From Lululemon to Nike, these leggings are actually worth buying.

By Braelyn Wood
Updated March 02, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
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You wouldn’t ask Picasso to paint a masterpiece without the right supplies, yet plenty of people willingly enter the gym unprepared and without the correct gear. If you take the time to find the best sports bra, running shoes with arch support, and even sweat-proof headphones, but willingly settle for substandard leggings, it’s time to re-think your workout wardrobe. Believe it or not, all leggings are not made the same, and your decision to accept less than perfection from your workout leggings might actually be holding back your progress. After all, there’s nothing worse than a pair of ill-fitting or uncomfortable leggings distracting you from your fitness routine. 

The best workout leggings have built-in stretch to hug your body like a second skin without restricting your movement or uncomfortably bunching around the knees or crotch. They should also have sweat-wicking technology and breathable, ventilated fabrics to keep you cool and dry during even the sweatiest cardio routines, along with squat-proof designs (read: not see-through) that give you the confidence to stake out a spot in the front of the class. Most importantly, they should be super comfortable and suited for your preferred workout. 

Of course, plenty of leggings claim to meet these qualifications, but many don’t. To help you differentiate between the workout leggings actually worth buying—and those you can live without—we’ve gathered customer-loved picks from across the web. Read on to discover the 10 best workout leggings for every type of workout.

Best Overall: Lululemon Align Pant II 25”

Lululemon

Lululemon spent more than two decades perfecting its activewear, and this best-selling legging is proof. Its streamlined design is optimized for comfort with minimal seaming to prevent chafing, along with an extra-wide waistband that won’t slip down whether you’re tackling jump squats or bending over in barre. This pair also stands out from the rest of Lululemon’s lineup thanks to its special performance fabric: It provides the perfect amount of stretch and breathability while still maintaining full coverage and a compression-like fit. Plus, these top-rated leggings are the perfect style to move away from traditional black leggings, with reviewers confirming sweat barely shows in lighter colorways.

Available at lululemon.com, $98

Best for Running: Nike Pro Tights

Zappos

A former NCAA Track & Field athlete, Brittani Cotton, previously recommended these tights to Health—and they’ve been on our radar ever since. Cotton said the sleek leggings feel like “you’re wearing nothing” thanks to their quick-drying fabric, comfort-enhancing four-way stretch, and contoured mesh panels that provide extra ventilation for a quicker cooldown. Also great for activities beyond the treadmill, the running tights have flat-lock seams, an elastic waistband, and an inseam gusset to maximize comfort and support a wide range of movements. 

Available at zappos.com, $50

Best for Spin: Zero Gravity High-Waisted Running Leggings

Sweaty Betty

Beyond bumping beats in dark rooms, spin classes are also associated with lots and lots of sweat. For this reason, they require a lightweight legging that keeps you cool and quickly dries after an intense up-hill climb. Enter: these bum-sculpting leggings from Sweaty Betty. They’re designed for super sweaty workouts rather than downward dog with a sweat-wicking, fast-drying fabric that even has built-in UV protection for outdoor workouts. The icing on the cake is the curved seams on the back that’ll lift and support your bum. 

Available at sweatybetty.com, $128

Best for Studio: Core 10 ‘Build Your Own’ Legging

Amazon

From barre to solid core, studio workouts have taken the fitness world by storm. And if you’re one of the many fans, consider these ultra-soft customizable leggings from Amazon’s in-house activewear brand, Core 10, for your next studio class. Personalize your leggings to your preferred activity by choosing your desired waistband—whether that’s a trendy crossed design, mid-rise fit, or high-waisted style—along with your preferred length and size. Available in sizes XS to 3XL, they’re made with a premium fabric that promises to be supportive, opaque, and moisture-wicking. 

Available at amazon.com, from $49

Best for Yoga: Beyond Yoga Alloy Ombre High-Waisted Leggings

Amazon

Fitness queen Jennifer Lopez owns multiple pairs of these high-waisted leggings, and her collection just keeps growing. It turns out she’s onto something: The performance gear is made with a unique modal and spandex blend that feels velvety smooth against the skin, but still retains its shape after multiple wears. Stretchy enough to move with your body through every pose and fast-drying enough for the hottest studios, these celebrity-approved leggings make the perfect accompaniment to your next yoga class. 

Available at amazon.com, from $76

Best for Hiking: Outdoor Voices 7/8 Spring Leggings

Outdoor Voices

Better destined for mountain climbing than high-intensity routines, these colorblocked leggings are Outdoor Voices’ signature design. They’re made with a heathered material that’s supportive, stretchy, and sculpting. Its thicker density is perfect for early risers braving cold temperatures for a sunrise hike, but still lightweight enough for more intense climbs. Plus, it has built-in sweat-wicking technology to ensure excess sweat dries quickly.  

Available at outdoorvoices.com, $85

Best for Pilates: 90 Degree By Reflex High-Waisted Leggings

Amazon

These budget-friendly leggings are a safe bet for the wide array of Pilates movements—including frog squats, leg lifts, and leg circles—with a full-coverage fabric that won’t give your classmates a sneak peak of your panties. The high-waisted style is also perfect for the variety of core-strengthening exercises conquered in class, so you can focus on connecting your breath and body instead of pulling up your leggings. Plus, they come in 16 different colorways and are affordable enough that you don’t have to choose just one color.

Available at amazon.com, $25

Best for HIIT: GymShark Flex High-Waisted Leggings 

Squat, burpee, and lunge in these high-waisted leggings without fear: Their sweat-wicking fabric may stretch with your body, but it won’t give anyone a sneak peek of what’s underneath. A staple on fitness Instagram accounts, these GymShark leggings don’t just feel great, they look great too, with a high-rise design and contour shading that compliments the body. In fact, Health editor Susan Brickell swears by GymShark gear and even owns 4 pairs.

Available at gymshark.com, $50

Best for Weightlifting: Ododos High-Waisted Yoga Pants 

Over 16,000 Amazon shoppers gave this high-waisted legging a perfect rating—and they say the affordable style compares to pricier designs. Their fabric is opaque and stretchy with just enough compression to hug the body without constricting. As a result, they’re the ideal pick for lifting weights in the gym, and their high-waisted design won’t roll down when you bend to pick up weights or conquer a barbell squat. 

Available at amazon.com, from $22

Best for Heated Classes: Alo Yoga High-Waist Airlift Leggings

Jennifer Garner, Chrissy Teigen, and Hailey Bieber are among Alo Yoga’s fans—and this high-waisted leggings will make you want to join the crew. They’re made with the brand’s signature double-knit Airlift fabric that offers 4-way stretch, anti-odor technology, and ridiculously good moisture-wicking properties. Stylish but breathable, they’re the pair you’ll want to wear to every heated studio class from yoga to LIIT (low-intensity internal training).

Available at aloyoga.com, $118

Best for Water Sports: Uniqlo Women Airism UV Protection Leggings

Health editor Amber Brenza can’t get enough of these Uniqlo leggings, which she owns in 4 different colors. Despite a thicker construction, the leggings never cut into your waist, according to Brezna. She also says the style is ridiculously comfy and doesn’t show sweat even in the lighter colorways. To top it off, they have UPF40 protection built-in for long days outdoors kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing.

Available at uniqlo.com, $30

Best for Cross Training: Girlfriend Collective High-Waisted Leggings

Nordstrom.com

Whether you’re getting toned in reformer Pilates class or sweating it out at kickboxing, these leggings are our top pick for a style that can stand up to multiple activities. The extra high-waisted cut snugly hugs your hips without moving, while the breathable fabric won’t collect sweat or make you overheated. The best-selling squat-proof leggings also come in a wide range of colors with inclusive sizing up to 3X. Plus, you’ll feel good knowing every pair gives new life to 25 recycled water bottles. 

Available at girlfriend.com, $68

Best for Outdoor Workouts in the Summer: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket Capri in Powervita

Athleta

Warm weather is no match for these buttery soft leggings. They’re optimized for the outdoors with a lightweight, sweat-wicking fabric that pulls moisture away from the body and onto the surface of the fabric so it can evaporate faster. They’re also super breathable and have built-in UV protection (50+) to protect your skin from harsh UV rays in the summer sun. 

Available at athleta.com, $79

Best for Outdoor Workouts in the Winter: Under Armour Women’s ColdGear Leggings

Amazon

The perfect cold-weather leggings keep your body warm without causing it to overheat mid-workout—and these Under Armour leggings pass the test. Their dual-layer fabric has a super soft, brushed interior that helps trap body heat, while a fast-drying exterior promotes quick sweat absorption to maintain the perfect temperature while you’re on an outdoor run mid-winter. Also available in a high-waisted style, the comfy leggings feature flatlock seams and an elastic waistband.  

Available at amazon.com, from $38

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