Sometimes my motivation to workout really comes down to one thing and one thing only: Are any of my favorite workout leggings currently clean? If no, it’s that much easier to make an excuse to skip that day’s run or weights session. The best workout leggings are, after all, the ones that make you actually want to workout—or at least make you less likely to skip said workout. For me, they have a few things in common: They aren’t see-through, they don’t fall down, and they have just a bit of compression to them.
Everyone has different workout leggings preferences, though. Some people prefer workout leggings with a little sheen—others want them to be 100% cotton. Some prefer them with pockets, and others want leggings made for yoga (though let’s be honest, everyone wants leggings with pockets). No matter what you’re looking for, though, everyone wants the best option out there.
To help you find your new favorite pair, we spent hours researching, running, stretching, and, yes, lounging on the couch. No matter your lifestyle, budget, or workout habits, these are the nine best workout leggings available now, from Amazon bestsellers to sustainable styles.
Most Size Inclusive: Universal Standard Danica Mesh Legging
If you do a quick Google for workout leggings, odds are you’ll land on a handful of options that only go up to a size 12 or 14. The vast majority of leggings on this list are size inclusive to some extent, but none more so than Universal Standard’s leggings. The Danica Mesh leggings are lightweight, sweat-wicking, and stay up no matter what. Plus, they’re available up to a size 40.
Most Affordable: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Powersoft Leggings
There’s a reason why Old Navy has a dedicated following to its leggings—they’re good, affordable, and come in a variety of sizes and lengths. Plus, at $39.99, they’re affordable enough to buy a variety of patterns or colors.
Price at time of publish: $39.99 for Tall
Best for Yoga: Beyond Yoga High-Waist Midi Space-Dye Leggings
If you are looking for the world’s softest leggings that can double as the perfect yoga outfit or cozy loungewear, look no further than Beyond Yoga. The leggings are buttery soft and come in dozens of colors and patterns, too. You really have to feel them to believe the hype, though. They are that soft.
Price at time of publish: $97
Best Leggings With Pockets: Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket
I didn’t believe the hype about Athleta’s leggings until I tried this pair, and now I am a true, dedicated believer. These ultra-soft leggings are somehow the perfect combination of ultra-soft, completely opaque material (complete with zero sheen) and compression. They look good, feel good, and are my go-to pair of leggings for making me feel like an amazing workout is just around the corner.
Price at time of publish: $109 for Dusk Violet
Best Workout-To-Lounge Leggings: OFFLINE Ribbed High Waisted Lace Up Legging
For a legging that’s great for working out, lounging, and has trendy, Instagram-worthy details, look no further than Aerie’s Offline brand. These high-waisted ribbed leggings feature a lace-up detail at the waist and also happen to be perfect for mix-and-matching with all of Offline’s other lounge and workout wear.
Best Performance: Nike One Luxe Tights
Looking for the leggings that will help you perform your absolute best in whatever big workout you have planned? Nike One Luxe is a go-to option. They’re high-waisted, full-length compression leggings that make you feel like you can do pretty much anything.
Price at time of publish: $90 for XS
Best Compression: Your Day Won You Got This 3/4 Compression Legging
Though I’ve never personally tried Your Day Won, the brand has a very dedicated following on Instagram and plenty of positive reviews online. They’re also available in sizes 0-32. Plus, everyone needs a pair of leggings that literally reminds them that they can handle whatever today (and their workout) has to throw at them.
Price at time of publish: $84
Most Sustainable: Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Pocket Legging
I’ve been singing the praises of Girlfriend’s leggings and sports bras for years now. The brand’s seasonal new-color release always leaves me coming back to buy more, but it's the solid construction of the leggings (and the fact that they never, ever roll down) that I really love. The fact that the brand is committed to sustainability (and size inclusivity) is just an added bonus.
Price at time of publish: $88
Best from Amazon: Colorfulkoala High Waisted Yoga Pants
These leggings from Colorfulkoala have a truly unbelievable 17,000+ reviews and, somehow, still maintains 4.5 stars. As one reviewer wrote, “The fact that I own three and bought them all within a week of each other says a lot." The review photos from customers are also extremely helpful and are a testament to the product's quality.
Price at time of publish: $27 for Heather Green
What to Look for in Workout Leggings
As with any attire, how comfortable you are in leggings will depend on the materials you prefer to put on your body. Fabric plays a role in how leggings look and feel; consider the visual difference between a high-sheen poly blend and a 100% cotton pair. This is especially important if you'll be using your leggings in a work from home capacity, too.
What you'll be doing in your leggings should inform which ones you choose. If you do intense HIIT workouts, you'll need stronger construction than if you're a leggings lounger who won't be exercising in them. And if you're a fan of hot yoga, you'll want leggings that are able to stay put even once you get very sweaty in them.
Pockets and Details
Ok, so you don't necessarily need pockets in your leggings at all times, but there's nothing about them to not love. For the convenience of going on a run and placing your keys in there, or having your phone on your person as you loll about your home, pockets are definite plus. And added details like lace up embellishments can help improve fit (as well as up the fun factor!), so that you feel your best in your leggings.
What causes leggings to be see through?
The see through factor in leggings can have multiple causes: the leggings may be too small for you, leading the fabric to stretch excessively. Or, they might not be of good enough quality to be opaque. Lastly, the material might just be too thin to fully block out the full view of flesh.
How can you tell the quality of leggings?
There are a few key factors to search for when you want to ensure that you're leggings are going to be as high quality as you need. The product should note that it has moisture-wicking abilities, so that you don't feel damp as you exercise in them. And you'll want to look for "four-way stretch" so that you know they'll stay comfortable as they move with you.
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Why Trust Byrdie
Olivia Muenter is a contributor for Byrdie who has been writing and editing stories about fashion and beauty since 2012 and was a full-time Senior Fashion & Beauty Editor for Bustle for four years. Currently, she is a full-time freelance beauty and fashion writer. Her work has been published on Glamour, InStyle, Apartment Therapy, Woman's Day, Elite Daily, and other publications.