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When you think about wardrobe staples in a WFH world, nearing the top of the list next to cashmere sweaters and leather pants is a great pair of workout leggings. Whether worn as a comfy pairing to a blouse for a Zoom call, for running errands, lounging around the house or actually working out, everybody needs a solid pair of the best leggings in their drawer. But just as with finding a good pair of jeans, it takes a little trial and error to meet your perfect match.
How to find the best workout leggings
The right workout clothes allow you to focus on your performance without the constant need to adjust your activewear. When shopping for a good pair of workout leggings, just like your quest for the best sports bras, you’ll want to look for styles that flatter and support your specific body type, so you can look and feel your best while exercising. For example, women with curvier hips will likely feel most comfortable in a high-rise, seamless construction. The result is a smoothing finish that naturally hugs the curves and lacks a constricting waistband. Petite women with smaller torsos may want to opt for a 7/8 cropped pair that hits just above the ankles, so they aren’t swimming in excess fabric. Conversely, tall and slim women can benefit from wearing mid-to-low-rise full-length styles for balanced coverage.
Also, consider the activities you’ll be wearing them for and what conditions you’ll be exercising in. There are certain moisture-wicking fabrics to seek out if you’re heading into hot yoga or HIIT class. There are also thicker legging options designed to be worn for outdoor winter sports, along with compression-style leggings meant for running and performance.
What to consider when purchasing workout leggings
In addition to considering fit and how and where you’ll be using your leggings, keep in mind there are trends circulating the world of workout leggings if you’re keen on repping the latest and greatest.
Jennifer Bandier, founder and chief brand officer of popular workout retail site Bandier.com, says her customers continue to seek versatility. “Black leggings have become as iconic as denim,” she says. “When we were developing our All Access Center Stage leggings, I obsessed over the fabric that’s done in the deepest black. It won’t fade over time so you can wear it to the gym or with a blazer and still look chic.” (All Access is Bandier’s in-house brand, but the retailer also carries a range of coveted labels in the activewear space.)
Women’s workout leggings are available in a wide range of price points, so you should be able to find a great pair no matter your budget. If you’re looking to save or stock up on multiple styles without spending top dollar, try some of the best Amazon leggings or styles from Onzie and celeb-favorite label Gymshark. Lululemon’s ultra-popular leggings are definitely on the pricier side, but for those willing to shell out a bit more, we think the brand offers some key splurge-worthy styles.
It may sound like a lot to remember, but we’re here to make your shopping experience easier. Below, we highlight the 20 best leggings for women to suit every need, budget and style. They’ve been tested by editors, approved by experts and highly reviewed by customers.
Top Workout Leggings for Women
- Most Universally Flattering Leggings: Girlfriend Compressive High Rise Leggings
- Most Popular Leggings: Lululemon Align High Rise Leggings
- Best Plus-Size Workout Leggings: Nike Yoga Dri-Fit Luxe
- Expert Pick: Ultracor Knockout Ultra-High Leggings
- Most Versatile Workout Leggings: Alo Yoga 7/8 High Waist Airbrush Leggings
- Everlane The Perform 24/7 Leggings
- Best Workout Leggings for Petite Women: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II
- Bandier All Access High-Waisted Center Stage Leggings
- Best Flared Workout Leggings: Splits59 Raquel High-Waisted Flare Leggings
- Most Affordable Workout Leggings: Fabletics Anywhere High-Waisted Leggings
- Best Compression Workout Leggings: P.E. Nation Freeman Leggings
- Expert Pick: Year of Ours Football Ribbed Lace-Up Leggings
- Softest Workout Leggings: Beyond Yoga High-Waisted Midi Leggings
- Live The Process Orion Leggings
- Most Stylish Workout Leggings: Port De Bras Lisbon Leggings
- Best Shapewear Workout Leggings: Wolford The Workout Leggings
- Best Moisture-Wicking Workout Leggings: Onzie Mamba High-Rise Leggings
- Outdoor Voices Seamless 7/8 Leggings
- Best Seamless Workout Leggings: Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings
- The Upside Circular Knit Midi Leggings
Girlfriend Compressive High Rise Leggings
Most Universally Flattering Leggings
- Sizes XXS-6XL
- Compression leggings
- Works for all body types and activities
We crown these the most universally flattering leggings for all activities (even the outdoor ones!) and body types. Backed by over 16,000 five-star reviews on Girlfriend.com alone, the Girlfriend High-Rise leggings are among the best plus-size leggings on the market. They also provide exceptional compression for all movements and are made from recycled plastic water bottles (25 to be exact). If you wear them to hot yoga, expect to see visible sweat lines, although the all-black colorway hides moisture nicely.
Lululemon Align High Rise Leggings
Most Popular Leggings
- Sizes 0-20
- Fully lined
- Added Lycra for four-way stretch and shape retention
- Buttery soft Nulu fabric
- Multiple lengths for different heights
- Best for low impact activities
Another best-selling style from the king of activewear, aka Lululemon, are the Align High-Rise pants. These leggings come in a variety of lengths and colors with all the same cult-favorite tech, including the brand’s patented Nulu fabric which translates to the most buttery soft material you’ll never want to take off. These leggings are tight- fitting but not overly compressive, making them a great choice for yoga, pilates or simply lounging. The 28-inch style is made to sit at the ankle for full-leg coverage, while the 25-inch option is a mid-calf capri. For higher- intensity training leggings that can handle some serious sweat, check out Lululemon’s WunderTrain Tights.
Nike Yoga Dri-Fit Luxe
Best Plus-Size Workout Leggings
- Sizes XS-3X
- Infinalon buttery soft fabric
- Moisture-wicking, lightweight and non-sheer
- Best for low impact activities
Nike is typically known for its sneakers rather than its activewear, but the brand’s new(ish) Infinalon fabric featured in the Yoga Luxe leggings may change that. It’s a thin material that feels like a soft, cozy and moisturizing second skin that perfectly sculpts your waist and legs. It features a mix of nylon, spandex and polyester that effortlessly wicks away moisture for any type of low-impact activity. And don’t worry, these pass the squat test with flying colors, meaning you don’t have to worry about a sheer finish when you get low. They are compressive with minimal seams and have a non-constricting high-waisted fit. Lastly, they have a hidden built-in pocket for your phone or credit cards. Sizes available range from XS up to 3XL. With limited plus-size options on the market, these deserve the award of the most comfortable.
Ultracor Knockout Ultra-High Leggings
- Sizes XS-XL
- Built-in shapewear
- High-stretch compression fabric with fitted waistband
- Moisture wicking
- Run slightly small
The Ultracor Knockout Ultra-High Leggings are like magic. Even when they get soaked from sweat, they feel super lightweight and dry in no time. The laser-cut material makes these feel like a second skin, while the elastic waistband accentuates the waist.
Fitness expert and founder of Body Shoppe Kelsey Greenfield pretty much wears leggings everyday. “Although they are a total splurge, my favorite brand for leggings is Ultracor,” she says. “I’m never one for wearing underwear with my leggings, and these add a little layer so I’m never worried about a visible front wedgie. They’re also made of this silky super compression fabric that never feels sweaty even when I’m literally dripping from a workout.”
Alo Yoga 7/8 High Waist Airbrush Leggings
Most Versatile Workout Leggings
- Sizes XXS-XL
- No side seams
- Sculpting Airbrush fabric and four-way stretch
- Moisture-wicking and odor-resistant
- Best for low impact activities
This pair of leggings needs no introduction. Alo Yoga’s Airbrush leggings have been worn on just about every It-girl. They’re extremely soft and stretchy, with no side or crotch seams so they don’t ride up during wear. With moisture-wicking and odor-resistant technology, they’re made for any type of work or workout. Plus, they can be dressed up with a crop top and an oversized blazer for that celebrity street style off-duty look we all know and love. They come in a variety of colors and lengths for all heights, and the waistband can be worn tall for a high-rise fit or folded down for a belly button-baring moment. Trust us, you’ll love these from the first time you put them on.
Everlane The Perform 24/7 Leggings
- Sizes XXS- XXXL
- Comes in ankle or regular length silhouettes
- Lightweight compression
- Interior front pockets
- Suitable for all body types and neutral activities
If there could be one pair of leggings that fits all activities, it would be Everlane’s 24/7 Performance leggings. It’s a little bit of everything you seek for in a pair of leggings. From offering light compression to sweat-wicking capabilities, this bestselling style is as versatile as it gets. You can choose from a regular full-length or an ankle-cut option if you want to show some skin. The feel of this pair is soft and cozy but also performance-driven. These are the definition of a wardrobe staple.
Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II
Best Workout Leggings for Petite Women
- Sizes XXS-3X
- Available in regular/plus, petite and tall lengths
- Powervita ultra soft fabric
- Best for yoga or studio workouts
As you can see from this list, brands are getting better at catering to all shapes and sizes. The petite demographic, however, is still often overlooked. While it’s a quick fix to perform an inverted cuff that tucks in excess fabric, it’s not ideal. Thankfully, Athleta is here to change that. Its second iteration of the Salutation Stash Pocket leggings comes in not only a range of sizes, but a range of lengths, too. Multiple petite-sized customers have reviewed this pair to be “the best leggings for petite frames.”
Additionally, the brand’s patented Powervita fabric is among the softest it’s ever made. This pair also has a couple of different functional pockets for your accoutrements, making errands a breeze.
Bandier All Access High-Waisted Center Stage Leggings
- Sizes XXS-3XL
- Moisture wicking
- High-waisted, full leg
- Universally flattering
- Best for hourglass body types and all activities
With Bandier leading the charge of the most fashionable activewear edit, it was only natural for the retail brand to come out with an in-house line of workout clothes. Included in the line is the All Access Center Stage legging, worthy of a mention on this list. Typically, when you find leggings with a thick waistband, they are tight and tend to cut off circulation. The wide, double-layer elastic waistband in these, however, serves as added compression for a slimming effect along your midsection. These are made from a super stretchy nylon blend that wicks away moisture quickly but doesn’t bag out over time. Like a buttery soft or bathing suit material, the smooth, figure-hugging finish of these leggings makes them feel like a second skin. Several users even claim these are a great option for maternity leggings because of their super stretchy fabric and elastic waistband.
Splits59 Raquel High-Waisted Flare Leggings
Best Flared Workout Leggings
- Sizes XS-L
- Balanced compression
- Super soft
- Universally flattering (although long for short heights)
Flared leggings, or yoga pants, once popular in the ’90s have recirculated in the market, and we’re happy about it. The wide pant leg opening is universally flattering and offers a fresh alternative to the tapered skinny leg silhouette that reigned supreme over the last decade. It balances the proportions of any body nicely and with a stylish flare (pun intended).
Splits59 in particular does a mix of compression, softness and stretch better than anyone in the fitness space. All of its styles bring cloud-like compression that softly hugs in all the right places. The material is not too thin and not too thick, making each piece supportive without the added bulk. The brand’s Raquel Flare leggings are made for any type of gym workout or yoga, CrossFit, barre or pilates classes. Customers rave about how comfortably they conceal any sign a muffin top or hip dips. The only drawback is that they tend to be a bit long on shorter folks.
Fabletics Anywhere High-Waisted Leggings
Most Affordable Workout Leggings
- Sizes XXS to 4X with custom inseam (short, regular, tall)
- Motion365 four-way stretch fabric
- Medium compression
- Best for athletic body types
Fabletics has a fabulous subscription program where you score monthly premium styles for less. If you’re not into the subscription styles, you can purchase them alone, too. The Anywhere High-Waisted leggings are among the company’s bestselling styles and live up to their name. They’re made for all types of activity, from the studio to the street. According to user reviews and personal editor testing, they’re best suited for athletic or rectangular body types that, unlike hourglass figures, don’t benefit as much from a cinched waist. These leggings are, however, super stretchy with a medium compression fit. The best part is that you can score them in size XXS up to 4X with a custom length for your height.
P.E. Nation Freeman Leggings
Best Compression Workout Leggings
- Sizes: XXS-2XL
- High-rise, skinny fit
- High compression leggings
- Superstretch, mid-weight fabric
- Moisture wicking
- Best for medium to high-impact activities
Say goodbye to continuously hoisting up your leggings that always seem to slide down in any high-impact sweaty activity. P.E. Nation’s Freeman leggings are compressive enough to promote circulation but also offer a comfortable and secure slim fit. The modern, sporty design is equal parts fashionable and functional. These wick away any sign of sweat and serve as a supportive shield for your legs.
Year of Ours Football Ribbed Lace-Up Leggings
- Sizes XS-2X
- Full length
- Medium weight, stretchy compression material
- Angled high waist adjustable lace-up
- Universally flattering
Year of Ours is a fairly new fitness brand that has captured the attention of fitness pros and boutique studios across the country. The fan-favorite style is the iconic ribbed football leggings. You cinch the waist on these to your preferred level of tightness, while the ribbed medium compression fit lifts, smooths and protects your skin. These leggings are made for all types of workouts, but especially for anything tough, because they can handle it. Since they come in one length, shorter girls may want to try inverting the hem to avoid fabric bunching.
Hannah Gross, fitness coach and founder of Sweat With Hannah, is a huge fan of Year of Ours. “Not only is the brand women-owned and made in Los Angeles, but their styles also just fit like a glove and are incredibly flattering for all body types. I can’t live without their ribbed football leggings,” she says.
Beyond Yoga High-Waisted Midi Leggings
Softest Workout Leggings
- Sizes XXS-XL
- High-waisted workout leggings with a double layer waistband
- Smoothing waistband
If you’ve never felt a pair of Beyond Yoga leggings grace your skin, you haven’t quite lived. There are plenty of “buttery soft” leggings on this list, but nothing quite compares to the luxurious, cloud-like material of Beyond Yoga. The fabric is a lightweight, brushed jersey that somehow feels like a baby’s blanket. The leggings aren’t the best at handling high-intensity workouts and sweat, but they will make your Savasana at yoga feel like a cozy nap. Wear these for low-impact activities or lounging around, and you’ll be one happy camper. What’s more, Beyond Yoga has plus size and workout maternity leggings, catering to all shapes and sizes.
Live The Process Orion Leggings
- Sizes: XS to XL
- Heat retention and moisture-wicking fabrics
- Ultra soft, four-way stretch capabilities
- Best for low impact workouts
Live The Process created these highly functional, universally flattering leggings that looks chic and acts as shapewear for all tummy types. The crisscross waist smooths while the four-way stretch, sweat-wicking Lycra fabric offers a great balance of support and softness. This style comes in a variety of prints and colors and is perfect for nailing the “ballerina off-duty” look that’s trending in activewear right now, according to Jennifer Bandier.
Port De Bras Lisbon Leggings
Most Stylish Workout Leggings
- Sizes XS-L
- Mid-weight compression jersey
- Split hems
- Best for casual wear to mild strength training
These Port De Bras leggings aren’t meant to be worn while training for a marathon or doing high-intensity circuit reps, but in terms of style, they earn top marks. In line with the split hem, flared leg trend, this silhouette balances out the proportions of any body type and comes in sizes X-small to large. The brand is inspired by the art of ballet, which is apparent through the lace up ties and ruching in these leggings. The compression jersey is form-fitting and supportive while remaining comfortable and stretchy for all types of movement.
Wolford The Workout Leggings
Best Shapewear Workout Leggings
- Sizes XS-L
- Slimming smoothing waistband
- Nylon-jersey blend (naturally moisture-wicking)
- Best for tall hourglass or straight body types and suitable for all types of movement
Iconic hosiery brand Wolford recently launched The Workout Leggings in its new W collection. The sporty yet elevated style has a sleek, shiny finish that perfectly sculpts and smooths the entire body, plus a wide, high-rise waistband that shapes the midsection without rolling or slipping down. The stretchy nylon-jersey-elastane blend provides optimal flex for all types of movement, while sculpting and lifting at the same time. These leggings come in a variety of colors like caramel, icy jade, lavender sky and more.
Onzie Mamba High-Rise Leggings
Best Moisture-Wicking Workout Leggings
- Sizes: XS-XL
- Medium to high-rise
- Moisture-wicking and four-way stretch
- Best for curvy body types
The high-rise leggings from Onzie proves to be a bestseller from the brand season after season for women looking for a fun, eccentric print. While they’re labelled as high-rise, they actually fall right below the belly button, which is technically a mid-rise fit. These leggings are made from a stretchy swimsuit material, making them the ideal choice for a super sweaty workout like hot yoga or pilates. The flexible fit works well with curvy bodies, as the construction stretches all four ways without losing its shape or becoming see-through like other printed-style leggings. These are an easy on, easy off pair that doesn’t require you to wiggle and squirm to get them to fit perfectly.
Outdoor Voices Seamless 7/8 Leggings
- Sizes XS-XL
- Seamless workout leggings
- Compressive material
- Made from recycled materials
- Best for all body types and all activities
The latest addition to this cult-favorite brand is the Seamless 7/8 High-Rise stretch leggings. Compared to previous Outdoor Voices styles, the legs on these stretch more and the rise is much higher to better fit women with curves, mainly because there is no seam to break up the stretch. They’re made from a thick compressive material, made from a mix of recycled nylon, polyester and elastane, and offer an all-over seamless fit. Choose from black, apple, or sunstone colors for an on-trend active look that can take you from the gym to the yoga studio, on the trails and all around town.
Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings
Best Seamless Workout Leggings
- Sizes XS-XXL
- High-waisted fit
- Sweat-wicking fabric
- Seamless contours
- Supportive ribbed waistband
- Best for all activities and all body types
Gymshark is a cult-favorite and affordable activewear brand that makes high performance clothing for both men and women. The women’s Vital Seamless 2.0 leggings are a medium weight compression legging that lifts, smooths and contours the body through a seamless construction. They lift the booty in all the right places and act as shapewear around the waist with a supportive ribbed band. The super stretch material makes them suitable for all body types, perfectly hugging every curve.
The Upside Circular Knit Midi Leggings
- Sizes XS-L
- Firm compression ribbed knit
- Elastic waist
- Semi seamless design
- Best for medium impact workouts like hiking and spin classes
The Sydney-based athleisure label offers fashion-forward performance clothing that can handle some sweat. The Upside’s Circular Knit leggings are made with a stretchy yet firm compression rib jersey, ideal for outdoor activity and play. Once you get these on, you’ll love how your figure looks in them, especially at the waist, where the leggings’ double layered band has a smoothing effect. The cotton/polyester blend gives these tons of stretch for freedom of movement, but the supportive construction means you may want to size up (at least according to customer reviews).
The best way to wash your workout leggings
High-performance workout gear sure takes a beating. Whether you sweat up a storm during an intense training session or perform deep lunges and squats that stretch the material, leggings can handle it all. Since they’re quite literally put through the ringer, it’s necessary to wash them after each wear. But when you spend a premium penny on a nice pair of leggings, it makes you think twice about just how much you wash them for a longer life span and price-per-wear.
Since your workout leggings are made of stretchy, high-tech fabric made for squatting low and handling moisture, it’s tougher to get these clothes fresh-smelling. That’s why you’ll sometimes see specific activewear detergents (like this option from Hex Performance) that tackles the issue. These formulas are designed to clean tight-knit, synthetic fabrics, like those found in activewear, to remove odors and stains that traditional detergents can’t. Plus, they preserve the comfort of your workout wear so your leggings maintain their stretch and remain moisture-wicking.
There’s a specific washing protocol to follow for your activewear, too. The temperature should be cold and the cycle type should be gentle. When it’s time to dry, a low heat setting or air drying your styles will keep the fabric intact. You certainly can throw your leggings in the wash and call it a day, but these particular steps will give them several more wears.
Meet the Author
Vanessa Powell is an established editor and stylist with a decade of experience covering lifestyle and wellness trends for publications like PeopleStyle, Well+Good, Health, and Shape magazine. In her spare time, Powell can be found in her go-to workout leggings, whether she’s working up a sweat at Barry’s Bootcamp and Sweat Yoga or relaxing in her infrared sauna blanket at home.
Meet the Experts
Jennifer Bandier is the founder of Bandier, a luxury activewear retailer beloved by celebrities and influencers with stores in New York, LA and Dallas. Since 2014, Bandier has curated the best of the best in the fitness apparel and athleisure market for customers, including workout leggings from top brands.
Kelsey Greenfield is the founder of Body Shoppe, which is a must visit for an energizing wellness boost of workout classes, infrared sauna sessions and superfood smoothies in New Orleans. Spending most of her day at the popular fitness and wellness hub in stylish workout leggings, Greenfield is the ideal expert to share tips for finding the best leggings that women will absolutely love.
Hannah Gross of @sweatwithhannah on Instagram, is an online fitness coach, and IRL strength and pilates instructor based in Los Angeles. She has tried every trendy workout leggings style on the market, and confidently speaks to what she and her clients love and wear the most.
How We Tested the Best Leggings for Women
We tested countless workout leggings from 75 different activewear brands for a variety of workouts, including hot yoga, pilates, running and weightlifting. From Amazon’s viral pairs, to Bandier’s best-selling styles, we narrowed down our list to the top 20 picks for every budget, including high-waisted leggings and seamless styles. We also tapped into our network of fitness professionals for insight on their favorite women’s leggings.