Any fitness enthusiast knows that a decent pair of gym leggings is a vital bit of kit. Whether you're on the yoga mat or working up a sweat on the treadmill, you want leggings with a high waist that aren't see-through and that won't fall down. You need to concentrate on achieving your best performance, not on where your waistband has ridden to.
Choices are endless; curve-flattering construction, cropped or full-length, high-waisted peace of mind, mesh panel inserts, practical pockets plus colours ranging from a standard grey and black to colourful patterns and rainbows. We've evaluated the ins-and-outs of the world of activewear and here showcase our top 10 pairs from the UK on Amazon, eBay, and John Lewis, including affordable best-sellers from Nike, Adidas |Sweaty Betty and Under Armour. An under-achieving pair of leggings will never ruin your workout again!
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Table of Contents
The material from which gym leggings is made is essential for several reasons. First and foremost, you want them to be soft, stretchy and comfortable. That being said, it is also crucial that they are breathable and sweat-wicking; otherwise, they will turn very unpleasant, very quickly.
There are a few materials that are used to find this balance, which you should look out for. Small percentages of elastane or lycra provide the necessary stretch, and then quick-drying nylon or polyester act as the primary material. Avoid cotton as this material absorbs moisture and will show sweat.
These compression socks for running have been carefully selected for their material properties too.
A waistband can make or break a pair of leggings. There are few things more distracting when working out than the fear of your leggings slipping down and exposing your underwear. To avoid this embarrassment, gym-goers should look for leggings with a high waist, which sit above your hips. If they do sit lower, make sure that there is a way of tightening them.
The depth of waistbands can vary too as can their level of tummy-control. If you want to show off a washboard stomach then look for a thinner waistband hem. Those who would prefer shaping in the tummy area can opt for very deep and flattering waistbands.
If other areas are in need of support when exercising, then take a look at these sports bras for larger busts.
There are a few choices when it comes to the length of leggings, with the three main options being full-length, 7/8 (almost full length) or 3/4 (also known as cropped). The best length for you comes down to personal taste – namely which you prefer style-wise, but also the temperature of your exercise environment and your usual style and intensity of exercise need to be taken into account.
If you get very hot when working out or like having less on you, cropped leggings are probably the better choice, but if you work out in the cold or prefer to cover up a bit more in the gym or outside, full-length might be a better option.
Looking to complement your new leggings? Here are selected yoga tops for women.
As with women's clothing in general, gym-wear often has a woeful lack of pockets. There are many reasons you might want pockets in your leggings, such as somewhere to put your phone whilst listening to music or a place to safely store your keys or locker tag.
If you consider pockets a must-have, be sure to check the leggings you're thinking of buying because there is no guarantee that they will have them. When present, there are various different styles of pockets offered - from discrete waistband pockets (side or rear) for a minimalistic single car key or locker tag, to drop in side pockets which can fit a large smartphone or even a small water bottle!
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Comfortable, Durable and Subtle Mid-Rise Leggings Perfect for Both Workouts and Socialising
Rush Leggings Print
Colour-Block Leggings Featuring a Hidden Pocket to Hold Your Essentials
Design 2 Move 3-Stripes
A Classic Design With an Environmentally-Friendly Twist
Women's HeatGear Armour Ankle Crop Leggings
Featuring Compression Technology to Boost Circulation and Create a Flattering Shape
High Waist Gym Leggings for Women
A Discreet Pattern to Add Interest But Not Stand Out
Power High Waist Cropped Leggings
A High Quality Cropped Design to Sculpt and Support Your Rear
Women's High Waisted Gym Leggings
Stylish, Affordable and Stretchy With a Flare of Colour and Plenty of Pockets
Women Tummy Control Workout Tights
A Supportive Pair Featuring Tummy Control Technology and a Discreet Waistband Pocket
Women's High Waisted Printed Sports Leggings
Fun and Colourful Leggings Designed for Yoga and Low-Impact Exercise
Women's Seamless Running Leggings
Bright Pink and Patterned Leggings, Perfect if You Want to Really Stand Out!
These leggings are subtle enough that they could easily take you from the gym or yoga class to coffee with friends afterwards. Coming from Nike, you know that these leggings will be comfortable and durable with a great fit and quality.
Although these are mid-rise leggings, they sit securely on the hips. Made from a highly opaque material, you can rest assured that they will not stretch and become see-through no matter how low you squat!
Maybe you want a bit of colour on your leggings, but you're a little worried about going full-on rainbow. These leggings bridge that gap perfectly, with the bottom half being a fun graphic print and the top being black.
Sportswear often falls down the same pitfalls as other clothing because it is not sustainable and therefore bad for the environment. Luckily, Adidas has come up with making 70% of these leggings from recycled materials.
The three stripes' signature look is a classic and will immediately let people know that you mean business. The 3/4 length will keep you cool, and the high waist will keep them in place, too. These leggings do not have pockets - making them streamlined but less practical for some.
If you tend to shy away from bright colours, then this pair (from respected brand Under Armour) is a great option. They also offer a very tight fit with compression technology, which not only creates a flattering silhouette but is also wonderful for boosting circulation – crucial when exercising.
The HeatGear material and shorter leg mean these leggings manage to be light and breathable, but thankfully not see-through. The waistband is also high-rise, so you shouldn't have any worries of it falling down!
These very reasonably priced high waisted leggings are well-made of non-see-through 4-way stretch fabric for excellent movement capability and peace of mind. All seams are interlocked to minimize rubbing and chafing
The 2 generous external pockets can easily hold a smartphone and your congested key fob. The vast array of patterns (most are pleasingly decorative yet subtle) will suit those wishing to blend in, as well as those wishing to re-live the days of tie-dye!
The cropped length of these leggings and the mesh panels down the legs, means they're suitable for warmer weather or those who favour the odd spin class! Their comfort is also aided by their sweat-wicking, quick-drying material.
The Sweaty Betty brand knows how important zips are! There is a small zip-close pocket on the back of the waistband for peace of mind, plus the two large drop-in pockets can easily hold a smartphone - reviewers even managed to fit in a small water bottle when out jogging! The price tag of this premium brand may put some people off however.
Not only do the two big pockets on either side of these leggings provide storage space, they also add some style. The subtle pattern adds a bit of flair without losing the sleek and flattering reliability of black.
The '4-way stretch' technology on these leggings means that they will fit perfectly to your body, feeling almost like a second skin, without becoming see-through. They are also excellent value for money. Please do note that the colours in the photos are not always a true representation of the actual product.
These leggings are great for those wanting to control any wobble whilst you workout. They have a generously deep and flattering waistband, offering tummy control technology, holding everything in place whilst you run, jump and squat.
This brand has an excellent choice of larger sizes meaning that everyone can feel secure in the gym, and for an added bonus, these leggings have a large discreet pocket in the waistband. These leggings are designed to be longer than other standard leggings, which doesn't make them ideal for those who are petite.
Why stop at just one colour for your leggings? Although there are plenty of colour choices available to match with the rest of your gym wardrobe, we particularly like this marble print that's not too out there but enough of a fun statement.
As well as being bright and fun, the colours on these leggings manage to be calm enough to match the activity they're designed for – yoga or low-impact exercise. The fabric also has a high percentage of elastane, making them extra stretchy.
If you're looking for eye-catching leggings that aren't the default black then these are a great choice – the hot pink combined with the striking leopard print pattern will ensure you get noticed, whether in the gym or pounding the streets.
These leggings are squat-proof, they are lined on the inside to ensure this and reviewers rave about them. The loud design certainly isn't for everyone though, especially given the slight sheen on the fabric and the fact that they are definitely figure-hugging.
Written and researched by Emma Cramp
No. 1: Nike | One Luxe
No. 2: Under Armour | Rush Leggings Print
No. 3: Adidas | Design 2 Move 3-Stripes
No. 4: Under Armour | Women's HeatGear Armour Ankle Crop Leggings
No. 5: OVRUNS | High Waist Gym Leggings for Women
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