19 best gym leggings for any (and every) workout, tried and tested

The best gym leggings can be hard to find at the best of times but throw in the fact that there are 112,000,000 results on Google and it doesn’t get any easier.

You see, we know you want leggings that won’t fall down mid sweat, that’ll hold you in without digging in, and that won’t give your neighbour a flash of your underwear in the middle of a perfect-form squat. There’s nothing worse than investing in a new pair of leggings only to find they fall short when put to the test.

Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work and put together the ultimate gym leggings guide – including putting a bunch of styles through the squat test.

Perhaps you love strength training, adore a HIIT workout at home, or would rather sell a kidney than miss your Saturday morning circuits class – finding leggings that work as hard as you do without breaking the bank, is of paramount importance.

4 things to always check when buying gym leggings:

1. Check that they’re squat proof

Nobody needs see-through kit in their life. Save yourself the anxiety of a bum display and try the squat test before you buy (or decide to keep). It’s as simple as watching yourself move in the leggings.

You might feel silly in the moment, but smug when you’re sweating it out, totally confident that your leggings aren’t exposing anything they shouldn’t be. Which is worth its weight in gold.

2. Check that they stay up

Another key factor when considering what gym leggings to invest in is whether or not they’re going to support you through 50 minutes of strength training or your very sweaty HIIT session.

Low waisted leggings may work for some but, for many, the added worry of baring your midriff is another unwelcome distraction when you’re trying to focus on remembering how to deadlift properly. Choosing the best high-waisted gym leggings may be a better option for you if you’d rather focus on your session than your midsection.

3. Make sure they’re tight enough but not too tight

And finally, invest in gym leggings that actually fit you. In other words, make sure they’re not going to rip come lunge twelve or fall down on burpee four. It’s a fine balance, but one thing to bear in mind is that they will stretch with wear, so sometimes choosing a more snug fit pays off.

4. Check what they’re designed for

It may seem like you’re killing two birds with one stone by buying running leggings for the gym but you’ll seriously regret it when your zipper is digging into your back as you’re trying desperately to maintain focus (and form) on flutter kicks. As a general rule of thumb, running leggings need reflective panels and zips for energy gels, whereas gym leggings don’t need any fancy add-ons.

How we test

Our expert testers at the Women’s Health Lab put 46 pairs of gym leggings from a range of leading brands through their paces.

They tested any sweat-wicking claims by measuring moisture absorption and timing how long they took to dry in the lab. They also checked that size, shape and colour remained unchanged after several spins in the washing machine.

Additionally, the leggings were sent to our panel of 200 testers, with each pair tested by up to eight people during at least three workouts. They reported back on how they found their design, fit, comfort and performance.

They shared their honest thoughts on a range of key factors, including how easy the leggings were to slip on and off, how the fabric and fit affected movement and how comfortable they felt after a session.

Don’t see the Women’s Health Lab Approved logo? That’s because our Women’s Health editors have also chipped in and shared their favourite styles, giving you even more choice.

Best for compression

1. Spanx Active Booty Boost High-Rise Stretch-Jersey Leggings

Why? If you’re a Spanx fan, you’ll love the brand’s Booty Boost leggings, which offer the same compressive fit as its much-loved shapewear. Our testers raved about the stretchy, supportive material that sculpts the glutes and waist in all the right places.

These luxe leggings don’t just look the part, though; they stayed firmly in place as we got our burpees and tuck jumps in, and they performed brilliantly in the moisture-wicking stakes, so heavy HIIT sessions will prove no problem. What’s more, there’s a nifty back pocket big enough to fit keys or a credit card.

The compressive material does make them slightly restrictive and not as cosy as other leggings on our list, but if you’re after figure-hugging activewear, these will be your new best friend. Size up to ensure comfort.

How much?
£88
Sizes:
XS to XXXL
Fabric:
60% nylon, 40% elastane

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Best for sweaty sessions

2. M&S Goodmove Go Move High Waisted Gym Leggings

Why? It’s often the case that you get what you pay for with gym leggings, but this affordable M&S style bucks that trend. Scoring full marks for sweat wicking, they’ll see you through even the most brutal HIIT class in comfort and style.

Our panel praised their range of features, particularly the well-placed pockets for keeping valuables secure, the toggling around the waist to adjust the fit and the opaque fabric, which won’t expose your undies at any squat depth.

The sizing earned a thumbs up from petite, tall and plus-size testers alike. Some found them a tad tricky to get on and off around the ankles, and they did require some readjusting, but for £25, they’re a total steal.


How much?
£25
Sizes:
6 to 24
Fabric:
73% polyester, 27% elastane

Best for runners

3. Montane Women’s Katla Long Trail Tights

Why? Serious runners need serious running leggings, and this pair from Montane fits the bill perfectly. The clever design features handy zipped pockets on the sides and back for stashing valuables, breathable mesh panels behind the knees and ankles zips for ventilation, plus reflective detailing to help keep you visible when running in low light.

The material proved super lightweight and moved well with the body, plus our panel praised the stretchy mid-rise waistband, but some testers would have appreciated more compression to help them feel adequately supported.

Note, they come up quite big, so consider sizing down to eliminate the need for any mid-run readjusting. All in all, a trusty pair of leggings for the great outdoors.


How much?
£39
Sizes:
6 to 16
Fabric:
78% recycled nylon, 22% elastane

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Best for indoor sessions

4. Gymshark Apex Seamless High Rise Leggings

Why? A much loved label of #Fitstagram, Gymshark leggings are probably all over your Insta feed, but do they live up to the hype?

Well, if this Apex Seamless style is anything to go by, that’s a resounding yes. The high waistband and compression-like material offer constant support without restricting movement, while strategic heat mapping zones promise to keep you cool, dry and comfortable, even during the sweatiest sessions.

The vibrant green colour, jacquard pattern and muscle contouring lines split opinion among our panel, with some testers loving their sculpting credentials (“I’ve never received so many compliments for my leggings!” said one tester) and others questioning the out-there design. The lack of pockets makes them less appealing for running, and they come up a touch small, but if you like to make an impression, you’ll love these.


How much?
£55
Sizes:
XS to XXL
Fabric:
67% polyester, 21% nylon, 12% elastane

Best squat-proof gym leggings

5. Pocket Sport Plein Air Legging

Why? One of our fave pairs for getting a sweat on, testers’ rave reviews showed exactly why this is one of Pocket Sport’s best-selling designs. They fitted well, with no gathering, gaping or slipping, while the high waist was supportive and provided just the right compression for high-impact workouts.

They also smashed our sweat-wicking lab tests, making them a breathable buy for pretty much every sort of exercise. Bonus points for the dreamy colourways, too.

How much? £65
Sizes:
XXS to XL
Fabric:
73% polyester, 27% Spandex

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Best gym leggings with pockets

6. MyProtein MP Power Ultra Leggings

Why? Jump, squat and burpee your way through your workout with these reliable, snug-fitting leggings that didn’t become see-through or chafe during testers’ workouts. They’re stretchy too, and with their high waistband, everyone felt well-supported. While the mesh pockets look nice, most testers couldn’t fit their phones in. The design performed well in our lab tests though, so you shouldn’t feel too sweaty as the intensity rises.

How much? Was £44, now £26.99
Sizes:
XXS to XXL
Fabric:
78% polyester, 22% elastane

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Best affordable gym leggings

7. Mountain Warehouse Power Patterned High-Waisted Women’s Leggings

Why? These eye-catching leggings won’t make as much of a dent in your bank balance as some, but they still proved a great investment when tested. The fabric was soft and the waistband secure – in fact, they were so comfortable testers said they’d wear them all day.

If you have shorter legs you may find they gather around the ankles or at the back of the knee due to their full-length design but their sweat-wicking creds stood up to our lab test, making them a reliable gym kit addition.

How much? From £18.99
Sizes:
4 to 24
Fabric:
polyester

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Best gym leggings for outside

8. Montane Women’s Ineo Lite Capri Pants

Why? After a pair of leggings to take you from the gym to the trails? Then these should fit the bill; they’ve got well-placed pockets – on the leg and the waistband – so you can stash all your essentials when running.

They also fitted our testers comfortably while the soft fabric was flexible enough for everything from CrossFit workouts to cycling. Our only niggle: visible sweat patches due to their grey colour.

How much? £50
Sizes:
6 to 16
Fabric:
82% nylon, 18% elastane

Best for low-impact workouts

9. Vuori Clean Elevation Leggings

Why? These luxe leggings don’t come cheap, but when it comes to quality, they’re simply *chef’s kiss*. Our testers found them supremely comfortable and couldn’t get enough of the flattering high-waisted fit and blissfully soft material. One particularly enthusiastic panellist declared that she could “live in them all day and all year”.

But trendy SoCal brand Vuori doesn’t sacrifice practicality for comfort. They stayed in place during all manner of workouts, meaning no more mid-set hoicking up, and they allowed our testers to move freely.

Although they received a high score for sweat-wicking in our lab test, they get a bit toasty during heavier sessions, making them best suited for milder activities like Pilates, barre, yoga and walking. They’re also a dream if you like to live in activewear – our eds will be pairing them with oversized tees and white trainers for the foreseeable. In short, there’s little not to like.


How much?
£100
Sizes:
XXS to XXL
Fabric:
87% recycled polyester, 13% elastane

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Best body-sculpting gym leggings

10. Sefi Timeless Leggings Tourmaline

Why? Not only do these leggings look très chic, but they’re also a doddle to slip on and off, and the compressive material offers plenty of support without feeling restrictive. They boast great booty-sculpting credentials and scored a respectable 4/5 in our sweat-wicking lab test.

The fabric is on the thicker side and there aren’t any pockets, so we wouldn’t reach for these for running or CrossFit. But for less vigorous workouts and daily errands, they’re top of our list.

Tall gals, we suggest sizing up or opting for full length over 7/8s, as our testers found they were cut quite snug.


How much?
£50
Sizes:
XXS to XL
Fabric:
92% poylamide, 8% elastane

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Best 7/8 gym leggings

11. Nike Pro 365 Women’s High-Rise 7/8 Leggings

Why? If you’ve had your beloved black Nike Pro’s for as long as you can remember and can’t bear to part ways with them or brave the big bad world of gym leggings and branch out, now might be the perfect time to get yourself a pair that is just as reliable but that comes in a snazzy hibiscus colourway. The extra motivation to get moving and put that statement shade on display only adds to their greatness.

How much? £44.95
Sizes:
4 to 26
Fabric:
78–83% polyester, 17–22% elastane

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Best comfortable gym leggings

12. Everlane The Perform 24/7 Legging

Why? This just in! Everlane has gone and done the impossible. They have taken their original best-seller Perform leggings with their lightweight compressive fit and sweat-wicking abilities and, after two years of hard work, have managed to turn them into something even greater. A Perform legging to provide ultimate comfort 24/7 whether you’re WFH or WOFH (working out from home). Mic drop.

How much? Was £67, now £33
Sizes:
XXS to XXXL
Fabric:
69% recycled nylon, 31% elastane

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Best leopard print gym leggings

13. The Upside Leopard-Print Stretch Leggings

Why? We’re not quite sure what goes on across the ocean but somehow Australia manages to consistently create activewear that is just as good-looking as it is high quality. Give these leopard print leggings a once over and we think you’ll agree.

The ultra-soft, breathable, quick-drying fabric makes them perfect for low-intensity sessions and when it comes to their appearance, gorgeous doesn’t quite cut it. We can see it now. You sporting them with a class behind you and a coffee in hand. Bliss.

How much? Was £129, now £38.70
Sizes:
XXS to XXL
Fabric:
72% recycled polyamide, 28% elastane

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Best bum-enhancing gym leggings

14. Sweaty Betty Power Gym Leggings

Why? SB’s power gym leggings are well known for their tip-top gym-creds and fashionably functional details. We’re talking bum-sculpting, 4-way stretch, quick-drying and sweat-wicking fabric for your most sweaty cardio workouts.

What makes them even better? The adjustable drawcord, presence of pockets and the fact that the abstract leaf print looks just as good when it comes to squats as it does when it comes to snapping selfies on the sly.

How much? £80
Sizes:
XXS to XXL
Fabric:
62% polyamide, 38% elastane

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Best bright gym leggings

15. H&M High Waist Sports Tights

Why? You may think of H&M as the brand you can always rely on to provide you with attractive yet cheap sportswear and while you wouldn’t be wrong, their many highly-rated pieces prove that there is more to them than just supplying you with gym leggings for under £20.

This pair, made from fast-drying functional fabric, will ensure you’re cool, dry and committed to the task at hand. High waisted, long-legged and very purple, you’ll also be sure to stand out no matter where you wear them.

How much? From £9
Sizes:
XS to XL
Fabric:
81% polyester, 19% elastane

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Best lilac gym leggings

16. Year of Ours Football Lace-Up Ribbed Stretch Leggings

Why? If you love weekend Pilates classes for their ability to turn into a whole day event, you’ll love these lavender gym leggings. With just the right amount of stretch and a high, secure waist, you’ll be able to tackle your class in confidence and be equally as prepared for what comes after. Brunch? Coffee? Both? It won’t matter thanks to their gorg colour, ribbed fabric and lace detailing.

How much? Was £110, now £44
Sizes:
XS to XXL
Fabric:
85% nylon, 15% Spandex

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Best sustainable gym leggings

17. Girlfriend Collective High-Rise Compression Leggings

Why? We’re always quick to recommend Girlfriend Collective when it comes to leggings, whether it be for yoga, to meet all your pocket requirements, or for performing at your best in the gym. Understandable when they have so much going for them.

Firstly, their leggings are made of recycled water bottles; secondly, they are extra-high rise and thirdly, they are more than attractive in their many colourways. As aesthetically pleasing as they are technical, when it comes to all things gym, the GC compressive high-rise leggings are the perfect stretchy companion to your next lower or upper body day.

How much? Was £60, now £18
Sizes:
XXS to 3XL
Fabric:
79% recycled polyester, 21% elastane

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Most flattering gym leggings

18. STAX Premium Seamless V5 Full Length Tights

Why? Had one too many encounters with unflattering fits in your lifetime? Not to worry. These celebrity-approved gym leggings have been designed to complement your curves with specially positioned panels, a seamless design and a high waisted cut. They also come in six soft shades so you’ll have little trouble finding the right one for you.

How much? £52
Sizes:
XS to 2XL
Fabric:
Nylon Spandex blend

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Best seamless gym leggings

19. Bamford Long Leggings

Why? Bamford was founded by Caroline Bamford, who has been championing sustainable and mindful living for more than 40 years and as such, the brand has a strong focus on natural materials that are ethically and responsibly sourced.

These seamless gym leggings are made from a mix of recycled materials and organic cotton to give you the freedom to move as you please. In other words? They’re begging to be put through all manner of poses the next time you find yourself on your yoga mat.

How much? £65
Sizes:
XS to L
Fabric:
55% recycled polyamide, 40% organic cotton, 5% elastane

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