The best leggings are like a second skin. They let you forget about your outfit altogether and help you stay focused on your workout. On the flip side, the worst stuff can pull, chafe, ride up and make it hard to do anything but tug and squirm.
Still, there's no single pair of workout leggings that's best for everyone. What's going to work for you depends on multiple factors — the most important of which are your unique body and how you plan to break a sweat.
So, to help you find your ultimate pair of leggings, we talked with trainers about what makes the best workout leggings. Read on to shop their 14 favorite pairs.
Most companies make and market leggings according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below. The main difference is the fit: Men's leggings tend to be longer in length and roomier in the front to account for physical differences. However, fabrics and comfort should be the same between gender-labeled pairs.
1. The Best Leggings for Running: Nike Epic Luxe Women's Mid-Rise Crop
Pounding the pavement means lots of bouncing, so tights made of a sturdy compression fabric are key. "Compression leggings have a 'held-in feeling' and warm up your leg muscles," says certified personal trainer Holly Roser, CPT. That'll help keep uncomfortable movement at bay.
Other must-have features: A reflective patch (especially if you run early in the morning or late at night) and a pocket for your keys, phone or ID, says Tara Leferrara, CPT, a certified personal trainer and co-owner of Compass Fitness. These women's leggings have it all.
Available in sizes XS through XL, they feature a mid-rise waist for anyone who doesn't want a ton of fabric around their abdomen.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $90
2. The Best Leggings for Cold-Weather Workouts: Virus Alps Stay Warm Pant
Keeping the muscles warm is essential to minimizing the risk of injury when training in colder temperatures, according to California-based physical therapist Jereme Schumacher, DPT. For men, he recommends the Virus Alps Stay Warm Pant, available in sizes S through XXL.
"The Virus Alps Stay Warm Pants are great if you're going to be training in colder temperatures," he says. "Created with a coffee charcoal fabric, these pants will help keep your legs warm throughout your training session."
Buy it: VirusIntl.com; Price: $72
3. The Best Leggings for HIIT: CARBON38 Regular Rise Full-Length Legging
When high-intensity interval training is on the docket, you want a compression fabric as well as a nice, high waist, Roser says. As with running, the compression fabric will stop uncomfortable movement when you bounce up and down. The regular-rise waist is a great option for women looking to feel some abdominal support without an abundance of coverage.
Keep the heavy sweat factor in mind too. "For HIIT workouts, I look for leggings that don't show booty sweat," says Leferrara. "Don't purchase cotton and steer toward dark colors."
This pair of Carbon38 leggings is available in three colors and an array of lengths, with sizes ranging from XXS to XXL.
Buy it: Carbon38.com; Price: $98
4. The Best Leggings for Indoor Cycling: Pearl Izumi Attack Cycling Tight
You're gonna be hanging out on that bike seat for a while, so shop accordingly. "You need a little extra cushion for your tush," Leferrara says. For maximum comfort, look for padded leggings — and avoid zippered pockets that could push into your skin or chafe. (Ouch.)
Pearl Izumi's Attack Cycling Tight is full-length and built with a lightweight chamois, giving extra comfort during your ride. It's available in XS through XXL and in both a women's and men's version. (However, the men's leggings don't have padding.)
5. The Best Leggings for CrossFit: Reebok Lux 3/4 Length Leggings
All that jumping and squatting means you need bottoms that allow for maximum range of motion, but can still keep you cool. Try these capri-length leggings, which will keep you cooler than full-length pants will, Leferrara says. "They reduce the friction that can sometimes happen with shorts too," she says.
Reebok's Lux 3/4 Length Leggings also have a moisture-wicking fabric that will help reduce sweating and eliminate chafing. They come with a high and wide waist that will stay in place through your burpees.
Available in sizes 2XS through XL.
Buy it: Reebok.com; Price: $50
6. The Best Maternity Workout Leggings: Maternity GapFit Blackout Full Panel Capris
With pregnancy workouts, comfort and coverage is key. Pick a super elastic pair that'll stretch with you and your growing baby, and a lightweight fabric that'll help you stay cool.
This pair from Gap has a smooth, flat waistband and flatlock seams to prevent it from moving while you exercise. Available in sizes S through XL, these tights provide the right amount of compression and support without sacrificing flexibility and stretch.
Buy it: Gap.com; Price: $59.95
7. The Best Leggings for Yoga: Lululemon Align Pant 28"
For yoga, women will want a high waist that stays put amid all of that twisting and stretching.
But that's not the only thing to look for. If you're hitting a hot yoga class, seek out a fabric that dries quickly, says yoga instructor Morgan Balavage. Practicing at a slower pace? "Soft fabrics that gently hug the skin allow for unconstricted movement.
Lululemon's Align Pant is definitely a fan favorite among yogis. This pair is available in sizes ranging from 0 to 20 and lengths from 25 inches to 31 inches, depending on the color you choose.
Buy it: Lululemon.com; Price: $98
8. The Best MMA and Boxing Leggings: EleVen by Venus Williams City Jungle Legging
Like with leggings for HIIT, high-rise leggings are a must for women doing MMA and boxing workouts.
Kicks can cause the waist of lower-rise picks to slip down toward the hips, forcing you to stop and readjust over and over. But high-rise pairs will stay put — so you can focus on your workout.
These full-length high-waisted leggings from EleVen by Venus Williams are available in two colors and sizes XS through XL. The fabric is not only moisture-wicking but will shield you from up to 98 percent of UV rays.
Buy it: ElevenbyVenusWilliams; Price: $99
9. The Best Leggings for Pilates: Onzie High Rise Tight
The slow, deliberate movements mean you don't have to worry too much about sweating or movement. "So you really can't go wrong with any fit or material," Leferrara says. Avoid leggings with pockets or zippers on the butt or rear waist panel, since you'll be spending much of class on your back.
One of Onzie's best sellers, these high-rise leggings landing just below the navel and are available in sizes XS through XL.
Buy it: Onzie.com; Price: $74
10. The Best Leggings for Weightlifting: Virus Bioceramic Compression V2 Tech Pants
For weight lifting sessions, Schumacher likes to wear the Virus Biocermatic compression pants.
"They provide compressive support throughout the entire leg and are made with a Bioceramic material that is supposed to help with blood flow and circulation," he says. "Due to the supportive feel, I like to wear these pants when I'm doing heavier leg workouts such as squats or deadlifts.
The women's version is available in XS through XXL, and the men's version is available in sizes XS through XXXL.
11. The Best Plus-Sized Workout Leggings: Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Capri
Athleta makes an array of plus-sized workout leggings in a variety of lengths, including full, crop, capri and 7/8. Best for yoga or pilates, the Athleta Ultra High Rise Elation Capri is available in sizes XXS to 3X. Made with a wide waistband and soft Athleta's Powervita fabric, they're designed to let you flow through sun salutations with no chafe.
Yoga practice not your thing? These tights actually feel great during any sort of gentle exercise. You can also browse Athleta's other plus-sized leggings to find the pair that's best suited to your sweat style.
Buy it: Athleta.com; Price: $79
12. The Best Amazon Workout Leggings: Redqenting Women’s High Waist Seamless Leggings
Just dipping your toes into a new workout? It's totally understandable to not want to drop a ton of money on gear until you're fully committed. These inexpensive workout Leggings from Amazon are incredibly versatile.
Made in sizes S through L, these women's leggings have a high waist to help prevent them from riding up during even the bendiest of workouts.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $25