lululemon Product Guides Product Reviews Summer 2020

lululemon Shorts Explained: Which Short is Best for You

Learn how to pick the perfect lululemon shorts for you

last updated: August 7, 2020


While you’re here, be sure to check out my “lululemon Explained” posts on leggings and sports bras.


In my first “lululemon Explained” post, I broke down all of the different lululemon fabrics used for women’s leggings. Today, we’re going to tackle women’s shorts. It’s getting HOT out there and you’re ready to make the switch from living in your leggings to finding a few comfy pairs of shorts to add to your wardrobe.

There are a couple big factors to consider here – length (aka inseam) and fit. You’ll have to ask yourself a few questions to narrow down your options. Are you looking for a traditional athletic short or something more tight-to-the-body, like a biker short? How short are you comfortable going? Would you prefer a high-rise short or a more traditional medium-rise? Do you want something for a HIIT class, yoga class or a pair of shorts just to kick it around town or at the house?

With so many factors to consider, it can be tough to know where to start. I’m going to divide our options into categories based on design intent – meaning: what type of activity the short was designed for – and then discuss other factors such as length and rise. We have 3 main design intent categories to explore: High Impact Workouts, Low Impact Workouts and Casual / Everyday Wear.

And here we go …


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High Impact Workouts

So, what exactly qualifies as a high impact workout? Anything with running, jumping, lots of big movements, etc. This can include, but isn’t limited to: CrossFit, OrangeTheory, bootcamp classes, running, etc. I’d include spin classes (FlyWheel, SoulCycle, Peloton, etc) and rowing classes in this category too just bc of the nature of the workouts and type of fabrics you’d want to wear for these workouts.

Next question: Are you looking for a more traditional athletic short look or a tight-to-body “biker short” look?

If you’re looking for a biker short for high impact workouts, you’ve got 3 options: the Fast & Free Short, the Wunder Train Short and the Invigorate Short. All three of these shorts are high-rise.

If you’re looking for a more traditional athletic short for high impact workouts, you have 3 main options: the Speed Up Short, the Hotty Hot Short and the Tracker Short. During the summer months, lululemon does release a few seasonal options that I’ll link to but I’m going to focus most of my attention on the two year-round styles.


Fast & Free Short

The Fast and Free Short comes in two inseams: a 6″ length and a 10″ length. I own both. Aesthetically, I like the 6″ better; I’m 5’4″ so the shorter length looks better on me. However, I find the 10″ a more comfortable fit. I wore the 6″ during a 5K road race, and it was great – no riding up, no chafing, I liked how I looked in my pre- and post-race pics – it was a total winner. At home though, when I ride my Peloton, I always choose the 10″. Other than the length, the biggest difference between these two inseams is the bottom hem; the 6″ has a flat seam whereas the 10″ has a laser cut hem. I’ve found that the bottom seam on the 6″ is perfectly located to hit the seat on my Peloton when I’m pedaling, which is no fun. The 10″ however is both longer and doesn’t have that bottom seam, so win-win.

Fast & Frees are made of Nulux fabric, which was launched in 2016 as the high-impact companion to Nulu (the buttery-soft naked-feeling fabric of Align fame) and it’s my favorite workout material. Nulux is lightweight, cool-to-the-touch and feels like you’re wearing nothing while also staying in place perfectly during any type of high-impact workout. You’ll feel compression in the waistband, but through the leg truly feels “next to nothing” (except at the bottom hem in the 6″). I get asked a lot about the durability of the raw hem at the bottom of the 10″ and I promise you, it doesn’t fray, so don’t worry.

Key Features of Fast & Free Shorts:

  • smooth and slick hand-feel
  • naked sensation
  • fabric feels cool against the skin
  • continuous drawstring in the waistband
  • drop-in pockets on the sides
  • breathable
  • moisture-wicking
  • quick-drying
  • engineered four-way stretch
  • weightless coverage


Wunder Train Short

The Wunder Train Short also comes in two inseams: a 6″ length and an 8″ length. I don’t personally own any WT Shorts. Although I love the Wunder Train Tight 25″, I wasn’t a fan of the bottom seam on the shorts. But it must just be me, bc both inseams of these shorts are sold out constantly; people love these shorts.

Wunder Trains are made with Everlux fabric. Everlux was launched in 2017 as a solve for sweaty studio workouts. So while I, personally, wouldn’t wear these shorts for long distance runs, they’d be great for other high impact workouts and runs under a mile.

Key Features of Wunder Train Shorts:

  • fabric feels cool + sleek against the skin on the inside; feels cottony-soft and brushed on the outside
  • fastest drying lululemon fabric
  • moisture-wicking
  • highly breathable
  • supportive, slightly compressive fit
  • four-way stretch
  • hidden waistband pocket
  • continuous drawstring in the waistband


Invigorate Short

You have two inseam options for the Invigorate Short: an 8″ length and a 10″ length.

Like the Wunder Trains, Invigorates are made with Everlux fabric. Everlux was launched in 2017 as a solve for sweaty studio workouts. So while I, personally, wouldn’t wear these shorts for long distance runs, they’d be great for other high impact workouts and runs under a mile.

Key Features of Invigorate Shorts:

  • fabric feels cool + sleek against the skin on the inside; feels cottony-soft and brushed on the outside
  • fastest drying lululemon fabric
  • moisture-wicking
  • highly breathable
  • supportive, slightly compressive fit
  • four-way stretch
  • hidden waistband pocket
  • continuous drawstring in the waistband
  • drop-in pockets on the sides


Speed Up Short

You have two inseam options for the Speed Up Short: a 2.5″ length and a 4″ length. You also have two rise options: a “low-rise” (which I’ve put in quotes bc I think it fits more like a medium-rise) and high-rise.

Back when I used to CrossFit consistently and was in much better shape, these were my go-to shorts. Well, technically I wore an older iteration called Speed Shorts, but #semantics. I have probably 30 pairs of Speed Shorts, so you could say I was a little bit of a fan. All of my Speed Shorts are 2.5″ inseam, but again, I was in much better shape back then; nowadays, I’d opt for a longer inseam.

Key Features of Speed Up Shorts:

  • sweat-wicking
  • four-way stretch
  • leightweight
  • built-in liner
  • zippered back-waistband pocket
  • gel pockets in front-waistband
  • continuous drawstring in waistband


Hotty Hot Short

You have two inseam options for the Hotty Hot Short: a 2.5″ length and a 4″ length. Although I’ve seen this style in high-rise before, currently Hotty Hots are only available in low-rise.

These are probably the best selling shorts, I’d say, right now. In both inseams. The leg opening on Hotty Hots is slightly wider than the leg on the Speed Up Shorts, which gives them a more universally flattering fit.

Key Features of Hotty Hot Shorts:

  • sweat-wicking
  • four-way stretch
  • leightweight
  • built-in liner
  • mesh panel for ventilation on the side of the leg
  • reflective details
  • zippered pocket in the seam of the waistband
  • hidden stash pocket in the liner
  • continuous drawstring in waistband


Tracker Short

You have one inseam option for the Tracker Short: a 4″ length. This short comes in two different fabrications: a two-way stretch and a four-way stretch.

Similar to the Hotty Hots, the Trackers are really popular bc of the wider leg opening and universally flattering fit.

Key Features of Tracker Shorts:

  • sweat-wicking
  • leightweight
  • built-in liner
  • continuous drawstring in the waistband
  • side zippered pocket


Seasonal High-Impact Styles:

Low Impact Workouts

Any of the high-impact shorts discussed above could work for low impact workouts, but shorts designed for low impact will not work for high-impact. Keep that in mind as you weigh all your options.

First, let’s define low impact. I’d put yoga, barre, pilates and strength training in this category; anything that doesn’t cause a high amount of friction on the fabric.

The only short truly designed for low impact workouts is in the Align Short. The Align Short comes in four inseam options: a 4″ length, a 6″ length (my fav! + currently sold out), an 8″ length and a 10″ length. You also have an option between a high-rise and a super-high-rise waistband.

Align Shorts are made of Nulu fabric, which was launched in 2015 as a “naked sensation” although I don’t think they technically call them that anymore. Now they’re referred to as a “next to nothing” feeling, I think. This is hands-down the best-selling fabric, and my personal favorite for everyday wear (between shorts, special editions and the regular tights, I have at least 15 pairs of Aligns). 

Along with being designed to feel like you aren’t wearing anything (in a good way, I promise!), this fabric has a buttery soft hand-feel … and is very delicate. That means no high-impact workouts or any kind of intense activity since the process used to create that buttery soft sensation makes the fabric susceptible to natural pilling over time and with heavy use. These won’t be the most durable shorts you buy from lululemon, but they’ll probably be your favorite.

Shorts (and leggings) made with Nulu fabric are the top choice for pregnant women. A quick Google search for ‘lululemon pregnancy’ or ‘lululemon pregnancy pants’ will show you how Nulu fabric (and the Aligns specifically) are revolutionizing the field of maternity pants.

Key Features of Align Shorts:

  • buttery soft Nulu fabric
  • naked sensation
  • moisture-wicking
  • four-way stretch
  • breathable
  • hidden waistband pocket
  • comfy AF (I’m not joking when I say I practically live in these shorts)


Casual / Everyday Wear

As I mentioned above, I wear the Align Shorts everyday, but there are a few styles designed specifically as casual wear … or in lululemon terms, “on the move” wear.

There are two styles we see consistently ever year (On The Fly Shorts and Spring Breakaway Shorts), a third style we’ve seen for the second year in a row (Inner Glow Shorts) and then a few one-off seasonal styles I wouldn’t expect to see year-over-year.

Let’s break ’em down a little bit …


On The Fly Short 2.5″

The On The Fly 2.5″ shorts come in two different fabrications: a Luxtreme version that’s four-way stretch and a “woven” version that’s two-way stretch. I prefer the four-way stretch, but I’ve heard fans of the “woven” say they prefer it bc the fabric feels lighter weight.

I have a pair of OTF Shorts in Luxtreme from a few years ago. The fabric is a thicker version of Luxtreme than the Luxtreme used in running tights (such as the Pace Rivals, All the Right Places or Time to Sweats) but still manages to feel lightweight and breathable.


Spring Break Away Short 3″

The website claims this short is made from four-way stretch Swift fabric, but from my experiences, it feels more like a two-way stretch to me.

What’s the difference between two-way and four-way stretch? Two-way stretch fabric stretches in two directions while four-way stretch fabric stretches in … you guessed it … four directions. Hands down, I’ll always choose four-way stretch over two-way stretch.

I have a pair of Spring Breakaways from a few years ago though and the fabric is incredibility lightweight and the waistband is comfortable.


Inner Glow Short 3″

The Inner Glow Short fits loose, has a high-rise and is so so soft — and I’m so very here for it.

Between the Align Short 6″, the Align Tank, the In Alignment Straight Strap Bra and the Inner Glow Shorts, I’ve been giving all my disposable income to lulu lately. I know I said I’ve been wearing Align Shorts 24/7 this year, but I should qualify that bc I’ve been splitting my time between Aligns and Inner Glows. I’ve snagged every color of Inner Glows that’ve been released so far this year, and I have no plans to stop anytime soon.


Seasonal Everyday Styles:

Quick Reference Cheat Sheet

Best ForName of the ShortLengthsRisesFit
High ImpactFast & Free Short6″ + 10″HighTight-to-body; naked sensation
High ImpactWunder Train Short6″ + 8″HighTight-to-body; gentle compression
High ImpactInvigorate Short8″ + 10″HighTight-to-body; gentle compression
High ImpactSpeed Up Short2.5″ + 4″Low + HighAway-from-the-body
High ImpactHotty Hot Short2.5″ + 4″Low + HighAway-from-the-body
High ImpactTracker Short4″LowAway-from-the-body
Low ImpactAlign Short4″ + 6″ + 8″ + 10″High + Super HighTight-to-body; naked sensation
CasualOn The Fly Short2.5″MediumAway-from-the-body
CasualSpring Break Away Short3″MediumAway-from-the-body
CasualInner Glow Short3″HighAway-from-the-body


All stock images are the property of lululemon. Although I do work for the company, I am not an official spokesperson of lululemon. The opinions + positions expressed are my own and do not reflect those of lululemon.


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