5 Best Compression Shorts for Men: Give Your Legs a Boost

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William Barton Avatar by  William Barton | Last Updated:  Oct 29, 2020
best compression shorts for men

Ok, we’re tired of wearing the same boxer-briefs to the gym. There has to be a better way. Yes, you’ve heard about compression shorts, but are they worth the investment?

The short answer is, yes. And these five compression shorts are the best you’re going to find.

Best Overall
  • Mesh Breathe Zones on the lower back and between the thighs for ventilation and airflow
  • Unique thigh grip that keeps them from riding up—works for large and small thighs
  • Premium feel and construction at a very affordable price
Best For Sports
  • Heaviest compression
  • Hip to knee length
  • Mesh venting along the quad
Best For Running
  • Features a crotch gusset for easier strides
  • Thin, lightweight and breathable fabric
  • Internal drawstring for slimmer, no-budge design
Best For Weightlifting
  • Silicone band around the thigh keeps these in place, even with squats
  • Solid compression for the glutes
  • Ultra-thin construction for better sweat wicking and heat reduction
Best for CrossFit
  • Extra wide hem grips
  • Silver ion fabric for excellent odor-control
  • 9” inseam for maximum coverage

You know that feeling you get when you put on your favorite set of gym clothes and hit the squat rack? 

Like a sort of invincibility?

Yeah, I’ve been chasing down the best brands to capture that feeling throughout the week—not just with my Monday bests.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the right clothes in the gym give me a confidence boost, and that translates directly into a better, fuller workout. 

A key part to a top-notch workout outfit is getting your under-layer right. Compression shorts have a proven effect on your recovery time, so finding a favorite brand will help you take your fitness to the next level. 

To do my part, I put together a list of the best compression shorts for men. So whether you need something for quick cuts, deep squats, or marathon runs, you’ll find something in here that’s perfect for you. 

5 Best Compression Shorts for Men

1. All Citizens Endurance

All Citizens phone pocket in compression shorts

All Citizens started with premium-level boxer-briefs at a reasonable price. It’s only natural they moved to compression shorts

I recently reviewed the brand to see what they were all about and was blown away with these shorts. 

They fit my athletic thighs well and the grip around the hem kept the legs from riding up. All Citizens offers a risk-free guarantee—they actually recommend you only buy one pair to start. If you don’t like them for any reason, you can send them back, no questions asked.

What I Like

  • The compression is impressive and helps a great deal with support when lifting.

  • The no-roll waistband stays firm, even when running, playing basketball, and doing full-body workouts like box-jumps.

  • Premium-level compression shorts at a very reasonable price. 

  • The media pocket is cool—I’m not sure when or how I’ll use it, but I like it for some reason.

What I Don’t Like

  • All Citizens offers a Standard and Athletic fit in their boxer briefs, but not their compression shorts. They also only carry an 8” inseam, which is a good middle-ground, but I’d love to see a 9” inseam, too.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Endurance shorts have amassed over 30 reviews with a 4.6-star average on the All Citizens site. Most reviewers love the comfort and compression level. The no-ride thighs are a huge plus for many reviewers, too. 

The only negative comments were aimed at the size of the phone pocket, which some felt was too small. 

I have a bulky phone and had a little difficulty fitting it into the pocket, but it ultimately fit securely, which is my main concern here.

The Verdict

For the best all-round use, check out the All Citizens Endurance short. What seals it for me is the thigh. The band is super secure and hasn’t budged a bit, even when I’m doing tire-flips, running, playing basketball, and doing squats. 

I’m a fan of the compression, though if you need heavy compression for something extreme like running a marathon or aiming for a personal deadlift record, you’ll want a more specialized short. But for every day weightlifting and aerobic exercise, these are my go-to. 

Probably the biggest reason for that is the price—these are some of the best compression shorts I’ve tried and they cost 25% what other specialized shorts do. So the All Citizens Endurance is an easy win for my top pick.

Best Overall
All Citizens Endurance Compression Shorts

These are the shorts you get if you want premium-level performance without such a prohibitive price tag. They're an excellent value pickup for the guy who gets into the gym most days but doesn't devote his whole life to building a better deadlift.

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2. CW-X Stabilyx

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So you know how I said if you’re running a marathon, you’ll want a specialized pair of shorts? Well, these are the ones. 

CW-X is dedicated solely to endurance sports, and their whole line of bottom layers offer some of the heaviest compression available without a prescription (seriously). 

But that level of support comes at a cost. These compression shorts are pricey. But CW-X may be worthwhile for high-level athletes as the amount of compression here will help you recover. So if you’ve got back to back games, or you’re training for the big run, think of the Stabilyx as an investment.

What I Like

  • Panels are sewn in to help increase blood flow and improve joint support by mimicking kinesiology-taping methods.

  • Mesh venting on the thigh helps with breathability.

  • Can be worn on its own (without looking like underwear). 

What I Don’t Like

  • The price is high for a pair of workout shorts. These are really only for athletes willing to invest a decent chunk of change into their bottom layer. 

What Other Reviewers Say

The CW-X Stabilyx has a 4.5-star average with over 100 reviews on Amazon. When you get to distances over 4 miles, rubbing becomes a big issue, and it looks like the Stabilyx does a great job in this department. 

Most reviewers for this short were very particular with their assessment—which is understandable, because as I mentioned earlier, they’re an investment for athletes. When you’re running 20 miles, you’re going to notice each and every flaw. But there weren’t too many mentions of flaws for CW-X.

The Verdict

If you’re planning a strict training schedule for a competition (whether you’re a pro or an enthusiast athlete) investing in a pair of top-level compression shorts might be in the cards for you. 

CW-X has an excellent reputation for their compression clothes, and their Stabilyx shorts are no exception. 

The price is a bit high for me to go all-in on this brand, and I don’t need top level compression for weight lifting (non-competition) and general exercise (2-mile runs, box-jumps, jump rope, etc). 

But if you’re training for a marathon or you’re bulking big-time, the CW-X helps with recovery, which can give you a big edge.

Best for Sports
CW-X Stabilyx Ventilator Shorts

This is as much compression as you can get before you hit prescription level. Seriously. These are excellent for long-distance runners and extreme athletes who are ok forking over a little cash for an easier recovery time.

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3. Nike Aeroswift

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I don’t need to tell you about Nike, do I? They’ve changed the sports world forever and their Aeroswift line is targeted directly at runners.

These compression shorts can be worn without anything on top and the fit is snug around the waist and thigh so you don’t need to adjust mid-run.

What I Like

  • The thin waistband doesn’t restrict your hips at all.

  • Most details are on the inside of the short, like a drawstring and constrictive leg bands—it looks like a simple short on the outside but has a ton of internal support.

  • The crotch gusset reduces rubbing significantly. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The Aeroswift short doesn’t have any pockets so if you run with music, you’ll need an armband or some other solution. 

What Other Reviewers Say

Reviews are scattered around the web, but the consensus is that these are excellent when you want to run super light. 

Many reviewers mention they wear these in the summer with no shorts on top to keep the heat down as much as possible.

The Verdict

The Nike Aeroswift, like the CW-X Stabilyx, is an investment. But if you have one or two long run days where you want to put in five or six miles, dropping some coin might be worthwhile. 

If you’re looking for a compression short that can be worn with no other shorts on top, the Aeroswift is a solid choice. With a 9.5” inseam, these are almost more like bike shorts (without the butt padding).

Best for Running
Nike Aeroswift Men's Running Tights

These lightweight compression shorts are built to minimize chafing, so long runs are a breeze. Wear these solo or pair them up with those cross-country short shorts.

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4. UnderArmour HeatGear Shorts

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As the name suggests, the UnderArmour HeatGear shorts are meant for blazing hot days.

But we like them for squat and deadlift day, too. The flat-lock stitching and wide glute panel give plenty of support for big lifts. 

Again, like our second and third picks, these are pricier—but their specialization makes them a worthy investment (especially if you’re doing heavy training on your legs once or twice a week). 

While they have a solid amount of compression, they allow for tons of mobility so you can get your full range of motion without any discomfort.

What I Like

  • UnderArmour has a wide range of color options available.

  • The extra wide glute panel adds extra compression without sacrificing mobility.

  • There’s reinforced stitching throughout. 

What I Don’t Like

  • These aren’t cheap and there’s UnderArmour branding all over. Because UnderArmour is a well-known athletics brand, it’s not the end of the world, but something to note.

What Other Reviewers Say

These shorts have over 1,800 reviews on Amazon, racking up to a solid 4.7 out of 5 star rating. Reviewers use them for all sorts of applications, like hiking, running, and soccer.

But the consistent thread is that these fit like a second skin and help boost performance in the gym.

The Verdict

When it’s a heavy leg day, a special pair of compression shorts can be the critical difference between hitting a personal record or leaving just shy of your target. 

While UnderArmour’s HeatGear shorts are designed for hot weather, I found that the extra wide glute panel offers a ton of support and mobility for your backside so you can get the most of your day at the squat rack.

Best for Weightlifting
UnderArmour HeatGear Compression Shorts

When the days get hot but you still need to get up off that couch and hit the gym, these are the go. Alternatively, if your backside generates heat like a nuclear reactor, you might want something as breathable as possible while still staying supportive.

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5. Ten Thousand Compression Shorts

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The Ten Thousand Compression Shorts come decked out with features like a phone and card pocket, plus have an extra wide leg grip so your shorts don’t budge during a workout. 

The Italian fabric is woven with silver ions, which is antimicrobial. It’s a high-tech way of keeping your butt fresh while you pump iron.

What I Like

  • The fabric is antimicrobial, so if you run a half-marathon and hit the brewery after, you won’t stink up the joint.

  • The extra wide gripper hems offer excellent stay-power. 

  • Excellent compression around the glutes. 

What I Don’t Like

  • There’s only one color and length option. 

  • They’re on the pricey side.

What Other Reviewers Say

Over 100 reviewers rated the Ten Thousand Compression Shorts at a 4.3 out of 5. These are really popular for HIIT and kettlebell enthusiasts because of those wide gripper hems.

The Verdict

Ten Thousand Compression Shorts are an excellent choice for CrossFitters and kettlebell junkies. Just shy of $50, these shorts are still a hefty investment for many. If you’ve got a bit of sticker shock, I recommend circling back to All Citizens. 

With All Citizens, you get many of the same functions, like no-budge hems, excellent compression, and booty-stank reduction. The price difference is considerable, and you can get three pairs of All Citizens for the price of one Ten Thousand. 

But if you’re willing to sacrifice any amount of cash for the perfect kettlebell swing, check out Ten Thousand.

Best for CrossFit
Ten Thousand Compression Short

Ten Thousand is a CrossFit brand all the way through. Looking through their Instagram feed makes you want to eat a kettlebell for breakfast and speak only in acronyms. Extra grip around the legs and plenty of compression, these shorts are a must whether your WOD is EMOM, AMRAP, or you're just working on your K2E's. You get it.

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Do I Need Different Compression Shorts for Running, Weightlifting, and Sports?

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For most of us, we don’t need specialized compression shorts. I’d like to think I’m a pretty good example of a guy who enjoys working out and fitness. I use just a single type of compression shorts for my workouts. 

Regardless of whether I’m hitting the squat rack, doing more CrossFit style workouts, or going for a morning run, I find that all-purpose compression shorts do the trick. 

All Citizens compression and workout shorts paired

But this changes if you’re training for a special event like marathons, weight lifting competitions, Iron Man competitions, etc. You’ll be pushing your body to extremes, and in those instances, getting a pair of specialized compression shorts can help a lot with increasing blood flow and encouraging recovery

Specialized compression shorts generally cost over $50, which is pricey if you just need something for your standard workout. 

Still, for many gym-goers, a random pair of boxer-briefs doesn’t offer enough support or breathability. In those cases, finding a great pair of all-round compression shorts that’s affordable enough to stock up with three or four pairs is crucial. 

Hit Your Personal Record

You’re here, and that means you’re ready to take your fitness to the next level. 

If you’re looking to stock your drawer with a few pairs of compression shorts that are great for all-purpose exercise, I recommend All Citizens

All Citizens Endurance Compression Shorts

These are the shorts you get if you want premium-level performance without such a prohibitive price tag. They're an excellent value pickup for the guy who gets into the gym most days but doesn't devote his whole life to building a better deadlift.

Shop Compression Shorts Read Our Review
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Do you have a big event coming up? If you need something special for a basketball game, marathon, or triathlon, check out CW-X, Nike, or UnderArmour

Whatever you decide on, one thing isn’t negotiable. It’s time to make new personal records. I’ll see you out there. 

FAQs

What is the point of compression shorts?

Compression shorts help increase blood flow and muscle recovery by offering very slight exoskeletal support. Many people wear compression socks to reduce swelling on their feet, and compression shorts to the same thing with your thighs and glutes.

Do compression shorts stop chafing?

Good compression shorts should stop chafing. Your shorts shouldn’t cause any chafing in day to day use. If you’re running a marathon, you still may experience chafing (running 26 miles isn’t day to day use). That’s why investing in a specialty pair of compression shorts is a good idea here.

Are boxer-briefs the same as compression shorts?

Boxer-briefs aren’t the same as compression shorts. Compression shorts offer more support and coverage. Plus, good compression shorts help increase blood flow and encourage muscle recovery.