Not too short and not too long, 7-inch shorts are a useful mid-length gym short and an ideal blend of form and function.

The best gym shorts for men are categorised by their length – common types are 3-inch, 5-inch and 7-inch shorts.

But what does this measurement mean and why are the best men’s 7-inch inseam shorts a popular choice for gym work? 

Put simply, a short with a 7-inch inseam (equivalent to around 18cm) means the length of the fabric down the inner thigh is 7 inches long. Most casual shorts will be around a 9-inch inseam and sit just on the knee.

So a 7-inch inseam short – like the On Running Lightweight Shorts – will sit a couple of inches above the knee for a flattering look, but also for ease of movement when exercising. 

It will give you more coverage and protection than a 3-inch or 5-inch short.

So 7-inch inseam shorts are the utility players of the shorts world, providing freedom to move with just a little exposure on the thigh. Not too long, or too short, they will sit just above the knee on most of us. They are often more practical and versatile than 3-inch or 5-inch shorts, or longer fitting options that sit closer to the knee cap. 

A man putting a hand into the pocket of a pair of Lululemon License To Train Lined 7in Shorts 
Pockets can be deeper and more secure in 7-inch shorts than in 3 or 5-inch versions

Best of both worlds

While the best 3-inch shorts and best 5-inch shorts are popular with runners, unless they have a split seam they tend to ride up the leg. This can get distracting at best, and downright uncomfortable and irritating at worst.

The best 7-inch inseam shorts, however, give you the best of both worlds. They are light and breathable enough to keep you cool, and give you better coverage and protection. They’re also cut generously enough to allow freedom of movement without riding up your legs.

There are some design differences between the best 7-inch inseam shorts, though. The most significant being the fit, the length of split seam if they have one, and the inclusion of a liner short.

Get the fit right for your activity and you’ll benefit from better movement, flexibility, support and comfort. A short split seam will improve flexibility further.

Most shorts will feature an integral liner, though this can sometimes be longer than the short inseam – like the Under Armour Iso-Chill 2-in-1. Often made of a high-stretch fabric such as Lycra, it will add support, breathability and often compression benefits.

The extra length and slightly more relaxed fit means there’s more room to incorporate pockets and zips. That makes 7-inch shorts ideal for longer workouts and for wearing all day.

Attention to details like that, and to comfort and manoeuvrability, makes the best 7-inch inseam shorts useful for all sorts of workouts. Wear them in the gym or outdoors for cardio and strength sessions, or for running any distance.