What Are the Best Women’s Leggings for Workout and the Gym

Leggings are best described as tight-fitting, elastic waist, stretch pants. Unlike looser-fitting yoga pants, they show the figure. They must be more opaque than tights and are also footless, although they can vary in length. They are typically sold as apparel for women and girls; however, recently, men have begun to wear this comfortable workout item to the gym under their shorts. 

We’ve done the research for you and come up with 10 of the best leggings for workout for 2020.  We have focused on leggings meant for an active lifestyle, including wearing to the gym for working out, running, performing yoga, and other fitness pursuits.

Here are a few interesting factoids that may help you have a greater appreciation for leggings:

  • Initially, leggings were not a single item of clothing, but rather a pair of separate coverings pulled over each leg, worn especially by soldiers and workers to protect the legs. They were often made of canvas or leather.
  • Around 2009, the rise of “skinny jeans” gave rise to a hybrid garment called “jeggings,” which were a cross of denim and spandex. This then morphed into knit leggings printed to look like denim complete with fake pockets and belt loops.
  • Most major brands that produce workout leggings for women today, including all the ones listed here (with the exception of CUGOAO), are involved with some type of sustainability initiative, helping to safeguard the planet.

Purchasing Pointers

Before we get into our specific recommendations, it may help to consider a few pointers on how to choose a pair of leggings that will make you happy with your purchase. 


The best workout leggings don’t need to cost a fortune. We’ve made it a point to cover some high-end brands as well as some that will leave a little green in your pocket. If you’re buying online, you can check different sites like the manufacturer’s own or Amazon for free shipping and sales, but be sure to check fit and sizing charts carefully.


The best workout pants wick moisture away from the skin. This is especially important for clingy or extremely tight-fitting leggings. Look for leggings that are advertised as seamless to deliver the best comfort. You will want leggings that don’t roll down at the waist. Also, remember that the flashy mesh inserts for style don’t always translate to comfort unless the part that touches the skin is super smooth.

Also, when considering leggings as gym pants, read reviews to make sure they aren’t transparent when bending over to avoid embarrassment. While leggings are often worn by dancers, the difference between leggings vs. tights is that tights must be worn under another garment.

Care and Durability

Always check the laundering and care instructions for each brand of leggings, especially for more expensive pairs. You will want to be sure to avoid unfortunate pilling, snagging, stretching, or shrinking. 

Our Picks for Some of the Best Leggings for


Leggings for Workout

Athleta Chaturanga™ Tight ($74.00)

These high waisted workout leggings are called tights by their makers, but are footless and mostly opaque, reaching to the ankle. They also are available in capri lengths. These are considered to be one of the best black leggings. They are also available in navy. They meet the requirements of quality athletic leggings, with wearers reporting they are comfortable, durable, and slimming. They offer a good fit for both tall and petite women.
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Patagonia Capilene Bottoms ($59 reg price)

Patagonia’s bottoms made our list of best leggings for women because they are a great multi-sport option, and deserve mention because you can wear them on their own. They offer both breathability and wicking ability to stay dry, and if you’re planning on camping or traveling, they feature odor control, which means less washing and more prolonged wearing.

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prAna Transform Legging ($75 reg. price)

There are lots to like about these as a contender for your favorite gym leggings: compression, stretchy jersey fabric, with double-layer power mesh inset panels in the waist to lend maximum support. With a hidden key pocket inside the waistband, they make good running leggings.
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lululemon Wunder Under Full-On Luon ($98.00) 

The lululemon brand has developed an almost cult-like following for its workout pants for women, which are designed especially for yoga. The company mostly sells through its own website and stores and is purported to back their products with good customer service. Do read care instructions to ensure your purchase reaches full life.

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Adidas Trefoil Leggings ($40)

These leggings have a classic design with the iconic Adidas stripes that are more of a cotton than spandex feel. This trendy athleisure apparel also makes an excellent gift.

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Nike Yoga Training Leggings ($45-$60)

Fashionable with tummy compression and Dri-FIT technology to keep you dry, these are stretchy and comfortable. They are good for yoga, running, and more.

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Under Armour HeatGear Ankle Crop Leggings ($31.50)

A high compression legging, these are good for a variety of sports and activities, like running or cycling. They are lightweight, and comfortable, with an anti-odor, 4-way stretch fabric and flatlock seams. 

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Old Navy Balance Yoga Leggings ($24.99 & below)

These staple women’s workout leggings are great for the budget-conscious. Old Navy has several styles and colors of leggings, as well as wide-leg or boot-cut exercise pants, and they are often on sale. They are also great options for lounging around.

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CUGOAO Yoga Leggings ($19.95 and under)

These deserve mention in a list of best workout clothes for their low price and high reviews on Amazon. There’s a good variety of colors available, and they feature two exterior pockets on the leg for your phone, as well as an inner pocket. They are also a fan favorite for fuller-sized women because of their excellent fit.
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Aerie Play Real Me Legging (around $30)

Made by American Eagle, these leggings come in a few different colors, are extremely lightweight (the thin fabric that fits like a second skin), and comfortable even though the fabric is not as wicking of sweat as some brands.

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A good pair of leggings can make your workout more productive and comfortable and give you the confidence to sustain activity that will make you look and feel good in your other clothes as well.

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Please understand that in some cases we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.