The 13 best workout leggings: sweat-wicking styles that won’t become see-through

The best workout leggings for all activities

Included in this guide:

Composite image of three models wearing the best workout leggings on a white and green star background
(Image credit: Future)

A good pair of workout leggings can be remarkably tricky to find: it’s not as easy as wiggling into your everyday pair of black cottons. 

The best leggings for exercise are created to enhance your performance instead of holding you back. That means seams that won’t niggle or chafe, sweat-wicking fabric that won’t become damp and heavy by the end of your warm-up, and a firm fit that won’t budge – even during burpees. 

We tested these leggings for running, yoga, strength training, and even one particularly sweaty hot HIIT session at 36°C, to see which rose to the challenge and which fell flat at the first hurdle. Expect to see big names like Sweaty Betty and Adidas in this edit, alongside some lesser-known (but equally impressive) smaller labels. 

From the best high-waisted leggings to leggings with pockets, we can guarantee that our picks meet the mark when it comes to performance and will certainly work as hard as you do.

Best workout leggings to shop now

Sweaty Betty Power Leggings

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)

Best workout leggings for everyone

Specifications
RRP: $100/£80
Sizes: XXS-XXL
Material: 62% polyamide, 38% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Flattering high waist
+
Inclusive size range
+
Full and 7/8 leg lengths 
Reasons to avoid
-
High-end price tag
-
Sell out quickly 

Scoring an average of 4.6 stars over more than 2,000 online reviews, Sweaty Betty’s Power Leggings tick all the boxes. We came for the vibrant range of colours, patterns, and prints, but in the end, it was the lightweight yet completely squat-proof fabric that won us over.

Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer, prefer a solo jog, or feel more at home doing an at-home workout, Sweaty Betty’s Power Leggings have got you covered.

The high-waisted, bum-boosting design not only creates a flattering shape but will give you the confidence you need to bounce into your next set of burpees without the fear of a wardrobe malfunction. 

Crafted from a lightweight yet super stretchy elastane blend, the fabric is also sweat-wicking, pulling moisture away from your body to keep you cool and comfortable. We put Sweaty Betty’s ‘90% squat proof’ promise to the test and can confirm these leggings passed with flying colours.

See our full Sweaty Betty Power Leggings review

Perff Studio Intuition Leggings

(Image credit: Perff)

2. Perff Studio Intuition Leggings

Best premium workout leggings

Specifications
RRP: $90/£80
Sizes: XS-XL
Material: 65% recycled polyamide, 35% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Simple design
+
Made from recycled fabric 
+
Available in four colors
Reasons to avoid
-
Comes up very small

The beauty of the Perff Studio Intuition Leggings is in their sleek, fuss-free design. The high waist and shaping seams sculpt a smoother silhouette before you’ve even stepped foot inside the gym.

While the detailing might be minimal, these leggings are far from basic. Made from 65% recycled polyamide, they’re the perfect choice for anyone looking to make more eco-friendly fashion choices. If that wasn’t enough, they’re moisture-wicking, fast-drying, and shouldn’t bobble or pill.  

The high waist doesn't move, so you can enjoy your workout safe in the knowledge these leggings won’t escape you. 

Tala Zinnia Seamless Leggings

(Image credit: Tala)

3. Tala Zinnia Leggings

Best eco-friendly workout leggings

Specifications
RRP: $57/£42
Sizes: XS-XL
Material: 92% upcycled polyamide, 8% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Eco-friendly credentials
+
Nine fun colors to choose from
+
Regular, tall and 7/8 leg lengths
Reasons to avoid
-
Sell out quickly 
-
Need to be washed separately 

Don’t be put off by the teeny-tiny size of these leggings—they’ve got plenty of stretch, rewarding you with a firm compression fit once you’ve wiggled your way into them.

Great for staying snug on chillier days, the fabric is a little thicker than your average pair, making them some of the warmest leggings we've tried.

It’s where the fabric comes from that’s the real draw here. Tala currently makes their leggings from 92% upcycled materials, aiming to eventually achieve 100%. By reusing fabrics as opposed to starting from scratch, each pair of leggings helps to save an eye-watering 40 litres of water and 2kg of CO2 emissions.

GapFit Rise Wrap-Front Full Length Leggings

(Image credit: Gap)

4. GapFit Rise Wrap-Front Full Length Leggings

Best high-street workout leggings

Specifications
RRP : $85/£62.95
Sizes: XS-XL
Material: 74% Polyester, 26% Elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Flattering wrap front design with wide waistband
+
Gap runs regular discounts online 
Reasons to avoid
-
Come up a little large 
-
Hard to find a good fit if you have a small waist and large thighs 

The GapFit range is brimming with sports-ready buys. These are our top pick of all of their leggings and are made from a four-way stretch fabric designed to move with you and not restrict your movement.

Available in an array of different colors, the wrap front design is flattering and supportive and the thick waistband smooths the stomach and waist area. They passed our squat test with flying colors—even when wearing legging-unfriendly seamed black briefs.

The breathable, lightweight fabric is also sweat-wicking so it will keep the drips at bay during an intense workout. 

Adidas Alphaskin Heat.RDY 7/8 Leggings

(Image credit: Adidas)

5. Adidas Alphaskin Heat.RDY 7/8 Leggings

Best workout leggings for keeping you cool

Specifications
RRP: $85/£62.97
Sizes: 2XS-XL
Material: 71% nylon, 29% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Keeps your legs cool and comfortable
+
Sweat patches fade fast 
Reasons to avoid
-
Limited shade range 
-
Compression fit makes for slightly visible VPL

What Adidas doesn’t know about activewear isn’t worth knowing, so it’s no surprise these leggings are packed with tech-driven features. First up, the compression fit. Not only does this offer full security when you’re working out, but experts believe compression leggings enhance performance and speed up recovery times by boosting blood flow to your legs. 

Secondly, the HEAT.RDY technology works as hard as you do to keep your body cool and dry during your workout. Perforated dots along the backs of thighs work hand-in-hand with mesh paneling down the sides to let cool air in and warm air out. 

The moisture-wicking fabric is a big plus, too, helping you avoid sweat patches even after high-intensity classes.  

Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings

(Image credit: Proskins)

6. Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings

Best workout leggings for comfort

Specifications
RRP: £49.95
Sizes: US:0-20 / UK: 4-24
Material: 82% nylon, 18% elastane Lycra
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Stretch fabric for full flexibility 
+
Inclusive sizing 
+
Six luxurious colors to pick from
Reasons to avoid
-
Long leg length not suitable for petites 
-
Sell out quickly 

Touchably soft with just the right amount of compression, these are leggings you could put on and forget you’re wearing—exactly the kind of comfort-focused style we’re after. 

These Proskins leggings are also made from a ‘patented micro-encapsulated yarn’ packed full of active skincare ingredients.

The aim of the game is to transfer all of these skin-loving goodies from the fabric to your skin as you wear them. The result? Smoother, softer legs without the need for additional products. 

It's impressive line-up. There’s retinol to kick-start collagen production, vitamin E to nourish, aloe vera to calm, ceramides to soothe, and even circulation-boosting caffeine. Follow the washing instructions carefully, and these ingredients will stay in the fabric for up to 100 washes. 

See our full Proskins SLIM High Waisted Compression Leggings review

Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

(Image credit: Gymshark)

7. Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

Best workout leggings to avoid chafing

Specifications
RRP: $54/£40
Sizes: XS-XXL
Material: 93% Nylon 7% Elastane
Machine washable: Not specified by brand
Reasons to buy
+
Range of colors
+
Seam-free for comfort
+
Supportive ribbed waistband
Reasons to avoid
-
Can sell out quickly

As far as the best workout leggings go, Gymshark’s vital seamless 2.0 leggings are pretty purse-friendly—no wonder they’re one of the brand’s bestsellers. And if you’re looking for a workout kit that will boost your confidence before you’ve even stepped foot in the gym, then these are the leggings for you. The bright colors are instantly uplifting and these leggings are available in six different colorways—there’s one for everyday of your workout week (because everyone deserves a day off). 

Of course, the biggest draw is the fact that these leggings are completely seam-free, meaning no digging in or chafing. This makes them suitable for longer, floor-based classes like pilates and yoga, as well as comfortable enough for all-day wear.

Nike Dri-FIT One Women’s Mid-Rise Leggings

(Image credit: Nike)

8. Nike Dri-FIT One Women’s Mid-Rise Leggings

Best workout leggings for all activities

Specifications
RRP: $55/£37.95
Size: XS-XL
Material: 78–79% polyester, 21–22% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Affordable
+
Suitable for a range of sports
Reasons to avoid
-
Waistband can roll down

Thick enough to feel supported and avoid a squat-based wardrobe malfunction but stretchy enough to wear all day long, Nike’s Dri-FIT One Mid-Rise Leggings are ticking all our boxes. They’re soft and wick sweat away from the body with ease. Wear for everything from yoga to running. The only downside is that Nike’s black leggings can be a little lighter than black pieces from other brands, making it a bit trickier to get a perfect color match with your top. 

A worthwhile investment, trust us when we say that Nike leggings stand the test of time. Our Deputy Fashion Editor has unashamedly been wearing the same pair for the past 8 years and waxes lyrical about how well they keep their shape wash after wash. 

Sweat Betty Zero Gravity High-Waisted 7/8 Running Leggings

(Image credit: Sweaty Betty)

9. Sweaty Betty Zero Gravity High-Waisted 7/8 Running Leggings

Best workout leggings for running

Specifications
RRP: $128/£95
Sizes: XXS-XXL
Material: 50% polyamide, 41% elastane
Machine washable: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Supportive
+
Compression fit 
+
Available in full length and 7/8
Reasons to avoid
-
Come up a little small

The Zero-Gravity Leggings might be the jewel in Sweaty Betty’s crown: the fabric is thinner than other styles in the range, with less stretch, and a firmer fit—which makes them perfect for running. There’s no movement by the end of mile one, and you feel both ‘held in’ and fully supported, especially around the stomach and thighs. They also do something magical to your bottom, making it look both smaller and perkier. 

The Zero Gravity leggings more than deliver on practicality, with a nice deep side pocket roomy enough to slot your phone in and an adjustable waistband for a spot-on fit. The cool leopard print version is first on our hit-list this year. 

Lululemon Align High-Rise 25" Pockets

(Image credit: Lululemon)

10. Lululemon Align High-Rise 25" Pockets

Best workout leggings for yoga

Specifications
RRP: $132/£98
Sizes: US: 0-26 / UK: 4-24
Material: 81% Nylon, 19% Lycra® elastane
Machine washable: Yes
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. Lululemon knows that too, which is why these leggings are made from the softest fabric we’ve ever got our mitts on. They wash well, with no bobbling, and retain their shape. For lightweight leggings, they’re impressively opaque, and we found that even seamed knickers went undetected beneath them. The option to choose a cropped length is handy for petites, without any time-consuming rolling or costly alterations.

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

Love Leggings Focus Mulberry Plum 7/8 Sports Leggings

(Image credit: Love Leggings)

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

Best leggings for different sizes and heights

Specifications
RRP: $43/£32
Sizes: US: 2-24 / UK: 6-28
Material: 80% nylon and 20% Elastane
Machine washable: Cool wash
Reasons to buy
+
Regular, tall and petite lengths
+
Inclusive size range
+
V-shaped high waistband for support
Reasons to avoid
-
Fairly new brand

The best workout leggings are the ones that feel as good as they look. Love Leggings offers a great range for all purposes from lounging to exercising. If you're looking to do the latter then the Focus style is the one to try. 

With an inclusive size range and leg lengths in regular, petite and tall, these are the do-it-all leggings that'll suit all shapes, sizes and workout needs. The V-shaped high waistband offers support and also smooths the tummy area, while also being soft, sweat-wicking and has a hidden pocket in the waistband. 

Pour Moi Energy Printed Mesh Panel Legging

(Image credit: Pour Moi)

12. Pour Moi Energy Printed Mesh Panel Legging

Best fun yet functional leggings

Specifications
RRP: $46/£34
Sizes: US: 4-14 / UK: 8-18
Material: 78% Polyester 22% Elastane. Mesh: 92% Polyester 8% Elastane
Machine washable: Site doesn't say
Reasons to buy
+
Fun, printed and fashionable designs
+
Perfect for running, spin, HIIT and more
+
Mesh pocket on the side for phone 
Reasons to avoid
-
Limited sizing

Pour Moi isn't just a destination for the best bras, nightwear and swimwear, it's also a go-to destination for sportswear. Their matchy-matchy sets (with leggings and sports bras) are some of the best if you love a splash of print or color. The energy leggings are ideal for any exercise, from running and HIIT to spinning. With a cleverly concealed pocket in the mesh leg panels, you can keep your phone close enough to mix up your playlist. 

The high waisted fit is also super flattering, and the sweat-wicking fabric will help you stay cool during the most high impact sessions. No doubt you'll want to get the matching sports bra (here) too. 

Nimble Stash & Dash 7/8 Legging

(Image credit: Nimble)

13. Nimble Stash & Dash 7/8 Legging

Best leggings for busy workouts

Specifications
RRP: $78/£58
Sizes: XXS-XL
Material: Recycled PET/Lycra
Machine washable:
Reasons to buy
+
For high intensity workouts
+
Made from recycled materials
+
Pocket for on-the-go
Reasons to avoid
-
Come up small

Australian brand Nimble is perfect for those with a minimalist aesthetic. In sleek, classic colors with fuss-free designs, the activewear is made to offer sportswear that you'll want to put it on. Considering the planet, all of the styles are made from more sustainable materials including recycled fabrics. 

The 'stash & dash' leggings are made for busy women. Geared towards those who whip their workout gear on and speed off for a run or to the gym, this style has compartments to store the essentials so you can go hands-free. The drawstring waist also makes the support adjustable, so you can wear these on repeat for all your exercise needs. 

How to choose the best workout leggings 

Whatever you’re up to, the key components of the best workout leggings remain the same:

  • Fit: Your leggings should fit firmly—not so tight that they’d restrict your movement, but snug enough that they’re not going to inch down as you drop into a squat. Remember, no matter the quality, the elastic of your leggings will start to give over time, so the closer they fit, to begin with, the longer they’ll last. 
  • Fabric: To stay cool when working out, it’s worth investing in a pair of leggings made from moisture-wicking fabric. They work by drawing sweat away from your skin, so you’re not weighed down by soggy kit. Look out for mesh panels, too, to help your skin to breathe on clammy days. Arguably, one of the most important criteria for a pair of workout leggings is an opaque fabric that won’t suddenly become see-through as soon as you bend. Frustratingly, most styles will pass the test in a dark changing room, so it’s worth trying on at home in strong lighting to double-check.
  • Design: Check your workout leggings to ensure they have a gusset (an extra piece of fabric spanning the crotch area). Lots of ‘standard’ leggings don’t have this, but a gusset will help to prevent them riding up. Flat seams across the inside of your leggings will help to minimise chafing—but that doesn’t give you a free pass to skip the Vaseline for long runs. If you hate the bulk of a bag when you run, try leggings with pockets. Zip-closures will keep your essentials safe, while larger pockets make space for even the biggest phones.  
  • Compression: Noticed the term ‘compression’ cropping up when browsing for the best workout leggings? This refers to an extra-tight fit and aims to supercharge your performance by supporting your muscles. It’ll increase blood flow to your legs, too, for speedier recovery time with fewer post-gym aches and pains.

Jess Beech is an experienced fashion and beauty editor, with more than eight years experience in the publishing industry. She has written for woman&home, GoodtoKnow, Now, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, Woman’s Own and Chat, and is currently Deputy Fashion & Beauty Editor at Future PLC. 


She caught the magazine bug during a stint as Fashion Editor of her university newspaper alongside her English degree, and hasn’t looked back since. As for the fashion bug, that came as part and parcel of growing up in the 90s, but the less said about that the better!


Jess’ average day in the office is spent researching the latest fashion trends, chatting to industry tastemakers and scouring the internet to bring you this season’s must-buy pieces - as well as advice on how to wear them. Weekends are equally fashion-focused, and Jess has been known to visit no less than five Zara stores in a single day in search of the perfect occasion dress. 


The only thing that comes close to a buzz of finally tracking down that much-coveted dress is the joy of discovering a new beauty wonder product or hero ingredient. A beauty obsessive, Jess has tried everything from cryotherapy to chemical peels (minus the Samantha in Sex and The City-worthy redness) and interviewed experts including Jo Malone and Trinny Woodall.