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The Different Types of Short Athletic Shorts: A Comprehensive Breakdown The Different Types of Short Athletic Shorts: A Comprehensive Breakdown

Brand: Best Running Shorts

The Different Types of Short Athletic Shorts: A Comprehensive Breakdown

Get a comprehensive breakdown of the different types of short athletic shorts. Learn about the specific design elements, such as length, fit, and materials, that make each style unique.

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If you’ve ever ventured into the world of fitness or even taken a quick peek at the athletic wear section in a clothing store, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the vast range of short athletic shorts. You might even have asked yourself, “What exactly are these short athletic shorts called?” The world of running shorts can be as diverse and complex as the people who wear them, and understanding the terminology can help you make the best choice for your running needs. Let’s unravel this enigma and dive into the vibrant universe of running shorts.

The Birth of Running Shorts

In the early days of athletic wear, running shorts were not as diverse or specialized as they are now. Athletes primarily wore long, baggy shorts that didn’t provide the flexibility or breathability that modern designs offer. But as running became a more popular and competitive sport, the need for better, more efficient running gear became evident. Thus, the evolution of running shorts began.

The Different Types of Running Shorts

When it comes to short athletic shorts, there are various styles, each with its own name and unique features. Let’s walk through the most common types:

Split Shorts

Split shorts are a staple in the running community, particularly among competitive runners. They feature a slit or ‘split’ along the sides that extends to the waistband. This split design significantly increases freedom of movement, making it easier for runners to stretch their strides.

V-notch Shorts

Similar to split shorts, V-notch shorts feature a V-shaped notch at the side. This notch is generally less dramatic than a split, offering a balance between unrestricted movement and modesty.

Half-tights or Fitted Shorts

Half-tights or fitted shorts are tight-fitting shorts that contour to your body. They provide compression, reduce the risk of chafing, and offer muscle support, making them an excellent choice for long-distance runners.

2-in-1 Shorts

2-in-1 shorts, also known as double-layer shorts, combine a fitted inner short with a loose outer short. These shorts offer the best of both worlds, providing the muscle support and chafe-reduction of fitted shorts, coupled with the comfort and modesty of loose shorts.

Compression Shorts

Not to be confused with fitted shorts, compression shorts are designed to apply pressure to the thighs and glutes, which can help improve blood circulation and minimize muscle soreness.

Sprinter With Compression Shorts

Image from Adobe

Trail Shorts

Trail shorts are designed specifically for trail runners. They generally have a more relaxed fit and often come with additional features like water-resistant fabric and pockets for carrying essentials.

Why Are There So Many Different Names for Running Shorts?

Just as running shorts have evolved to accommodate a variety of running styles and personal preferences, so too have the names we use to describe them. The various terms for running shorts reflect not just their physical features but also their function and the specific needs they address.

For instance, ‘split shorts’ and ‘v-notch shorts’ describe the shape of the shorts, while ‘compression shorts’ and ‘2-in-1 shorts’ speak more to the shorts’ function. Each name gives you a snapshot of what to expect from the shorts, making it easier to identify the best type for your needs.

Choosing the Right Running Shorts

Now that you understand the different types of running shorts, you might be wondering how to choose the right pair for you. Here are a few factors to consider:

  • The type of running you’ll be doing: If you’re a long-distance runner, you might prefer compression or 2-in-1 shorts for their muscle support. On the other hand, if you’re a sprinter and prefer shorter runs, split shorts or v-notch shorts might be your best bet.
  • Comfort and fit: No matter what type of running you’re doing, comfort is key. Always try on running shorts before purchasing to ensure a comfortable fit.
  • Additional features: Think about any additional features you might want, like pockets for carrying essentials or moisture-wicking fabric to keep you dry.


In the vast world of running shorts, each style has its own name and unique features. From split shorts and v-notch shorts to compression shorts and 2-in-1 shorts, there’s a style for every runner. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or a beginner, understanding these different terms can help you make an informed decision and find the perfect pair of shorts for your running needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the short athletic shorts with a split on the side called?

Those are called split shorts. They are popular amongst runners because the split extends to the waistband, providing excellent freedom of movement.

What are fitted running shorts called?

Fitted running shorts are often referred to as half-tights or simply, fitted shorts.

What are the short athletic shorts with a tight inner layer and a loose outer layer called?

These are known as 2-in-1 shorts, or double-layer shorts.

What type of running shorts are best for long-distance running?

Many long-distance runners prefer compression shorts or 2-in-1 shorts because they offer muscle support and help reduce chafing.

What type of running shorts are best for trail running?

Trail runners might prefer trail shorts. They have a more relaxed fit and often come with additional features like water-resistant fabric and pockets for carrying essentials.