Finding the best workout leggings has been a personal passion of mine, since exercise is a huge part of my lifestyle. To clarify, the “best” workout leggings must have a flattering fit, be completely comfortable, have plenty of stretch, stay the right temperature, and, of course, the best workout leggings must be stylish. I have been testing various workout leggings for 20 years in both outdoor and indoor workouts. I take classes, go to the gym, hike mountains, and even swim in workout tights. I am thrilled to share my findings with you.
Best Lightweight Workout Leggings
Lululemon’s Fast & Free Tight is without a doubt the best workout legging on the market. These flattering leggings feel like you’re wearing nothing, yet do an excellent job of supporting your body and hiding cellulite. No other workout leggings can beat their fit. And I really adore the seamless hem — it makes you feel like you are slipping into a second skin. Unironically, I really do feel “fast and free” in these leggings.
In terms of warmth, they stay cool in the summer, so they’re great for providing sun protection without overheating. Plus, they can keep in some heat when the temperature starts to drop. I also wear them in the ocean to keep warm on days that are not cold enough to necessitate a wetsuit, but are too cold to only wear a swimsuit. Since they feel like a second skin, they are easy to swim in and dry quickly.
In short, they are the magic workout leggings, which is why they have been a staple in my workout wardrobe for 8 years. You’ve probably seen them in several of my posts, including What To Wear In Park City Utah, Stylish Outdoor Clothing – A Hiking Capsule Collection, and What To Wear In Barbados.
Available at Lululemon
Features: Cell phone pocket, drawcord waistband, sweat-wicking fabric, reflective detailing, non see-thru
Cons: Extremely few fresh color or print options. Basically, I only recommend the navy and black leggings.
Sizing Tip: They come in sizes 0-20 and run small. Order a size up if between sizes. I wear a size 8 in the Fast and Free Tights as a size 4/6 woman. They come in 23″, 25″, and 28″ inseams. With my 30-inch legs, I prefer the little-too-long-on-me 28-inch length to avoid exposing my skin to a weird tan or ticks when I hike.
Materials: 84% Nylon, 16% Lycra elastane
Note: Because the material is so lightweight if you’re a runner with a larger/heavier cell phone, you may feel like it is about to pop out. Also, I find these leggings to be too lightweight when it drops below 65 degrees. For the winter, try the Fast + Free tight in the thermal material.
Best Workout Legging Overall
The Athleta Salutation Stash Tight is the best workout legging overall. There’s both a full length and 7/8 length version. These leggings are strong and flattering, and work for both summer and winter. Their material looks great inside and outside the gym. The Salutation Stash Tight comes in (and sells out of!) fun new colors regularly. I am a huge fan and have been stockpiling all their best colors — as should you. Seriously, they sell out of the popular sizes each month! Right now, I highly recommend you snatch up the dark lapis blue-ish color.
Available at Athleta
Features: Cell phone pocket, wicking and quick-drying material, non see-thru
Cons: The waist can fold down a bit when seated. This is why the Lululemon Fast + Free legging beats everyone — it never rolls or slips down.
Sizing: They come in sizes XXS-3X in regular, tall, and petite. They run true to size. I wear a size small petite as a size 4/6, 5’4″ woman with a 30-inch inseam.
Length Tip: If you like your ankles showing, go for the Salutation Stash tight in the 7/8 length. If you like to protect your ankles from tanning and cold like me, get the full-length tight, BUT get the petite size of the full-length tight if you are around a 30-inch inseam. The small regular piled up about 2 inches on my ankles and it gave me a camel toe. But the petite small fits me like a glove! And if you’re below 5’4″ and have less than a 29″ inseam, purchase the 7/8 length tight, as this should cover your ankles.
Materials: 75% Nylon, 25% LYCRA
Softest Workout Legging
Beyond Yoga’s High Waisted SpaceDye Leggings are the softest, yet strongest workout leggings available and they come in beautiful colors. They’re also lightweight, but still warm enough for outdoor workouts. I wear these for indoor and outdoor workouts, and my editor says she especially loves the Soft Shine version for hot yoga.
Features: Cell phone pocket, moisture-wicking material, non see-thru
Cons: They don’t offer petites and the crotch definitely slides down if you are 5′ 4″ or shorter. Also, their stylish patterns seem to never come with the cell phone pocket.
Sizing: The Beyond Yoga workout leggings come in sizes XXS-4X, and are best on women 5’5″ or taller. They may feel tight as you are putting them on, but they are true to size. Don’t size up unless you want less compression. If you are plus size, try both the version with a pocket as well as the pair without it. The pockets sometimes cut into a plus-size body a little awkwardly for some reason. But the no-pocket pair is so slimming and comfy!
Materials:87% Polyester, 13% Elastane
Best Budget-Friendly Workout Leggings
The Baleaf High Waisted Casual Leggings are the best budget-friendly workout leggings on the market. They are extremely comfortable, have glorious pockets that can hold onto a heavy-ass iPhone, and are thicker so they’re great for winter. You can read my full Baleaf review, here.
Features: Cell phone pocket, moisture-wicking, stretchy, and non-see-through
Cons: They just don’t feel or fit as stunning as the other brands listed above.
Sizing Tip: Comes in sizes XS-3X and can run large. When buying inexpensive items, it is particularly important to order two sizes to get the right fit.
Materials: 87% nylon, 13% spandex