The Difference between Cycling Shorts and Compression Shorts

When you first look at them, you really probably don’t see a difference between cycling shorts and compression shorts. Each is form-fitting, created from stretchy materials such as spandex and/or Lycra, and are generally designed for athletes.

However, look a little deeper and you will discover some difference. Each type of shorts offer their own benefits and uses.

Here’s a look at the fundamental differences between cycling shorts and compression shorts:

The main difference, which can be seen at first glance, is that bike shorts have padding within the seat area. This padding is important to cyclists — especially when embarking on lengthy rides. The pads are usually made of soft, chamois-like materials. The padding can come in various thicknesses.

Compression shorts are, by design, tighter and designed to provide graduated pressure or compression throughout the glutes, hamstring and quad areas. Compression shorts are intended to bring performance and recovery benefits. Other benefits provided by compression include:

  • Increased blood oxygenation
  • Increased circulation
  • Strain/pull prevention
  • Faster muscle/injury recovery

Bike shorts, while still form fitting, do not provide the circulatory benefits that true compression does. Cycling shorts also have “leg grippers” or material that will keep the shorts from riding up the leg; compression shorts usually do not offer this. So, essentially, bike shorts are made to provide comfort to the cyclist, not to be a compression piece.

As you can see, these two different types of shorts both provide benefits. Bike shorts give cyclists that extra padding that is so essential to those longer rides. Compression shorts have those benefits of faster recovery.

If you have any questions at all about ZeroPoint Compression gear or even more questions about the difference between cycling shorts and compression shorts, please feel free to contact us!