The best gym and sports leggings we’ve tested

We asked 5 women to properly put the best leggings around through their paces

Wearing the best leggings for your workout is important, but finding the right pair can prove elusive. You know the feeling; you buy what you think are the perfect pair, only to discover two washes in they’ve gone see-through and the lady behind you in class can see more than she bargained for.  

Or perhaps you grab a pair off the shelf in your usual size, unwilling to try them on in the shop, only to discover the brand runs small and everything is compressed far more than it ought to be.  

Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight
Editors Choice

Lululemon Wunder Train High Rise Tight


RRP: £88.00
Who’s this for?
Perfect for regular exercisers who are willing to invest in long lasting high quality leggings.
Aybl Balance V2 Seamless leggings black
Recommended

Aybl Balance V2 Seamless Leggings


RRP: £34.00
Who’s this for?
Ideal for gym workouts and anyone looking to expand their workout wardrobe for a bargain price.
Mountain Warehouse Bend and Stretch Panelled Womens Leggings
Recommended

Mountain Warehouse Bend and Stretch Panelled Womens Leggings


RRP: £49.99
Who’s this for?
Ideal for runners, or anyone who likes to keep their phone with them when working out.
Sweaty Betty Power High Waist Gym Leggings
Recommended

Sweaty Betty Power High Waist Gym Leggings


RRP: £80.00
Who’s this for?
Ideal for regular gym goers looking for a high level of compression
Tu Grey Marl Soft Touch Leggings
Recommended

Tu Grey Marl Soft Touch Leggings


RRP: £10.00
Who’s this for?
A great option for those new to exercise, and easy to pick up with the weekly shop
Tu Black Luxurious Soft Touch Leggings
Recommended

Tu Women’s Luxurious Soft Touch Leggings


RRP: £10.00
Who’s this for?
Perfect for anyone wanting a pair of leggings to wear for a gentle stroll on the weekend.
Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings


RRP: £45.00
Who’s this for?
Ideal for anyone enjoying outdoor exercise
Mountain Warehouse Motion Mesh Womens Patterned Leggings

Mountain Warehouse Mesh Motion Women’s Patterned Leggings


RRP: £44.99
Who’s this for?
They would be a good option for campers or anyone on an active holiday as they dry so quickly
USA Pro High Rise Leggings

USA Pro High Rise Leggings


RRP: £22.00
Who’s this for?
Ideal for anyone looking to exercise regularly but be aware you will need to replace them

Having worked as a female fitness instructor for over five years, I have seen (and worn) it all. Leggings that sag, leggings that roll down, leggings that are so incredibly comfortable that you don’t want to take them off.  

Endless discussions have been held in my classes about the best brands, the best materials, and which leggings suit which workouts, so we decided to put them to the test.  

Our panel of testers are all shapes and sizes, with different workout interests. We selected a range of leggings in different materials and from a broad price spectrum. All the testers wore and washed their leggings multiple times, and for a range of different workouts or exercise classes. 

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What our testers are looking for

We weren’t necessarily focused on price here. What’s important to our panel is that the leggings were worth the price tag. If you’re investing in sportswear, you want it to be good quality and durable.  

Ideally, leggings should be true to size, but the female clothing market is a minefield when it comes to sizing. We’re also looking for leggings that fit securely.  

Being uncomfortable for a whole workout is a terrible thing, so we’re looking for leggings that offer the right amount of support and compression without digging in, rubbing, or rolling at the waist.  

This was important to our testers. Leggings that gain transparency are a hard no. Especially if your chosen activity involves any squat movement. You don’t want the entire gym to know what colour underwear you’ve chosen, right?  

We want leggings that clean nicely and dry quickly. Washing them regularly shouldn’t mean that they start to sag or lose compression.  

I once wore a pair of light grey leggings for a HIIT class. It didn’t end well. A good quality pair of leggings will wick away sweat and moisture, keeping you dry and comfortable throughout your workout with no visible sweat patches.

Lululemon Wunder Train High Rise Tight Overview

Lululemon Wunder Train High Rise Tight

Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight
Editors Choice
Luxury

A fantastic quality pair of leggings that feel amazing to wear.

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Perfect for regular exercisers who are willing to invest in long lasting high quality leggings.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Buttery soft
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Internal phone pocket
  • Wide range of colours

Expect to pay

RRP: £88.00 These are expensive, but keep an eye on the Lululemon website for sales on various colours and patterns

We wore them for: Cycling, Hiking, Kettlebells, gym workout (including squats) 

Lululemon states its Wunder-Train collection is highly breathable, meaning it’ll wick away sweat easily, keeping you cool during your workout.  

We tested a US size 6 and our tester is a dress size 10, which is the UK equivalent, and we certainly felt these leggings were true to size.  

Lululemon Wunder Train High Rise TightCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: These leggings are entirely worth their price tag – if you’re going to invest in quality sportswear, these would be our top pick. The pocket inside the waistband is a nice touch and big enough for your phone.  

The fit was true-to-size with no rolling at the waistband. They offer compression and support without feeling like your organs are being crushed, which can often happen with many leggings – but these felt nicely premium.  

In terms of feel, the Lululemon Wunder Train are made of material that’s buttery soft and feels incredibly luxurious. Our tester said she would wear these all day every day if possible, and who doesn’t want to live in leggings?  

They don’t feel thick, but they didn’t go see-through at all, and our tester wore them for a lot of squats.  

They washed well, coming out cleanly, and dried incredibly quickly. Lululemon recommends a cold wash (30 degrees is fine) and this worked well.  

The sweat-wicking claims made by Lululemon are true. Our tester wore these a few times for sprints on the elliptical and treadmill and they stayed dry and – more importantly – kept our tester cool and dry too. If you’ve ever dealt with sweaty legs, you’ll know why this is important.  

What we didn’t like: Nothing. Lululemon’s products are pricey, but in this test, entirely worth the investment.  


Aybl Balance V2 Seamless Leggings Overview

Aybl Balance V2 Seamless Leggings

Aybl Balance V2 Seamless leggings black
Recommended
Budget

We love these leggings, which offer just the right amount of compression and a high waist. They offer superb value for money.

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Ideal for gym workouts and anyone looking to expand their workout wardrobe for a bargain price.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Very comfortable
  • Great value
  • A range of colours and sizes
  • Can be tricky to get into

Expect to pay

RRP: £34.00 Aybl sales are extremely popular, and lines sell out quickly. But at this price, it’s an easy investment.

We wore them for: Yoga, spin, kettlebells (including squats)  

The Balance V2 leggings are designed to optimise compression, with a high waistband for extra support. We tested a size large, and our tester is a dress size 14 which is right according to the size guide on the Aybl website. 

That said, we would debate a size 12 – 14 being thought of as large.

Aybl Balance V2 leggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: These Aybl leggings offer fantastic value for money. They’re made of quality material (nylon with 8% elastane) with strong seams and feel much more expensive than they are.   

Our tester really liked the high waistband, saying it made her feel secure. When leggings are too low in the waist it can create uncomfortable rolls, but that didn’t happen with these at all.   

They were a little thicker than most of the other leggings we tested, which inspired confidence in our tester, and they didn’t go see-through at all. They also absorbed sweat well and kept our tester dry.   

They washed very well and didn’t lose elasticity. Due to their thickness, they do take a while to dry but after washing in the early evening they were dry for the morning.   

What we didn’t like: Because of their thickness, the V2 leggings didn’t keep us as cool as other pairs we tried, although they would be good for outdoor workouts in the winter. Because of the high (and tight) waistband, these take some wriggling to get into. Once they’re on though, they’re very comfy and the waistband wasn’t an issue.  

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Mountain Warehouse Bend and Stretch Panelled Womens Leggings Overview

Mountain Warehouse Bend and Stretch Panelled Womens Leggings

Mountain Warehouse Bend and Stretch Panelled Womens Leggings
Recommended
Competitive

We love these very soft leggings, mostly because they have pockets

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Ideal for runners, or anyone who likes to keep their phone with them when working out.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Soft
  • Pockets
  • High waistband
  • Run a little large

Expect to pay

RRP: £49.99 Mountain Warehouse frequently have sales or offers. We’ve seen these leggings as low as £34.99.

We wore them for: Running, strength training (including squats) 

Super-soft leggings with side pockets, these leggings offer moisture wicking and thick, dense material that means we aren’t worried about them going see-through.  

We tested a 14 and our model is a dress size 14/16, and while we felt they were quite generous in the fit, it’s not so much that you’d need to size down.

Mountain Warehouse Bend and Stretch leggings side viewCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: Mountain Warehouse’s leggings are good value for money (especially as they’re currently on sale). Quality fabric and very well made, they felt like a high-end pair of leggings, and the pockets comfortably store a phone and keys. Not a necessity, but a big plus.  

These leggings are flexible, moving with our tester, making them perfect for a strength workout involving lunges and squats.  

Having been worn and washed multiple times at thirty degrees, they didn’t go see-through or sag at all, and they dried in just a few hours. They were also great for running as they absorbed sweat easily and kept our tester dry.  

What we didn’t like: These leggings are near perfect. Our tester loved them. The only minor point is they run a little large to size so bear that in mind when ordering.  


Sweaty Betty Power High Waist Gym Leggings Overview

Sweaty Betty Power High Waist Gym Leggings

Sweaty Betty Power High Waist Gym Leggings
Recommended
Luxury

A very high quality pair of leggings with the added benefit of having side pockets

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Ideal for regular gym goers looking for a high level of compression

Our likes and dislikes

  • High waist
  • Side pockets
  • 7/8 length
  • Tight due to compression

Expect to pay

RRP: £80.00 These are fairly expensive but Sweaty Betty do have sales with enormous discounts across their range

We wore them for: Pilates, kettlebells, gym workouts (including squats) 

Stretchy and high-waisted, the power leggings are designed for gym workouts and classes, with a super high-waisted design. We tested a size medium, and our model wears a dress size 12. We felt sizing was right but they’re not overly generous.  

Sweaty Betty Power Waist leggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: The high waist and strong seams make these leggings good quality. They also have side pockets which, as we’ve said, we’re big fans of. It’s just so much easier to hold your phone in a pocket than having to keep remembering to pick it up and move it around the gym with you.  

These leggings are described as 7/8, meaning they’re not quite full length, which our testing panel like for most of the year.  

They are comfortable but our tester said they wouldn’t wear them all day because they’re tighter than the competition, due to the compression.  

There were no issues with opacity despite many washes and we felt like they would last for a long time before anyone saw our underwear. Similar to the Lululemon pair, they’re worth their price tag if you’re not having to constantly replace them.  

They washed well at thirty degrees and dried quickly without losing any elasticity. They also absorbed sweat extremely well with no chafing.  

What we didn’t like: At first, our tester thought we had the wrong size as they looked incredibly small. They did fit well though, so don’t panic when you first see them. Try them on and then decide.  

The reason for the tiny appearance is the level of compression offered; they hold you in very tightly. That’s not necessarily an issue, because it’s what our panel were looking for in a good pair of leggings, but the waistband isn’t as supportive as the rest of the leggings. Because of this, they tended to roll a little at the top.  


Tu Grey Marl Soft Touch Leggings Overview

Tu Grey Marl Soft Touch Leggings

Tu Grey Marl Soft Touch Leggings
Recommended
Budget

A great budget pair of leggings that make a good wardrobe staple

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

A great option for those new to exercise, and easy to pick up with the weekly shop

Our likes and dislikes

  • Two different leg lengths available
  • Very soft
  • Easy to wash
  • Feel cheaper than other options

Expect to pay

RRP: £10.00 What’s not to love about a decent quality £10 pair of leggings?

We wore them for: Hiking, kettlebells (including squats), gym workouts 

Available in two different leg lengths, the Tu Soft Touch leggings are great essentials. We tested a size 20 and our model wears a dress size 20. They’re a generous, but true to size fit. 

Tu Soft Touch Grey Marl leggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: The price point is a major plus here, as is the ability to just pick these up with your weekly supermarket shop. Tu have created a good budget range of workout wear that feels high quality for the price.  

We loved that these leggings come in two different leg lengths online (you can get them delivered to store for free), because our panel range in height from five foot three inches to nearly six foot. Clearly, those two women won’t need the same leg length. They are very soft and comfortable and could easily be worn all day.  

They washed easily due to them being mostly cotton and kept their softness. It’s easy to just throw these in with the rest of the washing. They dried quickly on the clothes airer. 

What we didn’t like: It’s hard to argue with a price point of £10, but our testing panel felt these would become see-through over time, meaning you’d probably need to replace them quicker than other more expensive pairs.  

The panel also felt they could lose their shape over time due to the high cotton count, though it’s worth pointing out we did wash our pair several times and that wasn’t an issue.  

These leggings scored very highly for comfort, and the price is great, but they’re not quite up to par when compared to other brands.


Tu Women’s Luxurious Soft Touch Leggings Overview

Tu Women’s Luxurious Soft Touch Leggings

Tu Black Luxurious Soft Touch Leggings
Recommended
Budget

A great budget pair of black leggings that are great for gentle workouts

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Perfect for anyone wanting a pair of leggings to wear for a gentle stroll on the weekend.

Our likes and dislikes

  • Very soft
  • Bargain price
  • No sweat wicking
  • Can go see-through when squatting

Expect to pay

RRP: £10.00 A bargain price and easy pick up in the supermarket

We wore them for: Kettlebells and strength training (including squats) 

Another budget choice from Tu, available in two leg lengths. We tested a size 14 and our model is a size 14/16. Like the earlier Tu pair, they are generous but accurate.

Tu Women's Luxurious Soft Touch LeggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: The price again. These are only £10, so you could feasibly buy a couple of pairs, keeping one for everyday wear if you wanted to – they’re that comfortable. In fact, if anything we’d recommend these as casual wear rather than workout wear as they don’t offer much in the way of sweat-wicking.  

They wash easily but as with all dark clothing, don’t mix with lighter colours.

What we didn’t like: They don’t offer a lot of compression, but that would make them ideal for other gentler workouts such as yoga. We felt these may go see-through, indicative of price-point, but they lasted well while we tested them.  

We really love these leggings, we just felt they fell more into the everyday category rather than sportswear.  


Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings Overview

Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings

Gymshark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings
Competitive

These leggings come in a great range of colours, and they are breathable, but also incredibly thick

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Ideal for anyone enjoying outdoor exercise

Our likes and dislikes

  • Wide range of colours
  • High waistband
  • Good sweat wicking properties
  • Very thick

Expect to pay

RRP: £45.00 Although these aren’t bad value at full price, still keep an eye out for sales to nab a real bargain

We wore them for:  Trail running, kettlebells, gym workouts (including squats) 

A seamless legging design, with breathable mesh dots for added comfort and moisture wicking. We tested a size XL, and our model is a dress size 16. They came up quite large, despite us using the size guide for ordering.  

Gymshark Vital Seamless leggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: The colour (we ordered Stellar Blue Marl) was different. Not too bright but just enough edge to be quirky, and it’s quite nice to have different colours in your workout wardrobe rather than just the usual black or grey.  

The seamless design and thickness of the leggings make them reasonable value for money. They did a good job of keeping our tester cool, which we were all surprised at (see below).  

The leggings were quite long but comfortable enough to wear on a very cold winter run. There’s no chance of these going see-through as they’re so thick, but that’s also their biggest downfall. 

Washing-wise, they cleaned up really well using a thirty degree cycle and kept their shape.  

What we didn’t like: These leggings are really thick. Because of this, they take an awfully long time to dry.  

The thickness was great when running outside in freezing temperatures but despite their amazing sweat-wicking properties, they’re not so comfortable to wear in the gym as they don’t feel particularly lightweight. When inside, they felt quite oppressive and uncomfortable.  


Mountain Warehouse Mesh Motion Women’s Patterned Leggings Overview

Mountain Warehouse Mesh Motion Women’s Patterned Leggings

Mountain Warehouse Motion Mesh Womens Patterned Leggings
Competitive

We felt these leggings were uncomfortable, digging in at the waist.

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

They would be a good option for campers or anyone on an active holiday as they dry so quickly

Our likes and dislikes

  • Quick drying
  • Nice pattern
  • Uncomfortable waist
  • Material goes white with squats

Expect to pay

RRP: £44.99 Although we don’t think these are worth full price, they’re currently only £14.99 on sale, and worth grabbing at such a low price.

We wore them for: Kettlebells (including squats), running 

Breathable and stretchy leggings with quick-drying properties. We tested a size 10 and our model is a dress size 10/12. Although they fitted true to size, we gave them to our shortest tester (5ft 3), and she had to roll them up at the ankles.  

Mountain Warehouse Women's Motion Mesh LeggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: The pattern on these leggings was something different but not too standout. It’s a small thing, maybe, but wearing a nicely-patterned pair of leggings makes us feel good.  

They’re currently on sale for £14.99 making them an absolute bargain, so if you’re after a good budget choice (and you’re not below 5’5), now is the time to grab some.  

Mountain Warehouse claim these Motion Mesh leggings are quick drying, making them ideal for holiday and we found that to be true. After washing they were dry indoors on a clothes airer in just a few hours, and outside in the summer or in hot climes it would be even quicker. They didn’t sag after washing either.  

What we didn’t like: The waistband was quite uncomfortable because it’s not very thick. It dug in when doing moves such as crunches or when deadlifting. This was a shame because they leggings fitted so well otherwise. The pattern is great, but when squatting or lunging the leggings lost that as the material stretched and became white.  

Because of this, our tester had doubts about how long they’d last before going see-though. At a sale price these are a good buy, but we didn’t feel they were worth the full price tag.


USA Pro High Rise Leggings Overview

USA Pro High Rise Leggings

USA Pro High Rise Leggings
Budget

A good budget choice, but these leggings don’t feel great quality, which doesn’t inspire confidence.

Comfort

Fit

Functionality

Price


Who’s this for?

Ideal for anyone looking to exercise regularly but be aware you will need to replace them

Our likes and dislikes

  • Wide range of colours
  • Great price
  • Small fit
  • Not great quality

Expect to pay

RRP: £22.00 Different colours vary in price. We’ve seen lilac ones, for example, as low as £13.50

We wore them for: Kettlebells, HIIT, spin, running 

Opaque, high-rise leggings with flat seams. We tested a size 12 and our model is a dress size 12. They did fit, but tightly.  

USA Pro High Rise LeggingsCredit: Exceptional

What we liked: These leggings do represent good value for money. They have a side pocket, and we’ve already established we’re fans of pockets in leggings for multiple reasons, not least because pockets in leggings are generally much more practical than the pockets women get in jeans.  

They come in a broad range of sizes, colours, and patterns (prices vary accordingly) so if you like these, you’re sorted for workout wear. The leggings give good support; the high waist keeps you held in snugly.  

What we didn’t like: The leggings come up smaller than advertised so we would recommend going up a size if you don’t like a lot of compression. Our model is a ‘small 12’, but these felt tight.  

Because of the sizing, the waistband tended to roll during HIIT owing to all the body movement involved. We felt the next size up would have been a better choice but the size guide on the website put our tester firmly at a 12.  

These leggings are made of 78% polyester and nylon mix, with 22% elastane. When we stretched them between our fingers, the material didn’t feel nice and looked like they’d go see-through pretty quickly. When our tester did low kettlebell squats it felt like they’d fail at the seams, and our spotter said that the low squat gave a very visible underwear outline, which is not the look you’d want in a busy class.

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Becky Fuller

Written by Becky Fuller she/her

Updated:

Becky Fuller is a fully qualified Personal Trainer, specialising in strength and conditioning for over 50s. Becky’s focus is helping people to become stronger both in body and mind, and to move well without pain. Becky also has many years’ experience working as a freelance journalist, writing for a wide variety of publications such as Screen Rant, Geek Feed, and Daily Actor. She also regularly reviews theatre productions for UKTW.

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