Expert run tester Kieran Alger logs some lung-burning miles to test adidas’ Adizero Control Running Short Tights…

The marketing blurb says that these compressive running shorts will keep your muscles literally in line, and help to limit unnecessary energy loss when you’re smashing out your faster miles. But can a pair of shorts really boost efficiency?

Men’s Fitness verdict

We like the compressive support and versatility of the Adizero Control shorts but they can be a little warm and restrictive for some. You can feel a bit exposed too if you wear them on their own.
Pros
  • Comfortable, compressive fit
  • Maximum support for your working muscles
  • Can double as baselayer shorts
Cons
  • Movement feels somewhat restricted
  • Quite warm in hotter conditions
  • On the pricey side

How we tested the best running shorts

Our reviewers tested each pair of running shorts over a wide range of distances – from 5km to half-marathon – and during treadmill and outdoor training sessions as well as competitive events, to bring you the best of the best.

Adizero Control Running Short Tights design

The Adidas Control Running Short Tights are part of the new Adizero Control collection and a collaboration between Adidas and material experts RHEON Labs. They’re made to keep everything locked in and loaded for faster racing and uptempo sessions. But they come with a special techno-fabric twist.

The zebra effect on the shorts are actually strategically placed stripes of a reactive super polymer that stiffens dynamically to support your muscles during high-energy runs. The aim: to eke out more efficiency from every muscle move. 

According to the white coats at Rheon Labs, when we perform high-energy movements our muscles can become misaligned from their most efficient path. We’re talking fine margins here of course but in effect, your body starts to work against you.

Rheon says its technology adds extra responsive support during those high-energy movements, cutting unwanted muscle movement, focusing your energy when you need it most. That all sounds great in theory but can you feel the difference? 

Close up of Adidas Adizero Control Running Short Tights
Stripes of a reactive super polymer stiffens dynamically to support your muscles during high-energy runs

Adizero Control Running Short Tights performance

First up, I have to talk about the look. These short tights are really made for track speedsters to wear with nothing else on. They’ve got that Olympic sprinter vibe. While paid up members of the tights-no-shorts brigade might be happy smashing out track intervals or fast road miles in just these shorts, I like my essentials a little less exposed. So I tested them on their own and as a baselayer short. 

I’m going to say it straight out, I found it hard to discern any big efficiency gains. That doesn’t mean they’re not there, but I think for most runners, this is a bit like taking a protein shake to speed recovery after your runs. It’s probably working, but it’s not necessarily something you’re acutely aware of as it’s happening. 

What you do notice is how locked-in the tight fit makes your quads and hammies feel – in a good way. Slipping these on instantly gives you a bullet-proof, armoured-up sensation. You feel ready to go into battle against those interval splits. 

The legs are a touch longer and notably more compressive than my usual baselayers, but under a loose and light running short, the combination worked.  

I tested these on some cold-snap winter runs where the thicker fabric immediately boosts the warmth. The fabric does move moisture well, but despite thousands of tiny perforations to boost airflow I can see these potentially running too hot when the temperatures hit their highest in summer, particularly under a second pair of shorts. 

They tick other comfort boxes, though. The leg cuffs stay in place and don’t roll up, the waistband is wide enough to avoid cutting in and overall the fit is comfortable – though you’ll have to enjoy running in something second-skin tight. To the point where at times where it actually feels like you’re working a bit harder to get your knees up and that full range of motion. That’s OK if you’re driving hard during sprints and higher pace short bursts, but I found it a bit restrictive when I was tired, deeper into longer runs. 

The seams are also somewhat chunky and the snug fit means they don’t really work with even the thinnest running undies. So I also wouldn’t necessarily trust them on runs over an hour without a whole load of lube. 

Are the Adizero Control Running Short Tights worth buying?

For shorter, faster sessions and intervals on the track, these shorts were great. But it’s almost impossible to quantifiably say they improved my efficiency. During some test sessions I hit my interval splits, during others I didn’t.

But if you’re after a pair of running shorts with a second-skin, locked-in feel, these are excellent at keeping everything supported and in place. And you’ll at least feel like you’re an Olympian even if you need more than the advertised marginal gains here to get anywhere near that.  

Specifications

Materials:83% recycled polyester; 17% elastane doubleknit
Details:AEROREADY and RHEON technologies, stretch waist, reflective details
Sizes:XS – 2XL
Colour:Legend ink