Wearing Shorts Over Leggings: Does It Make Sense?

Wearing Shorts Over Leggings: Does It Make Sense?

If you have ever attended a race or group run, you may have seen people wearing shorts over leggings. Truth be told, as a newbie runner, I often put shorts over running tights. Why do you ask? Modesty. I had concerns that my body was not enough of a “runner’s body” to pull off the look.

As society and fashion have evolved and wearing leggings has become more socially acceptable, even outside of fitness activities, you certainly see fewer people doubling up in this way.

Is It Okay To Wear Shorts Over Leggings?

What it comes down to is you need to be comfortable. This means physically comfortable, referring to ease of movement, flexibility, warmth and anything else that comes to your mind when you think about running comfort.

Equally important is your emotional comfort and wellbeing. If wearing leggings alone is liberating for you, you should go for it! If you spend every minute worried about what others are seeing or thinking about your body, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

Here at Rockay we firmly believe that people should relish in the beautiful machine that is their body no matter what shape or size you come in. Having said that, YOU need to be happy when you work out. Wear whatever makes you feel strong, powerful and confident!

Reasons To Wear Shorts Over Leggings

One of the top reasons given by athletes who choose to wear shorts over their leggings is modesty. Some people find the tight leggings to be much more revealing than they care for. Putting a pair of shorts as a top layer helps the athlete to feel as if they are leaving something to the imagination.


Let’s face it, when you are running the last thing you need is to be feeling self-conscious or worried about how you look. If you feel better putting shorts on top, you should do that!

Others state that the additional layer is important to them for warmth. This is especially true of athletes who report getting a cold booty when running in extreme temperatures. The shorts can help break the wind, cold and snow a bit more than just leggings would.

Pockets are yet another reason given by runners across the globe. If you need a place to put a key or some fuel, leggings sometimes lack a place to put these items. If your favorite running shorts have nice pockets, you may be tempted to wear them year-round!

Arguments Against Shorts Over Tights

On the flip side of this argument are those who feel that the shorts are an unnecessary layer. They would say if you need shorts for warmth, you are wearing poorly designed tights. A quality pair of running leggings should have everything you need to keep your parts warm. People on this side of the argument feel if you are still cold, shorts won’t be enough. At this point, you should probably add a second layer which would cover your entire leg (such as a windproof athletic pant).

Putting shorts over your leggings can be restrictive of your movement. Unless you are talking about baggy basketball style shorts, the two layers could impede your movement.

If you need pockets to put necessary items, there are many brands of quality running tights and pants that include a small pocket for these types of needs. In addition, you can now find many different types of running belts that will help you keep track of your stuff. These belts offer versatility and can be worn at the hip, at your natural waist, or anywhere in between.

Companies also make running backpacks that some swear you actually forget are there. These are made for hydration, fuel and anything else you could possibly want to carry!

Why Do Guys Wear Leggings Under Shorts?

For the same reason that women wear sports bras, some men feel the need to put some type of compression under their shorts when working out. These compression type shorts, both fairly short and mid-length, afford the men some comfort from movement and also modesty.

Having said that, your top sprinters in the world are very muscular individuals and they wear a one-piece singlet type running suit that affords them both ease of movement and support. However, most of us are not built like Olympic sprinting great Usain Bolt.

As a former high school track coach, I witnessed many young men struggle to find comfortable support under the standard, old school track shorts. In most states, there is a rule that everyone on the track team must wear the same shorts and singlet. To find something that fits a sprinter, a distance runner and a shot putter equally well, schools turn to standard track shorts.


The vast majority of these young men turned to a compression short that falls just above the knee, or mid-thigh, to provide what they were looking for. For cold weather seasons, such as cross country, these same young men wore full-length leggings under the uniform shorts.

Old habits die hard and when these young people become adult runners, they often simply continue doing what they have done their whole life. One young man I coached adamantly stated that he would, “never wear tights without shorts”, when he transitioned to a collegiate athlete. By his second year, he changed his perspective and embraced running tights alone!

Other Options

Whether your issue is modesty or warmth, there is a multitude of options out there. Personally, I am a huge fan of layering a skirt over my running tights during cold weather. A lighter skirt will afford an extra layer of protection from the elements. They also make quilted skirts that are made especially for outdoor winter activities.

Known by many runners as a “butt coat,” these quilted skirts come in a variety of lengths and add some lovely protection against the in-climate weather.

For those who are very modest and are looking for something that wears similarly to a running tight yet not quite so revealing, you can now find joggers or running pants that taper at the leg. They wear considerably more loose from the bellybutton to mid-thigh, then taper down to your shoe. These are a nice compromise for some athletes.

It’s About You

Just remember, when choosing your running apparel, it is truly all about you. Your comfort. Your preference. Don’t let someone else’s choices impact what you decide to run in. If wearing your leggings under shorts is what makes you happy, go ahead and do it.