What to Buy Fitness Gear The 13 Best High-Waisted Workout Leggings of 2023 Our top pick from lululemon feels like a second skin and supports your heaviest lifts. By Shannon Ullman Updated on May 19, 2023 Medically reviewed by Laura Campedelli, PT Medically reviewed by Laura Campedelli, PT Laura Campedelli, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. learn more Fact checked by Richard Scherr Fact checked by Richard Scherr Rich Scherr is an updates strategist and fact checker for Dotdash Meredith brands, including Health and Verywell. He is a seasoned financial and technology journalist who served as editor-in-chief of the Potomac Tech Wire for nearly two decades, and is a regular contributor to the sports pages of The Baltimore Sun. He has also been a news editor for America Online and has contributed to the Associated Press and The Washington Post. health's fact checking process Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Health / Reese Herrington A far cry from your typical lounge pants, workout leggings are designed to keep up with your toughest exercises by providing compression and wicking moisture, all while letting your legs breathe. Whether you like a low-impact walk or an intense lifting session, a good pair of high-waisted leggings should stay in place as you move, which can help you avoid readjusting, getting distracted, and potentially getting injured. One of the ways high-waisted leggings stay in place is by offering compression, which has a few benefits beyond comfort and performance during workouts. According to a 2019 meta-analysis, compression clothing can help with muscle function recovery after resistance exercise. And a 2018 study on compression clothing for sports notes that they may help reduce perceived muscle soreness and swelling after exercise. When investing in a new pair of high-waisted exercise leggings, you'll want to consider material, fit, and cost factors. To help you find the perfect pair, we spoke to experts about what makes a pair of high-waisted leggings great, then narrowed down the best based on fit, comfort, and breathability. We also had a physical therapist on our Medical Expert Board review this article for medical and scientific accuracy. Editor’s Note About BPA in Activewear On May 18, 2023, a consumer watchdog group, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH), announced that they had found high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in workout clothing, including leggings from Athleta, Champion, Kohl’s, Nike, and Patagonia, sports bras from Sweaty Betty, and shorts from Adidas, Champion, and Nike. This information builds on research the group began in the fall of 2022. BPA is a common chemical that is known to be an endocrine disrupter, meaning it may interfere with normal hormone function. It’s been implicated in a variety of health conditions, including certain types of cancer and impaired reproductive function. According to Proposition 65, a California law enacted in 1996, the safe skin exposure to BPA is 3 micrograms per day, but CEH claims that their testing revealed the clothing could expose wearers to up to 40 times that amount. While this is concerning, we still recommend some products from these brands in our articles, as these products have not been recalled and the science of BPA absorption through skin has not been settled. To be safe, consider limiting the time you spend in activewear by changing out of those clothes after your workout. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant 25" at Lululemon Jump to Review Best Budget: Old Navy Side-Pocket Legging at Gap.com Jump to Review Most Compressive: Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Legging at Zappos Jump to Review Best For Squatting: Ododos Cross Waist Sports Gym Yoga Leggings at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Yoga: MAAT Active The 1.0 Legging - Black at Maatactive.com Jump to Review Best for Running: Lululemon High-Rise Tight at Amazon Jump to Review Best Seamless: Gym Shark Adapt Animal Seamless Leggings at Gymshark.com Jump to Review Best with Pockets: Outdoor Voices Snacks 7/8 Legging at Outdoorvoices.com Jump to Review Best for Warm Weather: Alo Yoga High-Waist Legging at Nordstrom Jump to Review Best for Cold Weather: Under Armour ColdGear Authentic Leggings at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant 25" 4.8 Lululemon View On Lululemon Why We Like It: They’re versatile and use a lightweight fabric that’s breathable, stretchy, and lightweight. It’s Worth Noting: They don't offer a ton of compression, so you may want to opt for something more supportive if you're doing heavy lifts. These leggings are fan-favorite for a reason. Their buttery-soft texture and lightweight feel are a product of lululemon's signature Nulu Fabric. This blend of 81% nylon and 19% Lycra elastane—a type of stretchy spandex—remains breathable while retaining its shape. While it's not as compressing as other leggings on this list, you'll likely notice some light compression, especially when slipping them on. And even though the high-rise design is what you're here for, the Align does come in two additional lengths. If you plan to jog through the park on Monday morning, join an online fitness class Wednesday night, and hit the weights on Saturday, these leggings offer the versatility you need. Price at time of publication: $98 Product Details: Size Range: 0 – 20Material: 81% nylon, 19% Lycra elastaneMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best Budget Old Navy High-Waisted PowerSoft Side-Pocket Leggings Old Navy View On Gap.com Why We Like It: These leggings offer many of the same features as higher-end brands without the hefty price tag (plus—side pockets). It’s Worth Noting: The lack of compression means they may start to loosen up across your workout if you're doing high-impact exercises. These exercise leggings offer an unbeatable combination of comfort and convenience. Their design has features that solve some of the most common activewear woes, like non-bulky seams that ward off chafing and a no-tag design that eliminates itchiness. Plus, their side pockets are big enough to fit a phone or any other small objects you want easy access. And all of this at a fraction of the cost of a designer brand. The PowerStrech fabric blend—77% polyester and 23% spandex—is silky soft. While cheaply-priced leggings have a reputation for being see-through, this pair should stay opaque throughout your workout. Price at time of publication: $39.99 Product Details: Size Range: XS – 4XMaterial: 77% polyester, 23% spandexMoisture-Wicking: Yes Most Compressive Girlfriend Collective Compressive High-Rise Legging 4.2 Girlfriend Collective View On Zappos View On Bloomingdales View On Girlfriend.com Why We Like It: This high-performance compression fabric is made with recycled materials and holds up to intense workouts. It’s Worth Noting: High-compression fabric can feel stiff, so these leggings may take some time to adjust to. The Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Compressive Legging will be your best friend if you're into maximum support. Its blend of recycled water bottles (25 to be exact) and spandex is the definition of form-fitting, with intense compression designed for equally intense workouts. The four-way stretch makes them a little more forgiving, but you can still expect a lot of control and support. Compression leggings (as well as other types of apparel, like compression socks) can have some added benefits too. According to a 2018 study, compression can help hamstring control of the legs when running or sprinting. They may also help increase oxygen flow and remove lactate from the muscles, aiding recovery. Price at time of publication: $78 Product Details: Size Range: XXS - 6XLMaterial: 79% recycled plastic bottles (RPET), 21% spandexMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best For Squatting Ododos Cross Waist Sports Gym Yoga Leggings Ododos View On Amazon View On Ododos.co Why We Like It: Its high-performing fabric is squat-proof without being overly restrictive. It’s Worth Noting: The fabric may snag easily. The ODODOS High-Waisted Yoga Leggings have a lot of features that make them suitable for any workout, but they shine when it comes to squats. The combination of polyamide and elastane ensures that everything you want hidden stays hidden no matter how far down you squat. It's also moisture-wicking and constructed with a comfortable four-way stretch. We also love that they have 53 colors, patterns, and styles—some even fleece-lined for extra warmth on cold days. There's also an inner pocket so you can securely store some small items like keys or a credit card during your workout. They’re also relatively inexpensive to boot! Price at time of publication: $24 Product Details: Size Range: XS – 3XMaterial: 72% polyamide, 28% elastaneMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best for Yoga MAAT Active The 1.0 Legging - Black Maat View On Maatactive.com Why We Like It: The ribbed knee caps protect your joints during poses while the soft elastic waistband stays in place. It’s Worth Noting: They’re significantly pricier than other options. If you ever experience discomfort or pain when striking a Cat-Cow pose, these high-waisted legging from MAÄT is here to save the day. Their ribbed knee caps act as built-in pads, providing a soft cushion for your joints to land on and light compression to keep your muscles supported throughout your flow. These leggings are also designed with a smooth, elastic waistband that won't dig into your hips as you move. And while the Supplex—a knit made with nylon fibers known for its elasticity—and spandex construction is stretchy and breathable, the fabric is still light enough to be worn during a hot yoga sesh. Price at time of publication: $148 Product Details: Size Range: XXS – XLMaterial: 87% Supplex, 13% spandex Moisture-Wicking: Yes Best for Running Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight Lululemon View On Amazon View On Lululemon Why We Like It: The lightweight and sweat-wicking fabric stays put. It’s Worth Noting: They do have some inner thigh seams that could cause chafing. Avid runners know that the leggings you wear can make or break your workout, and the Fast and Free High-Rise Tight 25-Inch from lululemon is here to help you break your personal record. Their tighter waistband and continuous drawcord (hidden inside the waistband) prevent the dreaded mid-run shimmy, while the lightweight and sweat-wicking fabric helps keep you cool and dry during those hot days. The 25-inch length is great for those who feel restricted by the extra fabric of full-length leggings while providing ample coverage that'll hold up on the days you squat. They come in six colors and have tons of pocket space to secure your phone, keys, and nutrition bars. Price at time of publication: $128 Product Details: Size Range: 0 – 20Material: 84% nylon, 16% Lycra elastaneMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best Seamless Gym Shark Adapt Animal Seamless Leggings 4.6 Gymshark View On Gymshark.com Why We Like It: The ribbed waistband stays secure around your hips, and the high-compression fabric is great for weightlifting. It’s Worth Noting: The pattern may not be for everyone. Gymshark’s Adapt Camo High-Waisted Seamless Leggings are designed with no seams to minimize irritation and chafing during your workouts. Their stretch fabric is super comfortable and compressed, and the ribbed waistband prevents annoying sliding during your gym routine. This brand seems to be a go-to for gym enthusiasts with an affinity for weight lifting and HIIT workouts, and for a good reason. The compression of the fabric can help weightlifters keep things tucked, tight, and in solid form (which is important for avoiding injury). For those interested in HIIT, the snug fit and seamless design can ward off skin irritation and slippage during fast movements. Price at time of publication: $60 Product Details: Size Range: XS – XXLMaterial: 79% nylon, 15% polyester, 6% elastaneMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best with Pockets Outdoor Voices Snacks 7/8 Legging Outdoor Voices View On Outdoorvoices.com Why We Like It: It comes with side pockets, shirt loops, and even a mini backpack for many storage possibilities. It’s Worth Noting: Sizing may run a bit small, and it's not moisture-wicking. Leggings are not known for storage capacity, but the Snacks 7/8 Legging from Outdoor Voices is an exception. Not only do they come with multiple side and waistband pockets—one that's deep enough to hold a water bottle—but they're also designed to hold common items like keys, cards, phones, and an extra shirt. It even has a detachable mini backpack for extra storage. While these pants were technically made for hiking, the high-compression fabric—a blend of nylon and Lycra with built-in UPF 50 (anti-UV radiation) protection—works just as well for any outdoor workout. Price at time of publication: $118 Product Details: Size Range: XS – XLMaterial: 63% nylon, 37% LycraMoisture-Wicking: No Best for Warm Weather Alo Yoga 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Legging Alo View On Nordstrom View On Aloyoga.com View On Bergdorfgoodman.com Why We Like It: Lightweight and moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool during hot workouts. It’s Worth Noting: The belly band may roll down during workouts. Just as you probably wouldn’t wear a sweater in the middle of summer, you might not want to wear a heavy pair of leggings when it's hot. While the idea of a double-knit fabric might sound like a nightmare in hot weather, the Airlift fabric from which Alo High-Waist 7/8 Legging is very lightweight. It's also moisture-wicking and breathable, making it great for warm-weather workouts—or a hot yoga class. The velvety finish of this fabric—made from a blend of polyester and spandex—is a dream to touch, and it's sculpting and compressive. We found that depending on your workout type, the belly band may roll down, which can be annoying. Price at time of publication: $128 Product Details: Size Range: XXS – XLMaterial: 87% polyester, 13% spandex Moisture-Wicking: Yes Best for Cold Weather Under Armour Women's ColdGear Authentic Leggings 5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Dick's Why We Like It: The high-end, dual-layered fabric keeps you warm and breathable. It’s Worth Noting: They may start to pill after multiple washings. When it comes to cold-weather workouts, the Under Armor Women's ColdGear Authentics Leggings are a must-have. These leggings are made with a dual-layered fabric, a warm interior, and a fast-drying exterior. They also have a stretch material that helps you move freely, whatever the activity—and they're surprisingly breathable. The construction also offers an ultra-tight compression fit that adds to the insulation for extra warmth. After wearing and washing these many times, the fabric may begin to pill, so wash on delicate and hand dry when you can. Price at time of publication: $55 Product Details: Size Range: XS – XXLMaterial: 87% polyester, 13% elastaneMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best Maternity Fabletics High-Waisted PureLuxe Maternity 7/8 Legging Amazon View On Amazon View On Fabletics.com Why We Like It: With many size options and chafe-resistant fabric, these leggings offer a comfortable fit for expecting mothers. It’s Worth Noting: These run large, so you may want to size down. Supporting a growing bump during workouts can be challenging—but it doesn't have to be uncomfortable. These Fabletics leggings are designed to provide extra support for expecting mothers while boasting a lightweight and breathable fabric with a cozy second-skin feel. They’re stretchy enough to grow with you and come in many different sizes. Chafe-resistant seams, a side pocket, and a wide waistband make these leggings extra comfy and convenient. It’s worth noting that they may run a little large, so size down for a snugger fit. Price at time of publication: $85 Product Details: Size Range: XXS – 4XMaterial: 82% polyester, 18% elastaneMoisture-Wicking: Yes Best Sustainable Tentree InMotion 7/8 Pocket Legging Tentree View On 6pm.com View On Getzs.com View On Tentree.com Why We Like It: Not only are these leggings made from recycled material, but they also have two hidden pockets. It’s Worth Noting: They may slide a smidge during workouts. The Tentree InMotion 7/8 Pocket Legging is a great choice for the eco-minded athlete. These leggings are made from recycled, post-consumer waste—79% recycled polyester and 21% elastane, to be exact—which helps reduce waste and conserve resources. In addition to being sustainable, these leggings are also super functional. They have a high-waist cut, two hidden pockets (for keys and cards), four-way stretch material that moves with you, and lightweight, breathable fabric. They may slide down occasionally during workouts, but we loved these leggings enough that minor inconvenience wasn't a deal breaker. Price at time of publication: $68 Product Details: Size Range: XS – XXLMaterial: 79% recycled polyester, 21% elastaneMoisture-Wicking: No Most Size-Inclusive Universal Standard Spot Me Textured High Rise Pocket Legging Universal Standard View On Universalstandard.com Why We Like It: It has a wide range of size selections to fit all body types. It’s Worth Noting: You can only get them in blue or gray. Finding the perfect fit can be challenging, but the Universal Standard Spot Me High Rise Pocket Legging is ideal for those looking for a size-inclusive legging. These leggings come in sizes from 00 to 40 and have a slightly ribbed texture that offers a comfy, flattering fit. The polyester-spandex blend is lightweight and stretchy without being overly restrictive. These won't be the best leggings for super-intense workouts, but they're great for yoga and other low-intensity activities. Plus, the pocket is convenient for storing your essentials on the go. Price at time of publication: $98 Product Details: Size Range: 00 – 40Material: 86% polyester, 14% spandexMoisture-Wicking: No How We Selected We started searching for the top high-waisted leggings by speaking with personal trainers and other fitness professionals about the material, fit, and cost. We spoke to Tatiana Lampa, a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist, about the different legging options on the market. We then researched the benefits of certain materials and features of workout leggings through peer-reviewed articles. After cultivating a better understanding of what goes into high-quality pieces, we found the most popular options on the market. We narrowed down our list to the ones that match expert-recommended criteria. What to Know About High-Waisted Workout Leggings Material Leggings are typically made with a polyester or nylon material blended with a stretchy fabric like spandex or Lycra. These fabrics are often lightweight and breathable, making them great for workouts. Polyester, polypropylene, and nylon are also moisture-wicking. This fabric helps pull moisture away from your skin to the outer layer of the leggings, which can help keep you cooler and drier. Fit and Support Deciding what kind of workout leggings you want is all about compression level. Compression increases blood flow, which can increase recovery time and enhance performance. While most workouts can benefit from a little compression, you'll want that extra support during intense exercises like HIIT and weightlifting. Because it's more form-fitting, compression fabric is less likely to slide or shift. How Much You Can Expect to Pay The price of workout leggings can range from budget-friendly to designer—and everywhere in between. Depending on what you're looking for, you can expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $150. Your Questions, Answered Is there a difference between workout leggings and leggings? Yes—workout leggings are generally designed with different cuts and fits, and materials that enhance comfort and performance during exercise. Leggings can be made from various materials, better used for everyday wear and not physical activity. What’s the difference between yoga leggings and gym leggings? Yoga leggings are usually made with a stretchier, softer fabric that allows for more flexibility and range of motion. Gym leggings can be made of a variety of materials, but they’re often thicker and have more compression. Who We Are Shannon Ullman is a writer and editor with a background working on health content for MedicalNewsToday.com, Healthline.com, MindBodyGreen.com, and Insider Inc. She’s spent years practicing yoga and is now training for her first Strong Woman Competition. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 5 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Hettchen M, Glöckler K, von Stengel S, et al. Effects of compression tights on recovery parameters after exercise induced muscle damage: a randomized controlled crossover study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2019;2019:1-11. doi:10.1155/2019/5698460 Xiong Y, Tao X. Compression garments for medical therapy and sports. Polymers. 2018;10(6):663. doi:10.3390/polym10060663 Kavilanz P. High levels of toxic chemical found in sports bras, watchdog warns | CNN Business. CNN. Konieczna A, Rutkowska A, Rachoń D. Health risk of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 2015;66(1):5-11. PMID: 25813067. Kavilanz P. A growing number of sports bras, shirts and leggings brands found with high levels of toxic chemical, watchdog warns | CNN Business. CNN.