With so many options available, choosing the best workout leggings can be a workout in itself. And it's an important purchase - whether you’re pounding the pavement or perfecting your downward dog, the right leggings can make or break a fitness regime.
Choose the wrong leggings and you’ll be chafing in all the wrong places, but find the perfect pair and you’ll have the confidence to keep on running, spinning or planking from dusk to dawn.
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We’ve included five very different garments in our round-up of the best workout leggings, although the standout pair has to be Sweaty Betty’s Power 7/8 Gym Leggings, with their durable, sweat-proof fabric, perfectly-placed mini pockets and adjustable waistband. The design’s pretty stylish, too.
While you're here, you might also want to check out our pick of the best sports bras and the best running shoes for women. Read on for our pick of the best workout leggings – but first, there are few things you need to know.
How to choose the best workout leggings for you
Sam Field, co-founder of 3S by Team VRUK says functionality and style are the two most significant things to consider when shopping for workout leggings.
“They need to work for you on every level – look great and offer you those key features like zip back pocket, leg pocket and drawstring waist,” she insists. “Flat lock seams improve comfort and minimise chafing, whilst a high waist and tapered cut provides a confident and flattering silhouette.”
Start by taking a second to think about fit. High-waisted leggings (a high-rise fit is one which ends above the belly button) won’t just make you look great – the material will be less likely to roll down, especially if you opt for an elasticated waist. A high waist will also minimise the risk of an accidental pant-flash just as you’re teeing up the perfect yoga pose.
When trying workout leggings on, try to mimic the movements you'll be doing in them to see how to fabric feels in motion. Take a minute to consider opacity, too - especially in regards to moves that really stretch the fabric, such as a lunge or a downward dog.
If you need a pocket, opt for one on the front. Choose leggings with pockets on the back and it’s only a matter of time before you forget that’s precisely where you stashed your essentials – until you stop for a breather on a park bench and end up with a key-shaped outline branded on your backside.
When it comes to materials, although we’re a fan of environmentally-friendly ones such as bamboo, these are almost always used in conjunction with man-made ones. Man-made materials will wick away sweat and aid air circulation more efficiently.
We’ll give the final word to personal trainer Anna Cousins, who’s a firm believer that leggings shouldn’t just work hard, but look fantastic, too. “It’s definitely worth investing in leggings which make you feel and look good. Not only will that post-workout selfie look fabulous, but you’ll feel a million dollars and it will spur you on to work harder.”
- While you're shopping around, check out the January Sales featuring activewear, training aids and more bargains for gym junkies.
The best workout leggings to buy right now
Designed to sculpt, stretch and support, these Sweaty Betty power leggings feature a high waist and an adjustable drawcord that ensures they stay put during squats and lunges. Made with sweat-proof fabric, you won’t even have to worry about getting them off immediately after your workout as they’ll stay fresh for hours. Reviews have also praised the bum-sculpting cut, calling it a highlight, alongside the mini pockets, designed for the stashing of your gym essentials. Finally, they’re totally stylish. These leggings are available in multiple colours and patterns such as Bettle Blue, Olive and Black Cherry Purple to name a few.
These Lululemon staples are popular for a number of reasons. For starters, they’re engineered with a ‘hugged’ sensation to make you feel supported at all times, even when you’re working with heavy weights. Many reviews have praised them for being great for heated practice or any high intensity aerobic workouts but tend to agree that the compression can be too high for things like yoga. However, the leggings feature a mesh panel cleverly placed on the lower leg for breathability, and the high rise design keeps you comfortable and covered. You also get a very useful back pocket and added Lycra fibre for shape retention. Plus, the special 'luxtreme' fabric keeps sweat from sinking in, while the reinforced waistband means you won’t have to worry about it digging into your sides.
Adidas is famous for its high-tech gym gear, so it’s no surprise that this brand stocks one of the best workout leggings on the market. The beloved Believe This 2.0 Primeknits come in a gorgeous lilac colour dubbed ‘legacy purple’ and provide all the support and assistance you need whilst training. But a word of warning, the lilac colour does show up a bit of sweat if you’re doing high intensity stuff. However, the lightweight primeknit fabric creates an airy feel keeping you cool, while the mesh panels and reinforced ribbed knit fabric in key areas ensure you won’t fall victim to any gym mishaps. Reviews have also praised the leggings for being slightly tighter through the legs and hips, which is great as it ensures they don’t slip down.
These Marks & Spencer favourites are both purse-friendly and practical. Created with blackout fabric, you can expect full coverage and comfortability is a promise too thanks to its soft material and high waisted design. It also features a secure pocket on the waistband and a phone pocket on the leg as well as a hidden inner drawcords for adjustability so you can get the fit just right. However, some reviews have pointed out that they tend to slide down when running. On the plus side, the sweat-wicking fabric means you can enjoy working out in the leggings for longer as there’s plenty of breathability incorporated in the design to keep you dry and cool.
If comfort is your priority, try these training leggings by Reebok. They provide a great fit, with the hyperform fabric providing both comfort and support, meaning you won’t feel these bad boys slipping off no matter how intense your work out gets. A mid-rise cut helps prevent irritation, while the material used combats sweat. The leggings also feature a practical back pocket to carry your essentials – although it's open rather than zipped, which means you'll need to keep an extra eye that nothing drops out during more vigorous workouts. The leggings are also only available in black, which is great for avoiding sweat patches but not the most exciting for those who like their athleisure to look bright and colourful.