With so many workout leggings on the market and new indie brands popping up every day, it’s hard to determine which pairs are worth the investment. Depending on how you like to exercise, your leggings need to follow suit and perform a certain way, too. We turned to some of the coolest trainers from California, New York, Texas, and elsewhere across the country to find the best leggings for genuinely working out. Yogi, barre ballerina, runner, or weightlifter—we’re bringing you 15 pairs stretchy pants that will truly upgrade your gym kit.
Best Leggings For Pilates & Yoga
Carbon 38 Takara Leggings, $98, Carbon38
“I am in love with the Carbon38 Takara leggings for most of my workouts because they aren’t see-through and their high-waist, black ones are easy for me to go from class to teaching or a meeting should I have to. I never have to pull them up, they don’t ride up, and they make every curve of your leg look amazing!”—Lesley Logan, Pilates Instructor
Align Pant II 25”, $98, Lululemon
“I'm a big fan of Lululemon pants. I’ve been buying their pants for over five years now and haven't had any issues. I love the cut, design, and feeling of the fabrics, and they stay in place and have various fabrics that will fit your different workouts. The Align pant is my favorite for a light yoga session, designed for a smooth flow through your entire practice.
I think most of [Lululemon’s] pants are worth the price (not all), but it just depends on your preference of fit and feeling. I always recommend trying everything on—a size up or down—just to make sure you're getting the right fit for you.”—Kathryn Manigross, Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and TRX Instructor
Free People Movement Method Leggings, $68, Zappos
“I used to stick to one or two brands for all my yoga and fitness needs, but through YogaClub, a subscription service specifically for designer yoga apparel up to 60 percent off retail prices, I’ve discovered a ton of new-to-me brands that I absolutely love teaching and practicing yoga in!
These Free People leggings were in one on my most recent boxes and have quickly become one of my new faves. I have these in gray, and they’re super breathable and light. I wear Free People all the time and was so jazzed when I discovered they make fitness gear, too!”—Lindsay McClelland, Yoga Instructor
Best Leggings For Barre
Power Leggings, $110, Sweaty Betty
“My favorite leggings are Sweaty Betty's Power Leggings. They are high-waisted, super flattering, and fit so wonderfully. They are light, but feel substantial on my body, too. They are opaque so I don't need to worry about bending over. Sweaty Betty often releases these pants in different patterns, and they're always so adorable. They dry quick, too! These leggings are my go-to for all the classes I teach. I've been wearing the brand religiously for three years.”—Lauren Chiarello, Barre Teacher
Peek-A-Boo Leggings, $76, Glyder
“I received these Glyder leggings in one of my YogaClub boxes that I’m obsessed with for yoga, Pilates, barre, and gym workouts. The subtle peek-a-boo cutouts allow ventilation and add a sexy touch to otherwise simple leggings. I loved these so much that I washed them two days in a row one weekend!”—Lindsay McClelland, Yoga Instructor
Onzie High Rise Stirrup Legging, $56, Revolve
“As the Operations Director at Fitness on the Water and an instructor of many different class formats including Pilates, barre, spinning, and rebounding, my collection of leggings is vast! It’s crucial that my leggings are comfortable, flattering, functional, and transition well from barefoot in the studio to boots on the street!
I’ve recently discovered Onzie. Their leggings are high-waisted, compress everything in a highly-flattering way, and wash and dry like regular clothes. As the high waist helps them stay up, these pants are perfect for yoga and barre classes.”—Dana Brown, Barre, Yoga, and Spin Instructor
Best Leggings For HIIT & CrossFit
Train Times 7/8 Pant 25”, $98, Lululemon
“Lululemon’s Train Times pant is perfect for a sweaty HIIT workout or bootcamp session with a reinforced waistband that holds it all in when you’re moving around and won’t dig in or slide down mid-workout. Cute mesh panels also help keep your legs cool so you don’t have to worry about overheating during intense training.”—Kathryn Manigross, Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and TRX Instructor
Zella Live In High Waist Leggings (Plus-Size), $59, Nordstrom
“Zella leggings are a staple. They’re moisture-wicking and stay in place whatever the workout, from a light lift to TRX training. I also love that these leggings are available in plus-sizes, in addition to sizes small through extra-large, so anyone can find their perfect pair.
Target’s new JoyLab line also has great leggings if you’re looking for a more affordable option. They’re similar to Lululemon, but way better prices.”—Kathryn Manigross, Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and TRX Instructor
Girlfriend High-Rise ¾ Legging, $58, Girlfriend Collective
“I recommend Girlfriend Collective leggings because they look beautiful, don't ride up, and aren't see-through. I also wear these aside from working out because they look great with any outfit. They're great because they stay in place for the high-intensity interval training portions of my class, but are also soft and smooth and help with the fluidity of motion in Pilates—the perfect combination for the classes I teach.—Melanie Kotcher, HIIT Pilates Instructor
Best Leggings For Weightlifting
Wunder Under Crop (Hi-Rise) Full-On Luon 21", $88, Lululemon
“With my clients, I primarily focus on weight training and cardio-based exercises. The Wunder Under Crop is my favorite legging for lifting weights and squatting and is runner-up in my entire legging collection behind Alo’s Airbrush Capri. The thicker fabric means I won’t be caught in a compromising position when deadlifting or putting down weights (every woman’s worst nightmare). The high rise fit also ensures a comfortable, flattering fit for your gym session.”—Deborah Lynn Irmas, Personal Trainer
“Here’s what I look for in a good-fitting legging:
1. Does the legging fit your waist properly? Can you wear them comfortably without having to strategically select a shirt long enough to cover your plumbers crack or a shirt loose enough to make sure your muffin top isn’t bulging?
2. Breathability is something we overlook because they are cute, but—let’s face it—if you’re too hot and run around all day in something not allowing air after or while you sweat, that moisture will not allow your down there area to dry out, causing potential yeast infections.
3. Lastly, functionality. What type of workout are you doing? Sometimes this matters because if you need stability, a stability compression legging vs. a yoga legging could help with performance while a compression legging would be too tight for yoga.
Blessed Bodywear is one of my favorite brands, specifically the Vixen Squat pants in both the long and the capri. They’re smooth, light, fitted cotton fits like a glove, and I love the high waistline and the ‘V’ seam on the back which makes EVERY booty look amazing. I also love and appreciate the way the material makes my legs and hamstrings look seamless with a comfortable fit.”—Nikki Walter, a Bodybuilding.com TEAM Athlete
UA Base 2.0 Leggings, $55, Amazon
“I’m a big fan of Under Armour. They have great leggings for both warm and cold weather. Their UA Base Leggings are my favorite. They don’t squeeze the hips or waist to make you feel uncomfortable, and they breathe enough so you don’t feel too hot or sweaty. Plus, the booty looks good in them!”—Katie Chung, a Bodybuilding.com TEAM Athlete
Best Leggings For Running
Airbrush Capri, $68, Alo Yoga
“I also do a lot of running on my own and while training clients. Alo Yoga’s Airbrush Capri is my number one, go-to pant for running—or anything really! It’s simple in design and tight to the skin like it is your skin, exactly what you want while running outside. Since I live in Santa Monica, these are perfect for medium-to-light weather, but the full-length Airbrush Legging is better for long runs in the cold without being uncomfortable.” —Deborah Lynn Irmas, ACE-Certified Personal Trainer
Epic Lux 27.5” Running Tights, $95, Nike
“As a bonafide legging freak (I own well over 100 pairs!), I think I can offer valuable insight into leggings because I live in them. One important thing on choosing a great pair of leggings is the material. Whether you’re going straight name brand or off-brand, choosing the appropriate material will ensure a comfortable workout. The best material is 100 percent polyester or a poly blend with cotton or spandex.
Nike is always ahead of the game when it comes to leggings (and the price tag definitely reflects that). They usually stick to the polyester blends which work really well overall. Their focus is training/running, so their leggings hold up well. Anything with a high waist or drawstring will work for running, but I’m pretty partial to the Nike Dri-FIT leggings and—if I’m feeling real fancy—the Nike Lux leggings. It’s important for me to have items that are cute and functional in the gym/seeing clients, but looks great when just out and about.”—Ki Jones, Personal Trainer
Michi Stardust Crop Legging, $125, Shopbop
“In addition to teaching Pilates for over 10 years, I’m also a runner and train once a week. I love my Michi leggings because the lines are very flattering and great for all my workouts. The mesh sides are also great for airing out and the high waistband makes sure they won’t fall down during a run, not to mention they look great with everything.”—Lesley Logan, Pilates Instructor