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Two athletes in compression gear working out.
  • Writer's pictureCompression Athlete

Should I Wear Shorts Over My Compression Tights?

Shorts or no shorts? We’ll help you determine which look is right for you.

Athlete wearing compression tights with shorts.

For both women and men, wearing compression tights or leggings during workouts and sporting events has been growing in popularity.

Not only are they a comfortable option but the performance-based benefits are starting to grab people’s attention, as well.

When it comes to how compression tights are worn, however, there is a bit of divide that pops up between women and men.

We tend to see women wear solely the compression tights or leggings as an outerwear choice, whereas men tend to wear a pair of shorts over their compression tights.

So, why is this exactly?

The concern some men have with wearing solely compression tights when working out at the gym or exercising outside is mostly centered around fit.

The nature of compression tights is much like a second skin, molding snuggly to your legs from waist to ankle.

Woman wearing compression tights and man wearing compression tights with shorts.

This fit seems to feel more natural for women, as compression tights and leggings mimic already prevalent fashion styles that have been around for some time.

For men, however, this sort of tight fit around the legs has not been as common.

So, while men like the benefits of compression tights, they may feel more comfortable with the looser fitting shorts over the top of them.

Additionally, because of the snug fit, there may also be something of a modesty issue.

Some men feel a bit put on display in the groin area, making the solely compression tights experience awkward and uncomfortable.

So, is there a straightforward answer to whether you should wear shorts over your compression tights?

No, not really.

But here we’ll dive into all your questions on wearing shorts over compression tights to help you decide which look and fit is best for you.

Check out our picks for the Best Compression Tights to Wear Under Shorts.

Should Men Wear Shorts Over Their Compression Tights?

While wearing shorts over compression tights is currently a popular choice among male athletes, the choice to do so is not a matter of should versus should not.

It all boils down to the personal preference of the athlete wearing the compression tights.

Whether for exercise, training, or competition, you want to feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing.

So, if you feel more comfortable wearing shorts over your compression tights, go for it.

None of the benefits offered by your compression tights will be diminished by doing so.

Smiling man wearing compression tights.

If you’d rather skip the shorts and just wear the compression tights, there’s no problem here either.

A quality pair of compression tights is more than capable of providing you with all the support you might require.

In some cases, however, it should be noted that there might be typical fashion trends followed by athletes of a particular sport or that part of the athlete’s uniform dictates the decision one way or the other.

But most of the time, it’s all about the athlete and his or her preference.

Are There Benefits to Wearing Shorts Over Compression Tights?

The short and sweet answer to this question is: No.

Technically, there are no added benefits to wearing a pair of shorts over the top of your compression tights.

While one of the great aspects of both compression tights and compression shorts are their snug fit that allows them to be worn comfortably under a uniform, adding shorts over them does not have any impact on the benefits your compression tights provide.

That being said, there aren’t many cases in which wearing shorts over your compression tights would have an adverse effect.

For example, it’s not uncommon to see professional basketball players wear compression tights, whether full-length or ¾-length, under their uniforms.

Athlete training in 3/4 length compression tights.

The only scenario in which they could negatively impact performance is when compression tights are worn in sports where aerodynamics factor into competitiveness.

In this case, wearing layers on top of the tights could hinder your performance.

Any extra layers on top of the compression tights would likely be considered redundant and might get in the way of your physical abilities and performance.

But when it comes to the everyday athlete, most of these distinctions wont apply.

While you won’t be gaining any performance-enhancing benefits by wearing shorts over your compression tights, you may choose to for other reasons.

Some feel more comfortable with the extra layer, whether for extra support or personal preference.

Additionally, some people use shorts as an extra layer for warmth in colder months.

It should be noted, however, that there are high-quality compression tights designed for wear in cold weather that can help in this scenario, as well.

How to Wear Compression Tights

When it comes to wearing compression tights, there are a few key characteristics you’ll want to look for in your pair of tights.

Compression tights are intended as a base layer, meaning they should be worn directly against your skin.

They should fit tightly from top to bottom and you should be able to feel their compressive pressure supporting your leg muscles.

Ideally, you won’t have any loose-fitting sections throughout the leg of your compression tights.

You should feel your glutes, quads, and hamstrings compressed by the tights, and downward into your calves, as well.

The tights should fit snugly but also not restrict your range of motion in any way.

If you feel like your movements are being restricted, there’s a good chance that you need to try the next size up.

With a comfortable, supportive, and appropriately fit pair of compression tights worn as a base-layer against your skin, you are good to go for your workout or activity.

Runner wearing compression tights.

On the other hand, some men may feel more comfortable wearing a pair of shorts over their compression tights.

If you’re opting for a pair of shorts over the top, be sure to choose a pair with a good waistband.

While the rest of the shorts fabric will move freely over your compression tights fabric, a firm waistband will ensure that your shorts don’t slide up and down your waist.

It’s worth noting, however, that adding a pair of shorts won’t give you any added athletic benefit.

So, feel free to forego the shorts if you prefer, as they don’t really serve any purpose.

And if modesty is your concern, there’s a good chance that the vast majority of people around you won’t care what you’re wearing anyways.

Debate: Compression Shorts and Tights as Outerwear

As compression wear continues to grow in popularity and prevalence, we see its presence in both competitive arenas and everyday war.

New activewear trends, in particular what is known as athleisure, have become a popular fashion choice.

Compression tights and leggings are very popular among women right now for not only working out and being active, but also as everyday wear in a variety of social scenarios.

However, this same all-accepting attitude has not yet been widely embraced by men when it comes to compression tights.

That is not to say compression tights haven’t grown in popularity for men as of late.

We see them being adopted by both professional and non-professional athletes throughout the sports world.

Athlete working out in compression tights.

But there is some debate as to what constitutes appropriate wear.

On the one hand, some men have expressed that they feel too exposed in just the compression tights, opting to add a pair of shorts to serve as a buffer.

While others argue that the shorts aren’t serving any functional purpose, so why bother.

Some feel that they don’t receive enough support or warmth from just the tights alone.

While others would argue that you probably just aren’t wearing the right pair of tights and should opt instead for a higher-quality pair.

Of course, one opinion isn’t wrong and the other right in this case.

It’s really comes down to how you’re most comfortable wearing your compression tights.

Wear a pair of shorts over the top if you prefer or ditch the shorts and just go tights.

Some might not be fond of the just compression tights look but to most it won’t matter one way or the other.

Benefits of Wearing Compression Tights

There’s a reason why compression tights are growing in popularity and expanding in use.

Athletes across a wide spectrum of sports can enjoy their many benefits from the moment they put them on.

Not only are compression tights unrivaled in terms of comfort and support but they provide a number of performance-enhancing boosts, as well.

One such benefit is the way compression tights keep your muscles warm.

This is achieved through the compressive pressure applied to your muscles, which in turn improves your blood circulation and muscle oxygenation.

Athlete in compression tights using foam roller.

Another benefit is achieved through eliminating distraction.

When you’re active, the last thing you want to worry about is chaffing or uncomfortable bunching from your clothing.

The tight fit of compression tights offer great support while also reducing the distractions of loose-fitting fabric.

Compression tights also wick sweat away from your skin to keep your body cool and comfortable.

For more on picking out a great pair of compression tights, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Compression Tights.

We cover all the most common questions surrounding the wear, fit, and use of compression tights.

You can also learn how you can get the most out of your compression tights for as long as possible with our Compression Wear Best Care Practices.


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