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The Best Workout Leggings for All Your Sweat Sessions

These performance-focused leggings for women can go from your run to the gym to running errands.

best workout leggings
Staff, Courtesy of Prana

When it comes to workout bottoms, the options can feel overwhelming. From shorts and spandex to yoga pants, there’s something for everyone. But workout leggings offer a versatile level of comfort and performance, whether you’re hitting the road for a run or the gym for a workout.

The best workout leggings will move with you, keep you comfortable, and ideally add a little bit of style. Your leggings need to do more than just look good, though. They should be performance-focused. Women’s workout leggings bring together all these important features.

The Expert: I’m an avid runner who has spent the better part of the past 18 years running in the mid-Atlantic, specifically the Washington, D.C. area and Annapolis, Maryland, where I live now. Cold-weather running is my favorite, so I have plenty of experience testing a variety of workout leggings to keep me warm. But because I also keep active with spinning and strength training, I have experience with leggings that keep you comfortable in the gym, too. My health and fitness writing has appeared in a range of top publications, including The Washington Post, Mashable, and Insider.

How to Choose The Best Workout Leggings

Compression: There are a few things to keep in mind as you search for workout leggings. First is the activity you’re going to wear them for and, relatedly, how much compression is best. Compression supports blood flow, and ultimately performance, so long-distance runs might call for leggings with around 20 percent elastane (also called spandex or Lycra). For a yoga class, you don’t need as much compression; leggings with at 10 percent elastane will ensure a stay-put fit.

Material: Material is an especially important aspect of both comfort and performance. Your workout leggings should be moisture-wicking and stretchy. Regardless of the specific activity you do, these two features will keep you the most comfortable as you work up a sweat. Fabrics like nylon and polyester combine flexibility (so the leggings can move with you) and moisture-wicking (so sweat doesn’t just pool and leave you chilled).

Conditions: Whether you’re working out inside or outdoors will affect your choice because leggings come in different weights and designs. When you’re working out in the cold, find insulated leggings with a brushed fleece interior. For a hot, sweaty pursuit, leggings with mesh panels or mid-length styles will help keep you cool.

Features: There are also extra features that set some workout leggings apart, like pockets so you can stash a key, ID card, or other small necessities, or adjustable drawstring waistbands for a custom fit.

How We Evaluated

In addition to my own experience, I researched the market and examined online reviews to recommend the best workout leggings for women. This article includes options that work well for a variety of workouts—running, yoga, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and weight lifting, among them—so you’ll be covered no matter your preferred activity. Each recommendation includes one or more suggested activities, but all the options work well for running, too. I prioritized leggings made from stretchy, breathable materials, and while evaluating, I considered comfort, performance, value, and aesthetics. Keep reading to learn which 10 women’s workout leggings made the cut.

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Ideal for the Gym
Under Armour HeatGear No-Slip Waistband Full-Length Leggings
Under Armour
Now 22% off

  • Generously sized thigh pocket
  • Available in short, regular, and tall lengths

  • Not as soft as some other leggings

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Material Composition: 87% polyester, 13% elastane
  • Best for: Running and HIIT workouts

If you’re looking for high-performance leggings, this Under Armour pair is ideal for short bursts of powerful activity. It’s made of polyester and elastane for a stretchy and breathable feel, and light compression helps them stay in place. These leggings move with you, offering a second-skin supportive feel. On top of that, the material wicks sweat and dries fast to keep you comfortable.

Best for Freezing Temperatures
Nike Therma-Fit One Mid-Rise Leggings

  • Wicks sweat nicely
  • Warm

  • Can be long on shorter frames

Key Specs

  • Sizes: 2XS­–2XL
  • Material Composition: 80% polyester, 20% spandex
  • Best for: Running

These leggings are fully fleece-lined to keep you warm without adding bulk. They’re made from Nike’s Therma-Fit technology, which is designed to trap your body’s natural heat to keep you warm even in the coldest weather. The leggings still manage feel lightweight. And they’re 20 percent spandex, which is among the highest stretchiness of these leggings options. I’ve worn these on 20-degree runs, and they’ve provided an ideal level of insulation.

Best Value Cold-Weather Leggings
Baleaf Laureate Thermal Zipper Pocket Leggings

  • Zippered lower back pocket in addition to two side pockets
  • Affordable

  • A bit bulky
  • Runs small

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS­–3XL
  • Material Composition: 87% polyester, 13% spandex
  • Best for: Running and hiking

If you’re looking to hit the trails or take your workout outside in the elements, the Laureate offers exceptional support. They’re wind- and water-resistant, and fleece on the inside makes them cozier (and a bit thicker) than most leggings. But this makes them a great option for a sub-40 degree run in less-than-ideal conditions. They’re quite fitted and can run small for some, so consider sizing up for a more flexible fit.

High-Waisted Workout Leggings
ODODOS High Waisted Yoga Leggings
Now 46% off

  • Choose from more than 60 colors and patterns
  • Available with shorter 25-inch inseam

  • Material can attract hair and lint

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS­–3XL
  • Material Composition: 76% polyester, 24% spandex
  • Best for: Running

These leggings are my go-to pick for my everyday runs. When my focus is on mileage rather than speed, these keep me feeling comfortable and strong as the miles add up. They’re incredibly stretchy yet manage to stay in place for short bursts of speed or any other dynamic movement. The moisture-wicking fabric also keeps me dry all workout long.

Wide Range of Sizes
Athleta Ultimate Stash Pocket 7/8 Tight

  • Great storage
  • Wide range of sizes, including petite, regular, and tall lengths

  • Run small

Key Specs

  • Sizes: 2XS­–3X
  • Material Composition: Nylon and Lycra
  • Best for: HIIT workouts and yoga

These Athleta leggings add a touch of compression to boost performance and support active muscle recovery. This makes them a solid option for high-intensity sessions, and they’re also great for runs. The Stash name refers to the leggings’ two leg pockets (big enough for a phone) and a smaller one on the waistband, perfect for a card or key. The materials, nylon and Lycra, blend stretchiness with a breathable, moisture-wicking feel so these leggings are great for your sweatiest workouts.

Best Compression
CW-X Stabilyx Joint Support Compression Tight

  • UPF 50+ protection
  • Flexible material gives great range of motion

  • Expensive
  • Can take getting used to putting them on and removing them

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Material Composition: 80% polyester, 20% Lycra
  • Best for: Running

These CW-X leggings offer an extra performance boost with compression and support panels sewn into the fabric. If you’ve never worn this kind of leggings, they’re specifically designed to increase blood flow through your legs, decrease muscle fatigue, and support your joints. It’s like wearing leggings with built-in kinesiology tape. I love these for a long run because they manage to give a nice squeeze to my legs and somehow feel so comfortable I quickly forget I’m wearing them—with the overall effect of my legs feeling strong many miles in.

Related: More Great Compression Tights

Most Versatile
The Gym People High Waist Yoga Pants
The Gym People

  • Available in 40 colors
  • Three pockets, two on the legs and one at the waistband

  • Thick fabric is a bit heavy, so not great for high-sweat workouts

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS­–3XL
  • Material Composition: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
  • Best for: Most activities

Although officially labeled as yoga pants, these leggings work well for any workout. The high waistband and ultra-stretchable fabric mean they won’t roll down and they move well with you. As a bonus, they also make the transition from sweat session to lounging around the house or running errands in town thanks to their flattering fit and wide variety of patterns and colors.

Leggings with Drawstring Waistband
Lululemon Base Pace High-Rise Running Tight

  • Second-skin feel with drawstring waistband
  • Available in three inseam options: 25, 28, and 31 inches

  • Pricey

Key Specs

  • Sizes: 0–20
  • Material Composition: 84% nylon, 16% Lycra
  • Best for: Running and HIIT workouts

Lululemon has become synonymous with leggings for yoga, but the Base Pace tight offers a solid pick for your most high-intensity activities. The signature Nulux fabric offers a weightless feel with the slightest hug of compression for stay-put performance. These truly feel like performance leggings, from their extra stretchiness to the quick-drying, sweat-wicking material. They also feature a drawstring in the waistband for extra assurance they’ll stay in place as you move.

Best Capris
C9 Champion High Waist Capri Legging
C9 Champion

  • Low cost
  • Generously sized phone pocket

  • Thin fabric, so some colors might be see-through

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–2XL
  • Material Composition: 88% polyester, 12% spandex
  • Best for: Running and strength training

I’ve worn these leggings (and their earlier versions) over the years, and they consistently perform well. They manage to blend softness and breathability, with a wicking fabric that dries fast as you work up a sweat. They stay put thanks to the high, wide waistband, so you won’t have to constantly readjust during your workout. This capri option is great for outdoor runs in in-between weather as well as indoor sweat sessions. Note, however, that they do run a bit small, so consider sizing up for the most comfortable fit.

Gym to Errands
Prana Pillar Legging

  • Performs like workout gear but stylish like casual wear

  • Limited storage (one small key pocket)

Key Specs

  • Sizes: XS–XL
  • Material Composition: 88% Supplex nylon, 12% Lycra (solid colors)
  • Best for: Yoga and strength training

For leggings that perform well in a workout and double for casual wear, choose Prana’s Pillar. It provides a nice balance of coverage (no see-through problems here) and all-day comfort, so you can go from a workout to errands seamlessly. For a quicker drying option (if slightly less soft), choose one of the striped leggings, which combines nylon, polyester, and Lycra.

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