The Best Workout Leggings Provide Comfort and Flexibility for Your Next Workout

woman running in leggings

Leggings have become a staple in everyone’s closet because, let’s be honest, there is nothing more comfortable than a pair of good-fitting leggings. But the leggings you wear to run errands are very different from the ones you need to support you through your next workout. The best workout leggings provide lasting support and enough flexibility to help you move around with ease, no matter what type of exercise you’re doing.

However, finding the right pair is a harder feat than it may seem. The choices are seemingly endless. High-rise, low-rise, compression, cropped, full-length, drawcord? The right pair of workout leggings is also highly dependent on what you plan to do in them and what style you prefer. Those hitting the yoga studio may want a soft and stretchy material, whereas someone pounding the pavement wants a pair that’s more compressive and moisture-wicking.

So how do you know which pair of leggings check all the boxes for you? Don’t fret—our team of experts has put together a list of the very best workout leggings for every exercise type. Whether you’re a powerlifter or someone who thrives off high-intensity workouts, we have you covered. Keep reading to find out which pair is right for you.

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The Best Workout Leggings - Our Top Picks

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What to Look for When Shopping for Workout Leggings

Here are a few key things to consider when shopping for workout leggings:

Price

This may seem like it goes without saying but knowing your budget is the first step. Leggings can get quite pricey. Even if they meet all your requirements, if you can’t afford them it is a waste of time to look. There are very high-quality workout leggings at every price point so rest assured, you can find a pair in your budget.

Activity

Plan to wear these in your next yoga class? Or for leg day at the gym? The exercise you favor most plays a big role in choosing the right pair of leggings.

Those who love running, high-intensity workouts, powerlifting, or cross-training will want leggings with compression to keep the material in place. Leggings with high levels of compression also help stabilize and support muscles while training.

On the flip side, compression is something you may want to avoid with mobility-based workouts. Yoga and Pilates require different movements with more flexibility and, at times, range of motion. As such, you want a pair of leggings with soft and stretchy fabric that moves with you.

Rise

The right rise or waistband is a combination of preference and functionality. You likely won’t want a pair of low-rise leggings when you plan on squatting, but may prefer a low rise for other exercise.

For the vast majority of exercise movements, mid to high-rise work best for most. But again, this is a personal preference. Some find compression on their belly area uncomfortable whereas others can’t stand that feeling. Try on a few pairs to see which you find most comfortable.

Material

Many of you have likely heard the term “squat proof” when referring to leggings. If not, this basically means that the leggings you wear don’t show your underwear when squatting.

The material, elasticity, and size both factor into this. Buying a pair that’s too small and stretched out will be thinner and thus shear. The material should have enough elasticity to move freely without losing its shape and level of compression.

Also consider your sweat level and the climate in which you workout. Those who spend a lot of time exercising in warmer temps may want a moisture-wicking material. If sweating is not an issue for you or you plan to wear the leggings when it’s cold, you likely want a thicker material with maximum compression.

Length

Luckily, many brands now sell the same style leggings with different lengths. Look for a length that suits your height and leg length. You may want to avoid leggings that bunch at the ankles or ride up on your calf.

Best Overall Workout Leggings - Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tight

Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tight

SPECS

  • Fabric: Slick and low friction support Luxtreme fabric; body - 69% nylon and 31% lycra extreme; pocket lining - 89% nylon and 11% elastane
  • Length: 25”and 28”
  • Fit: Slick and low friction support
  • Waist: High-rise
  • Machine wash: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not iron or dry clean
  • Sizes: 0-20
  • Key features: Side-drop in pocket, reflective, zippered back pocket, no inseam design, continuous drawcord

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Coming in as our top overall pick for workout leggings are Lululemon’s highly popular Swift Speed High-Rise Tights. Whether you’re headed to a CrossFit class or out for a long run, these leggings are designed with function and style in mind. The slick- and low-friction support from Lululemon’s patented Luxtreme fabric provides some, but not too much, compression for any workout type.

Featuring a no inseam design and a continuous drawcord, the Swift Speed High-Rise Tights are extremely comfortable. The lack of inseam helps to prevent chafing and the continuous drawcord waist allows you to tailor the tightness to fit your shape for maximum comfort. The material is also breathable and created with just enough elasticity to move with you but stay in place.

PROS

  • "Just right" amount of compression
  • Pockets for phone or credit card
  • Come in a variety of lengths
  • Drawstring waist
  • Variety of length options
  • 11 stylish colors
  • Excellent quality
  • Work for any type of exercise

CONS

  • May run small for some
  • Higher price point

BUY: Lululemon Swift Speed High-Rise Tight

Best Workout Leggings for Running - New Balance Shape Shield High Rise Pocket Tight

New Balance Shape Shield High Rise Pocket Tight

SPECS

  • Fabric: Shape shield fabric, 83% recycled polyester, 17% spandex
  • Length: 7/8
  • Fit: Fitted silhouette
  • Waist: High-rise, contoured waistband
  • Machine wash: Not noted
  • Sizes: XS-2XL, 1X-3X
  • Key features: Contoured waistband, drop-in pocket, meets New Balance’s green leaf standard

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There is nothing more frustrating than lacing up with your favorite running shoes but having to adjust your leggings with every stride. It’s almost as annoying as an ill-fitting pair of socks that fall down with every movement: No one wants to tug up or down on a waistband, feel constricted, or be drenched with sweat midstride. The Shape Shield 7/8 High Rise Pocket Tight workout leggings are our top choice for runners because they check all the boxes featuring innovative and patented ‘Shape Shield’ and moisture-wicking technology.

These leggings are designed to stay in place and keep you cool while still remaining soft and lightweight. The moisture-wicking technology draws sweat away from the body and dries quickly which is important when you’re out for a run on warmer days. Offering a balance between stretch, coverage, and compression, the Shape Shield 7/8 High Rise Tight leggings also allow you to move freely.

The contoured waistband and drop-in pocket make these leggings both stylish and functional. The dual pockets allow you to bring a phone, an energy gel, or some other small valuables on your next run. They also meet New Balance’s green leaf standard which means 50% or more of its materials are environmentally sourced. In fact, 83% of the Shape Shield 7/8 High Rise Pocket Tight leggings are made with recycled material.

PROS

  • Moisture-wicking
  • 2 drop-in pockets
  • Contoured waistband
  • High-rise for full coverage
  • Made with recycled materials
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Only one color option
  • 1 length option (not great if you are very tall or short)

BUY: Shape Shield 7/8 High Rise Tights

Best Squat-Proof Workout Leggings - Barbell Leggings

Barbell Leggings

SPECS

  • Fabric: Form supporting Flektek fabric, 83% nylon and 17% spandex
  • Length: Full length
  • Fit: Tailored athletic fit
  • Waist: Mid-rise
  • Machine wash: Not noted
  • Sizes: XXS-XL
  • Key features: Flektek fabric, supportive, athletic fit

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Everyone needs a pair of leggings that they can confidently squat in without worry of their leggings falling down or showing more than you would like. The Barbell leggings have you covered—featuring Barbell’s popular athletic fit, these leggings are form-fitting and supportive. Lifters appreciate the mid-rise wide waistband for its comfort and ability to keep your leggings in place through any workout.

The form supporting Flektek fabric has four-way stretch, is wrinkle-resistant, and breathable. This material is thick but feels light. So you can comfortably perform squats without feeling constricted or worrying about any issues with sheerness.

PROS

  • Squat-proof
  • Thick material that feels thin
  • Stays in place
  • Flektek fabric is ultra-supportive

CONS

  • May be long on shorter individuals

BUY: Barbell Leggings

Best Workout Leggings for Women - Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight

Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight

SPECS

  • Fabric: Everlux fabric; body - 77% nylon and 23% lycra; pockets - 56% polyester, 33% coolmax polyester, 11% lycra elastane
  • Length: 25", 28", 31"
  • Fit: Form-fitting
  • Waist: High-rise
  • Machine wash: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not clean or iron
  • Sizes: 00-20
  • Key features: Drawcord waistband, hidden pocket, 4-way stretch

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As one of Lululemon’s best selling products, the Wunder Train High-Rise Tight are a fan favorite among women for a variety of reasons. Their wide high-rise waistband and overall comfortable fit, along with the variety of color and length options allows them to accommodate a wide range of workout enthusiasts. Whether you prefer HIIT (high intensity interval training), CrossFit, or Zumba, the Wunder Train is made to handle any exercise type.

Keep in mind that the Wunder Train has a bit of a higher rise than other leggings in Lululemon’s line. The waistband features a drawcord which keeps them in place at all times. These leggings are also compressive and thick, yet soft and breathable. With sweat-wicking properties, the fabric offers a four-way stretch which feels cool on the inside while remaining soft and brushed on the outside. The added lycra ensures that the Wunder Train retains its shape over time.

PROS

  • Combination of comfort and compression
  • Available in three different lengths
  • Feels buttery soft
  • Stay in place
  • 15 color options
  • Everlux fabric-wick sweat

CONS

  • May run small for some
  • Higher price point
  • Might be too compressive for some

BUY: Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight

Best High-Waisted Workout Leggings - Under Armour HeatGear Leggings

Under Armour HeatGear Leggings

SPECS

  • Fabric: Super-light HeatGear, 87% polyester, 13% elastane
  • Length: Short, regular, tall
  • Fit: Ultra-tight, second-skin compression
  • Waist: High-rise, double-sided silicone print inside waistband
  • Machine wash: Wash garment inside out in cold water, tumble dry low
  • Sizes: XSS-XLT
  • Key features: Anti-odor technology, flatlock seams, side drop-in pocket, double-sided encased silicone print inside waistband to prevent slipping, moisture-wicking

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One of the most important qualities in a pair of high-rise leggings is that the waistband stays in place through even the toughest of workouts. Thanks to an encased elastic waistband and hidden dual-sided silicone print inside the fabric, the Under Armour HeatGear does just that. Their incredibly comfortable high-rise design combines comfort with a high level of compression for the ultimate coverage and fit.

Featuring Under Armour's patented HeatGear fabric with four-way stretch, these leggings are designed to move with you whether you’re doing yoga or hitting some burpee box jumps. The material is moisture-wicking and claims to dry ultra-fast to keep you cool. The Under Armour HeatGear fabric also has an anti-odor technology which prevents odor-causing microbes from making your leggings home. We also like that these leggings have flatlock seams, which not only feels good but is intended to stop chafing.

PROS

  • Available in short, regular, and long
  • Encased elastic waistband
  • Stays in place
  • 3 color options
  • Sweat-wicking

CONS

  • Limited size availability
  • Tend to bunch around the ankles even with different length options

BUY: Under Armour HeatGear Leggings

Best Workout Leggings for Lifting - Lululemon All the Right Places High-Rise Drawcord Waist Crop

Lululemon All the Right Places High-Rise Drawcord Waist Crop

SPECS

  • Fabric: Luxtreme fabric; body - 69% Nylon, 31% Lycra® elastane; side-panel - 77% Nylon, 23% Lycra elastane
  • Length: 23"
  • Fit: Slick and low friction support
  • Waist: High-rise, continuous drawcord
  • Machine wash: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not clean or iron
  • Sizes: 0-20
  • Key features: Zoned support, 4-way stretch, no front seam, side drop-in pockets, back drop-in pocket

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There are not many leggings specifically designed for strength training which is just one of the very many reasons why Lululemon All the Right Places High-Rise Drawcord Waist Crop are our top pick in this category. Referred to as cross-sport crops, these leggings offer zoned support which is designed to provide support in the areas you need most when lifting. In addition, they lack the front seam which not only creates a smooth silhouette but also prevents potential chafing when performing certain lifts.

The All the Right Places leggings feature a continuous drawcord waist which allows a more tailored fit in the waist and stops them from falling out of place. The signature Luxtreme fabric has a four-way stretch for ultimate comfort, is breathable, and reportedly feels cool to the touch. Added lycra fiber is included for stretch and shape retention.

PROS

  • Zoned support
  • 4-way stretch
  • 3 pockets
  • No front seam
  • Drawcord waist

CONS

  • Material might feel too thick for some
  • Too compressive in certain areas for some

BUY: Lululemon All the Right Places High-Rise Drawcord Waist Crop

Best Workout Leggings for HIIT - Under Armour Women's HeatGear Stamina Leggings

Under Armour Women's HeatGear Stamina Leggings

SPECS

  • Fabric: Body - 83% polyester and 18% elastane; mesh panels - 90% polyester, 10% elastane
  • Length: Full length
  • Fit: Ultra-tight, second-skin compression
  • Waist: Wide, high-rise waistband with internal drawcord
  • Machine wash: Wash garment inside out in cold water, tumble dry low
  • Sizes: XS, S, L
  • Key features: Mesh panels, anti-odor technology, secure zip back pocket, side drop-in pocket, reflective details

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High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) requires a pair of leggings that offer compression, breathable material, and a high-rise waistband. The Under Armour Women’s HeatGear Stamina Leggings offers all of these features in a comfortable, functional, and stylish-looking pant. Combined with the ultra-tight compression, The HeatGear Stamina leggings also offer great support.

HIIT workouts usually leave you sweaty which is not a problem with the HeatGear Stamina Leggings. Designed with mesh panels, they allow for ventilation and also have moisture-wicking properties that dries fast. No need to worry about smelly leggings as HeatGear Stamina Leggings have an anti-odor technology engineered to prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

PROS

  • Mesh panels for ventilation
  • Pockets for storage
  • Drawcord waist
  • Anti-odor
  • High-rise wide waistband

CONS

  • Limited colors and sizing
  • Back zipper may cause irritation during some workouts

BUY: UnderArmour HeatGear Stamina Leggings

Best Budget Workout Leggings - HeyNuts Essential Leggings

HeyNuts Essential Leggings

SPECS

  • Fabric: 70% nylon, 30% spandex
  • Length: 7/8
  • Fit: Light compression
  • Waist: High-waist
  • Machine wash: Yes
  • Sizes: XXS-XL
  • Key features: Inner pocket, buttery soft material, 28 colors and designs

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Buying a quality pair of workout leggings shouldn’t mean you have to blow your budget. And many compare the HeyNuts Essential Leggings with Lululemon’s Align as they feature a buttery soft material with matte finish similar to the material seen on Align leggings. The HeyNuts Essential Leggings have a high rise and are made from material that’s 70 % nylon and 30 % spandex. They offer a bit of compression and tummy control but are designed to feel soft and comfortable.

Available in 28 colors and designs, many opt to use these leggings as both workout gear and everyday athleisure wear. The 7/8 length hits right above the ankle but, because there is only one length available, this will vary depending on your height.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Soft
  • 28 color options
  • High-rise
  • Hidden pocket

CONS

  • Inconsistent sizing
  • Some colors are not squat proof

BUY: HeyNuts Essential 7/8 Leggings

Most Sustainable Workout Leggings - Boody Body EcoWear Active Full Legging

Boody Body EcoWear Active Full Legging

SPECS

  • Fabric: 80% viscose from bamboo and 20% spandex
  • Length: Full length
  • Fit: Tight fit
  • Waist: Mid-rise, wide waistband
  • Machine wash: Not indicated
  • Sizes: XS-XL
  • Key features: Sustainable bamboo-based tights, hidden pocket in waist, breathable, frown organically and without artificial irrigation

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Looking for a pair of leggings that are environmentally-friendly, yet actually comfortable? Then you might want to take a look at Boody Body EcoWear Active Full Leggings, which are constructed with 80% viscose from bamboo. The Boody Body’s EcoWear Active Full Leggings use the bamboo to create a specialized stretchy-knit fabric that’s breathable yet durable.

Featuring a mid-rise and wide waistband, these bamboo leggings are tight enough to stay in place, but aren’t compressive. Designed with a contour seam detail inside and outside the leg, these leggings also create a flattering silhouette. These tights also have natural odor resistance and thermoregulating properties, a fancy way of saying they help regulate your body temperature.

PROS

  • Made from sustainable bamboo viscose
  • Wide waistband
  • Hidden zipper
  • Organically grown without artificial irrigation

CONS

  • Runs small
  • Material may feel thick to some

BUY: Boody Body EcoWear Active Full Leggings

Best Cropped Workout Leggings - Lululemon Align High-Rise Crop

Lululemon Align High-Rise Crop

SPECS

  • Fabric: Nulu fabric, 80% nylon, and 20% lycra elastane
  • Length: 17"
  • Fit: Tight but barely any compression
  • Waist: High-rise
  • Machine wash: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not clean or iron
  • Sizes: 0-20
  • Key features: Hidden waistband pocket, buttery soft material, sweat wicking, 4-way stretch

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Lululemon’s Align line of clothing has earned a cult-like following making it one of the best selling leggings to date. And, while they are expensive, it’s really hard not to love these leggings. Featuring Lululemon’s patented Nulu fabric, the Align Crop leggings have a buttery soft feel with four-way stretch that creates a barely there feeling. Yet, they’re designed to stay in place without rolling down or riding up.

So how do they create this notorious buttery feel? The Align Crop is made from superfine fibers that are brushed for softness. The leggings have the fewest seams possible for added comfort. The 17-inch length hits most right below the knee which is not only a great look but good for the warmer weather. A comfortable high-waist provides support without being constricting and has a hidden pocket to store a valuable item when on the go.

PROS

  • Soft
  • Few seams
  • Nulu fabric
  • Hidden pocket
  • Comfortable
  • Stay in place
  • Good for warmer weather

CONS

  • Only 4 color options

BUY: Lululemon High-Rise Crop

Best Workout Leggings on Amazon - Nike Womens Dri-FIT Power Tight Legging

Nike Womens Dri-FIT Power Tight Legging

SPECS

  • Fabric: 83% polyester, 17% spandex
  • Length: Full length
  • Fit: Tight-fitting but no compression
  • Waist: Mid rise, v-shaped in back
  • Machine wash: Not indicated
  • Sizes: XS-L
  • Key features: "Dri-FIT" technology, 2 hidden pockets, moisture-wicking

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Who doesn’t love Amazon? Nowadays you can find just about anything on there including our favorite pick, the Nike Women's Dri-FIT Power Tight Leggings. These leggings feature a stretchy fabric with "Dri-FIT" technology designed to wick moisture away from your skin to keep you dry and comfortable throughout any workout. While the material fits snuggly, these leggings don’t have compression and are designed to freely move with you.

The Nike Dri-FIT Power TIght Legging has a mid-rise with a V-shape in the back for a smooth look. The sides are seamless as well which contributes to its overall comfort, plus the leggings are designed with a wrapped panel on each leg which adds a stylish touch.

PROS

  • Dri-FIT technology
  • Seamless sides
  • 2 hidden pockets

CONS

  • Runs small
  • Not squat-proof

BUY: Nike Womens Dri-FIT Power Tight Legging

Most Size Inclusive Workout Leggings - Lululemon Invigorate High-Rise Tight

Lululemon Invigorate High-Rise Tight

SPECS

  • Fabric: Everlux, 77% nylon, 23% lycra
  • Length: 25", 28", 31"
  • Fit: Supportive and tight
  • Waist: High-waisted
  • Machine wash: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low, do not clean or iron
  • Sizes: 0-20
  • Key features: 3 pockets, fast-drying, 4-way stretch, continuous drawstring

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Lululemon’s Invigorate High-Rise Tight collection is available in three different lengths: 25-inch, 28-inch, and 31-inch. Also made in sizes zero-20, these leggings are designed to suit a variety of body types and sizes. A continuous drawcord waist is easy to cinch and makes for a more tailored fit. With this waistband, there’s no need to worry about the Invigorate leggings falling down even during the most intense workout. In addition, Invigorate leggings feature a hidden waistband pocket and side drop-in pockets. Whether you are headed out for coffee or a run, pockets make it easy to carry some valuables with you.

One of the most versatile leggings created by Lululemon, the Lululemon Invigorate High-Rise Tights are designed to get you through every type of workout. Constructed from Everlux fabric, they’re breathable, making them suited for high-intensity workouts as well as low impact exercise. Invigorate leggings feel cool on the inside with a soft, brushed look on the outside so are not only comfortable but they look good too.

PROS

  • Large variety of size and lengths
  • Continuous drawcord waist
  • Hidden waistband pocket and side drop-in pockets
  • Work for every kind of exercise

CONS

  • Seams may be bothersome

BUY: Lululemon Invigorate High-Rise Tight

Best Compression - IUGA High Waist Yoga Pants

IUGA High Waist Yoga Pants

SPECS

  • Fabric: 77% polyester, 23% spandex
  • Length: Full length
  • Fit: High level of compression
  • Waist: High-waist with tummy control
  • Machine wash: Machine washable, do not iron, do not bleach, do not use softener
  • Sizes: XS through 3X-L
  • Key features: Hidden waist pocket, gusset crotch, interlock seams, 30-day full money back guarantee, two side pockets

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The UGA High Waist Yoga Pants provide superior compression that conforms with your body throughout any exercise. Initially designed for yoga, the IUGA leggings support lifting, cross-training, running, or any movement that involves bending as the material is thick enough to pass the squat test but not so thick that they become hot or uncomfortable. The streamlined design offers a lot of compression, yet remains soft and comfortable with its four-way stretch material.

Available in 38 colors and designs, each piece offers compression that lifts and shapes the body. If you’re sweating in a hot yoga class or from an interval training session, the IUGA leggings can keep you cool and dry with a skin-friendly, moisture-wicking fabric. The gusset crotch also enables free movement and interlock seams are designed to reduce rubbing and chaffing.

PROS

  • 38 color options
  • Affordable
  • Superior compression yet soft
  • Functional pockets
  • Tummy control

CONS

  • May run a bit large

BUY: IUGA High Waist Yoga Pants

FAQs About Workout Leggings


What leggings are the best for working out?

The best leggings for working out are highly dependent on what type of workout you plan to do. Leggings with compression are best suited for running, lifting, high intensity interval training, and other high-impact or strength-based workouts.

Conversely, yoga and Pilates lovers tend to favor leggings that are less compressive and stretchier. While some leggings are great for just about any exercise, it’s important to know what kind of workout you’ll be wearing the leggings in to determine which ones are best.

What’s the difference between yoga leggings and gym leggings?

Due to the nature of yoga, yoga leggings tend to be soft, breathable, and stretchy. They generally don’t have a high level of compression as many gym leggings will have. Both leggings are designed to move freely with your body but, in general, yoga leggings have a softer feel.

Are running tights the same as leggings?

Typically, no, running tights are not the same as leggings. Running specific tights are usually more compressive, moisture-wicking, and have some sort of ventilation to keep runners cool. They usually feel thinner but are designed to withstand different climates.

Leggings, on the other hand, do not always offer compression or ventilation. The term leggings can refer to any kind of tight fitting pants that may be for working out or running errands.

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