Whether you're a health-kick newbie or a fully-fledged gym bunny, everyone who's ever tried to run a mile or do a single squat knows the importance of having a pair of leggings that won't let you down.
See-through, baggy and flimsy simply won't do - you need workout leggings that are well-made, squat-proof, with a heavy-duty waistband and that don't lose their edge when they're washed.
As more and more of us undertake healthy activities, (such as swapping out our weekly treat for a healthy takeaway instead) brands have really stepped up their game when it comes to leggings. All leggings, though, are not created equal.
Our top picks
Best affordable leggings: Ewedoos Yoga Pants for Women with Pockets
Best running leggings: Fast and Free High-Rise Tight
Best heavy flow period leggings: Modibodi 7/8 Recycled Active Leggings
Best medium flow period leggings: WUKA Perform Leggings
Best maternity leggings: Natal Active Luxe Maternity Legging
Best leggings for every exercise: Power Gym Leggings
What are the types of gym leggings?
An ever-growing market means that there are SO many choices to wrap your head around these days. Here are some of the most popular on offer:
• Maternity leggings
• 7/8 length
Luckily for you, we've pulled together the best gym leggings from some of the top brands around for all of these options, as well as some lesser-known brands that have received rave reviews online. Ready to meet your match? Let's do this.
The best gym leggings
The best women's gym leggings
1. Ewedoos Yoga Pants for Women with Pockets
Best affordable leggingsThanks to the non-see four-way stretchy fabric material, you can squat, stretch or do a cartwheel and this pair of leggings has got your back. The material is lightweight and breathable, and the comfort level is so high, you'll never want to take them off.Sizing: We'd recommend sizing down for the perfect fit.Material: 75% Polyester, 25% ElastaneComfort rating: 10/10Review: "LOVE these leggings and have just ordered two more pairs. I did tons of research and read all the reviews before ordering these, plus two other brands, all on Amazon. The whole order arrived in super fast time with Prime. These were by far the best of the ones I bought. They are a buttery soft fabric and super comfy. Not advertised as compression leggings but these are so flattering and great for holding in a tummy if you have one! Brilliant for walking, running, workouts and yoga and they wash perfectly. Pockets are a bonus; I couldn't be happier! ud83dude01"
2. Gimdumasa Yoga Pants
Best high-waisted leggingsThese high-waisted leggings are highly rated - and for good reason. The combination of the high waist and durable fabric means you feel secure and flattered. They're made of moisture-wicking material and are totally squat-proof. There are three pockets for your phone and keys. Sizing: We'd recommend sizing down for the perfect fit.Material: 75% polyester / 25% polyurethaneComfort rating: 9/10Review: "These leggings are brilliant, especially for the price! They are not see through at all, and I am super fussy about that. They are really comfy for all day casual wear, nice high waist, flattering, and feel amazing. The sizing is great and the pockets are a really nice added detail, perfect for holding your phone. I tend to wear these as casual day wear but they would be perfect for any kind of workout too as they don't budge at all. Will definitely be buying more!"
3. TALA Zinnia Leggings
Best sustainable leggingsIf you've been on the Instagram trending gym leggings wave then you're sure to have come across TALA. Their Zinnia leggings are thick and opaque so you don't get any embarrassing knicker lines, and they're stretchy but firm to keep everything looking perky. Fabulous in black, but you can also get these in a variety of colours including pink, brown and yellow. Sizing: Go for a size down, but also be aware they come up at a good length for shorter girls – if you're taller you may want to invest in their tall range. Material: 92% Polyamide, 8% ElastaneComfort rating: 8/10Review from our Commercial Content Writer, Caitlin Casey: "I luckily managed to get my hands on a pair of these Zinnia leggings and boy are they a game-changer. I don't usually splash out on gym leggings but these are super comfy, firm but not suffocating. I feel so fabulous in these and would definitely feel confident heading to the gym. Even better that they're made out of sustainable materials!"
4. Under Armour HG Armour Ankle Crop Yoga Pants
Best 3/4 length leggingsIf you prefer a 3/4 leggings or are petite, these leggings will be the perfect length. Made from soft but durable material, they don't fall down - even when running and are SUPER comfortable. Sizing: These squat-proof leggings are true to size.Material: 87% polyester / 13% spandexComfort rating: 9/10Review: "I love these Under Armour sports leggings, they're great for yoga as they have a high waist band and don't slip. They are a great fit and don't sag around the knees after use. I would definitely buy these again."
5. TCA Hero Legging
Best all-rounderLondon-based brand TCA was created by one man in his bedroom, whose focus is on creating quality products that people will love - not just following the latest trend. TCA's Hero Legging is adored by buyers for being comfortable, squat-proof, well-fitted and durable. With Supreme+ fabric, the power-mesh lined waistband means they stay snug, even after washing. They really do hold everything in, and there's also a hidden back pocket. Great for the gym, yoga, spinning and more.Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: Supreme+ fabric using nylonComfort rating: 10/10Review: "These leggings sit high around the waist and hold everything in. The tapering detailing along the side of the leg is very flattering. I'm 5'7" and bought the XS. True to size and very comfortable."
6. Fast and Free High-Rise Tight 28" Non-Reflective Brushed Nulux
Best leggings for runningThere's nothing more demotivating than when you're really feeling your run and you can't help but notice that your leggings are riding down. UGH. These Lululemon tights are designed to be distraction-free - weightless, comfortable and supportive. They have hidden pockets for your stuff and are also made of Nuluxu2122; a sweat-wicking, quick-drying fabric that's brushed for warmth. They do run out of stock regularly due to their popularity, so keep this one bookmarked.Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: Nuluxu2122Comfort rating: 8/10Review: "I love these leggings. They stay up, don't roll or move on the waist. I've trained and ran in them and they are the most comfortable leggings. I have the large iPhone and it fits in the pockets comfortably while I ran in them also."
7. Modibodi 7/8 Recycled Active Legging
Best heavy flow period leggingsFear of leakage and general discomfort is a huge problem whilst exercising on your period, but Modibodi's period leggings are the solution we've all been waiting for. Designed with built-in 3mm Modifier Technology, these are perfect for solo use even on the heaviest days of your cycle. They will feel snug against your body, are super-absorbent and odour-resistant. Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: 78% Pre Consumer Recycled Nylon, 22% ElastaneComfort rating: 10/10Review: "I love these leggings. I love how they feel. They feel light and durable. The undergarment feels thick and secure, especially with the waistband. I feel it's full coverage and don't have to worry about leaks. The waistband doesn't roll down. I'm a medium in Modibodi underwear yet order large for shorts and leggings. I've ordered 3 pairs already :)"
8. WUKA Performu2122 Leggings
Best medium flow period leggingsMade from eco-friendly recycled polyester, WUKA's period leggings have a lightweight, seamless fabric with a super absorbent hi-tech moisture barrier, making them period proof and VPL-free. They're gorgeously soft, have a sturdy waistband that won't ride down, and have a neat pocket on the leg for your phone or cards. They'll hold 15ml of period flow or light leaks - around 2-3 tampons' worth.Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: Recycled polyesterComfort rating: 10/10Review: "These leggings aren't just comfortable, squat-proof and perfectly-sized, but they also have a pair of period pants built in, which is ideal for those days when you want to go to the gym or for a run but need extra leak protection. They hold their shape even after washing, and I particularly like the pocket on the leg."
9. SPANX ACTIVE Booty Boost High-rise Stretch-jersey Leggings
Best sculpting leggingsThese leggings from SPANX are perfect for uber-sculpted legs and bum, and they're totally squat-proof. We love the flattering high waist and they're nice enough to wear outside of the gym, too. You can also get a matching super supportive sports bra with criss-cross strap detailing for the full set.Sizing: Runs a little smallMaterial: 60% nylon / 40% elastaneComfort rating: 8/10
10. CRZ YOGA Women's Naked Feeling High Waist Tight Yoga Pants
Best leggings for comfortIdeal for yoga, running, or just lounging, these leggings feel like a second skin. The material is more like a bathing suit than traditional leggings. While these aren't fully squat-proof, the elastic high waist means they don't budge at all. Sizing: Order in your normal size and don't be put off by the tag - that's the US size.Material: 71% polyamide / 29% elastaneComfort rating: 10/10Review: "Living in these at the moment, I have the navy and black, both are perfect for weightlifting; great for squats and deads, they stay in place through the whole session (don't slip down), and they are like the perfect height waist (right over the belly button). Yeah will probably buy more not gonna lie."
11. Vital Seamless Leggings
The best seamless gym leggingsAvailable in every colour under the sun, these Gymshark gym leggings will mould to your body flawlessly. The seamless contours will flatter you around all areas of your body, ensuring confidence and support throughout your whole workout.Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: 58% Nylon, 32% Polyester, 10% ElastaneComfort rating: 10/10Review: "Love the leggings, especially the seamless ones. I have quite short legs so finding a full length pair that sits on my ankles is quite difficult. Gymshark leggings hug your figure and material is super stretchy and comfortable."
12. Natal Active Luxe Maternity Leggings - Soft Cobalt
Best maternity gym leggingsThese are the most comfortable workout leggings you'll own. They fit snuggly over your bump – all the way over – and will grow as you grow. They're super soft as well as supportive; you can fold the tummy panel over if you need a bit more support too. They're squat-proof and ideal for workouts and yoga sessions, but equally just worn every day as a comfy pair of pregnancy leggings. You won't want to take these off once baby arrives.Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: 77% polyester / 23% spandex Comfort rating: 9/10Review: "I absolutely adore these leggings, they are a staple to my maternity wardrobe. Very comfortable for both exercise and casual wear. They wash really well and keep their shape perfectly. I have them in black too. Very tempted to buy the pink now!!!"
13. Power Gym Leggings
Best gym leggings for every exerciseFrom weightlifting to running a marathon, these Sweaty Betty gym leggings will help you cruise through any exercise. Their super stretchy fabric takes the shape of your body, and the flattering seams at the back make for a sculpted bum. The material is sweat-wicking and quick-drying for extra comfort, and the added side and back pockets are great for popping in keys or any other bits.Sizing: Fit a little snugMaterial: Polyamide elastane fabricComfort rating: 10/10Review: "I bought these for gym classes and running. They're extremely comfortable and have a good level of compression. I'm 5'4.5 and they sit just above the ankle. The seam design is flattering and I'm so glad they have a side pocket - a must for me. Will definitely be purchasing more of these"
14. Adidas TechFit Petite Leggings
Best petite gym leggingsThese leggings come in a range of sizes so you'll be sure to find your perfect fit. They feature mesh panels behind the knees to keep you feeling cool, will absorb moisture and are made from recycled polyester, for the eco warriors among you.Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: 85% recycled polyester / 15% elastane interlockComfort rating: 8/10Review: "Absolutely love these leggings. So much so, I'll be ordering in the other available colour. They fit really nicely, are thick enough to be warm but not too sweaty. Look really smart & would have no issues wearing these out and about. Also bonus that there's a pocket!!"
15. Ebru Evrim Activewear High Waist Joy Legging
Best patterned leggingsCreated by Turkish yogi Ebru Evrim, these leggings have yoga running through every thread. They're beautifully designed, super soft and easy to move around in, while the high waist ensures they don't slip down while you're getting your flow on.Sizing: They come up a little small, so be sure to order a size up.Material: 85% poly. / 15% elastaneComfort rating: 8/10**Review: "**My go-to patterned pair! These leggings are like no other and have a unique pattern that I absolutely love. They look and feel great on and off the yoga mat."
16. PUMA Women's Hit Feel It 7/8 Tight Leggings
Best gym leggings for pocket storageThese leggings from PUMA are perfectly soft, have moisture-wicking properties that help keep you dry and comfortable and the flatlock stitching makes them really comfortable. The thing we loved most about these is the pockets - there are FIVE, so you'll never run out of space. They're squat-proof, don't budge at the waist and look great. Sizing: True to sizeMaterial: 77% polyester / 23% elastaneComfort rating: 8/10Review: "Really good pair of leggings I'm a size 12 and got medium, really good fit and comfy, not see through when you bend over - thumbs up from me!"
Benefits of wearing sports leggings
While joggers or sweatpants might feel as though they're designed for sports and running, in reality, leggings are truly made for the job. Giving you less resistance when you run, offering more comfort and generally looking great should help you to get that new PB or smash your current goal.
Gym leggings can also help with muscle recovery, circulation and metabolic waste. According to ACE Fitness, "the pressure from the tight clothing can improve circulation; specifically, the venous return of blood back to the heart, which helps remove metabolic waste from muscle and promotes the flow of oxygenated blood to help the tissue repair and rebuild".
Sweatpants will make you do just that: sweat. Moisture-wicking leggings help to keep you at the right temperature as you workout, stopping you from overheating or getting too cold in the winter months.
Leggings and running tights will protect your skin from both the sun's harmful rays in summer, as well as cold winds in winter.
More fitness inspo:
How do I choose gym leggings?
It's important to check each brand's size guide before selecting your leggings, as they can all differ slightly. What's more, have a look at the reviews to see what previous customers think about the fit.
In our best gym leggings list above, we've tested them ourselves or checked this for you, but your experience may differ depending on your body shape.
Most workout leggings are made from synthetic fibres like polyester and nylon, due to their sweat-wicking properties and ability to stretch. They dry out quickly, aren't susceptible to over-stretching and are lightweight. You may also see the addition of Spandex, Lycra or elastane, which puts the stretch into your workout gear.
If your chosen activity is light, like yoga, you can probably get away with cotton leggings, which are breathable and comfortable. Bear in mind, these do absorb moisture, so aren't really suited to heavy workouts.
What should you wear under gym leggings?
If you're one of those people who hates a garish underwear line under your leggings, you're not alone. Sorry, granny pants - we love ya, but we don't always want everyone to know we forgot to do our washing that week.
If you wear a busier print, you shouldn't see the lines too obviously, or you could always opt for seam-free underwear, boy shorts or a breathable thong so that no lines will show.
Whatever you wear, make sure you feel comfortable - there's nothing more annoying than getting a wedgie halfway through your kick-ass run.