When hitting the gym, many wonder, “Should gym shorts go above or below knee?” It’s a valid consideration as gym shorts significantly impact comfort, range of motion, and style. Should gym shorts go above or below the knee?

In short, above-the-knee shorts generally offer greater mobility – ideal for high-intensity workouts and short sprints – while below-the-knee options might be preferred for casual gym days or specific sports. This article dives into how to choose the right length for your gym shorts based on various fitness activities and personal style.

Key Takeaways

  • The best gym shorts length depends on personal preference, comfort, and body type, ranging from 5 to 11 inches based on height and fit.
  • Gym shorts should offer ease of movement and the right fit, with factors like inseam length, fabric, and leg opening being crucial for both comfort and performance.
  • When accessorizing with gym shorts, choose coordinating tops and footwear that match the style and function of your shorts, enhancing both your gym look and workout experience.

The Ideal Length for Gym Shorts

A man wearing gym shorts for a workout

The quest for the perfect pair of gym shorts often boils down to length. We’ve all seen the variety, from cargo shorts to Bermuda shorts and shorter athletic styles. But the question remains - what’s the best length for gym shorts?

The answer is - it depends. On what, you ask? Several factors, but most importantly, your personal preference and comfort. After all, gym shorts are a staple of casual wear, and feeling good in them is half the battle won.

Men’s shorts are commonly available in 5, 7, 9, and 11 inches lengths, but it’s your height that significantly influences which length is optimal for you.

If you’re on the shorter side, say under 5’5’’, a 5’’ short might be a better fit, showing off a bit more thigh and giving an illusion of longer legs. Taller guys may prefer longer inseams to maintain proportional balance.

But remember, these are just guidelines. Whether you’re into long baggy shorts that go below the knee or prefer to show off a little more thigh with short shorts, the key is to wear what feels best for you.

After all, gym shorts are about comfort and ease of movement, so finding your sweet spot is essential.

Finding Your Shorts' Sweet Spot

The ideal length of your gym shorts isn’t solely determined by your height. The shorts’ width, fit, and even the fabric can influence your comfort and overall wearing experience.

You may love the look of cargo shorts, but they might not be the best fit for an intense workout. On the other hand, you don’t want to end up with skin-tight shorts that restrict your movements.

For men under 6 feet, 7-inch inseam shorts are usually the way to go, but if you’re over 6 feet, you might prefer a 9-11 inch inseam. This is not a hard and fast rule though.

You might find yourself comfortable in shorts with a completely different inseam length. Experimenting with various lengths and styles can help you discover what complements your height best.

Nevertheless, a frequent misstep many men make is opting for baggy shorts instead of choosing to wear pants. While they may seem comfortable, baggy shorts can create a bottom-heavy silhouette and may not be the best choice for certain activities, especially when it’s more appropriate to wear shorts that fit well.

A nice gentle taper that follows the natural shape of your legs while providing enough room for movement is the key to finding your shorts’ sweet spot.

The Impact of Shorts Length on Performance

A comparison of short and long gym shorts for different activities

Now, let’s shift our focus to performance. Yes, the length of your gym shorts can impact your performance. Shorter shorts, for instance, offer more freedom of movement. This can be especially beneficial in sports that require a lot of movements, such as basketball.

Wearing shorter gym shorts during a workout can have several benefits:

  • They can make you feel more comfortable and boost your confidence.
  • They can keep you cooler with better airflow.
  • The compression in shorter shorts can help reduce fatigue and improve your performance.
  • They’re versatile enough to be worn in casual settings as well as intense workout sessions.

But what if you’re into running? The length of your gym shorts can make a significant difference in your running experience. It can help control your body temperature and prevent chafing, especially if you go for mid-length shorts or ones with a 3-4 inches inseam.

However, if you’re planning for a swim, swim trunks would be more suitable for water activities.

Gym Shorts and Body Types

Different body types and gym shorts

When it comes to gym shorts, one size does not fit all. How gym shorts fit on you is significantly influenced by your body type. For instance, if you have thicker thighs, longer and wider shorts might be a better fit.

Depending on your build, there could be specific styles that will look better on you. If you’re athletic, side-slit shorts with a straight fit could be a good option. If you’re more oval-shaped, chino shorts with vertical stripes could help you look longer.

Ensure a comfortable fit by checking there’s sufficient space between the shorts and your legs when trying them on.

If you have trouble with tightness around your thighs, consider trying big and tall shorts for a better fit. Waist adjusted shorts can also help you achieve that perfect fit.

Remember, the key is to find shorts that accommodate your body type while ensuring comfort and style. So, don’t shy away from trying a few pairs of shorts to find the one that suits you the best.

Athletic Shorts for Different Builds

Athletic shorts, including basketball shorts, are offered in a range of styles and lengths, catering to diverse body types and preferences. Whether you have a muscular build, are tall and lean, or are carrying a few extra pounds, there’s a pair of athletic shorts out there for you.

If you have a thinner build and smaller legs, you might want to go for slim-cut shorts. They can be more flattering and comfortable. On the other hand, if you’re more muscular, you might prefer shorts with a little extra room in the thighs.

It’s a good idea to have a few pairs of gym shorts in different styles to suit your needs.

The cut of shorts can make a significant difference in comfort for different body types. Wider waistbands can define the midsection, and high-rise waists can elongate the body’s frame, making it a good fit for different shapes.

Boat shoes can be a stylish and comfortable footwear option to pair with gym shorts.

Adjusting for the Perfect Fit

You may need to fine-tune a bit to achieve an ideal fit in gym shorts. You might need to get them tailored, or choose shorts with adjustable waistbands and leg openings. And yes, Bermuda shorts are an option too, especially if you prefer a longer length.

When it comes to adjustable waistbands, elasticated waistbands and hidden drawstrings are the best choices. They allow you to adjust the fit according to your waist size, ensuring comfort and flexibility.

Cargo shorts, though more casual, may not be the best choice for gym workouts due to their looser fit and heavier fabric.

If your shorts still don’t fit right even after adjusting the waistband, you can consider getting them tailored. Tailoring a pair of gym shorts can cost anywhere from $12 to $75, depending on how much work needs to be done.

But the end result is a pair of gym shorts that fit you like a glove, whether you prefer skin tight shorts or a looser fit.

Style Considerations for Gym Wear

Stylish gym wear with functional gym shorts

Having addressed the practical aspects of selecting gym shorts, let’s now discuss style. After all, who said gym wear has to be boring? The right pair of gym shorts can elevate your gym look from drab to fab.

But how do you strike the right balance between function and fashion when it comes to gym shorts? Let’s find out.

Rocking a pair of stylish gym shorts can boost your confidence, which might help you perform better at the gym. After all, when you know you look good, you feel good too.

So, it’s worth investing in gym shorts that not only meet your functional needs but also align with your style preferences.

In terms of current trends, versatile shorts like the Mako Short and Nike’s Dri-FIT 7” Unlined Versatile Shorts are in vogue. These shorts are designed for a range of activities, including:

  • running
  • lifting
  • tennis
  • yoga
  • cross-training

They perfectly marry function and style, proving that you can look good while breaking a sweat.

Balancing Function and Fashion

Striking a balance between function and fashion when it comes to gym shorts is no less than an art. It’s all about finding a pair that provides:

  • Comfort
  • Support
  • Style
  • Flattering fit

Currently, popular fashion trends for men’s gym shorts include:

  • Mako Shorts
  • Dri-FIT 7” Unlined Versatile Shorts
  • Interval Shorts
  • Stratus Active Shorts
  • Ponto Shorts
  • Pace Breaker Shorts

These shorts are not only great for different workouts but also look stylish while being functional. They are the perfect blend of performance and style, proving that gym wear doesn’t have to be bland.

When choosing your gym shorts, it’s also important to consider the color and pattern. Solid colors and small scale patterns or prints are more versatile and can easily match with different shirts, making them a great choice for any workout.

So, whether you’re hitting the gym or running errands, you can do so in style.

The Aesthetic of Leg Opening

The aesthetic of the leg opening in gym shorts can make a big difference in the overall look. The leg opening can change how the gym shorts look overall, affecting both the fit and style.

Having slimmer leg openings in gym shorts can:

  • Make them look more modern and sleek
  • Give your gym look a more fitted, shaped appearance that shows off your figure
  • Help avoid making skinny legs look even thinner, offering a more balanced look.

Gym shorts come with various types of leg openings, including:

  • Some are designed to prevent them from riding up during intense workouts
  • Others provide a comfortable fit
  • There are also shorts with split legs or side slits, which are perfect for exercises like squats

Choosing the right leg opening can enhance your comfort, performance, and style.

Selecting Gym Shorts for Various Activities

Selecting gym shorts for various activities

Selecting gym shorts doesn’t adhere to a one-size-fits-all approach. The best gym shorts for you will depend on the type of workout you’re planning. From intense workouts to casual gym sessions, outdoor fitness to yoga, the right gym shorts can make all the difference in your workout experience.

For intense workouts, consider gym shorts that:

  • Allow more airflow and keep you cool
  • Are made from moisture-wicking materials
  • Pull the sweat away from your body
  • Help you stay dry and comfortable, even during the most challenging workouts.

If you prefer casual gym sessions, look for gym shorts that offer:

  • Comfort
  • Flexibility
  • Lightweight
  • High-quality shorts with moisture-wicking and breathability features

These features can make your workout more enjoyable and productive.

High-Intensity Workouts vs. Casual Gym Sessions

The intensity of your workout can significantly influence your choice of gym shorts. For high-intensity workouts, you might prefer shorter gym shorts.

These shorts allow more freedom of movement, making them ideal for activities that require quick bursts of action, like HIIT workouts or cross-training.

Shorter gym shorts can also help you stay cool during your workout. They allow more air to flow to your legs, keeping you cooler and preventing overheating.

Plus, shorter gym shorts can boost your confidence, which could help improve your performance during intense workouts.

For casual gym sessions, your gym shorts can be a bit more versatile. The key is to ensure they are comfortable, flexible, and lightweight.

Gym shorts made of high-quality, moisture-wicking materials can keep you comfortable throughout your workout, making them an excellent choice for casual gym sessions.

Shorts for Outdoor Fitness

Outdoor fitness requires a different set of considerations when it comes to gym shorts. When you’re working out in the great outdoors, you need gym shorts that can handle the elements.

Extra features like moisture-wicking materials and UV protection can make your outdoor workouts more comfortable and safer.

The best materials for outdoor gym shorts are:

  • Cotton
  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Spandex
  • Bamboo

These materials are soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, and super comfortable for outdoor workouts. They can keep you dry and comfortable, even when you’re working up a sweat in the great outdoors.

UV protection is another critical feature for outdoor fitness gym shorts. It helps block harmful UV rays, keeping you safe from sunburn and skin damage when you’re out in the sun for a while.

So when you’re picking out gym shorts for outdoor fitness, make sure you choose ones that offer UV protection.

Accessorizing with Gym Shorts

Having covered the fundamentals of selecting gym shorts, let’s delve into accessorizing. Coordinating tops and footwear with your gym shorts can create a cohesive and stylish gym outfit.

But how do you choose the right accessories to complement your gym shorts? Let’s dive in.

The right top to pair with your gym shorts can significantly influence your overall look. From white cropped halter tops and long-sleeved mesh blouses to sweater tank tops, the options are endless.

Mix and match different tops with your gym shorts to create a variety of stylish gym outfits.

Footwear is another crucial accessory to consider. The right shoes can enhance your performance, provide necessary support, and complement your gym shorts. Brands like Nike and Reebok offer a range of shoes that go well with gym shorts for various workouts. Some popular options include:

  • Nike Air Zoom Pegasus
  • Reebok Nano X
  • Nike Metcon
  • Reebok CrossFit Speed TR

Choose a pair that suits your specific workout needs and style preferences.

Coordinating Tops with Shorts Length

The length of your gym shorts can play a significant role in determining the type of top you wear. If you prefer shorter gym shorts, you might want to pair them with a long, loose top for a balanced look.

On the other hand, if you like long gym shorts, a fitted top could be a great choice to maintain a streamlined silhouette.

When it comes to matching tops with different lengths of shorts, consider the color, pattern, and style. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Solid colors are versatile and can easily match with different shirts, making them a great choice for any workout.
  • Small scale patterns can add some visual interest without overwhelming the outfit.
  • Prints can be a fun and bold choice, but make sure to choose a print that complements the shorts and doesn’t clash with them.

So, whether you’re hitting the gym or running errands, you can do so in style.

In terms of patterns, the Prefontaine Shorts pattern and the Greenstyle 3R Shorts pattern are popular choices for those who like shorter gym shorts. Pair these patterns with a simple t-shirt, and you’ve got a stylish and functional gym outfit.

Footwear Choices to Complement Your Shorts

It’s crucial to select the right footwear that complements your gym shorts. Not only do the right shoes enhance your performance and provide necessary support, but they can also take your gym outfit to the next level.

When it comes to color, stick to neutral shades like:

  • white
  • black
  • brown
  • navy

These shades are versatile and can easily match with any color of gym shorts. A pair of white dress sneakers is a classic choice, giving a polished look to your gym outfit.

Some of the best brands for shoes that go well with gym shorts are Nike and Reebok. They offer a variety of styles that are functional and stylish, making them great for all kinds of workouts.

So whether you’re into high-intensity workouts or prefer a casual gym session, you can find the perfect pair of shoes to go with your gym shorts.

Where to Shop for Quality Gym Shorts

So, where can you find the gym shorts we’ve been discussing? Luckily, there are plenty of places to shop for gym shorts that combine style, function, and comfort.

You can find quality gym shorts at the following places:

  • Marshalls/TJMaxx
  • eBay
  • Nike
  • Core 10
  • Athleta
  • Gymshark
  • Target
  • Old Navy
  • ASOS
  • BoohooMan
  • Gap
  • H&M

These stores offer a variety of options that can suit different styles, preferences, and workout intensities. So whether you prefer shorter shorts, long baggy shorts, or something in between, you’re sure to find something that suits your needs.

Keep in mind, it’s beneficial to sample a variety of brands and styles to determine what fits and looks best on you. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different lengths, styles, and fabrics until you find the perfect pair of gym shorts for your needs.


So there you have it - a comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect gym shorts. From considering your height and body type to balancing function and fashion, we’ve covered all the factors that can influence your choice of gym shorts.

Remember, the key is to find gym shorts that are comfortable, suitable for your activities, and make you feel confident. So go ahead, experiment with different lengths and styles, and find your perfect pair of gym shorts!

Frequently Asked Questions

Should gym shorts be above the knee?

Yes, gym shorts should end 2-to-4 inches above the top of your kneecap, with a 5 to 9-inch inseam being ideal for most guys. Aim for around 7 inches in length.

Are shorts supposed to be below the knee?

Shorts are supposed to hit above the knee, and terminating at the top of the kneecap gives off a conservative vibe. So, aim for a length slightly above the knee for a more modern look.

How does the length of gym shorts affect performance?

Shorter gym shorts offer more freedom of movement, which can be beneficial for sports that require a lot of movements.

How does body type affect the fit of gym shorts?

Your body type can affect the fit of gym shorts, as different body types may require different styles and lengths for the best fit.

How can I balance function and fashion in gym shorts?

Choose gym shorts that offer both comfort and support, while also being stylish and flattering.

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