Top 10 things to look for in the best workout leggings

Words by Loulou Baylis

Whether you’re heading to yoga, off for a run, sweating on the spin bike, or even boarding a long-haul flight, you need a pair of trusty workout leggings. And, there’s no better motivation for working out than breaking in your brand new athletic leggings, right?

Yet, finding the best workout leggings can be an overwhelming task. You want comfort, functionality, support and style, but with so much choice on offer where do you start? Luckily, we’ve put together our top 10 key features to look out for in the best workout leggings.

And no, we’re not just talking about whether they give you the dreaded ‘camel toe’ (although that does make it onto our list!). We want workout leggings that simultaneously heighten performance and maximise comfort, while bringing all the technical points to the table too.

best workout leggings

1) A high waist

Black Compressive High-Rise Legging, £78, Girlfriend Collective

Good workout leggings should provide a second skin that make even those toughest spin classes or HIIT sessions a walk in the park - and all without exposing your backside.

For those burpees, sprints and squats, a high-waist from the likes of Girlfriend Collective is a definite requirement in a pair of fitness tights. Because showing off our undies mid-star jump has never been our best look.

Alo Yoga Goddess Legging UKHigh Waist Goddess Legging, £87.85, Alo Yoga

If you prefer doing downward dog over mountain climbers, than the High Waist Goddess Legging from Alo Yoga has got you covered. Its four-way stretch means it effortlessly move with your body as you practice your flow, while your waistband stays reliably in place.

Shop high-waisted leggings >

Also check out our guide to Alo Yoga Leggings >

2) A seamless construction

Launch Crop Legging - Dark Grey Marl, £109.20, LNDR

Seamless workout leggings mean there are no stitches or seams. They provide a smooth, non-chafing layer for your skin, so you can flex in comfort with zero irritation.

One of our favourite pairs is the Launch Crop Leggings from LNDR. Famously flattering, they slip on like a second skin with no zips, stitches or seams to get in the way. We wear ours for everything from ballet to bootcamp to brunch (and bed if we could).

3) Compression panels

Best compression leggings

If you want your workout leggings to feel super supportive and taut, compression panels are a must. Compression leggings are particularly tight-fitting and designed to hold your muscles firmly in place as you workout.

The benefit? A boost in your athletic performance as they improve blood flow to the muscles, increasing agility and reducing muscle fatigue. Plus, you’re guaranteed to look good too in this pair from 2XU . Win-win, right?

When buying compression leggings, it can sometimes be tricky finding your right size as they are really TIGHT. Have a look at our Compression Leggings 101 before you buy yours.

4) Breathability

Michi Inversion Leggings , £154.80, Michi NY

Breathability is highly important when it comes to getting active in your workout leggings. Plus, it’s a major factor to consider if you’re prone to doing a vinyasa-yoga sequence in 37-degree heat or a sweaty spin class.

Ventilating mesh panels are guaranteed to keep you cool and stop you feeling like a hot-mesh. We’re all over the Michi Leggings. Not only do the mesh panels provide optimum ventilation, but they’re also strategically placed to emphasise your leg’s contours.

5) Moisture-wicking fabric

Black Moon Yoga Leggings, £59.95, Teeki

Along with mesh panels, moisture-wicking fabrics mean you don’t have to break a sweat when it comes to being kept cool and dry. Heading to a Bikram class?

You’ll definitely be wanting to look out for workout leggings that are crafted with sweat-wicking material. Our go-tos? Teeki’s moisture-wicking, eco-friendly yoga leggings. Choose to be covered in stars, rather than sweat.

6) Super Soft Fabric

Softest workout leggings for yoga Spacedye Take Me Higher Long Legging, £78.00, Beyond Yoga

Comfort is key when buying workout leggings, especially if you have a penchant for living in your leggings more than any other types of bottoms. And, if you think your current activewear leggings are comfy, then wait until you try the exceptional Spacedye legging from Beyond Yoga.

Their Spacedye Performance fabric is the definition of comfort. It’s luxuriously soft. So soft, in fact, that you’ll never want to take them off. And, they’re also functional with the ability to evaporate sweat and dry off quickly. Say hello to your new legging love affair.

7) Sculpting Features

Bum sculpting leggings High Waist Airbrush Capri Legging, £68.00, Alo Yoga

When you have workout leggings that nip, tuck and hold you in all the right places, you can focus on your form that much easier - something that’s particularly handy when you’re the flyer in acro yoga.

We’re couldn't be without the Alo Yoga High Waist Airbrush Leggings. Tested by real yogis over 1,000 times to find the perfect bum-sculpting fit, these workout leggings are designed to smooth and lift your figure. Plus, they’re moisture-wicking for when you fancy a bit of time at Hot Pod yoga. Namaste indeed.

8) Elongation

Side Stripe retro workout leggings Delta Legging, £115.00,PE Nation

Activewear stripes are having a moment right now. And can you blame them? Not only does this retro trend make you the envy of everyone in the gym, but they’re also guaranteed to elongate your silhouette. Legs for miles so we can run for miles? We’re all set.

9) Anti-Camel Toe

Ultracor Leggings UKLux Star Knockout Leggings, £170, Ultracor

Leggings so good you can go commando? We’ve found them! If you’re in the market for such a pair, then get to know Ultracor’s game-changing range of leggings.

Using ACT (that’s Anti-Camel Toe technology if you didn’t yet know), these streamlined leggings are 100% guaranteed to avoid any camel-toe scenario (trust us - we tried and tested).

“We wanted shapewear that gives you a butt lift, no camel toe, and no panty lines, so that women can feel extra confident and wear their leggings,” explains Ultracor designer Melissa Pizzuto. Amen to that.

10) Versatility

Alo Yoga Moto Leggings UKMoto Legging, £89.95, Alo Yoga

Everyone who’s worn a good legging knows that its worth goes way beyond the gym. Studio to street? Yes please. Cardio to coffee? We know you want leggings that can do both. That’s why versatility is key when buying workout leggings. And, there’s no better place to look than the Moto Collection.

These are performance leggings with moto-inspired styling, so that you can wear them weight-lifting or with a cotton tee for that effortless ‘off-duty’ look. If the Moto Legging is good enough for Gigi and Bella...

If shimmer is more your vibe, then a pair of show-stopping shiny leggings are what you need. Guaranteed to have people ask you where you got them from, these disco-inspired leggings look good and work hard - the ultimate staple for any athleisure wardrobe.

Ready to find your perfect pair? Check out our full collection of women’s workout leggings.