What Are Compression Shorts Good For?

Wondering, “what are compression shorts good for“?

You might have seen runners rocking them at your local club, or cyclists on the road wearing these skintight shorts.

Compression shorts are similar to spandex type shorts. They are a stretchy and form fitting material that creates compression in the area covered by the shorts, mainly thighs, and butt.

Are there any performance advantages to wearing them?

The short answer is: yes! Compression shorts have a number of advantages for anybody concerned with fitness and athletic performance. While the advantages may be subtle, there is a reason why so many elite performers in sports like cycling choose compression shorts over loose fitting options.

And in elite sport, every detail matters.

In this guide, we take a look at the key advantages of compression shorts, why athletes wear them, and whether you should consider investing in a pair for your own fitness or sports objectives.

What Are Compression Shorts Good For?

What are compression shorts good for?
Image Creative Commons courtesy of Chris Hunkeler

Compression shorts are an elastic and stretchy material, typically made of fabric that is woven with spandex fibers.

They can also be made from lycra, polyester, and nylon. Compression shorts are tighter than your skin, and are known for being particularly lightweight. The shorts compress your muscles which keeps them supported, and helps to improve circulation by squeezing your blood back to the heart. 

Compression shorts have benefits in the prevention of injury and overall performance. These shorts are intended to remove sweat away from the skin and apply compression to specific areas of the body while helping your skin to breathe.

Why Choose Compression Shorts Over Loose Shorts?

One of the major reasons to choose compression shorts over loose shorts is the actual compression they provide.

Compression shorts are super tight and provide compression to keep muscles warm and blood pumping.

Compression shorts will not ride up or move while working out like loose shorts will. And of course, you do not have to worry about accidentally flashing someone when wearing compression shorts!

Different Types of Compression Shorts

There are some different types of compression shorts.

They come in various lengths, colors, and materials. Some even have pockets and a high waist. The shortest versions have a 3 inch in-seam. You can also find 5 inch, 7 inch, 8 inch, and 9 inch versions.

Of course, each length has a different purpose.

The compression shorts with pockets are for people who want to carry things around while working out. Maybe you have some small items you’d like to have on hand but don’t want to hold them in your hands or in your pocket. A pocket in the right place in the short is definitely an option worth considering!

Some styles of compression shorts, like those by Boa, feature moisture wicking material which will absorb sweat and keep it away from the skin. Moisture wicking fabric technology is used in sports bras, form-fitting shirts, and other workout gear. This serves two purposes; keeping the body cool when exercising because sweat will be absorbed by the clothing rather than sitting against the skin (which can cause irritation), and preventing chafing.

If you are looking for compression shorts to wear under your clothes, you may want to consider high waist compression shorts. These have a high waistband that will not ride down or show under clothing like some other styles of compression shorts can.

In addition, you will find compression shorts made from various materials, from cotton to spandex and lycra. 

There are many different types of compression shorts on the market, so be sure to do your research before purchasing a pair!

What Features Should Compression Shorts Have?

Here are some of the features to consider when you buy your next pair of compression shorts:

  • Moisture wicking material dries quickly and pulls sweat away from the body to keep you dry. 
  • Fabric that allows your skin to breathe. They may have ventilation or mesh. 
  • Pockets that may be zipped or hidden are great for holding your phone or keys. 
  • Material with stretch will move in any direction to give you the ability to move freely.
  • You want clothes that feel comfortable while you are wearing them. You do not want material that is going to chafe and rub your skin. 
  • Antibacterial material may help contain the odor from your clothes when you sweat. 

Benefits of Compression Shorts

Compression shorts provide many advantages for your physical performance. Some of the benefits you may have are:

Decrease Fatigue 

When you wear compression shorts during a workout, they may help reduce muscle fatigue. You can still have this benefit if you wear compression shorts after a workout. They can also help to reduce soreness in your muscles after your training. This also means you may be able to work out longer without feeling tired as quickly. 


Muscles require oxygen to function, especially during a workout. Compression shorts help increase the amount of oxygen that goes to the muscles. They also help to increase the flow of blood to the muscles, which also provides them oxygen. When the muscles have more oxygen and blood flow, they can perform better and more effectively. 

Better Recovery 

Compression has been shown to help muscles recover faster after strength and resistance training. However, the muscles can take a significant amount of time to recover from strenuous exercise. Compression shorts can help shorten the amount of time it takes for muscles to recover, especially after demanding workouts. 

The same applies to compression socks, which are commonly used by runners with shin splints.

Prevent Strains

Compression shorts can help prevent strains while you are working out. It can also help to help you recover when you have a strain. 

If you do experience muscle damage, compression shorts may help to minimize the damage. This is due to the support they offer and the compression they provide. Compression shorts can also help to speed up the healing process of any muscle damage that does occur.

More Power

It is thought that compression shorts can help improve your ability to jump higher, mainly when engaged in endurance activities. They can also help recovery so that you can get your maximum jump back even after a challenging workout. 

Better Flexibility 

Compression shorts stretch in every direction and definitely in whatever direction you want to move. They do not restrict you and therefore allow you the ability to move, stretch, and be more flexible. 

Aerobic and Anaerobic Thresholds 

Your aerobic threshold is what allows you to exercise at a constant and consistent level for an extended period of time. The higher your threshold, the better you can perform. Your anaerobic threshold is the point when the lactic acid begins to build up in your blood. Lactic acid makes exercise difficult. It makes you feel tired, muscle fatigue, and literally like you just cannot continue.

Compression shorts help improve your aerobic threshold while also improving your aerobic threshold. This means that it takes longer for the lactic acid to build up in your bloodstream. This means you can work out harder for a more extended period of time – a useful tool for both runners and cyclists.

Negatives of Compression Shorts

While there are many benefits to compression shorts, there may be a few drawbacks.

Compression shorts can apply a large amount of pressure.

If they have too much pressure, they could feel uncomfortable.

They may even cause areas to become numb. Those with certain health conditions should not wear compressions shorts. They may not be ideal for those with damaged skin.

People who do not have proper nutrition should not wear compression shorts. If you have a problem with your circulation, you should consult your doctor before wearing compression shorts. 

Best compression shorts?

Another name for compression shorts is bike shorts.

See more: the best Sugoi bike shorts

There is an excellent reason for that. Cyclists wear compression shorts when they are riding. Compression shorts allow freedom of movement for bikers while keeping their muscles warm and blood flowing.

Many people choose to wear compression shorts for many different sports.

This includes yoga, barre, pilates, HiiT, and weight lifting.

You will often see runners wearing compression shorts. They offer unique benefits to runners. Most runners find them comfortable and reduce chafing from their skin rubbing while they run. This helps runners perform better.

Compression shorts have been constructed to support and compress the body, which makes them popular with runners. In addition, compression shorts help to stabilize joints, reduce injuries, and help runners recover faster

Final Thoughts on Compression Shorts

Many athletes, especially runners, love compression shorts. They are more comfortable than you think they will be.

Most importantly, they will not ride up no matter what type of workout you are doing. Even those who do not believe they help an athlete with their performance cannot argue with the fact that compression shorts are comfortable.

That alone helps an athlete feel better while working out and naturally improves performance. Compression shorts may be a little more expensive, but they are absolutely worth spending a little more money.

Author Profile

Alex Randall

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Alex is the editor at Revel Sports. It was his idea to take our post-club-run chats and build a website out of them. He is responsible for dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s when any of us have something to post. (Basically: it’s all his fault). A ferocious 5K powerhouse on his day, Alex is known for not understanding the meaning of the term ‘negative split‘.
Alex Randall

Revel SPorts Contributor

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