10 Best Workout Leggings, According to Fitness Experts
Fitness experts weigh in on the brands of workout leggings they prefer. Exercise in style and comfort in these tights, yoga pants, and leggings.
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Best leggings for working out
It's time to rid yourself of any guilt you might feel about buying one more pair of workout leggings. After all, you should pat yourself on the back for getting in a workout or a few, whether it's through online fitness classes, at the park, or at your local gym (if it's reopened post Covid-19 stay-at-home orders). Plus, science's got your back when it comes to indulging in your next workout leggings purchase.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology suggested that what you wear during a particular activity can affect how you perform. The researchers found that people performed better on attention-related tasks if they wore a lab coat rather than another type of coat (or no coat at all). What does that mean for your workout? Well, if you're wearing leggings that make you feel strong, powerful, confident, and supported, you could be more likely to perform better and meet your fitness goals faster.
So, what workout leggings should you add to your cart? We spoke with fitness experts who weighed in on their favorite pairs for all-around use and why.
Athleta Salutation Stash Pocket II Capri
"Hands down, my number one pair of leggings is from Athleta," says certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor Megan Hare, founder of residential fitness company Power for Life Fitness. "Their leggings are comfortable, have a great feel to them and they move with my body. They do not roll down or shift when I'm moving, no matter what I'm doing—from weightlifting, to yoga, to Zumba and more!" With a mid-calf length, side pockets, and 18 sizes available from petite to plus, these capri leggings are a surefire winner.
K-Deer Legging in Sunset
"Any legging that doesn't have a seam in your seam is a win in my book," says Danielle DeAngelo, co-founder of women's fitness brand Jane DO and former Radio City Rockette. "K-Deer makes a great pant that does just that and is extraordinarily comfortable." Indeed, these full-length leggings, which can be scrunched at the ankle or pulled over the heel, have a unique flat front that makes them ideal for workouts like yoga and Pilates.
The Gym People Thick High Waist Yoga Pants with Pockets, Tummy Control
$21-$25, depending on size and color
High waisted leggings with a thick waistband, like these highly-rated ones from The Gym People, help prevent a confidence-killing muffin top—but what sets them apart is the large pockets on each thigh, big enough to fit a smartphone or even a water bottle. "I love leggings with pockets on the sides," says Hare. "When the pocket is inside, I feel that it irritates my body more. Plus, I like putting my hands in my pockets." And shoppers agree: These leggings boast over 2,500 five-star reviews on Amazon.
Baleaf High Waist Workout Yoga Running Compression Exercise Shorts Side Pockets
$19-$39, depending on size, color, and style
"I'm thrilled that longer bike shorts are back," shares Jane DO's other co-founder, Jacey Lambros, who was also a former Radio City Rockette. "Bike shorts are great for many summer sports, especially dance cardio, running, and biking, all the sweaty activities that may cause inner thigh chafing." If you're not sure what length will be most comfortable, try these shorts from Baleaf—the Amazon bestseller in women's workout shorts comes with a two-inch, five-inch, or eight-inch inseam.
Sweaty Betty Contour 9" Workout Shorts
If you like longer shorts to prevent bunching or rolling over your thighs, you can't go wrong with this pretty printed pair from Sweaty Betty, which has a nine-inch inseam and snug fit. "I love pairing wild print pants with subtle tops for a pop of fun," adds Lambros. Why that's smart: Wearing bright, inviting colors that you associate with happiness may, in turn, make you happier.
Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Powersoft 7/8-Length Side-Pocket Leggings
"Especially for leggings I'm going to wear outside, not being see-through is the most important thing," says Hare. "There are some spandex or Lycra materials that aren't see-through, though I find that those are hit or miss. But Old Navy's leggings are a definite hit." This 7/8-length pair, made from a polyester and spandex blend, averages a 4.7 out of 5 rating from over 3,000 reviewers thanks to their soft, comfortable feel and snug, supportive fit.
Dragon Fit Compression Yoga Pants Power Stretch Workout Leggings with High Waist Tummy Control
With a high waistband, supportive feel, and thick, opaque fabric, it's no wonder these Dragon Fit leggings have so many five-star reviews: They tick all the boxes when it comes to a perfect pair of women's workout leggings. "The fabric is very nice and doesn't attract lint and pet hair like most yoga pants do," adds one reviewer. "The waist is higher so you avoid the dreaded muffin top, and they look great."
2XU Women's MCS Run Compression Tights
For a legging that will help maximize your recovery if you're working out at a high intensity, a pair with compression is crucial. "Compression helps with circulation and helps to reduce swelling," explains Lambros. "It's also really comforting to feel supported during high impact exercises like our Train Jane HIIT class." These leggings from the compression experts at 2XU apply targeted compression to the quads and calves to slow muscle fatigue and speed recovery.
Zella Live In High Waist Pocket Crop Leggings
Everything you need to know about these leggings is in the name. They're not only functional and supportive for exercise, but they're also comfortable for daily to-dos. The cropped length sits at the top of the calf, making them a great choice for warm summer days when shorts aren't in the cards. At the end of the day, pop them in the washing machine and then the dryer—no complicated laundering instructions here.
CRZ Yoga Women's High Waisted Yoga Pants with Pockets – 25 Inches
$26-$30, depending on size and color
"I love a 7/8 length capri legging for every season. It's the cigarette pant of fitness," says DeAngelo. And you can't go wrong with this pair from CRZ Yoga, which offers 23 different colors and prints and rests comfortably above the ankle bone. The unique Naked Feeling lightweight fabric hugs the legs and waist and stretches with you like a second skin, no matter the workout or activity.