Still not wearing compression leggings or tights during your workouts? LeBron James, Steph Curry, the Rock, marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and just about every high-level runner, lifter and athlete wears them — and you can reap benefits from squeezing into men's workout leggings, too.
The benefits: Leggings (whether you wear them solo or under a pair of shorts) will keep you warmer when you're exercising in the cold. They also may just make you more comfortable and feel more supported, especially during higher impact movements, like running.
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The pressure from compression leggings, in particular, may even help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery., thanks to their ability to increase blood flow to and from the muscles you're hammering. In fact, in a June 2013 British Journal of Sports Medicine review, scientists found that compression gear may reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, that ache you get the days following a new or tough workout. While these benefits aren't proven just yet, the reality is that donning compressive leggings isn't going to hurt.
In this guide, we'll help you find the best men's workout leggings for your training.
How We Chose
The men's leggings we included here are based on expert recommendations, plus tips from real gym-going guys and my own personal experience testing: I'm a certified personal trainer, lifter, cyclist and slow-but-avid runner, and I've worn many of these tights on leg day, during stationary bike rides, on rambles along trails and on training runs along the streets of my home city.
We chose the following best leggings for men based on four main criteria:
• Compression Level
Bonus points for pockets!
Most companies make and market workout leggings according to gender — but people of any gender can wear "men's leggings." When shopping, keep in mind that the main difference is the fit: Leggings marketed for men 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 Overall: 2XU MCS Run
- Sizes Available: XXS-XXL, including tall sizes for L-2XL
- Colors: Black with gray accents, black with gold accents
These are our pick for the best men's compression leggings for a few reasons. Instead of just being tight all over, 2XU's MCS has targeted compression on the quads and calves. Those areas are firm and tight while still allowing your joints to move. If you're wearing these for cardio, you may find you can run farther before feeling sore.
They're also moisture-wicking, which means they're good at evaporating any moisture on your legs during sweatier runs. And the fabric has UPF of 50+— basically, the textile version of sunscreen — so if it's a little cool out, but sneakily sunny, you won't get a sunburn below your shorts but above your knees.
I generally prefer 3/4-length tights (I just wear longer socks to cover my ankles) but some guys have told me that the full-length 2XU's run a little long.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $119.95-$124.24
2. Best for Cold Weather: Dahlie Winter Tights
- Sizes Available: S-XXL
- Colors: Black with orange accent, green
These exercise tights are made with merino wool, so they're really warm — and substantial enough to be worn as pants, not just as a base layer. I did a 2.5-hour training run wearing them in temperatures that barely touched 30 degrees, and my legs were never cold — even without having another layer on top.
The compression level is snug, but doesn't pull on your knees uncomfortably while you're lifting your thighs to stride. So they're perfect for running or cycling.
One downside: There are no pockets on the outside of the pants, just one of those tiny pockets for keys inside. So you'll need to carry your phone elsewhere.
Buy it: Dahlie.com; Price: $130
3. Best for Carrying Your Phone: Under Armour ColdGear Twist
- Sizes Available: XS-3XL
- Colors: Gray, blue
If you didn't post your run to Strava, did you really run? Of course not. But if you don't have an arm strap or a smart watch, that means you're carrying your phone to hear your tunes and catch all those Kudos. That is, unless you're wearing the Under Armour ColdGear Twist leggings.
These men's running leggings have a pocket against the right thigh that's perfect for sliding in your phone and one of your keys. Unlike trying to run with a phone in a normal shorts pocket, the Twist's against-the-leg pocket lets you run comfortably, freeing up your hands and keeping you from getting distracted by texts or checking (and checking and checking) your split times.
Fair warning: The Twist tights are really tight. The compression level may be too tight for some runners. They're not as warm as the Dahlie Winter Tights, but the Twists are Under Armour ColdGear, so they'll keep you fairly toasty. There's also a lot of detailed stitching in the crotch area, so I'd prefer wearing shorts over them for modesty — and to add to the heat-trapping effect.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $39.29-$82.82
4. Best for Leg Day: CW-X Men's Stabilyx Joint Support 3/4 Compression Tights
- Sizes available: S-XXL
- Colors: Black, forest green, charcoal gray, navy; black with green, red, grey/blue or white accents
"These have always been my go-to leggings because of the additional wrapping of enforced areas around the knees, ankles and hips," Brandon Lirio, CPT, director of BattleGround Fitness and a professional bodybuilder, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "These areas are of major concern for swelling and injury late in my prep for competition, so I'll take any added safety of ensuring I make it all the way in my prep!"
The patented compression of these 3/4 compression tights wraps around your legs in strips — in a similar pattern that you'd see someone apply kinesio tape to try to lock things in place. It also wraps around the knees, giving them a big squeeze that you can feel keeping your joints stable as you lift or run. The color accents on each version of the pants helps guide you (the diamond-shaped opening at the knee goes over your knee, for example) so you feel that hug in the right places.
Though they're thick, the CW-X pants are made with a "CoolMax" technology to help keep legs cool and dry.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $59.99-$170.51
5. Best for Sustainability: Reebok Speedwick
- Sizes Available: S-2XL
- Colors: Black
Reebok has been touting its sustainability efforts, including making shoes out of plant-based materials. These tights aren't made of leaves, but they are built from 30 percent recycled materials — and with the amount of waste that textile manufacturing produces, it's nice to know that one piece of gym gear is helping to take some materials out of the waste stream.
They're not just recycled, though: They're also solid leggings for running, with a decent (but not too intense) level of compression, a bit of warmth and a fit that's true to size.
There's a small pocket in the back for your keys and a card/ID if you're not planning to wear shorts over them, and a drawstring in case your thighs far outstrip your waist in size. The fabric wicks away sweat well, so the tights weren't sopping when you take them off after a run.
Buy it: Reebok.com; Price: $50
6. Best Colorful Design: Kapow Tiger Shark Meggings
- Sizes Available: S-XL
- Colors: Blue with black tiger stripes
Kapow's offerings are a welcome burst of color in a sea of black tights. Working out doesn't need to be deathly serious, and these bright, patterned "meggings" definitely aren't. The blue tiger stripes are my favorite, but just about any of Kapow's meggings could fit in here. They're offered in patterns like snake skin, cheetah and snow leopard and lightning bolts.
But they're not just flashy, stretchy pants: Kapow's leggings are made of real-deal compression fabric, with all the sweat-wicking tech you'll find in boring old black tights. They've also got a bounce-proof phone pocket and a zipper pocket for your key and anything else you need to keep safe.
Buy it: KapowMeggings.com; Price: $74.99
7. Best for Hot Weather: Nike Jordan Dri-FIT Air
- Sizes Available: XS-3XL
- Colors: Black, White
You might think it's weird to wear tights when you want to stay cool — why not just wear shorts? But these Nike men's leggings are almost magical. On some days, I think I'm actually cooler with these under my shorts than I would be without.
The soft fabric seems to draw sweat away from my legs, letting the perspiration do its job at keeping me cool and comfortable. The length — only three-quarters, instead of full-length — lets a little air in around your ankles, too.
These rank on the lower end of the tightness scale of men's compression tights — you feel a bit of a hug in the thighs, but not a big squeeze — so they're a great extra-stretchy option. They've got a pocket, which is nice, but you'll probably wear shorts over them since they're so thin.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $30
8. Best for Odor Control: Ten Thousand Full Length Tight
- Sizes Available: S-XL
- Colors: Black
If you're a sweaty guy who has owned a tech fabric garment for more than a few months, you know about perma-stink — that gross smell in synthetic fabrics that never seems to come out in the wash. Ten Thousand's tights fight that odor with silver. The metal has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which makes it helpful in reducing the growth of these stink-producing microbes.
The Ten Thousand tights also don't stink when it comes to performance. They're designed to be worn as pants, so they're full coverage in the front and include pockets on both sides for your phone, keys and cards. The fabric doesn't bunch up during lifts or runs, and the vent behind the knees helps keep your legs breathing.
Buy it: Tenthousand.cc; Price: $78
9. Best for Tech: Under Armour RUSH HeatGear 2.0 Leggings
- Sizes Available: XS-4XL, and L-4XL in tall
- Colors: Gray, llue
RUSH leggings are made with mineral-infused fabric from a company called Celliant that is supposed to take the heat your body gives off as you exercise and return it back to your body as infrared energy — increasing not just blood flow, but the oxygen in your cells. Under Armour claims that this return of energy to your body also increases endurance.
Does the "energy-returning" tech work? I'm not sure! While wearing them for workouts, my performance was maybe a little better than usual, but I might have just been excited about the potential of this geeky tech.
What I do know: These leggings are more comfortable than many others, and the HeatGear-level of insulation makes them great for transitional temperatures — when it's a little cold for just shorts, but too warm for full-on bundling up.
Buy it: Underarmour.com; Price: $55
10. Best Value: DRSKIN Compression Cool Dry Leggings
- Sizes Available: S-3XL
- Colors: 21, including black, red, white, lime green, orange and camo gray
The DRSKIN leggings aren't super compressive. But what they may lack in knee squeeze, they make up for in value. These leggings are just $15, and they're loved by those who wear them.
The fairly thin fabric is comfortable, breathes well in the heat and offers warmth in cool-but-not-cold temperatures. It wicks moisture away well, keeping things from getting too swampy and soaked during long lifts or cardio sessions.
You'll probably want to wear shorts over these leggings, as they're more of a base layer. You may also want a size up: I'm a medium in just about every other legging, but a large in the DRSKIN. Use the size chart on their Amazon page to double-check before ordering.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $14.99
11. Best for Running at Night: Lululemon Surge Tight Nulux
- Sizes Available: XS-XXL
- Colors: Black
Substantial pockets for your phone and keys, panels of mesh behind the knees to stay breathable and stretchy, quick-drying fabric make these Lululemon men's leggings a great base layer for running.
The reflective details in all the right places — along the sides and backs of your calves, and on the back of each hamstring — make them particularly great for running at night when wearing reflective clothing can make all the difference in being seen by distracted drivers.
The Surge tights also stay in place — there's no bunching, and no readjusting needed. Be warned: The compression level on these is pretty tight.
Buy it: Lululemon.com; Price: $128
12. Best for Long Runs: Adidas Boston Marathon 2022 Tights
- Sizes Available: S-2XL
- Colors: Blue with neon green accent and the Boston Marathon logo
These tights are ideal for long runs because they don't stay soggy wet, have a pocket for your phone and have pre-shaped spaces around the knees where other tights can start to pull during long runs. This special construction makes it so you can move more freely over many miles.
More than the tech, these tights are inspiring: If you're a runner, Boston is the holy grail of hitting the pavement.
Even if you don't dream of tackling 26.2 in Beantown, the little Boston logo on the quad can provide an inspiration for your own audacious goal. Learn to associate it with your own dream, and look at it each time you need a push to keep going long.
Buy it: adidas.com; Price: $85
3 Things to Consider When Shopping for Men's Workout Leggings
When it comes to men's workout leggings, you want a technical material that's both comfortable, stretchy and sweat-wicking — meaning, it dries fast so you're not soaked throughout a long run or high-intensity workout.
Most synthetic materials (polyester, nylon and spandex) are made to dry quickly. Merino wool is also naturally good at managing moisture and keeping you dry.
You also want to consider how thick your leggings are, especially if you want to wear them without shorts over top.
Thicker leggings are usually warmer and you'll feel more comfortable sporting them without anything covering you above the knees. Thin materials are better for hot environments, but you'll likely want to put shorts on top.
2. Compression Level
Compression leggings can help your legs feel supported during your workout, and even potentially contribute to a speedier recovery, but that doesn't mean the more compression the better.
You want to make sure your leggings aren't so compressive that they're uncomfortable or restrict your movement. The right amount of compression still has some stretch to it, and doesn't make it difficult to bend your knees during a squat or stride naturally during a run.
3. Added Features
The obvious one here is pockets. Some leggings only have small pockets (with or without a zipper) to hold your key and some cash; others have large pockets built into the sides of the legs that fit a smartphone comfortably against your body where it won't bounce or otherwise distract you during your workout.
Other features to consider: a drawstring in the waist, reflective details if you plan to get your sweat on at night or in the wee hours of the morning and color options.
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