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When you get into the groove of working out regularly, you start to realize that any old pair of sweatpants won’t do. Even your comfiest pair of joggers can trap sweat, bunch up, or chafe when you put them through a rigorous workout.
But searching for a pair of workout leggings can lead you into a rabbit hole of fabric and fit options — so what features should you look for?
“Moisture-wicking fabrics and compression support are great for high-intensity, high-performance activities like kickboxing, HIIT training, and running,” says Makeba Edwards, an ACE-certified personal trainer, EXOS group fitness instructor, and fitness program manager. “And I prefer high-waisted leggings for yoga, which eliminates that feeling of self-consciousness.”
Of course, workout leggings are versatile — you can always wear your yoga leggings to a HIIT workout, and vice versa. But choosing the best leggings for the type of workout you do most often will help you stay as comfy as possible while you’re working up a sweat.
The Best Workout Leggings for Strength Training
Under Armour Vanish Pleated Women’s 7/8 Legging (Amazon)
Smooth, four-way-stretch material helps you feel supported through your full range of motion and doesn’t chafe. And the sweat-wicking fabric and mesh inserts help you stay cool and dry no matter how heavy you’re lifting.
Old Navy High-Rise Elevate Side-Pocket Mesh-Trim Compression Leggings (Old Navy)
These budget-friendly leggings offer the support of compression gear in a breathable, stretchy fabric — and, best of all, they have pockets. They’re available in petite and tall sizes for the perfect fit, and there’s a mid-rise version of you prefer a lower waist.
The Best Workout Leggings for Yoga
KiraGrace Ultra High Waist Yoga Legging (KiraGrace)
A slim, supportive, comfortable fit makes these soft leggings a favorite with yogis. They’re simple and stylish enough to wear to brunch, but they also perform on the yoga mat — with sweat-wicking fabric, anti-chafing seams, and a high waist that keeps you covered from sun salutations to savasana.
Girlfriend Collective High-Rise LITE Legging (Girlfriend)
Made from recycled fishing nets, these eco-friendly leggings are lightweight, breathable, and quick-drying. And part of your purchase goes to Healthy Seas, which works to clean litter from the oceans.
Lululemon Align Pant (Amazon)
Lulu describes the fabric on this high-rise legging as “buttery-soft,” and they aren’t kidding — the lightweight, stretchy, sweat-wicking fabric feels like a second skin. Good luck staying awake during savasana when you’re this comfy.
The Best Workout Leggings for Running
Brooks Running Greenlight Capris (Amazon)
Stash your keys in the waistband and your phone in the side pocket of these supportive running capris, and you’re good to go. And you won’t have to deal with chafing or sagging during your run, thanks to flatlock seams and the wide, stay-in-place waistband.
prAna Transform Legging (Amazon)
Durable, supportive, and compressive, these high-rise leggings aren’t going anywhere — and the heavier fabric makes them ideal for cold-weather runs. A hidden pocket lets you stash your keys in the waistband.
ASICS Lite-Show 7/8 Tight (Amazon)
The reflective details on these leggings can be a lifesaver when you run before dawn or late at night. Mesh panels and moisture-wicking fabric keep you cool and dry, and there are pockets for your phone and keys.
The Best Workout Leggings for HIIT Workouts
Athleta Contender Laser Cut 7/8 Tight (Athleta)
Made for medium- and high-impact workouts, these leggings have the perfect amount of compression so you feel supported (but not squeezed) during all those box jumps. The laser-cut holes on the legs keep you cool no matter how hard you sweat, and the thick waistband means you can concentrate on your AMRAPs rather than worrying about them slipping down.
Reebok CrossFit Lux Tights (Amazon)
Not a fan of the high-waisted look? These pants sit low, but the wide, secure waistband keeps them from slipping. The downside: You can no longer use “Hold on, I have to hike up my pants” as an excuse to take a mini-break during burpees.