Game on: The best leggings for stylish workouts

Zoe Gunn

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25 January 2022

Whether you’re a master yogi or novice runner, kit yourself out for any workout with gym leggings that marry form with function

25 January 2022 | Zoe Gunn | If you purchase something via our website, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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eggings, it's fair to say, have become quite the wardrobe staple over the past few years. Once relegated to gym bags, the explosion in athleisure and loungewear – particularly during the pandemic – has seen them become a go-to off-duty look. In fact, we’d be so bold as to predict you’re probably wearing a pair right now.

But, even if you are mostly wearing them for all their stretchy WFH comfort, doesn’t mean your leggings shouldn’t perform when you press them into the service of a HIIT session or spin class. If you’re already a gym regular you’ll know the benefits of having the right equipment for your workout: maximum stretch for yoga, support and compression for running, insulation for winter. Up your game with our guide to the best performance leggings for every type of workout.

Best yoga leggings: Lululemon Align leggings

Available in a variety of lengths ranging from 17″ to 31”, Lululemon’s signature yoga legging also offers possibly the vastest selection of colours and prints on the market. Designed specifically with yoga in mind, these low compressions leggings are crafted from Lululemon’s super-soft Nulu fabric, which boasts four-way stretch, a breathable sweat-wicking construction and added Lycra for perfect fit and feel. They’re also reassuringly high-waisted and feature an internal pocket ideally sized for keys.

Align yoga leggings, from £54, lululemon.co.uk

Best running leggings: P.E Nation Break Out leggings

Imbuing its functional activewear with a classically Aussie sense of style and playfulness, P.E Nation’s expansive range of sport and streetwear has become a global success over the past five years. Its Spring 2022 collection is all about colour and we’re particularly taken with the Break Out leggings which feature digitally-printed panels unique to every pair. They’re also made from 65 per cent recycled nylon with an adjustable drawstring waist for the perfect fit.

P.E. Nation Break Out leggings, £110, farfetch.com

Best gym leggings: Sweaty Betty Power leggings

We’ve all been in a HIIT class with that unfortunate person who doesn’t realise their leggings are completely see-through when they squat. Sweaty Betty is here to make sure that person is never you by giving each of its gym leggings a squat-proof rating. Made from a super flexible four-way stretch fabric, with carefully-placed seams that sculpt and support without irritating, the brand’s Power leggings have been designed for use across many sports and disciplines. Sweat wicking and quick drying, they also boast invaluable side and back pockets.

Power gym leggings, £80, sweatybetty.com

Best cycling leggings: Rapha classic winter tights

While the differences between leggings for yoga, running and the gym are important but, admittedly minor – an adjustment in stretch there, a stronger compression here – leggings for cycling are a completely different beast. Best, then, to turn to an expert: American brand Rapha is a peloton favourite. Take, for example, its signature winter tights. Built from a thermal 245gsm SuperRoubaix fabric, they lock in heat while repelling rain and boast a high elasticated waistband designed to adapt to every body shape. There are in-built pockets for your phone and keys and an integrated chamois pad for comfort on even the longest of rides.

Classic winter tights, £160, rapha.cc

Best cold weather leggings: Adidas by Stella McCartney TruePace COLD.RDY leggings

Many fashion collaborations are a one-season flash in the pan. Not so for the meeting of minds between Adidas and Stella McCartney, which has been going strong since 2005, even kitting out Team GB’s Olympians in 2012 and 2016. And if it’s good enough for them…

True to the designer’s long-standing eco-credentials, these TruePace leggings are crafted from 86 per cent recycled polyester and feature thoughtful design touches, including insulating construction and reflective strips, ideal for outdoor workouts on grey winter days.

Adidas by Stella McCartney TruePace Cold.Rdy leggings, £100, brownsfashion.com

Best athleisure leggings: Year of Ours lace-up ribbed leggings

Founded by Eleanor Haycock, Alejandra Hernandez and Lily Shin in LA in 2016, Year of Ours prides itself on creating stylish activewear that is supportive, flattering and meets the demands of modern lifestyles. Accordingly, its ribbed leggings, one-shouldered sports bras and printed sweatshirts are some of the chicest on the market – and if you’re really only going to wear them to grab a coffee or take a walk in the park, isn’t that exactly what you want?

Year of Ours lace-up ribbed leggings, £110, net-a-porter.com

Best sustainable leggings: Girlfriend Collective Compressive leggings

Of course, everyone living permanently in sportswear isn't exactly great for the planet. The necessities of sweat-wicking and stretch mean, across the board, almost all leggings are made from nylon, Lycra and spandex – all of which are synthetic plastic fabrics. Enter Girlfriend Collective. Founded in LA in 2015, it creates its leggings using a fabric made from recycled plastic water bottles, removing 25 single-use bottles from landfill with every pair it makes. They’re built to last, too, with sealed seams and carefully concealed pockets, which make them perfect for practically any sport.

Girlfriend Collective Compressive leggings, £65, net-a-porter.com

Read more: The best activewear brands for women