If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you train well (Thank you Deion). Well, when you’re in the weight room or on the road, the distance between looking and working out doesn’t have to be miles. Some of the best workout clothes are designed to work as well as you do, no matter what discipline you want.
One of the most notable categories where form meets function is athletic shorts. These bottom options are designed with premium comfort and breathability in every seam, plus the bravado and grit to get you through every set, every mile without distraction.
Two of our favorite workout wear brands, Ten Thousand and Lululemon, are no strangers to the upper echelon of gym attire; their respective shorts consistently top our list of favorite workout shorts. But which bottom takes first place? Which pair of shorts should you choose when dressing for your next PR?
To find out, I decided to prepare myself and give each brand its moment on the platform to determine which shorts steal the show.
The contenders for the best workout shorts
Ten thousand short intervals
Versatile, mobile and downright ready to work, the Interval Short has been a staple of the Ten Thousand stable for some time. With lined and unlined options available, as well as 5, 7 and 9 inch inseam styles, these shorts give you plenty of room to customize your workout wardrobe. A pleat-free waistband sits flat against the midsection, while bonded hems provide a comfortable, bulk-free fit designed for every sweat session.
Lululemon Pace Breaker Shorts
Whether you’re a staunch follower of yoga flows or a record-breaking runner, Lululemon’s Pace Breaker Shorts have plenty of benefits to boost your regimen. Lightweight Swift fabric covers your glutes and thighs effortlessly for a breathable and comfortable feel. Although unlined options are available, I recommend taking advantage of the Out of Mind liner model for its exceptional quick-drying mesh fabric to keep your lower region cool and comfortable.
How to choose the workout shorts that are right for you
When looking for a new pair of workout shorts, you’ll want to pick one that fits your needs. First, consider what inseam you would ideally want in a bottom option. Most short gym inseam lengths range from 5 to 9 inches. 5-inch inseam shorts will land somewhere in your mid-thigh area, and are preferred by runners who want that ultra-lightweight fit.
For those looking for more coverage or protection, like bodybuilding athletes, the 9 inch inseam is a little more appealing. Because my workouts span a multitude of disciplines, I chose to test the 7-inch inseam models of the Pace Breaker and Interval shorts. 7-inch inseams can be a great middle ground for those who want a bit of coverage without sacrificing breathability.
When it comes to fabric, polyester is the textile of choice for most workout clothes. Lately, many brands are turning to partially or totally recycled polyester, or innovative materials like plant-based yarns and fabrics, in an effort to combat the polluting effects of fashion. These alternatives can be more expensive than other options, so keep that in mind when looking to expand your wardrobe. The Pace Breaker and Interval shorts both have a similar composition, with a blend of polyester and spandex or elastane for stretch.
With the prerequisites cleared, let’s dive into battle and see how these two shorts stack up against each other.
Test 1: Durability and performance
To see just how capable these top gym shorts were, I naturally took them to their natural environment – the gym. Through multiple strength and agility training sessions, I noted how these bottoms performed when the tough ones were going. I noticed how well each pair resisted barbell sliding on the outside, as well as how well they held and stretched in squats, lunges, box jumps and more.
No matter what I threw at them, whether RPE 9 barbell rows or ladder exercises, the Ten Thousand Interval Shorts stood up to the task. I really admired the uncompromising exterior which effectively wicked away any moisture present with ease. Plus, the shorts were tough enough to withstand the knurling of the barbell while still being comfortable for every set.
While I admired the stretch of Lululemon’s Pace Breaker Shorts, especially when sitting deep in the hole of a heavy squat, the lightweight Swift fabric gave me a sense of caution in a few modalities. Although comfortable and able to train comfortably, I preferred the more durable shell of the Ten Thousands when strength training.
Test 2: Comfort and Breathability
Outside of performance, you want your workout wardrobe to be comfortable, right? After all, what’s the point of embarking on a fitness journey if your clothes are making you uncomfortable and demotivating for the next day’s session? To test the comfort built into these short options, I wore these picks in place of my typical running shorts for multi-mile hikes, as well as during a few yoga sessions. When you’re contorting your body or running long distances, you want shorts that are light yet supportive.
Despite their minor shortcomings in the gym, the Pace Breakers have proven to be an exceptional option for running and yoga scenarios. The Swift fabric was comfortable and offered little friction when changing yoga poses. The Out of Mind liner was also more than welcome on long runs, thanks to the mesh construction that kept everything nice and comfortable.
I also enjoyed the interval shorts in race-specific training, but felt they were better suited for tempo work and shorter distances. Unlike the Lululemons, the lining of the Ten Thousand Gym Shorts aligns more closely with traditional compression shorts, which limits breathability and can be prone to chafing over time. Also, the exterior, while drying quickly, did cause some sweating there, which wasn’t as present in the Pace Breakers.
Test 3: Features and options available
Workout shorts are the type of item that can make anyone loyal to a particular style. If you’re successful with a cut, you’re more likely to buy multiple pairs. With that notion in mind, I looked closely at each short’s built-in tech specs, as well as online offerings to see if any product model could make a week of training easier. Available inseams, lined and unlined options, colorways and more were all considered when determining which style we’d be more inclined towards a drawer full of storage.
Both the Ten Thousand Interval and the Lululemon Pace Breaker have two side pockets, a zippered pocket and an additional phone pocket in the lining. Also, there are plenty of color options online to organize a wardrobe to your liking. While I don’t trust my most prized possessions in either pocket, it’s not a factor I typically stress when looking at workout shorts. Think about it, how many things do you do Actually wear on your person during training?
Our choice: ten thousand short intervals
Due to the very present durability and performance components built into each pair – as well as my preference for strength training modalities – I had to give Ten Thousand’s Interval Short the win. When I was in the gym, I felt confident, cool, and ready to go, all thanks in part to the shorts I wore. the flat waistband was comfortable but supportive, and I admired the color and inseam options available online. At less than $70, you can create a rotation of quality athletic shorts with this model alone.
While Ten Thousand took the crown in this battle, I’m not hitting Lululemon’s Pace Breakers. If you are someone who tends to prioritize cardio training over hanging and hitting with weight plates, I would recommend these shorts for their comfort and lightweight construction. Plus, you have so many color options at a similar price. Lululemon Pace Breakers can also be worn everyday.
Ultimately, the best gym shorts are the ones that best suit your style. Hopefully this direct comparison can help you unlock that feeling of well-being for a more successful workout.
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