The 16 Best Workout Leggings for Every Body Type and Fitness Need, According to Our Editors

We're legging you to try these picks (get it?)

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We can’t tell you how many times we’ve tried the “best” workout leggings, only to find that they slip down during spin class, show our underwear during downward dog or pill after just one wash. In our search to find the real best activewear leggings for everyone (since we all have different body types and fitness goals), we asked women to share their honest opinions on their go-to pants, crops and more. Here, the best workout leggings, whether you’re a yogi or an ultramarathon runner.

The Best Workout Leggings At A Glance

Meet the Expert

Emi Gutgold is a PMA nationally certified Pilates teacher, NASM certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and clean health nutritionist (levels I and II). Aside from her in-person group fitness and private training classes, she offers online Pilates classes and personal training memberships.

How to Choose the Best Workout Leggings

The "best" workout pants depend on the wearer's preferences, body type and fitness goals, meaning there's no one best pair. For example, my lululemon Base Pace leggings ($98) are my absolute favorites, but my sister tried them on and immediately didn't like the material. Gutgold tells us, "As a trainer, I would recommend that people actually feel comfortable in [their leggings]! If your leggings rub, squeeze or just don’t do it for you, I wouldn’t wear them solely based on the principle they are going to irk you and distract you from your workout." Here are a few factors to consider in searching for the best pair for you:

  • Try the squat test. Put the leggings on and video yourself from behind doing a deep squat. Can you see your undies or your butt? If so, take note of that material and steer clear of it in the future.
  • Check how the material feels. If you put the leggings on and they feel even slightly uncomfortable, move on to the next pair. Otherwise, they'll become the leggings that sit in your drawer that you can't bear to throw away because they're new. "After teaching Pilates for years, I can easily tell by someone’s body language when their clothes are bothering them. And I’ve been there myself. Nothing makes me feel off in my workout quite like constantly feeling squished by the wrong waistband," Gutgold says.
  • Consider your wishlist. Need pockets? Make sure you are looking specifically for a pair that has them. Hate a butt seam? Look for a brand that sells seamless leggings.
  • Do your diligence. Shopping based on factors like opacity, sweat-wicking fabric and a comfortable waistline certainly helps. But it's also useful to do your due diligence on the pair you're eyeing by reading reviews, especially if you haven't tried the brand.

How We Tested the Best Workout Leggings

All 16 of the leggings on this list were personally tested and selected by PureWow editors. As someone who's tried a million different workouts because I get bored easily, I've collected hundreds of leggings over the years (yes, hundreds) and I easily get the ick from things like slim waistbands or too many seams. I've deemed myself a leggings connoisseur for these reasons. Our editors look for qualities like moisture-wicking capabilities and breathability when it comes to functionality and quality, while simultaneously judging the comfort by how stretchy and soft the fabric is. We've also tested these leggings during a myriad of workouts, from yoga, barre and Pilates to strength training, running and more, so we can assure you that our picks align with the workouts they're meant for (and the occasional lounging). We also like to take into consideration how well they fit on different body types, the thickness of the waistband, how well they stay up during workouts, seam construction, pilling tendencies after many wears and, of course, the overall aesthetic of the leggings. And trust us, our editors are picky, so after our meticulous testing, our scores reflect our honest opinion.

Best lululemon Workout Leggings

1. lululemon Base Pace Leggings


  • What We Like: slippery material, adjustable waistband
  • What We Don't Like: sell out frequently
  • Material: Nulux
  • Length: 25-, 28- and 31-inch inseams
  • Size Range: 0 to 20

These leggings from lululemon nail it in just about every way. The Nulux fabric is basically weightless and super breathable, so if you're running outside on a hot day, they won't cause you to overheat. They also have a handy back pocket for your keys, a hidden drawstring in the front for cinching and no inseam. You can't ask for much more in a workout legging. "I wore these leggings on repeat during my half marathon training this winter and they were super supportive and never rode up or down during my runs," says commerce editor Olivia Dubyak. "The only issue was that the 28-inch inseam leggings sat a little high on my ankles (even though I wear that length in other lululemon leggings), so if you have long legs maybe opt for the 31-inch inseam."

Most Squat-Proof

2. Nike One Crop Leggings


  • What We Like: cropped, sweat-wicking
  • What We Don't Like: mid-rise fit isn't everyone's favorite
  • Material: polyester-spandex blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: 0 to 22

Squat-proof, smooth and compressive, these lightweight recycled polyester leggings feel comfortable for all workouts, according to Dubyak. "I reach for these leggings for basically any kind of workout," she says.Happy customers also report that they're not see-through (an essential feature for everyday wear) and that they hug the body well. "The waistband doesn't cut into my hips, despite the mid rise fit and the V-cut along the back of the waistband seam emphasizes my booty for a more athletic look," says Dubyak. And with three hidden pockets, you can fit most of your essentials. One buyer shares, "I love how they are silky smooth and offer some compression and lift. I [also] appreciate that these leggings are very thin feeling but are not see-through at all when bending over or squatting."

Best Cropped Leggings

3. Alo Alosoft Highlight Legging


  • What We Like: very soft material, sculpting
  • What We Don't Like: not super breathable
  • Material: Alosoft
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XXS to L

These durable leggings are designed for yoga and lower-impact workouts, but are comfortable enough to wear for lounging or athleisure, too. They're made of the brand's famous Alosoft material which is known for being supportive, sweat-wicking and velvety soft. "I'm a sucker for super-soft leggings that have that barely-there feeling and [these are] my favorites because I almost never have to adjust them while I'm working out," says assistant commerce editor Natalie LaBarbera. "I especially love the 7/8-length that doesn't bunch up at the ankles on my short legs."

Best High-Waist Leggings

4. Splits59 Airweight Super High Waist Leggings


  • What We Like: super high waist, can try before you buy
  • What We Don't Like: may feel too high-waist for shorter torsos
  • Material: nylon-spandex blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XS to XL

A pair of high-waist leggings is great, but a pair of super high-waist leggings is what we call a must-have. These leggings have a slightly cropped inseam sitting at 26 inches long, and if you have short legs, they'll likely go all the way to the ankle. "[They're] very comfortable and the high waist lets me do an easy knotted front tuck of my shirt so it doesn't slide down during yoga," says associate editor, SEO, Marissa Wu. "[I] probably could have gone a size up—I am usually a small but fluctuate between 2/4/6, so medium would have worked here," she mentions.

Best Slimming Leggings

5. Ultracor Ultra Lux Knockout Leggings


  • What We Like: star pattern, built-in shapewear material
  • What We Don't Like: very expensive
  • Material: polyester-nylon-lycra blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XS to XL

PureWow wellness director Sarah Stiefvater feels so passionately about these Ultracor leggings, she wrote an entire review describing her love-hate relationship with them. (The hate mostly centers around the fact that each pair costs $198.) After wearing them to a spin class and experiencing their high-stretch, soft compression and sweat-wicking abilities, she promptly retired her favorite leggings. But what sets them apart from the rest, you ask? “They stay put through burpees, box jumps and sprints on the rowing machine without ever feeling too tight,” she says. Plus, they have a unique built-in underwear design that smooths lumps and bumps and makes your butt look good. Stiefvater has a hot tip for anyone else who is still cringing at that price: Wait until they go on sale.

Best Seamless

6. Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings


  • What We Like: side ventilation, body-skimming
  • What We Don't Like: waistband feels a little too thick
  • Material: nylon
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XS to XXL

These are the seamless leggings we all need. The problem some folks face with seamless leggings is gapping and sagging in the butt area. "I find that these leggings are the closest athletic option to feeling like you're wearing a second skin," says Dubyak. These have incredible compression from the high waist down to the calves, and because of that hold, they contour your booty like no other. These leggings also have tiny holes along the sides of the legs, making them super breathable. "This may be too much info, but my crotch and legs sweat a ton when I workout, so the ventilation is a godsend for breathability," says Dubyak.

Best for Low-Impact Workouts

7. Everlane The Perform Leggings


  • What We Like: very stretchy, lightweight
  • What We Don't Like: lighter colors show sweat marks
  • Material: recycled nylon and elastane
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XXS to XXL

More of a sculpt, yoga or barre person? This pair’s for you. Everlane’s minimalist leggings are advertised as "ideal for all types of workouts," but according to our former fashion director Dena Silver, lower-impact workouts are where they really shine. “They’re super soft and stretchy, but not too heavy on the compression fabric, which makes them really easy to move around in,” she explains. In fact, they’re so comfy, she says it almost feels like you’re wearing nothing at all. The only downside? Silver mentions that the lighter colors show sweat marks, so definitely take that into consideration before you wear them to hot yoga.

Best Compressive Leggings

8. Girlfriend Collective Compressive Leggings

Girlfriend Collective

  • What We Like: compressive, squat-proof
  • What We Don't Like: can feel too compressive
  • Material: recycled water bottles and spandex
  • Length: 23.75- and 28.5-inch inseams
  • Size Range: XXS to 6XL

As far as sustainability goes, Girlfriend Collective’s leggings are the best of the best. "I love that they are a sustainable brand that I can feel good about shopping, and it helps that they have an incredible color selection," says editorial assistant Delia Curtis. The fabric is made from 25 recycled water bottles, which saves 3 gallons of water and prevents 18 pounds of CO2 emissions when compared to the average production process of leggings, according to the company. That said, the material feels so luxe you’d never guess it had a previous life. "They are a dream to work out in—they’re secure and keep everything in place while I’m jumping around during a workout. Plus, amazing to lounge in," says Curtis. We find that our Girlfriend Collective leggings are best suited for yoga and sculpt classes, because the compression material keeps us feeling sucked in, even if we're attempting a particularly tricky move—looking at you, crow pose. Word to the wise: If you’re between sizes, go up.

Best for Yoga

9. lululemon Align Leggings


  • What We Like: buttery soft, lightly sculpts
  • What We Don't Like: can pill
  • Material: Nulu
  • Length: 23-, 25-, 28- and 31-inch inseams
  • Size Range: 0 to 20

Multiple women declared this best-selling style from lululemon their all-time fave, and for good reason. The brand's patented Nulu fabric is the main selling point. (Two words: buttery soft.) "The matte Nulu fabric feels so soft and looks presentable to wear out to lunch after my workout," says senior editor Dana Dickey. Though they're recommended for low-impact workouts like yoga, they're fabulous for barre and Pilates as well. "I prefer the high-rise ones because somehow the wide waistband does. not. roll. down. Even when I’m doing bendy yoga or knee lifts in my bootcamp," Dickey raves. If you're wearing them for more than just yoga, though, you might notice that the crotch pills easily (especially if your thighs tend to rub or touch together even a little bit). Even with that small flaw, these leggings will always hold a special place in our hearts (and closets).

Best Maternity Leggings

10. Blanqui Everyday Leggings


  • What We Like: supports belly, super high waistband
  • What We Don't Like: can pill after a lot of wear
  • Material: nylon-spandex blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: S to XL

According to PureWow’s editorial director Candace Davison, these maternity leggings were a total godsend when she was pregnant with her daughter. She wore them for everything from Orangetheory and yoga during her first trimester to just lounging on the couch closer to her due date. “The extra-high waistband is super supportive on a growing stomach—which became crucial for preventing back pain during my second trimester,” she notes. After months of nonstop use, they did pill a little bit between the thighs, but Davison says they were great otherwise.

Best with Pockets

11. Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

Sweaty Betty

  • What We Like: highly sculpting and supportive
  • What We Don't Like: can pill after a lot of wear
  • Material: polyamide elastane
  • Length: 7/8 and full length
  • Size Range: XXS to XXL

“Every time I decide to try a new brand of leggings, I’m left disappointed that I didn’t just invest in another pair of Sweaty Betty’s Power leggings instead,” says PureWow’s SVP of growth, Emily Kerr. She became a loyal fan of the style because it's durable, never see-through and comes in a variety of pretty shades and patterns. But her favorite thing about these leggings? They make her butt look amazing, thanks to the flattering seams that are designed to do just that.

Best Black Leggings

12. Zella Live In Leggings


  • What We Like: thick waistband, moisture-wicking fabric
  • What We Don't Like: a lot of seams
  • Material: polyester-spandex blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XS to XL

PureWow’s director of branded content, Cristina Gutierrez, could never find leggings that fit her pear-shaped frame quite right...until she tried on a pair of Zella’s Live In leggings. “They check all of my boxes: affordable, thick, enough coverage, a high waist that doesn’t feel like a corset, stretchy and suction-cupped to my body in a way that feels like a second skin,” she says. She recommends checking Nordstrom Rack to see if you can find them on sale before you pay full price. They're also moisture-wicking and have a non-slip waistband to stay put during an extra spicy workout class.

Best for Runners

13. Tracksmith Turnover Tights


  • What We Like: back zipper pocket, lightweight
  • What We Don't Like: not ideal for hot outdoor runs
  • Material: nylon-elastane blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XS to XL

These leggings won't budge while you're out for a chilly morning run. They are made from the brand's patented Inverno blend fabric for warmth and effortlessness with every stride. PureWow's senior food editor, Katherine Gillen, adds, "They’re sweat-wicking, quick drying and feel pretty lightweight but the material is brushed on the inside, so it’s fleecy-soft and warm. Bonus points for the back pocket and the bonded seams to prevent chafing." Even though the leggings have a soft interior, they're made to adjust with the temperature so even if it is a bit warm, they won't overheat your legs.

Best Value

14. Old Navy PowerSoft ⅞ Leggings

Old Navy

  • What We Like: pockets on each side, flexible material
  • What We Don't Like: waistband seam sits low on hips
  • Material: spandex-polyester blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XS to 4XL, regular, tall and petite

Comfy running leggings for cheap? We're in. These are flexible and comfortable for any workout, but our fashion editor, Abby Hepworth, likes them for running. "They really live up to the name and are super soft and smooth. They come with pockets on the sides, which is an absolute must when I go for a run (although Old Navy also makes them without pockets), and I appreciate that they come in tall and petite lengths, too."

Best Leggings for Lifting

15. Alo Airlift Leggings


  • What We Like: compressive, wide waistband
  • What We Don't Like: material can feel too thick
  • Material: Airlift
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: XXS to XL

These best sellers have quickly become some of our favorite leggings to wear for a hardcore leg day workout. We love that they don't pill because of their nylon exterior, yet they still feel smooth against the skin. "I love wearing these leggings on leg day at the gym because they don't slide down my hips and they stay dry when I get super sweaty," says Dubyak. On top of that, they're moisture-wicking and have a lovely four-way stretch.

Best Workout Leggings on Amazon

16. The Gym People Yoga Pants

The Gym People

  • What We Like: very stretchy and flexible, pockets on both sides
  • What We Don't Like: material isn't super sculpting
  • Material: polyamide-spandex blend
  • Length: one length
  • Size Range: S to XL

"I love the pockets, there's one on each side large enough to hold my cellphone," writes one Amazon reviewer. And Dubyak can't get over the flattering fit. "These are great if you want to emphasize your booty or legs because the material holds you in while letting your own shape do all the talking," she says. That being said, if you're looking for a more sculpting and supportive pair of leggings, these probably aren't for you.

How Often Should You Wash Workout Leggings?

In short, after every workout. Sweat and bacteria from gyms or studios will harbor in the material making it not ideal to rewear after a sweaty workout. Tight workout clothing clings to your body and built up gunk and bacteria is, well, gross. Now if you're thinking, "but I want to wear these leggings again tomorrow morning to my class, I can't keep washing them or they'll wear out!" Don't worry, there are ways to preserve your pieces so they continue to keep their shape and sturdy material. "For years I thought hang dry was such a scam and it’s absolutely not. The way average leggings are priced today is ridiculous but if you want them to last, hang dry is the secret. I have pairs of leggings that have lasted me three plus years with frequent wear and they still look great and have kept their shape! Always worth the extra step to take care of them," advises Gutgold.

What's the Difference Between Leggings and Activewear Leggings?

Material plays a big role in which leggings are made for activewear and which ones are for more casual wear, for example, elastane and nylon are common base materials for blends in workout leggings, while you'll likely see spandex in most leggings altogether. This really comes down to how you choose to wear them. For example, I have a set of lululemon Align leggings to wear for casual looks and a set designated for activewear. While you can always do both with one set of leggings, keeping each separate will help elongate wear overtime.

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Why You Should Trust Us

Olivia Dubyak is PureWow's Commerce Editor and textbook Capricorn. She studied journalism at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has gone from New York City to West Texas to Chicago to Northern Colorado since then experiencing new things to broaden her perspective as a writer. She writes across the board in fashion, beauty, wellness and home, focusing on product reviews and roundups that can elevate your everyday life. She's been writing in the commerce-sphere for nearly five years and loves trying new products, sharing her honest experiences to help you decide whether what you’re buying is worth it or not (yup, Augustinus Bader is a must-have).

PureWow is the best friend you never had when it comes to finding the best, most useful lifestyle products online. Founded in 2010, our company’s editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which ones are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series, which sees each and every item we test being ranked on a 100-point scale of awesomeness, to the painstakingly curated lists our fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family editors create as vertical experts, you can trust that our recommendations include some of the greatest items you’ll find on the internet. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.

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Olivia Dubyak

Commerce Editor

Olivia Dubyak is PureWow's Commerce Editor and textbook Capricorn. She studied journalism at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has gone from New York City to...
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Kara Cuzzone

Assistant Commerce Editor

From 2019 to 2021 Kara Cuzzone held the role of Assistant Commerce Editor covering sales and deals across beauty, fashion, home and wellness.
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