The 12 best workout leggings for exercising in the gym or at home, tried and tested by us

These are the best workout leggings to support your session, tested by the woman&home health team

A selection of the best workout leggings, tested by the woman&home health team
(Image credit: Reebok/Lululemon/GymShark)

The best workout leggings are a sure way to level up your workout - no matter your activity. As well as being more supportive than regular cotton leggings, workout leggings wick away sweat and stretch as you do, making each movement easier. 

Workout leggings are an essential if you're exercising regularly but with so many different brands and types out there to choose from, finding the right ones can be a difficult (and expensive) process. The best activewear doesn't niggle or chafe, is made of sweat-wicking fabric that doesn't stay damp for hours post-workout, and has a firm fit that doesn't budge even on the longest run. 

It was a lengthy testing process, but we've found a collection that ticks all those boxes and more, making your search for the best workout leggings easier than ever before. From leggings that match the best sports bras to the top picks for specific activities like running and cycling, and the best workout leggings with pockets, we guarantee that our selection meet the mark every time when it comes to performance. 

How we tried and tested the best workout leggings

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

As the health editor at woman&home online, I've worn a fair few pairs of workout leggings over the years. However, to get a broad spectrum of possible choices for every different activity, I consulted the experts on what makes an excellent pair of workout leggings and put several to the test, enlisting other members of the team to trial pairs as well. We wore them several times each for at least two high-intensity workouts and one longer, low-intensity session. Then, we judged each pair against several important, expert-recommended factors:

  • Comfort: Comfort is key, always. The experts agreed this was the most important factor to consider as you just won't wear uncomfortable activewear, making your purchase pointless. We noted how well each pair of leggings fitted, whether they were comfortable to wear over a long period, and how noticeable they were during each workout.
  • Support: This was another vital factor to consider. We tested a range of different leggings and, ultimately, the high-waisted picks were the best for support as they tended to stay in place for longer with more structure around the waist and thighs. However, we do have some mid-rise leggings in the selection for those who don't enjoy the added length. 
  • Materials: Workout leggings are made from a whole range of different materials, so we tested a selection - including elastane, cotton, nylon, and lycra - to weigh up the positives and negatives of each. 
  • Versatility: As noted, we tested these workout leggings across a range of different activities - including strength training, running, spinning, cycling, and yoga - and have been sure to point out the best all-rounders in the selection as well as more specialist leggings. 
  • RRP: Budget is also an important factor when it comes to purchasing new activewear. To make sure there's an option for everyone, we've included a range of leggings at different price points and highlighted any particularly good deals.
  • Additional details: We've noted whether the leggings have any additional details that may be beneficial - like waistband and side pockets, fluorescent details, and particularly inclusive size ranges. 

The best workout leggings, tested by us

Gymshark Vital seamless leggings, some of the best workout leggings

(Image credit: Gymshark)

1. Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

Best workout leggings overall

Specifications

RRP: $54 / £40
Sizes: XS - XXL
Length: Full length
Material: Nylon and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Range of colors
+
Seam-free for comfort
+
Supportive ribbed waistband

Reasons to avoid

-
Can sell out quickly

The Gymshark Vital 2.0 Seamless Leggings are the best all-rounder on our list, suitable for anything from marathon training to strength training in the gym. High-waisted but without heavy compression, these leggings are supportive while offering plenty of breathing room around the middle, and they stay up through any sweat session. Made of nylon and elastane, they stretch as you do and feel super lightweight during use.

I've been wearing these leggings myself for two years now and they've always been my top choice for any type of sweaty workout. I've worn them running a 6.2-mile race previously as well as regularly in the gym since I bought them and I love them so much, I recently bought another pair in this blue colorway. They wick away sweat like a dream and even the heaviest workout couldn't bring out sweat stains on the fabric - although multiple washes mean my black pair are leaning towards dark gray.

I love how these leggings are also completely seam-free, meaning there's no digging or chafing. The softness of the material, combined with the lightweight support makes them suitable for longer, floor-based classes like pilates and yoga as well. I've also worn them through the day on long countryside walks, so I can confirm they're suitable to wear for hours on end.  

Available in a range of bright colors as well as darker shades, they're an instant uplift to any workout. While I'd struggle to find a real downside to these leggings, their noted lightweight material means they wouldn't be suitable for particularly cold weather. However, if you're exercising outside your you warm up, they'll be just fine. 

Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)
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2. Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

Best workout leggings with pockets

Specifications

RRP: $100 / £80
Sizes: XXS - XXL
Length: Various
Material: Polyamide and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Flattering high waist
+
Pull-cord for adaptable sizing
+
Two pockets of different sizes
+
Inclusive size range
+
Full and 7/8 leg lengths 

Reasons to avoid

-
Sweat shows through before first wash

Sweaty Betty's Power Leggings could have easily made the top pick of the list, so if you're looking for a pair similar to the Gymshark leggings, but you need a pair of the best gym leggings with pockets, then these will be for you.

There are double pockets in the Power leggings: one in the waistband for keys and smaller essentials, and the other in the side of the leg for your phone, and they are available in a vibrant range of colours, patterns, and prints. It was the lightweight, soft, and completely squat-proof fabric that won us over in the end though. 

I tested these leggings on a 3.1 and 6.2-mile jog, an hour-long yoga session, and an intensive gym class, and found that these leggings have certainly got us covered on all bases. The original leggings are mid-rise (but you can buy a high-waisted version) but stay up regardless because of the discreet pull-cord in the waistband that you can tighten to fit your shape. While the light material was perfect for a yoga session, we also put Sweaty Betty’s 90% squat proof promise to the test and can confirm these leggings passed with flying colours and the sweatier they get, the more skin-feel they offer, delivering extra stretch and comfort as your workout progresses.

Crafted from a super stretchy elastane blend, I found the fabric was also sweat-wicking, pulling moisture away from the body to keep me cool and comfortable. However, I did notice that on first wear the sweat was visible through the material - and I have a black pair. I haven't seen this again post-first wash so I'd recommend giving these a spin in the machine to break them in first if you care about sweat patches during your session.

See our full Sweaty Betty Power Leggings review

Universal Performance seamless workout leggings

(Image credit: Universal Performance)

3. Universal Performance Seamless Universal Active Leggings

Best workout leggings for the gym

Specifications

RRP: $49 / £40
Sizes: S - XL
Length: Full length
Material: Recycled polyamide, recycled polyester, elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Super soft material
+
High-waisted 
+
Made from mostly recycled materials
+
Anti-bacterial fabric

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in two colors

When it comes to gym-specific leggings, it's all about squat-proof materials and supreme comfort. These Ultimate Performance leggings deserve a place in the top selection of workout leggings for ticking both boxes, as well as hiding sweat patches without a problem.

They really proved themselves through my weightlifting session, not shifting an inch through the movements. They also feel a little thicker than some of the other leggings on our list, without being as thick as the AYBL leggings, so if you are concerned about leggings potentially going see-through over time, these would be an excellent buy. 

The feature that makes them a winner for me though is the material. Made from a blend of recycled polyamide, recycled polyester, and elastane, they're easily the softest leggings on the list. So much so, I was a little concerned that the material wouldn't fair up well on the treadmill in the gym, but I was pleasantly surprised. I ran for half an hour post-strength training session with these leggings on, so I did have a little sweat as an additional grip, but they stayed up the whole time without an issue. Available in two colors at the moment, they're the average price for workout leggings and offer amazing support even after many washes. 

Adidas workout leggings

(Image credit: Adidas)

4. Adidas Own The Run Running Leggings

Best workout leggings for running

Specifications

RRP: $65 / £50
Sizes: 2XS - XL, plus tall, petite, and plus-size
Length: 7/8
Materials: Recycled polyester and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Great range of sizes
+
Very comfortable
+
Pull-cord waistband for adaptable sizing
+
Fluorescent details for outdoor safety 

Reasons to avoid

-
No pockets

If you're a runner and you already have a pair of the best running shoes, then you'll need to invest in a good pair of running leggings. These Adidas Own The Run leggings are specially designed to be worn during excessive movement over an intense cardio session. They're not as soft as the Universal Performance Seamless leggings but the material is great at absorbing sweat and it offers a light compression feel so you feel supported over the miles. For running, these are undoubtedly the best workout leggings. 

For me, a drawstring waistband has become a non-negotiable in running leggings. Previously, I'd just been relying on the grip of the waistband but I've found this can really change depending on how your body is feeling that day, whether you're already a bit sweaty, and how high the waistband is. I love how the drawstring in these leggings is tucked away discreetly in the band, meaning you can adjust it to however fits best that day. 

These leggings also have a sweat-guarded zip pocket for your phone so you don't have to take an additional bag out with you. It's one way that these Adidas leggings have something over the Sweaty Betty Power leggings, which are also great for running. The sweat-proof pocket means your phone stays away from your body during your run and doesn't get covered in sweat essentially, which can damage your phone over time and make it hard to use in the moment. 

Plus, they make running during the darker hours a little safer with multiple fluorescent strips that flash up whenever light hits them. In silver, they're a little more low key than the bright pink strips on the Rapha leggings, for instance, and I found they were barely noticeable during the daylight hours. 

Tala seamless leggings

(Image credit: TALA)

5. TALA Zinnia Leggings

Best lightweight workout leggings

Specifications

RRP: $57 / £42
Length: 7/8, regular, and tall
Sizes: XS - XL
Material: 92% upcycled polyamide, 8% elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight feel
+
Eco-friendly credentials
+
Multiple color choices 

Reasons to avoid

-
Need to be washed separately 

Many of the leggings in this guide offer a lightweight feel but have other credentials that make them a top pick in another category. The TALA Zinnia Leggings have won the top spot for this coveted category because, as our tester says, "they literally feel like you're not wearing anything, but they're not so thin that they feel bad quality and they're super stretchy and soft." 

The TALA Zinnia leggings are made from 92% recycled polyamide and 8% elastane, making them a good sustainable pick on the list. Fit wise, our tester notes, "They have quite a large and high waistband, which is flattering but not heavy on the compression when compared to the brand's cycling shorts and sports bras, which do offer this pressure.

Sizing-wise, our tester notes that the regular 7/8 length may be a little long for some people. "I purchased a small and I'm about 5'8. If anything they're almost too long for me so they don't look cropped at all, and I like to roll them up a bit at the ankles."

The only downside of these leggings is also one of the positives. The lightweight material means they can be slippery on some surfaces, our tester notes. "I was in a barre class once and we were using resistance bands. They just wouldn't stay around my thighs because of the material of the leggings. They're not a super thick fabric so they can feel a bit slippery on certain surfaces. I've mainly used them for weightlifting and they definitely pass the squat test. They’re also really good for yoga as they're so soft and stretchy." 

H&M workout leggings

(Image credit: H&M)

6. H&M Seamless Sports tights in DryMove

Best affordable workout leggings

Specifications

RRP: $29.99 / £24.99
Sizes: XS - XL
Length: Full length
Material: Polyamide, polyester, and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Most affordable pick on the list
+
High-waisted
+
Darker materials for sweat-proof workouts
+
Long-lasting without stretch

Reasons to avoid

-
May fall down before they get sweaty

If you're looking for the best workout leggings on a budget, I really recommend these from H&M. Just $34.99 / £24.99, they are almost half the price of many other leggings on the list and offer much the same in terms of versatility, comfort, and support. I've been wearing them myself for just over two years now, mainly for strength training exercises and walking, and have found they're just perfect. 

A simple pair of leggings, they're made from a classic polyester, polyamide, and elastane blend that makes them ideal for any exercise where you need to stretch a little. Although I've found they can feel quite damp after a particularly sweaty session, the grey marl color and unique pattern mean there are no sweat stains to be seen, which is very impressive. 

However, it's worth noting that they won't be the very best leggings for running. They're great once you're already a little sweaty as the sweat acts as an additional grip between the material and your body, but before this, I found they fell down relatively quickly. 

Reebok workout leggings

(Image credit: Reebok)

7. Reebok Workout Ready Ribbed High-Rise Leggings

Best workout leggings for shaping

Specifications

RRP: $35 / £35
Sizes: 2XS - XL
Length: Full length
Material: Polyester and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Unique piping offers shape to hips and thighs
+
Sweat-proof material
+
High waistband
+
Often on sale

Reasons to avoid

-
Don't feel as good quality material as others on the list

You may not think of Reebok leggings as being particularly focused on body shaping and you'd be right if you thought that was more Gymshark's specialty. While they do offer plenty of styles like this, I found that the Reebok Workout Ready Ribbed High-Rise Leggings do a better job thanks to the piping down the sides of the legs. They're shaped to emphasize the curves of your hips and thighs, without pinching material in places. 

But that's not the only thing the Reebok Workout Ready Ribbed High-Rise Leggings are good for. These are also excellent workout leggings, suitable for even the sweatiest workouts as they're made from specialist Speedwick materials which contain recycled polyester and an elastane interlock. While these don't feel as good in quality as many of the other leggings on the list, they do feel smooth to the touch. I found the high-waistband stayed in place throughout the weightlifting, spinning, and running sessions I took them through as well, leaving me feeling supported right through to the end.

I've also found these leggings on sale multiple times over the last few months as well, even outside of Black Friday and seasonal sales. The last time I looked, they were on sale for £17.50 in the UK, so they're likely to be the cheapest leggings on our list as well if you can find them on a deal. 

P.E Nation reformer workout leggings

(Image credit: P.E Nation)

8. P.E Nation Reformer Legging

Best sustainable workout leggings

Specifications

RRP: $110 / £92
Size: XXS - XXL
Length: 7/8 length
Material: Recycled polyester and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Super soft material 
+
Good variety of sizes are available
+
Mid-rise for anyone not comfortable with high-waisted leggings

Reasons to avoid

-
Feel a little tight on first wear

If you want to start living more sustainably, your workout wardrobe could be a good first step. Many of the materials used to create exercise clothing are made from plastic-based polyester, acrylic, and nylon. While we need these in our gear to offer breathability and stretch, they aren't too good for the environment - so the less we need to create, the better off we'll be. 

While these have 4% less recycled materials than the SkinLuxe leggings by TALA, sustainable activewear brand P.E Nation's leggings are an excellent choice for anyone looking to incorporate a sustainable piece into their workout wardrobe as these are made from 70% recycled fabric - and don't compromise on the look and feel.

"These are a really good pair of leggings for general workouts," says our tester. "I went running on the treadmill in them, to a HIIT class, and I wore them to the gym. While they are more on the expensive side, I'd actually be happy to pay this price because they're super soft and so comfortable. I barely noticed they were there. And they stay up well as the waistband has tight elastic in it." 

AYBL grey speckled workout leggings

(Image credit: AYBL)

9. AYBL Balance V2 Seamless Leggings

Best high-waisted workout leggings

Specifications

RRP: $43 / £34
Sizes: XXS to XXL
Length: Full length
Material: Nylon and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra high-waisted to prevent slipping
+
XXS to XXL size availability 
+
Range of colors
+
Darker colors don't show sweat 

Reasons to avoid

-
Thick material may be warm in the hotter months

If you want multi-purpose workout leggings with a high waist - a pair you can take from the gym to a run or vice versa without an issue - then these will be for you. They are a little thicker than many of the other leggings on our list so while they may not be the best choice for the warmer months, they do absorb sweat relatively well and help you keep your body temperature up when going to work out in winter, along with keeping you covered in the gym. 

I've had my pair of AYBL's Balance V2 Seamless Leggings for about a year now and I've worn them about twice a week since then. The higher waistband is their highlight. Sitting just below the ribs, the band fits a lot higher up than many of the other numerous workout leggings I've tried. Not only does this mean I feel incredibly supported around my waist but they never slip down - even when running. 

These won't be the pair for you if you're looking for sustainability, unfortunately - try the TALA leggings or our pick from P.E Nation for this - but I've found that these do stand the test of time. While I've only had mine for a year, I've put them under constant pressure and they've never faded in quality or color. There's also a range of colors to choose from, including seasonal reds and pale greens, and an inclusive size range that's grown again recently. 

Love Leggings Focus Mulberry Plum 7/8 Sports Leggings

(Image credit: Love Leggings)

10. Love Leggings Focus Mulberry Plum 7/8 Sports Leggings

Best plus-size workout leggings

Specifications

RRP: $43 / £32
Sizes: US: 2-24 / UK: 6-28
Length: Full length
Material: Nylon and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Regular, tall and petite lengths
+
Inclusive size range
+
V-shaped high waistband for support

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly new brand

Nike, Adidas, Gym Shark, and other big-name activewear brands have significantly increased their sizing options in the last few years. Nike, for instance, offers various size ranges - including Petite, Tall, and Plus Size up to 4X. However, these regularly touch the $100 price point and with other smaller brands following suit, it's just not necessary to spend that much.

Focus leggings by Love Leggings are available in sizes 6 to 28 and our tester thought they were ideal for gym workouts, whether in class or the weights section. "The V-shape high waistband offers good support while also being soft and sweat-wicking," our tester says. "I wore these running and they did slip down a bit but once I started sweating, they stayed up just fine. It's also one of the more inclusive size ranges I've seen from workout gear and the way that the sizing is done is much clearer than other brands offer. I also love the pocket in the waistband, it's ideal for storing my locker key when I'm at the gym."

If you are looking to spend more on your workout leggings, we also recommend Nike Go Firm Support High-Waisted Leggings (opens in new tab) ($110 / £89.95). Unlike the pair from Love Leggings, these have two secure pockets and a drawstring waistband for extra support. 

Rapha 7/8 workout leggings

(Image credit: Rapha)

11. Rapha Women's All Day Leggings

Best workout leggings for cycling

Specifications

RRP: $160 / £85
Sizes: XXS - XL
Length: 7/8
Material: Recycled nylon and elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Reflective logos for road safety 
+
Double layer waistband
+
Super comfortable
+
Slightly compressive 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in limited colors

Rapha is a cycling brand by design and these will certainly ensure your rides go smoothly, with a double-layer waistband that stops them rolling down and a useful side pocket in the leg for storing your phone - or snacks. But the All Day Leggings are ideal for everything. They don't have a chamois pad in the shorts so you can move freely, just as in a normal pair of leggings. But with additional high-vis details available when needed, a useful pocket, and a fabric made from recycled materials, they offer something unique. 

"I've been wearing Rapha cycling gear for a couple of years now and have a couple of pairs of bibs and other leggings but these are my latest investment for more casual riding and exercise sessions," says our tester. "They're super functional, feel soft but also slightly compressive. They're flattering, and importantly, they don't move when I exercise." 

Having tested them out on a bike ride, a spin class, and in the gym, our tester says she's making these a permanent part of her workout collection. "They're also not overly branded so I can wear them casually without looking too sporty. The logo on the pocket is reflective too, which is great for running and riding without having to carry extra high-visibility clothes, and the tabs can be exposed for pink and reflective visibility," she adds.  

Lululemon Align High-Rise 25" Pockets

(Image credit: Lululemon)
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12. Lululemon Align High-Rise 25" Pockets

Best workout leggings for yoga

Specifications

RRP: $132 / £98
Sizes: US: 0-26 / UK: 4-24
Length: 7/8
Material: 81% Nylon, 19% Lycra® elastane

Reasons to buy

+
Soft fabric
+
Wash well
+
Inclusive sizing

Reasons to avoid

-
High price

Whether you’re an experienced yogi or are just getting to grips with sun salutations in yoga for beginners, you’ll know that the best workout leggings for yoga put comfort first. 

"These leggings have the softest fabric I've ever tried," our tester says. "I wear them for my weekly yoga sessions but also around the house, they're just so comfortable. As I wear them a lot, I've washed them a lot too. These wash really well, unlike some of the other leggings I've tried. They don't bobble and they retain their shape." 

Importantly, our tester adds, they're impressively opaque. "I found that even seamed underwear goes undetected beneath them," she says. These leggings also have a handy side pocket in the leg, much like the Rapha leggings, for storing your phone and other valuables. There's also a pocket in the back of the waistband for more discreet storage of keys and smaller items. 

If Lululemon leggings are a bit out of your price range, keep an eye on their We Made Too Much (opens in new tab) section. Here they sell excess stock at seriously discounted prices, giving you the chance to bag a bargain. 

How to choose the best workout leggings for you

  • Decide whether you want a high-waist or not: High-waisted leggings aren't for everyone but if you're looking for supportive workout wear, then they're a must, says personal trainer Tash Curry (opens in new tab). "When you’re exercising you want leggings that are going to stay in place and make you feel confident as you work out, the last thing you want is to feel your gym leggings slipping down," she says. "A high waist provides great support and that’s what you want to look for when you’re shopping." 
  • Choose leggings based on your activity: "You need to be comfortable in whatever gym leggings you choose, you want to be able to move freely and not have to worry about restriction in movement," Curry, who is also a trainer at Another Round (opens in new tab), explains. So, make sure you choose leggings designed for the activity you're doing. "High-impact workouts call for durable leggings and sweat-wicking material is a must, whereas yoga leggings need to be extra stretchy and have a high waist for comfort."
  • Think about breathability: "You want to be able to go hard at your workout, without having to worry about getting hot and uncomfortable or having your sweat show through your leggings. Gym leggings should be made from a breathable material that is also sweat-wicking so that you can sweat comfortably and still feel confident," she says. 
  • Never compromise on support: "Wear leggings that fit you properly to ensure you get the most out of your workout," Curry says. "Unsupportive or loose fitting gym leggings are an accident waiting to happen when exercising, particularly if you're exercising with equipment that your clothing could get caught in. On other hand, if your leggings are too tight, they will become uncomfortable when working out, making you sweat more and slowing you down. 
  • Think about versatility: While you'll want to buy specific running leggings if this is your primary activity, also consider what else you'll be using your leggings for. HIIT workouts in the evenings? Strength training at the weekend? "If your exercise routine is versatile then you should think about buying a pair of leggings you can wear for every activity. Spend your money on sweat-wicking, breathable, squat-proof workout leggings and use them for all activities," the coach says. 

How should workout leggings fit? 

Workout leggings should be comfortable for you always, says Curry. "They should have lasting support and enough flexibility to help you move around with ease, no matter what type of exercise you’re doing." 

Watch out for any digging at the waistband when you first try them on, as this will only get worse when you get hot and sweaty, and be sure to move around the house in them before you pull the tags off. Any pinching or bunching around the crotch area should be avoided as this could be a sign that the leggings are a little too small. Equally, if you find there's a gap between your waist and the leggings or they fall down when you move, chances are that they're a little too big.

"A good quality pair of leggings can last years but the most important factor for me is comfort, comfort should be your priority," says the trainer. "Finding the right pair of leggings is important, a good pair will keep you cool and dry, provide the right support and features and give you much more confidence in and outside of the gym. Once you've found the perfect fit, this will complement your workout." 

Grace Walsh
Health Editor

A digital health journalist with over five years experience writing and editing for UK publications, Grace has covered the world of health and wellbeing extensively for Cosmopolitan, The i Paper and more.


She started her career writing about the complexities of sex and relationships, before combining personal hobbies with professional and writing about fitness. Everything from the best protein powder to sleep technology, the latest health trend to nutrition essentials, Grace has a huge spectrum of interests in the wellness sphere. Having reported on the coronavirus pandemic since the very first swab, she now also counts public health among them.