Workout Leggings: An Easy Guide To Finding The Right Fit For You

Squat proof, sweat-wicking or extra supportive – experts explain how to find your dream leggings.
Find your perfect fit of leggings.
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Find your perfect fit of leggings.

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If I’m being completely honest, for every pair of workout leggings that I wear regularly, there’s another pair at the back of my wardrobe I wore once for no longer than five minutes in the gym before vowing never to wear again.

Because until you’ve really moved around in a pair, it can be tricky to know whether your leggings will roll down mid-run, give up on you mid-squat, or feel way too restrictive for that deep downward dog.

So what are those key features we should be looking out for before we take a punt on a pair of workout leggings? Turns out, there are quite a few ...

Find the right fit

Regardless of whether you’re into pilates or powerlifting, opting for a high-waisted fit on your leggins is the best way to ensure you stay supported throughout your workout. The other features to look out for are really dependent on the type of exercise you’re doing.

While yogis need stretchy fabrics with a good degree of flexibility, weight lifters need leggings that pass the squat test every single time.

Not sure what a squat test is? Essentially, if you can see your knickers through the fabric when you bend over, then they don’t make the cut.

Research bonus features

If you’re into high-intensity training or running, then Jess Kitson, brand manager at Pocket Sport, thinks breathability should be a top priority.

“You’re likely to break a sweat, so something sweat-wicking and quick-drying keeps you cool and stops you from feeling uncomfortable,” she tells HuffPost.

And for an extra supported and sculpted fit, you could also look into leggings with added compression, Kitson advises. “Leggings made with compressive fabrics will tightly support the leg muscles, and stay firmly in place throughout any long-distance run or CrossFit class”

Assess whether you need any add-ons

While gym-goers and yogis can keep their belongings nearby or in a locker, runners can often be stuck holding keys and energy gels. So zip pockets hidden in the waistband can be something handy to look out for.

Although, according to ultra-marathon runner Flora Beverley, they need to be expertly designed, or they risk weighing you down. “Having a pocket or two is great for keeping your essentials to hand, but they have to be perfectly formed, or you risk pulling down the leggings if you put anything in them.”

Below, we’ve consulted more experts, and found the perfect workout leggings for each and every need.

For a wallet-friendly workout
Looking for an all-round good pair of leggings that won’t leave you penniless? So was I – and I ended up really pleasantly surprised by how much I love them.

Made of fabric that’s both stretchy and squat-proof, these leggings will support you through a range of different workouts, and the high waistband won’t ever budge. Plus, as someone with long legs, I love that you can choose from two different lengths.
For powering through a heavy gym session
For Personal Trainer and two times British Powerlifting Champion, TemiTope Nuga, durability is of the utmost importance. “As someone with big legs who likes to squat, I can go through leggings quite quickly if they aren’t made of the right kind of material. So I need to be able to trust that any leggings I wear are not only squat-proof and comfortable, but also won’t fall apart after one wash.”

With an ultra-tight and chafe-free fit, this Under Armour pair fits the bill, with a four-way stretch fabric, sweat-wicking and anti-odour technology.
For a supple and sculpted fit
If feeling super supported by your leggings makes you feel strong enough to hit it hard, then consider a more compressive fabric.

Made from sculpting nylon and lycra elastane, these Spanx leggings will lift and sculpt your bum with their signature contoured waistband, and feel like a second-skin as they move with your body.
For town and trail runners
According to ONE LDN personal trainer Harriet Le Seve, there’s a clear winner when it comes to running leggings. And it’s unsurprisingly the heavily praised Zero Gravity Leggings from Sweaty Betty.

“I have the Zero Gravity Running Leggings in four different designs, and have run all of my marathons in them," she says. "They are super lightweight and thin, but still sturdy and supportive. Plus, the zipped pocket on the waistband is ideal for storing keys and other essentials. Just perfect!”
For no risk of slippage
If CrossFit or HIIT classes are your torture method of choice, then you need a pair of leggings that truly wont budge while you burpee. And the Plein Air leggings from Pocket Sport are truly up to the task.

With their high-waisted fit and trademark rubber waistband gripper, these beauties will stay firmly in place no matter what moves you throw at them. And the breathable fabric and mesh ankle detail will keep you cool throughout your class.
For a flexible flow
Developed by yogis for yogis, these IUGA leggings boast a four-way stretchy fabric, comfortable elastic waistband, and gusset crotch that all support maximum freedom of movement.

The material is thick enough to ensure you never have to worry about it being see-through, but still super soft and sweat-wicking. Perfect for perfecting your pilates and yoga practice!
For a pregnancy-friendly fit
A personal trainer who specialises in pregnancy and postnatal exercise, Emily Pointer knows her stuff when it comes to maternity workout leggings. And once squeezing into a regular pair is no longer practical, she recommends looking into specialist maternity brands.

“Brands like Latched and Natal Active make leggings that not only grow with you, but also shrink with you to wear postpartum and beyond! They're designed with pregnant women actually doing sport in mind, so far more supportive than classic maternity leggings.”