We updated this article in April 2022 to add more information about each featured product, based on extensive research done by our team (and that of our sister team at the Good Housekeeping Institute).
It’s no secret that the best workout leggings quickly become a wardrobe staple. You can wear them to the gym, while running errands, and even out to lunch with friends. While finding the perfect pair might feel overwhelming, we're here to help. We’re sharing leggings with pockets, plus-size leggings, and so much more so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.
The way you shop for your workout leggings should be no different than the way you go about choosing your running shoes—it’s all about support, comfort, and the type of exercise you plan on doing. But the fit is equally important, Ramona Braganza, celebrity trainer for Halle Berry and Jessica Alba, says.
“Many people get hung up on the sizing of leggings and continue to use the wrong size because they don’t want to change it, but the fit is important, and it shouldn’t be too tight,” she says. “If it’s too tight, it’s going to ride up your crotch and feel tight around your waist, causing discomfort.”
How we chose the best workout leggings
We consulted Braganza, Tatiana Lampa, personal trainer, and owner of Training With T, Amanda Butler, C.P.T., Onyx Trainer, the Good Housekeeping Institute who tests countless products to ensure a fair and accurate representation of each item, and reviewers who have shared some of their own insights.
Our top picks
- Best overall: Lululemon InStill High-Rise Tight
- Best value: Colorfulkoala High-Waisted Full-Length Leggings
- Best leggings for running: Under Armour HeatGear High Waisted Pocketed Leggings
- Best leggings for yoga: Lululemon Wunder Under High-Rise Crop
- Best leggings for strength training: Sweaty Betty Power 7/8 Workout Leggings
- Best fashion workout leggings: Year of Ours Ribbed Veronica Legging
- Most popular leggings on Amazon: IUGA High Waist Yoga Pants with Pockets
- Best opaque workout leggings: Nike Mid-Rise 7/8 Leggings Nike One
- Best leggings for at-home workouts: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Built-In Sculpt 7/8-Length Compression Leggings
- Best leggings for high-impact workouts: Outdoor Voices Zoom High Waist 7/8 Leggings
- Best leggings for studio workouts: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II 7/8 Tight
- Best workout leggings for long-distance runs: CW-X Mid Rise 3/4 Capri Stabilyx Compression Legging
- Waistband Stays in Place
- Soft and Supportive Fabric
- Only Available in One Length
The Good Housekeeping Institute Textiles Lab tested a slew of workout leggings to find the best out there, and they deemed these the best of the best. With a stay-in-place waistband and sweat-wicking capabilities, it’s no surprise that they landed the accolade. Despite the brand saying the style is intended for yoga, the Institute found that Lululemon’s “SmoothCover” fabric is ideal for training, yoga, and everything in between. A built-in pocket at the waist is another plus. And, the Institute notes that these held up well after repeated washing evaluations.
- Moisture-Wicking Fabric
- Users Report Slipping Waistband
To jazz up your workout routine, check out these leggings that come in 15 vivid colors. With over 40,000 reviews on Amazon and nearly five stars, these are popular for a reason. Made of a nylon and spandex mix, they’re buttery soft, comfortable, and constructed to perform. The leggings come with a high-rise comfort waistband with a hidden pocket. Its moisture-wicking technology keeps you dry and comfortable as you sweat. “These leggings are amazing. The seams have a nice gusset that prevents camel toe and lays flat, so I don't experience any rubbing of the seams on my inner thighs,” wrote one reviewer.
- Slightly Compressive
No one wants to spend a run concerned about a rolling down waistband. That’s where these Under Armour leggings come into play. With a waistband that won’t budge and smooth fabric that works to wick away sweat and reduce friction, these leggings have a lot going for them, which is why the textile team at the Institute recommends them for running. Plus, they have pockets—which make for a big plus when you need to bring your phone, keys, and wallet on your next run.
- Low-Friction Fabric
- 2022 Fitness Awards Winner
- Only Available in One Length
“My favorite workout leggings are the Lululemon Wunder Under Luxtreme. It’s made with a special fabric that feels like butter on my body,” says Lampa. Especially designed for yoga and training, these leggings are made with a unique Luxtreme fabric that absorbs sweat and keeps the skin cool. We also love that it has a flat waistband that won't dig into your skin or leave behind marks.
- Adjustable Drawcord in Waistband for Custom Fit
- Sweat-Wicking and Quick-Drying
These leggings have a five-star Amazon rating for a reason. The high-rise leggings are sweat-wicking and quick-drying, keeping you cool but dry during your sweaty endeavors. The leggings also come in sizes ranging from extra-extra-small to extra-extra-large and have a hidden adjustable drawcord to help you get the perfect fit.
- Criss-Cross Waistband for Comfort
- 2022 Fitness Awards Winner
- Limited Colorways
Ranked as the best workout legging in our 2022 Fitness Awards Winners, these are the latest colorway to take the world by storm. “These leggings are one of my favorites because they are so flattering for every body type and the material is so comfortable,” says Amanda Butler, C.P.T., Onyx Trainer. “I can take HIIT classes, teach classes, train clients, or run errands in them.” Their V-shaped high waist is super stylish, and the nylon-spandex rib material wicks away sweat.
- Wide High-Rise Waistband
- Hidden Pockets
- Users Note Shrinkage After Washing
With over 55,000 ratings on Amazon and their affordable price point, you’ll want to buy a pair of these leggings in every color. A wide high-rise waistband with a bit of tummy control and a hidden pocket are just two aspects of these yoga pants that we love. Plus, their super soft material doesn’t hurt, either.
- Sustainable Fabric
- Mesh Panels for Cooling Effect
- Not Ideal for Cold Weather
If you’ve ever worn leggings that ended up being a bit too see-through, one of the best ways to avoid the faux pas is by opting for workout leggings that have a thicker fabric, like these mid-rise Nikes. They feature a comfortable design wick that absorbs sweat, and they're also mindfully made with 50% recycled polyester fibers and mesh panels that help you stay cool.
- Slightly See-Through
This high-waisted legging has a five-star rating for a reason: It’s loved by many for its compression feel, flat waistband, and flat-lock seams that prevent chafing. “I can't recommend these enough! They’re comfortable, look great, and help hold that mom bod in! I just had my baby two weeks ago and these pants made me feel great!” wrote one reviewer.
- High Waist
- Fabric Is Less Soft
The Institute notes that this style uses the brand’s SuperForm fabric that’s lightweight, smooth, compressive, and sweat-wicking—making it great for more intense workouts. They stay up well during movement and have pockets on both sides to hold your essentials.
- Side Pockets
- Extended Sizing
- Some Reviewers Note Piling
Athleta’s oh-so-soft Powervita fabric is more than just luxurious to the touch, it’s also supportive. Great for yoga or studio practice, these workout leggings feature side pockets, an updated waistband, and fewer seams for a more flattering fit.
- Drawstring Closure
- Slightly Compressing
- Reviewers Suggest Sizing Up
Ideal for long-distance runs, according to the Institute, these workout leggings go the distance—so to speak. Made with Coolmax polyester and lycra spandex, they move with you while helping keep the body cool and dry. Drawstring closure helps them stay up while you slash those personal records.
✔️Determine what kind of legging you’ll need. When it comes to choosing the right pair of leggings, you’ll have to know what you’re planning to use them for. “If you’re using them for regular everyday wear, I wouldn't recommend using workout leggings. There are other options made from cotton with a more breathable fabric, which is better for just walking around but not the best for exercising,” explains Braganza. And if you’re planning on doing a yoga workout, you may prefer high-waisted leggings that offer tummy control and a longer length to protect your skin during floor movements.
✔️Look for the right material. “If you're looking to do intense workouts daily, I suggest leggings made with a spandex and polyester mix,” says Braganza. “Spandex helps keep the shape, especially if you're going to wash it a lot. And this blend has a nice, snug fit. It’s got a little looseness so it’s not too tight thanks to the elasticity,” she says. If you also tend to get sweaty fast look for fabrics that are designed to absorb sweat and keep your skin dry. Ready to find the right pair?
✔️Do a squat test. To find the perfect fit, Braganza recommends trying all leggings before purchasing. “Put it on and do a squat to see if it’ll stay up around the waist,” she says. High-waisted leggings are best if you’re looking for options that won’t ride down easily, she says. “Try out different moves from the workouts you're going to do and tests how it fits, making sure it stays up and doesn't show anything.”