The 11 Best High-Waisted Workout Shorts

From buttery-soft bike shorts to lighter-than-air running shorts.

by Andrea Gale
Elite Daily/Amazon
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Whether you’re stocking up on exercise clothes or you’re more into the athleisure aesthetic, a pair (or several) of the best high-waisted workout shorts deserve a spot in your drawer. Available in a few different styles — like bike shorts, dolphin shorts, and tulip-hem running shorts — these performance shorts promise to keep you cool, dry, and free to move as you please during your workout. And thanks to that versatile high waist, they’ll look amazing with everything from crop tops to long-sleeve T-shirts and sweatshirts.

What To Consider When Shopping For High-Waisted Workout Shorts


All the workout shorts on this list have a high rise that hits above or at the belly button — or the ability to be pulled higher on your waist and secured with a drawstring — but you’ll see variations in length. A workout short that hits around mid-thigh to knee-length is offers great coverage — and can prevent chafing if you’re heading out on a bike ride — but you’ll find plenty of short shorts that’ll make you feel light and free while you move. A loose, flowy fit allows for extra ventilation, regardless of the length. You’ll also find plenty of biker shorts with high, wide, gently compressive waistbands that allow you to move freely — and act as an essential component for copping that famous Princess Diana ‘fit.


For a pair of workout shorts you can take to the gym, look for quick-drying fabrics like nylon or polyester that’ll keep you dry and allow for ease of movement. Pure nylon or polyester will give you that cool, crisp feeling that classic running shorts are known for. Otherwise, a pair blended with stretch, like elastane or spandex, can offer a softer, more flexible feel.


Finally, keep an eye out for details that’ll add to the functionality of your workout shorts. Those with pockets (whether zippered, hidden inside the waistband, or at the hips) let you keep valuables like keys or a phone safe so you can go bag-free, which can come especially in handy if you’re heading out for a run or bike ride. Likewise, a pair of built-in shorts can add extra coverage and security during a workout (and can do away with the need to wear underwear, if you prefer). And consider your preferred waistband; a drawstring waist allows for adjustability, while a pull-on, elasticated waistband offers a more streamlined silhouette.

Ready to find your perfect pair? Scroll on to shop the best high-waisted workout shorts.

These High-Waisted Bike Shorts With Over 16,000 5-Star Ratings

It’s not hard to see why over 16,000 Amazon shoppers have given these high-waisted bike shorts a perfect five-star rating. Snug, quick-drying, and woven with four-way stretch, they feature two deep side pockets (big enough to hold your phone), and a wide, high waistband that feels secure even when you’re moving and stretching. The inseam hits around the top of the thigh, so your legs can get plenty of air without getting overly cheeky.

Helpful review: “Perfect shorts for working out. The pockets allow me to carry my phone with me on the workout floor and [the] material used in the shorts isn't see through...even while doing squats. I appreciate the high waist for two reasons, compression and it doesn't show bare skin when reaching for something.”

Sizes: X-Small — XX-Large | Colors: 22 | Material: 88% Nylon, 12%Spandex

The High-Waisted Workout Shorts That Shoppers Swear Are Just Like Lululemons

Toss on these high-waisted workout shorts anytime you want the freedom to keep smaller items like keys or a credit card secure; they feature a side zippered pocket, so whatever you stash will stay put. (Note that reviews indicate the pocket is too small to fit larger model phones.) Featuring a short split hem and a wide, elasticized pull-on waistband, these cute and comfy shorts are cool, breathable, and a tad stretchy, with a fit that’s just relaxed enough to offer a little extra ventilation. They’re also lined, so you can go without underwear if you want. Plus, several reviewers report that they’re a great Lululemon alternative, with one writing that “they fit almost exactly like my Lululemon high waisted Track That shorts, but they are even softer.”

Helpful review: “These shorts are the perfect length and have zip pockets for working out. They have the built in lining which I like. They are super [...] comfortable. BUY THEM!!”

Sizes: X-Small3X-Large | Colors: 33 | Material: 95% Polyester, 5% Spandex

These Popular High-Waisted Bike Shorts In 4 Inseam Lengths

Another fan-favorite, these high-waisted bike shorts with four-way stretch and a gently compressive waistband are available in your choice of a 5-, 6-, 8-, or 9-inch inseam — and they come in a whopping 47 colors and prints — so you’re guaranteed to find a pair that suits. Two side pockets offer plenty of room to stash essentials, and the flatlock seams prevent chafing. Plus, they have a 4.6-star rating from over 18,000 ratings in total to back them up.

Helpful review: “I've ordered probably 10 pair of these already, they are my favorite shorts. I wear them daily whether I'm exercising or not. They are comfortable [...] and functional. I use the front phone pockets every day, all day. They hold my large iphone no problem plus other items. [...] The amount of compression they provide is just right, they don't cut your circulation off or make lines on your legs. I would highly recommend !”

Sizes: X-Small — 3X-Large | Colors: 47 | Material: 76% Polyester, 24% Spandex

A Pair Of High-Waisted Running Shorts With Retro-Inspired Piping

For an updated take on dolphin shorts, try these high-waisted workout shorts, which are accented with contrasting white piping for a look that’s perfectly retro. Made of cooling and lightweight woven polyester, these shorts feature a moisture-wicking liner, mesh side panels for extra ventilation, and a hidden key pocket in the waistband, while a hem that hits around mid-thigh offers coverage without compromising airflow.

Helpful review: “These are comfortable and the fit is perfect. They're breathable and nice for daily wear or working out. After getting one pair and loving them I purchased 2 other colors. I've been wearing them all summer without any rips or fraying.”

Sizes: 1X — 5X | Colors: 8 | Material: 100% Polyester

This Pair Of High-Waisted Running Shorts With A Smocked Waistband

Whether you choose these high-waisted running shorts with or without a liner (you have both options in the listing), the quick-dry, non-stretch nylon fabric and three-tiered smocked, pull-on wide waistband are equal parts cute and comfortable. Featuring a split hem and a mesh back pocket, these extra-short shorts have a loose fit through the thighs for ventilation. How cute would they be paired with some chunky Crocs and a cropped hoodie post-workout?

Helpful review: “Bought these for a Disney visit.... great buy! They are roomy and breathable, so great for walking outside for hours, and the wide elastic provides nice support for the belly and back.”

Sizes: X-Small — XX-Large | Colors: 21 | Material: 100% Nylon

These High-Waisted Workout Shorts In A Longer Length

With a Bermuda-style 10-inch inseam (that’ll hit around your knees, depending on your height), these high-waisted workout shorts offer more coverage than other options on this list. They have a yoga pant-style compression waistband and stretchy, soft, yet totally opaque construction, with a close-yet-relaxed fit through the thigh that offers freedom of movement, but without an excess of material that can get in the way while you run, lunge, jump, or stretch. They’re finished off with two stylish (and functional) side pockets.

Helpful review: “I was looking for a comfortable yoga type/ lounge shorts which I can exercise in and just wear causally around the house. These are very comfortable and I love that they have pockets too. They have the yoga type waist and are fitted through the waist and hips. The leg is looser at the bottom which I like; not constricting.”

Sizes: Small — XX-Large | Colors: 4 | Material: 87% Nylon, 13% Spandex

An Affordable Pair Of High-Waisted Workout Shorts In A Moisture-Wicking Fabric

These high-waisted workout shorts are made from a brushed jersey fabric designed to wick away moisture, so you’ll stay dry even during the sweatiest workouts. With a relaxed fit, two deep front pockets, a 4-inch inseam, and a high, adjustable drawstring waistband, they’re so comfortable, you’ll want to keep them on long after your workout is finished.

Helpful review: “These are great shorts - they're not too short-short, they are really comfortable, they have some stretch and they wick away moisture, they have pockets (bonus!), and they have a drawstring. [...] The lightweight fabric is great for warmer activities. [...] they hold up after multiple washings [...] Great value for the price.”

Sizes: X-Small — 6X | Colors: 8 | Material: 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex

These Bike Shorts With A Trendy Cross Waistband

Available in 2.5-, 5-, or 8-inch inseams so you can choose the coverage that’s perfect for you, this pair of high-waisted bike shorts features updates like a trendy criss-cross waist and V-back stitching for added definition. Made of moisture-wicking polyester and spandex with four-way stretch, this pair also features a hidden inner pocket for small items like keys or a credit card.

Helpful review: “I absolutely loooooove these shorts. [...] They don’t ride up and they’re shaping while also being comfortable. They SNATCH your waist without being too tight. Sooo great for working out or casual wear. They’re also great for wearing under dresses and skirts. Highly highly recommend!!!!!”

Sizes: X-Small — XX-Large | Colors: 31 | Material: 76% Polyester, 24% Spandex

A Pair Of High-Waisted Running Shorts With Extra Ventilation Features

It can be hard to find workout shorts that are comfortable and functional, but these high-waisted running shorts do both with ease. They feature a wide, smooth, stretchy pull-on waistband outfitted with a zippered pocket at the back and a hidden pocket at the front, plus a U-shaped slit design in back that allows for more ventilation and freedom of movement. A mesh inner liner offers added coverage (the hem is on the shorter side), and the tulip hem and quick-dry fabric create plenty of ventilation for whatever activity you have planned.

Helpful review: “These are amazing! Love love love how comfortable they are on my waist [...] I love a good pair of running shorts to do errands, hang out around the house in, and workout in! These are perfect for all of that & more! The colors were just like the pictures and they fit true to size!”

Sizes: X-Small — X-Large | Colors: 13 | Material: 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex

These Cult-Favorite High-Waisted Bike Shorts At An Amazing Price

With over 16,000 five-star ratings to date, these high-waisted bike shorts are a bonafide cult-favorite. Made from a stretchy and soft cotton jersey, reviewers love these for everything from lounging to low-impact exercise (note that they’re not moisture-wicking, so they may not be the best choice for extra-sweaty workouts). They feature a high waistband and a 9-inch inseam, perfect for anyone seeking a little extra coverage. And just because these are lounge-ready doesn’t mean you can’t dress them up; the longer length would look incredible with an oversized button-down shirt layered on top. Considering how often you’ll wear these — and that they currently cost $10 — you’ll want to add a few to your cart.

Helpful review: “Perfect for loungewear, sleeping, and underneath dresses and skirts. Not skin tight, but comfy, well fitting, and perfect for many different things. I definitely plan on buying more!”

Sizes: 1X — 5X | Colors: 2 | Material: Cotton, Spandex

A Pair Of Classic Adidas Workout Shorts

This classic pair of Adidas workout shorts is sure to become a staple in any workout wardrobe. Made of recycled 100% polyester with moisture-wicking, cooling technology, they feature a mid-thigh length, a relaxed fit, and an inner drawstring with a mid-to-high, elasticized waistband that will be comfy whether you’re working out or chilling out.

Helpful review: “Nice shorts. Lightweight and immediately comfortable. I like that the shorts go down about mid thigh. I don't like my shorts too short or too long. Addidas soccer shorts for me are just right for just about anything I like to do including running or hiking.”

Sizes: XX-Small — XX-Large | Colors: 6 | Material: 100% Polyester