This is especially true for high split-leg running shorts, which may become too revealing while completing a lift like squats or deadlifts. 

If you’re only doing cardio exercises, 5 inches should be good, while lifters might need to wear 7 to 9 inches shorts so they have enough coverage. A good rule of thumb is to consider the lifts you will be completing beforehand and run through the exercises in your mind before selecting the shorts you decide to wear. Some running shorts might be fine on cardio alone, but it might not be appropriate for other activities.