The best leggings are like a second skin: They let you forget about your outfit and help you stay focused on your workout. On the flip side, the worst pairs can pull, chafe, ride up and make it hard to do anything but tug and squirm.
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Still, there's no single pair that's best for everyone. What's going to work for you depends on multiple factors — the most important of which are your body and how you plan to break a sweat.
So, to help you find your ultimate pair, we talked with trainers about what makes the best workout leggings. Read on to shop their 11 favorite pairs.
How We Chose
We spoke with personal trainers about what makes the best leggings for every type of workout and different body shapes and sizes. With their guidance and recommendations, we made these picks based on criteria, including:
- Quality of fabrics and materials
- Inclusive size range and fit
- Comfort and durability
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 versions tend to be longer in length and roomier in the front due to physical differences. However, fabrics and comfort should be the same between gender-labeled pairs.
1. Best for Running: Nike Epic Luxe Women's Mid-Rise Crop
Pounding the pavement means lots of bouncing, so supportive running tights are key. "Compression leggings have a 'held-in feeling' and warm up your leg muscles," says certified personal trainer Holly Roser, CPT.
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 Laferrara, CPT, a certified personal trainer and co-owner of Compass Fitness.
Available in sizes XXS through 2XL, they feature a mid-rise waist for anyone who doesn't want a ton of fabric around their abdomen.
2. Best for HIIT: CARBON38 Regular Rise Full-Length Legging
When high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is on your workouts schedule, you want a compressing, high-waisted pant, Roser says. As with running, the supportive fabric will stay in place through the most intense workouts.
Keep the heavy sweat factor in mind too. "For HIIT workouts, I look for leggings that don't show booty sweat," says Laferrara. "Don't purchase cotton and steer toward dark colors."
Pictured above, this pair of Carbon38 black leggings is also available in blue and an array of lengths, with sizes ranging from XXS to XXL.
Buy it: Carbon38.com; Price: $118
3. Best for Indoor Cycling: Pearl Izumi Attack Cycling Tight
You're going to be hanging out on that bike seat for a while, so shop accordingly. "You need a little extra cushion for your tush," Laferrara says. For the most comfort, look for padded leggings (or check out these shorts) — 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 lightweight padding, 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 version doesn't have extra cushioning.)
4. Best for CrossFit: Reebok Lux 3/4 Length Leggings
All that jumping and squatting means you need bottoms that allow for maximum movement but still keep you cool. Try these capri-length pants, which will keep you cooler than full-length ones will, Laferrara says. "They reduce the friction that can sometimes happen with shorts too," she says.
They also have a moisture-wicking, high-quality fabric that will help reduce sweating and chafing. What's more, they come with a wide waist that will stay in place through your burpees. Check them out in sizes 2XS through 4X.
5. Best for Maternity Workouts: Maternity GapFit Blackout Full Panel Capris
With pregnancy workouts, comfort and coverage are key. Pick a super-elastic, buttery soft pair that'll stretch with you and your growing baby.
This pair from Gap has a smooth, flat waistband and flatlock seams to prevent movement while you exercise. Available in sizes S through XXL, these tights provide the right amount of compression, flexibility and stretch.
Buy it: Gap.com; Price: $47
6. Best for Yoga: Lululemon Align Pant 28"
When it comes to yoga pants, people will want a high waist for all that twisting and stretching. But that's not the only thing to look for.
If you're attending a hot yoga class, find a fabric that dries quickly, says yoga instructor Morgan Balavage. Practicing at a slower pace? Soft fabrics that gently hug the skin allow for free movement.
Lululemon's Align Pant is known among yogis as one of the best leggings out there. This pair is available in sizes ranging from 0 to 14 and lengths from 25 inches to 31 inches, depending on the color you choose.
7. Best for MMA and Boxing: EleVen by Venus Williams City Jungle Legging
High-rise leggings are a must for people doing MMA and boxing workouts. Kicks can cause the waist of low-rise picks to slip down toward your hips, forcing you to stop and readjust over and over. But higher pairs will stay put — so you can focus on your workout.
These full-length workout pants from EleVen by Venus Williams come in two colors and are available in sizes XS through XL. The fabric is not only moisture-wicking but has UPF 50+ protection against harmful UV rays.
8. Best for Pilates: Onzie High-Rise Tight
Pilates' slow, precise pace means you don't have to worry too much about sweating buckets or doing complicated movements. "So you really can't go wrong with any fit or material," Laferrara says. But avoid pants with pockets or zippers on the butt, since you'll be spending much of class on your back.
One of Onzie's best sellers, these pattern leggings land just below the bellybutton and are available in sizes XS through XL. Plus, you can choose from several different colors.
9. Best for Weightlifting: Virus Bioceramic Compression Pants
For weightlifting sessions, Schumacher likes to wear the Virus Biocermatic 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 S through XXXL.
10. 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 2XS to 3XL. Made with a wide waistband and soft Athleta's Powervita fabric, they're designed to let you flow through sun salutations with no chafing.
Yoga not your thing? These tights feel great during any sort of gentle exercise or if you work from home. You can also browse Athleta's other plus-sized leggings to find the pair that's best suited to your sweat style.
11. Best From Amazon: Redqenting Women’s High-Waist Seamless Leggings
Just dipping your toes into a new workout? It's understandable to not want to drop a ton of money on gear until you're fully committed. These cost-friendly leggings from Amazon are incredibly versatile.
Made in sizes S through L, these women's leggings have a comfortable but snug waist to help prevent them from riding up during even the bendiest of workouts.