Gym leggings – 18 best gym leggings reviewed by editors

Gym leggings are a workout wardrobe ‘must’. Plus, they’re equally useful for those easy days lounging in the house too which, let’s face it, we’ve done a bit more of recently than we planned. But now, with the gyms back open this week, *mini cheer*, we can actually wear them out of the house again.

And with this exciting news, we’re predicting some of us are planning to celebrate by investing in some brand spanking new leggings to hit said gyms in asap. Whether you’re looking for particular deign features, like added pockets to carry all your tech, or the best seamless pair, or you’re after a sturdy material to ensure the waistband doesn’t budge (even after your most gruelling gym session), there is still so much choice out there it’s hard to narrow it down. It can also be tricky to determine which leggings are the best for your exercise routine, especially when prices seem to range from £20 to above the £100 mark.

So, to help make sure that the next pair of leggings you invest in you have for the long run, literally, the Cosmo team has road-tested and reviewed the best gym leggings on the market right now including brands like Adidas, Nike, Spanx, Lululemon, Sweaty Betty, Fabletics and more. Our staff trialled different styles through many, many workouts (phew) from squats, runs, HIIT classes and yoga, we’ve put them all to the test.

Scroll through to read their thoughts on the styles you’ve likely heard everyone rave about (and if they’re really worth the hype)…

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Best for running

Zero Gravity High-Waisted Running Leggings

Sweaty Betty


“A classic runner’s dilemma: you want chic high-waisted leggings that you can also wear for the odd yoga/stretch session too, but hate the feeling when they begin to droop just 1k into the jog. Sweaty Betty have totally solved this issue with super durable fabric that retains its elasticity even after warmer washes and a brill drawstring to keep things… hoiked. You’re able to choose ¾ or full-length (great for the longer legged among us who are sick of leggings failing to reach beyond their kneecaps), and the thigh side-pocket securely held my smallish phone – though I wouldn’t risk it with a larger one. But what really sealed the deal, for me, was the way this chic geometric forest green design challenged my preconceptions about non-black activewear. I’m a total convert. All in all, a gorgeous set of all-rounder set of leggings if you’re in the mood to treat yourself.”

– Kate, Beauty Writer


Best thermal leggings

Women’s UA Fly Fast 2.0 HeatGear® Leggings

Under Armour


“It turns out compression clothing goes beyond flight socks and post-surgery stockings, with some experts claiming compression leggings can actually help increase blood flow during and after exercise, preventing muscle strain and fatigue. I was nervous about squeezing into these ones but, to my relief, the stretchy, lightweight material pulled on effortlessly. They boast sheer panels around the lower legs for added airflow, and a wide, flat waistband that doesn’t dig in (even when you get distracted by emails and end up hunched over your desk for an hour before your run!) My leg muscles definitely felt more supported while I huffed and puffed around my local park, which goes a long way psychologically for a new runner prone to calf pulls. It’s a shame the waistband pocket isn’t big enough for an iPhone, but you can’t have it all.”

– Cassie, Beauty Editor


Best bum sculpting leggings

Power High-Waisted Gym Leggings

Sweaty Betty


“These were a bit of a struggle to get on, so I was worried they’d be uncomfortable in a ‘control underwear’ way (not ideal for workouts) but they turned out to be super comfortable. They also stayed up throughout my boxing workout, which involves lots of jumping up and down that my regular leggings can’t cope with. But because they’re quite soft I can also wear them for yoga. Oh and I spent some time admiring my bum in the mirror… they do make it look pretty great!”

– Catriona, Features Director 


Best leggings for yoga

Studio High Rise Legging

Nimble, £75

“Nimble get extra points for including a soft label, which meant there was no horrible scratchy feeling. The fabric felt very soft, even during the sweatiest bits of my online yoga class. They stayed high throughout with no sagging as I (attempted to) stretch into strange positions on my mat. I would have liked the leggings to be a little longer on the leg, but they didn’t show sweat marks, which is a major win considering the speckled grey colour.”

– Edie, Video Lead


Best compression leggings

Formotion Sculpt Two-Tone Tights



“If you like your gym leggings to be so snug it feels like they’re literally hugging your lower body, then I’d give Adidas’ Formotion leggings a try. They might need to be wriggled on (and if you’re on the shorter side like me you need to work a bit harder to make sure the crotch isn’t hanging at half-mast) , but once they’re in place the supportive fabric definitely clings in all the right places and stays there. They’re on the pricey side but it’s perhaps money worth paying if you want your leggings to sculpt and truly stay in place throughout your workout. I’ve got the black ones, and they’ve quickly become some of my core go-to leggings, whether it’s a walk in the park, a yoga class or a heavier-going HIIT session. Oh, and they come in inclusive sizing, which is exactly what we like to see.”

– Cat, Features Editor


Best high waist leggings

Euphoria Leggings



“When it comes to gym leggings, Gymshark are a cult fave of mine. The brand are known for their squat proof, sculpting styles and I’m already a huge fan of their Vital Seamless range. This high-waisted pair is no exception, holding me in in all the right places, and with a waistband that didn’t roll down during my HIIT workouts. AND… there’s a pocket! Let’s face it, leggings with pockets are elite – I can pop my phone and keys in there while I’m on a run, training outside, or moving between different machines at the gym. SUCH a handy, practical addition. The fabric gives you great coverage and support for squats and there’s also a matching sports bra available to shop. I’m buzzing to get back in the gym to show them off, now I just need to find the motivation to actually train…”

– Sophie, Social Media Manager   


Best petite leggings

Nike Rib Panel 7/8 Leggings



“Finally! The first pair of leggings to fit my shorter leg length and the joys of not having to roll the bottoms up. The ribbed panels also add a flattering style to a classic design making this black pair a staple for all petite wardrobes.”

– Katie, Designer


Best leggings with pockets

Q Speed Fuel Novelty 7/8 Tight

New Balance


“These leggings ticked all my boxes. I hate carrying stuff while I run, so the two deep side pockets are a game changer. My phone and keys felt secure, but the easy access also meant I was able to change music and check the time effortlessly. The style is both comfortable and flattering and the high-waisted fit ensured no sagging or bunching took place while I was on the go. I’ll be ordering another pair.”

– Fiona, Snapchat Editor


Best seamless leggings

Energy+ Seamless Leggings

“I’ve wanted to test out a pair of Gymshark leggings for months, after seeing all my favourite fitness influencers clad in them all over my Instagram feed, and they did not disappoint. If you find seamless leggings a bit light on design detail, these could be for you: all the bum-contouring, smooth streamlined silhouette you’re looking for but with a touch of sex appeal thanks to the mesh-effect panels up the legs. These are tight fitting, almost compression level support but didn’t ride up or down in even the toughest weights workout and are thick enough so you never have to worry about them going transparent on the ass after a few wears! Also love the range of colours they come in. The ‘beet’ colourway is next on my list!”

– Amy, Executive Editor


Best plus size leggings

H&M+ Shaping tights High Waist

“Knicker lines and muffin tops be gone! These super high waisted leggings are superbly fitted and give you support in all the right areas. Made from soft but sturdy fabric they are the perfect pair for a gruelling ass and abs workout class and are totally squat proof. Super impressed at that bargain price too!” 

– Katie, Designer


Best black leggings

Impact Heat Tight

New Balance


“These New Balance leggings are equal parts flattering and practical, with figure-hugging contouring around the legs and bum making the exercise staple feel that bit spennier (adios, saggy leggings!). Plus, this style features handy design features like pockets for your phone on each thigh, along with a zipped compartment at the back, perfect for keeping your keys and credit card safe. The fact they come in black is the icing on the cake really, meaning that they’re super versatile and I don’t have to worry about grass or mud stains when I’m wearing them for Tag rugby.”

– Natasha, Fashion Editor


Best all-rounder leggings

Super Sculpt High-Waisted Yoga Leggings

Sweaty Betty


“I ADORED these leggings – my pet peeve is leggings that roll or slip down at the waist and these stayed put throughout many squats and an entire spin class – seriously, they didn’t budge (the fact they’re quite high waisted helped). The fabric was clearly high quality but breathable and didn’t wrinkle (another peeve!).” 

– Cyan, Senior Editor


Best for working out on your period

7/8 Recycled Active Legging


“Running sans tampon and knickers on the first day of my period felt about as nuts as it sounds – but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

These genius Modibodi leggings leave you feeling clean and dry whether you’re menstruating, sweating buckets or dealing with postpartum leakage. They’re an incredibly sustainable choice already but once you throw the 78% recycled fibres into the mix, you’re officially an eco queen.

And if you don’t like the whole free flowing thing, you can always wear these babies as a back-up that will NEVER fail.” 

– Abigail, Fashion Ecommerce Editor


Best squat proof leggings

Look at me now leggings



“The material is really thick so I’d say they’re more suited to winter workouts – outdoor running would be ideal in these. Getting them on and off is like a workout in itself but the fabric is extra stretchy and my squats felt super smooth! Plus, the high waist stayed in position, meaning I wasn’t worried about the usual gaping at the back that you get with some leggings.” 

– Emily, Features Intern


Best lightweight leggings

Wunder Train High-Rise Tight 25″



“These leggings made me look forward to the gym and that isn’t easily done. They look tiny at first but the added stretch in the Lycra fibre makes them a perfect fit, so I’d recommend staying true to your size. I’m used to spending more time yanking my leggings up than actually working out, so the high waist band keeping these from falling midway down my booty is what sealed the deal. With not a sweat mark in sight and the best tummy tuck a girl could ask for what more could you want?” 

– Tilly, Fashion Intern


Best petite leggings

Cropped color-block stretch leggings

Iris & Ink, £65

“I love the super-comfy high waist that doesn’t dig in or leave you with uncomfortable ‘spill-over’. The material is very soft but also made from quite a thick fabric so its perfect for those ultra-sweaty workouts. The fabric gives you great coverage and support for squats and HIIT workouts, and they would also be great for yoga as they don’t leave you with a sheer bottom whilst in downward dog. Ideal!” 

– Sairey, Senior Fashion Editor


Best leggings for sweaty workouts

Adapt Camo Seamless Leggings



“Super stretchy and comfortable, the thick waistband flatters you in all the right places. I loved the camo pattern – and not just because it hid any (rogue) sweat patches. You also couldn’t see my bright colourful underwear underneath the fabric which I was extremely grateful during my yoga poses.” 

– Sophie B, Social Media Editor


Best capri leggings

Trinity High-Waisted Pocket Capri



“I love these leggings. They fit so well; really shapely around your hips and they gave my bum a perky lift. They are made from quite a thick material and do fit very snug so I wouldn’t choose them on a hot summer run, but perfect for yoga all year round. Plus – there’s no see-through-to-your-knickers situation, which is always an issue! I also love that they have a little phone pocket at the back, which felt like a bonus addition.” 

 Jess, Executive Editor (digital)

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