The Best Shorts for Squats and Deadlifts – 2021
A good pair of shorts for squats and deadlifts ensures that you can focus on your form, and not about splitting your shorts. Advanced compound lifts require an extreme focus, and unforgiving fabrics and restrictive materials can really hinder your form. A quality option not only moves with your body to feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all, but also provide slight compression to help keep your core engaged. Freedom of movement is a must, which is why we selected easy designs that fit most body types, as well as include stretchy waistlines.
In this guide, we have selected some of our favorite styles of shorts for squats and deadlifts so you can focus more on the bar and less on the possibility of splitting your britches!
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Great for speed
Best 10 Shorts for Squats and Deadlifts
1. Anthem Athletics
Great for speed
What we loved most about the Hyperflex design from Anthem Athletics is that they are incredibly versatile. It is composed of premium materials that move with you during intense compound lifts, but it is super lightweight and breathable which makes it ideal for circuit work and even cardio. They may cost a little bit more than most, but the versatile and durable design makes them an excellent value.Read more
This design is composed of super stretchy fabric that continues to stretch even at the base of your squat. The materials fit loosely on the skin for maximum breathability, and the soft fabrics work to wick sweat away from your body to keep you cool and dry no matter how hard you train.
Lifters also love that this design is made for more than just compound lifts. The lightweight materials are great for speed, such as circuit training or even HIIT. It boasts convenient zippered pockets that are deep enough to store essential gear and come in a variety of stylish color options that are unlike anything else out there on the market.
If you need something that is able to keep up with extreme compound lifts and circuit training on your off-days, this design from Anthem Athletics is a great choice. Users love the soft drawstring waistline is incredibly stretchy and doesn’t dig into their skin, and the lightweight fabrics provide a good deal of stretch while maintaining excellent breathability.
Ergonomic 2-panel leg gusset
Very thick fabric
Shorter than expected
If you find that lifting in your underwear is the best way to really engage in the lift but your local gym frowns upon such a thing, this design from Everworth is the next best thing! What lifters love most about this design is that it is composed of a blend of underwear-like materials for an excellent range of motion, and include smart design features that work to keep you cool and dry. Plus, it comes in at a super affordable price point that is worth checking out.Read more
What makes this design unique is that it is composed of fabrics that are free of spandex or nylon. The fabric in this design is composed of 80 percent cotton and 20 percent polyester. These materials provide excellent stretch that doesn’t fit too tight on your body. The best part? They can be tossed in the washing machine with a regular load without losing their shape.
This design is also packed with smell yet incredibly beneficial features to make your life a little better. It provides users with a ergonomic 2-panel leg gusset that really allows you to dig deep into your squats without bulky fabric bunching up. It offers a drawstring cord so you can adjust how tight or loose they fit, and they come in a wide variety of patterns and color options.
What we love most about this style is that it comes in at a super affordable price point. It is made from incredibly durable and comfortable materials that are a cinch to toss into the washing machines as needed and provides users with smart features such as deep pockets and leg gussets for an easier range of motion.
What we love most about this design is that it is composed of super stretchy materials that boast a high cut that really allows you to dig into those squats. It is composed of a fabric that offers an excellent range of motion while working to wick away sweat as well as odors. We love that this super simple and breathable design also comes in at an affordable price point that is worth checking out.Read more
We also like that this design boasts smart features to help you get the most out of your lifts. It boasts a drawstring waistband with an elastic band for a better fit that moves with your movements.
It is important to note that these shorts ride high on the leg which helps with your full range of motion, but may not be ideal for those that want a more modest fit.
If you are in the market for something that is composed of comfortable and stretchy materials that allow you to confidently sink into your squats, this design from Coofandy is an excellent choice. We love that they are composed of lightweight materials that really stretch, and come in at a price point that won’t break the bank.
4. Eros Sport
Comfy mesh liner
Small inseam pocket
Fits tightly with no pinching
Microfiber fabric easy to keep clean
May not be tight enough around the legs
This is another higher end, somewhat pricey dedicated workout short that is super comfortable and will move when you move.Read more
The shorts are suitable for yoga, squats, other weight training, cycling, and outdoor pursuits. You could probably get away with wearing them in the pool, and they definitely won't overheat if you wear them in the sauna or the steam room. They are made of microfiber which makes the shorts breathable and light.
These are slim fit shorts, so if you prefer something roomier, you will want to go up a size after consulting the size chart. Those who do more fast-paced activities, like kickboxing and spin, will feel great in these flexible and secure shorts.
These shorts have an inner liner, so you can wear them with no undergarments if you prefer. The material is solid and opaque. The liner is made of mesh, and you do get a small inside pocket.
Made of durable cotton
Fits true to size
No pockets, no liner
These are no frills, old school cotton workout shorts that you can get in packs of two, for about what you'd expect to pay for a single microfiber or bamboo thread short.Read more
The shorts don't seem to come above extra large size which fits a men's 35-inch waist. There are no pockets. The available colors are black and grey, with the Powerhouse logo prominently displayed on the left calf area.
These are not the baggy weightlifting shorts you sometimes see a powerlifter wearing. They are not form-fitting either and, being cotton, will stretch out over time. The shorts are long enough that you can wear them to run errands, or if you want to stop on the way back from the gym for a refreshing drink.
Powerhouse, the maker of the shorts, is an intriguing company that makes t-shirts, tanks, sweatshirts, sweatpants and muscle tees for gym buffs. Their prices are reasonable and they have a decent track record for customer service according to our research.
6. Jed North
Drawstring for a custom fit
Polyester and spandex
Cut specifically for weightlifting
Low profile design
Large zippered pockets
No inner liner
These are branded drawstring shorts, suitable for lifting and running, that fit true to size and will let you breathe so you are not soaked in sweat after intense activity.Read more
The composite shorts are mostly polyester, with 10% spandex for stretchy comfort with a snug feel. The fabric is durable and won't rub or chafe even during Crossfit or kickboxing. The fit is slim, not quite skintight but with a low profile and compression-like feel. The shorts come in a cut style that will free your legs, unlike many cheaper shorts that can get bunched up.
These are fitted for a contoured feel. Two zippered pockets are big enough for your smartphone, according to both the maker and customer reviews.
Weightlifters will appreciate the slightly reduced length, as it facilitates movement during lower body routines or squats. Whether you want to do weighted lunges, calf raises, or just a plain old farmer's carry with adjustable dumbbells, these shorts are a perfect fit.
7. Nike Dry
Great for speed
Hate the idea of short and tight-fitting shorts? This design from Nike is a great choice for those that want something that fits low and loose while still offering a full range of motion. This design comes only slightly above the knee which allows you to really sink into your squat or deadlift without excess fabric bunching up on you. Lifters love this design because it is loose, modest, and made from materials that really stretch, even at the base of your squat!Read more
Nike has a pretty long lineup of training shorts, but there are a few key design features that make them ideal for powerlifting. Nike ditches that standard drawing closure and instead utilizes a soft and stretchy elastic waistband. This band allows you to really dig into your squats without a tight waistline cutting you in half. Whether you are lean and mean or built like a tank, this waistline is ideal for all lifters.
We also love that it boasts a looser fit that feels lightweight and comfortable. The looser design promotes airflow and circulation to feel like you aren’t wearing anything at all. It is composed of panels that provide 4-way stretch, which makes it ideal not only for powerlifting but cardio or circuit training as well.
If you are in the market for something modest, loose, and comfortable, you can’t go wrong with this design from Nike. We love the thick elastic waistband that helps lifters engage through their core, and it makes it ideal for a wide variety of body types. Plus, the lightweight materials work to lift sweat up and away from your body where it quickly evaporates on the surface.
8. Epic MMA
Freedom of movement
Okay for some wet/beach sports
The drawstrings come off easily
Built for CrossFit and MMA, these uber durable stretch fit shorts give you all the range of motion you need for a great performance. No zippers here, but you do get a mini side pocket for car keys.Read more
The shorts come in a range of cool colors, including camo and fatigue green. These resemble swim trunks more than anything. And although not meant for swimming, the resilient material can certainly let you sweat without getting soaked or weighing you down.
The shorts are also meant to give you a full range of motion. Some reviewers mentioned using these as beach/surfing shorts with no problems.
This option fits true to size, though as usual, you'll want to look at the size chart. The shorts are sized up to a 40-inch waist in men's sizes. They just put on the market the 4.0 model and each upgrade garners more positive reviews on retail sites.
9. Tough Mode
The company offers easy returns
No mesh lining
This is another comfortable and flexible polyester/spandex drawstring short for lifting, running, CrossFit and other strenuous gym activities.Read more
The material is soft, non-chafing and will not rub against you during intense movements. A shortened inseam lets your legs move freely and, if you happen to compete, will help you show off your quads and calves on stage.
The zipper has a lock on it so it won't ever come undone, and there are rises in both the back and front fabric to keep you from any compromising positions.
The brand also offers a money-back guarantee and according to many reviewers, their customer service is one of the best when it comes to sports gear brands out there.
10. Adidas Parma 16
Soft elastic waistband
Made from Climalite
The cut and fit provide lifters with all of the design features needed for a full range of motion. We loved this design from Adidas because they offer a loose and breezy fit, which is perfect for lifters that detest tight-fitting garments. They are made from premium materials to keep you cool and dry, offer a full range of motion, and are incredibly comfortable.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that they are composed of Climalite materials to keep you cool and dry. This smart fabric works to wick sweat up and away from your body where it quickly evaporates on the surface. Plus, the loose fit keeps air circulation to your legs and feels like you aren’t wearing anything at all!
We also love that this design includes a drawstring waistband that comfortably cinches at the waist without cutting off circulation. When you are at the base of your squat, this soft elastic band will not dig into your skin or feel like you are being cut in half! It comes in a wide variety of sizes that scale from XX-small to XX-large and is offered in a few unique color options as well.
What we love most about the Soccer Parma 16 is that it is composed of incredible lightweight materials that will not hinder your full range of motion in the slightest. The Climalite materials also help to wick sweat away from your body to keep you cool and dry throughout your entire workout.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Shorts that were made specifically for barbell lifting were given priority on our list.
By the time you reach the end of our guide, you will realize that many of the shorts can be used for almost any activity. Plenty of them, too, can be worn outside the gym and will look just fine with a casual t-shirt and sneakers look.
You can do squats in any pair of gym pants. Anything that is pliable enough not to rip, bunch up, or restrict your movement will do. But what we call squat shorts have a few features in common. These include light compression, an elastic or drawstring waistband, an above the knee cut, and higher front and backstays to make sure you stay modest even during the lowest arc of your squat.
The shorts we prioritized and gave the highest scores to were the ones that had a single application of being lifting shorts. Such shorts will give you a more efficient and comfortable squat experience, but they are not indispensable and you can certainly lift a barbell without investing in specialized shorts.
Sweat is the enemy of your skin as well as the life of your shorts.
That makes things difficult since sweat is also always the byproduct of lifting weights or doing cardio. So we ensured the products we reviewed were made of porous enough material to let air circulate, and keep your sweat from pooling up, while also keeping you protected and making sure your range of motion is not compromised.
Cotton was the go-to material, for casual clothes, for many years. It still works well, but over the last couple of decades, synthetic materials have led the way. Fabrics like polyester, spandex, and Lycra are nice and porous to allow for airflow. These lab-created materials have the added bonus of being stretchy and form-fitting, depending on the purpose of the shorts.
The shorts you wear should feel good and keep you moving freely, even while pushing enough weight to shock your muscles into reaching the next level.
We almost always put an emphasis on comfort in our buying guides. We know that you will not be satisfied with something that puts you in an awkward position or cause you pain. When that happens, you are faced with either trying to return the product or just not doing whatever exercise you wanted to do when you bought it. Most of us are not iron-willed when it comes to doing our workouts, so we may be tempted to just put it off.
We don't want any of these outcomes, and we understand that you do not either. So while we don't forget about form, function, durability, and sweatproofing, we also make sure not to offer you anything we would not be comfortable wearing ourselves.
Ill-fitting workout shorts can cause all sorts of problems.
For example, they can move around and cause chafing. Chafing is painful and also can distract you from the proper form you need when you are lifting weights. If chafing is severe enough, it may even keep you out of action for a day or more. Imagine the difficulty of trying to take a spin class or use any cardio machine with chafing on your legs from wearing the wrong shorts.
We have tried to make clear which shorts will be form fitting to your body, and which ones will be a bit baggier. It is true that shorter and tighter shorts have an impact on specific exercises. But we also understand that our readers have their personal preferences. We have provided enough information to allow you to make your own educated choice about which shorts to purchase and use.
Materials make a difference in your performance.
Not everyone wants space age moisture-wicking fabrics in their shorts and other workout garments.
Some of us prefer the feel and texture of regular cotton. Plant and bamboo fibers are also now commonplace. Terrycloth, in its pure organic form, makes for a good sweat absorbing gym short. Each fabric will have its good points, and each fabric will also have its shortcomings. It comes down to your goals and past experiences to decide which fabric is most appropriate for the shorts you will lift or run in several times a week.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Elastane, lycra, and spandex. Three different types of human-made fibers, three very different experiences when you wear shorts made from each. Or are they?
Spandex, lycra, and elastane are actually all words for the same fiber, created by a scientist working for the DuPont corporation in 1958. The fiber's central quality is its ability to stretch and then go back to its original size; it was originally given the name Spandex as a variation on "expands."
Elastane is simply what people in much of Europe call spandex. Elastane is, arguably, the more correct term since spandex is made of elastic material.
In Spain, the UK, Portugal, Australia, and parts of South America, Spandex is called lycra. This is after the brand name used in that part of the world.
We point all this out because, as always, we want you to make an educated decision, having all the knowledge you need at hand. If you see a pair of shorts being advertised as "contains spandex and lycra," you may want to pass by.
Go to any lifting gym, and you are likely to see people squatting, deadlifting, benching and more with compression shorts or tights, which cover the entire leg.
But why? And is this something you should start doing if you want to break your own current PR?
The answer is that the compression gear can, at least anecdotally, prevent and treat post-workout soreness. There is some research suggesting a link as well. The benefit isn't heat or increased blood flow as much as it is muscle alignment.
Compression gear won't lock your muscles down exactly, the way a weight stack can, but having even a little compression will encourage your muscles not to overstep their place, thereby helping you feel less sore the day after a weightlifting workout.
Other Factors to Consider
We did not make compression a main factor in our reviewing, because not every pair of lifting shorts needs to have compression or is designed to.
Still, we thought it was important because, as we mentioned, compression tights are so common in lifting gyms and they do have some value for post-workout recovery. We think if you lift heavy weight, or if you plan on doing so, you should have the knowledge set to understand and consider every factor that could give you an advantage. The advantage may be lifting more weight, or it may be avoiding injury. They are both pretty important.
No pair of workout shorts will last forever. But the best ones, which often are more expensive, should give you several years of faithful service.
You may notice we did not include many all cotton or mostly cotton shorts in our list. While we acknowledge the strength and natural sweat fighting ability of cotton, cotton is just not as long lasting as modern synthetics are. This isn't to say you shouldn't work out in cotton, just that you should be prepared to replace cotton lifting shorts more often.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How does moisture wicking fabric work?
Well, we think it works pretty well! Seriously, moisture wicking garments are made either partially or completely of polyester. Polyester is a real science fabric, one designed not to absorb much water. While cotton will absorb enough water to match 7% of its own weight, polyester will only absorb 0.4% of its weight in water or sweat.
Polyester is able to do this because of its large surface area, and a lab-enhanced cross-section which will transport moisture away from your skin, letting it naturally evaporate when the air hits it.
q: What makes lifting shorts breathable?
Fabric can't actually breathe, but it can facilitate the free flow of cooling air. The fabrics that do this the best are porous, having many tiny holes or pores in them. Cotton is naturally porous, but it is not porous or breathable to the degree that bamboo fiber and synthetic fabrics can be.
q: Why aren't all the shorts machine washable?
It would certainly be convenient if you could just toss your lifting shorts in the drier with all your other clothes. Most of the time, you can. However, always check the care labels. A lot of synthetic shorts will be damaged by washing.
Just as important, never put compression or moisture wicking shorts in the drier unless the label expressly says you can. These kinds of shorts will almost always have to be air dried, simply because the heat of the drier will make the fibers shrink.
q: Can't I just lift in my sweats?
Of course, you can! You can and should lift in whatever makes you comfortable. At some point, especially if you live in a warmer climate, you may find that sweatpants are too constrictive or thick enough to create excess sweat. On top of that, sweatpants do not have moisture wicking properties and usually are not very breathable.
At that point, or if you just want to see what it's like, we will be here to help you make that transition to lifting shorts, whether they are general use or specifically for barbell squats.
q: Why don't lifting shorts have liners?
Many lifting shorts do have liners. The general consensus is that, since lifting encourages shorts to bunch or twist up, a liner thick enough to do any good is also thick enough to cause chafing. Typically, you will want to wear your favorite underwear (whatever you find most comfortable) under your lifting or other workout shorts.
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