The 22 Best New Workout Leggings of 2019

Finding the best workout leggings for your particular form of exercise can take a lot of trial and error and often comes down to the features you need for your workout. The exact right detail can be the difference between having an excellent workout or a subpar one. Some people might need a buttery soft material in order to let go in yoga class. Others might only feel ready to sweat once they’ve donned their favorite pair of brightly colored capris. Others need a pair of workout shorts that don’t ride up during their kickboxing class. I’m always on the hunt for the perfect high-waisted, slightly compressive, 7/8-length leggings that have enough pockets to hold my keys, cards, and phone while I’m on a run—in all black, of course.

With so many choices (and personal preferences), it helps to know what works for others with similar tastes and workouts. That’s why we tasked 24 fitness professionals and influencers to be our testers alongside our editors for this year’s SELF Fitness Awards. We tested more than 250 products in a range of workouts—outdoor runs, yoga classes, the gym, the studio, and beyond. We also made sure that our reviewers were able to test a range of sizes, since what works on one body may not work so well on another. For the leggings category, for example, we only considered products that went up to at least a size XL, and made sure there were winning options in an extended range of sizes as well. All of the winners listed here are new, released between October 2018 and September 2019.

Below are the 22 best workout leggings, capris, and shorts that truly passed our high standards. No matter what your workout, you’ll find something that works for you.

1. Best High-Waisted Leggings: Bandier All Access Center Stage Leggings, $98

The All Access Center Stage Leggings from Bandier’s in-house brand are a perennial favorite for a reason: They’re soft, versatile, and come in a million colors. Our reviewers were sold—several gave them the highest rating possible.

One reviewer says: “I love that the fabric was very light, very soft, and stretchy. Even during the summer, I didn’t overheat wearing them. The waistband stayed put the entire day and didn’t dig into my gut. I wore them for about eight or nine hours straight. The high waistband was well constructed and stayed in place! I hardly had to readjust during the entire day. I will absolutely be wearing these again!” (Size tested: XL)

Sizes: XS–XXL

Buy it: $98,

2. Best Athleisure Leggings: Spanx Every.Wear Gloss Panel Pocket Leggings, $118

Wearing leggings all day long will never really go out of style. The trick is to find a pair that works for day to night and that also has high marks in comfort, style, and versatility. These leggings from Spanx won in all aspects of this athleisure trifecta. In fact, several of our reviewers loved them so much that they gave them the highest possible rating.

One reviewer says: “The fabric is heavy duty and great quality—they definitely don’t seem like they’ll fall apart after a single test. No ripping sound as I put them on, but I did have to roll them on a bit. And they pass the squat test on my end! The leather color blocking makes them EXCELLENT day-to-night athletic wear—I wore them off the mat on errands, and on multiple occasions styled them with different tops. I am obsessed with these leggings, although I would consider sizing up next time. Since they’re Spanx, they are meant to have a certain amount of compression. They are really my favorite leggings that I tried—so versatile and perfect for life on and off the yoga mat.” (Size tested: 1X)

Sizes: XS–3X

Buy it: $118, or

3. Best Workout-to-Brunch Leggings: Universal Standard Movement Mesh Side Panel Leggings, $75

Universal Standard is one of our favorite brands for comfortable layers you can really move in, all which come in a wide range of sizes. These leggings are great for all-day wear because of those reasons; our reviewers loved the comfortable fit and subtle mesh detailing that help you feel good during a workout, and the fact that you can keep these on and still look stylish at your post-workout brunch.

One reviewer says: “Fabric is quality, supersoft, comfortable, and flattering. You could easily wear these to the gym or on a date. Love the side pockets and small strips of mesh—I’m usually not a big fan of big mesh panels on leggings, but these were subtle and stylish. These held up great, although I would go to the gym in these but probably not run, because I’m not sure how the inner thigh would hold up over time. It’s high waisted too, so everything is covered.” (Universal Standard size tested: small, the equivalent to standard U.S. size 14–16)

Sizes: 4XS–3XL (00–36)

Buy it: $75,

4. Best 7/8-Length Leggings: Vuori Elevation Performance Legging, $89

Fans of Vuori’s clothes love the brand’s signature soft fabric, which feels just as good during a hard workout as when you’re not doing anything at all. Similarly, reviewers of these performance leggings loved the high-quality feel of these all-purpose workout tights, as well as other features that elevate them to an option you’ll reach for again and again, no matter what your workout.

One reviewer says: “I really, really loved how smooth, soft, stretchy, and supportive these tights from Vuori were. The material felt luxe and on the thicker end (so you don’t have to worry about them being see-through), stretchy enough to slip them on and off, but still fitted enough that there was no gaping around the waistband. The side pockets are the real game changer…big enough to fit your phone in, yet also snug enough to slip in your credit cards without worrying about them sliding out—though there’s also a dedicated credit card pocket on the interior of the waistband just for that purpose. Design-wise, there were also some really nice stitched seams that broke up the fabric. If you’re looking for something 3/4 length and are 5’3″ like me, these might not be your best bet (these fall around my ankles), but if you don’t care about the length, these are some of the best leggings I’ve ever worn.” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XS–XL

Buy it: $89,

5. Best Plus-Size 7/8-Length Leggings: Athleta Tenacity 7/8 Tight in Powerlift, $98

If you prefer a legging that’s not quite cropped and not quite full length, go for a 7/8 legging—they’re designed to hit just above your ankle, which can help you cool off during a sweaty workout like a HIIT class. These Athleta tights were a favorite of our testers for many different kinds of exercise. They also come in sizes up to 3X. Worth noting that both straight- and plus-size testers raved about these leggings, so they’re good for anyone, not just people who wear plus sizes.

One reviewer says: “These are basically my new favorite leggings for every workout! I love the high waist, the thin and breathable fabric, the little fashionable mesh details, and the extremely useful pockets. I put my phone in one of the pockets for a boxing workout and it didn’t budge the entire time. I’ve since worn them for cycling classes and just wandering around the city.” (Size tested: XL)

Sizes: XXS–3X

Buy it: $98,

6. Best Capri-Length Leggings: Old Navy High-Rise Elevate Side-Pocket Mesh-Trim Compression Crops, $40

If you prefer a more cropped legging, go for these compression tights from Old Navy. Our reviewers loved their high-quality feel at a great price point.

One reviewer says: “I love the fabric—it’s nice and thick, good compression, feels great on, passes the squat test (they’re not see-through!), and stayed up while working out. I love that they are a true high waist, have pockets (always an added bonus), and they have a little bit of bum lift and a nice mesh detail along the side of the leg. They feel amazing on while sweating, however the sweat did show through on the color I tested. Still, I would def wear them again—they are great for a high-intensity workout or for just being out and about!” (Size tested: XXL)

Sizes: XS–XXL

Buy it: $40,

7. Best Plus-Size Capri-Length Leggings: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Compression Plus-Size Crops

Our reviewers liked that these compression capris didn’t feel too constricting, which makes them a versatile pick for many types of exercise. These leggings come in exclusively plus sizes: 1X–4X.

One reviewer says: “For the price, these are a great value. These are the ‘best $29 activewear capri pants’ that I’ve found. The waistband is well structured and thick—it doesn’t have an elastic band inside that bends, as is often found with lower cost pants, and it doesn’t roll down. The fit is true to size. The pants didn’t wiggle or move around and held up well through a variety of different stretching and Pilates activities. These pants advertise that they are compression, but I didn’t think they had a great deal of compression. They won’t ‘suck you in,’ but they have a gentle hold to them that feels good if you have jiggly parts you like to keep in place. I would absolutely recommend these, and I’ve put them back on for my own usage outside of testing!” (Size tested: 3X)

Sizes: 1X–4X

Buy it: $30,

8. Best Compression Leggings: Day-Won “The One” Full-Length Legging, $89

Our reviewers also really liked these slightly more compressive Day-Won full-length leggings, if you’re looking for a longer style that’s ideal for HIIT workouts. Another plus: These leggings come in sizes up to 32W (5X), although our reviewers noted to size up since they run a little small.

One reviewer says: “These are a really nice pair of leggings if you’re looking for some that have a lot of compression and a thicker fabric. I think these would be great for running outdoors during cooler temps, or just running errands. They’re very simple in design—all black everything—which I actually think is great because it means they’re so versatile. And of course, I love the high waistband, which stayed put throughout my workout. One note: These weren’t as stretchy as some of the other leggings I tested, so I wouldn’t wear them to, say, yoga. Also, definitely size up.” (Size tested: 4)

Sizes: 0–32W

Buy it: $89,

9. Best Running Tights: Athleta Lightning Tight in SuperSonic, $98

If you’re looking for running tights that don’t budge and keep you cool no matter how far you run, look no further than this pair from Athleta. They’re made from the same breathable yet compressive SuperSonic fabric Athleta athlete Allyson Felix competes in, so you know they’re good. Athleta actually makes the Lightning Tight in two lengths, the full-length version and the 7/8 version, and our reviewers tested and liked both. They also come in a range of sizing, from XXS to 3XL.

One reviewer says: “These are the best feeling workout pants I’ve ever worn! The material was supersoft and fit my body perfectly. I think the quality is great and will probably be able to be worn for a long time without falling apart. The high waistband on these pants is what made them so great for me. I’m used to pulling my pants up every five minutes during a workout, but with these I pulled them up once when I put them on and didn’t have to even think about them rolling down. I received the camo pattern, which I was happy to see. Usually plus-size athletic wear has terrible patterns or two to three dark plain colors. It was refreshing to see something new for the plus-size community! The sweatier they got, the better they felt. There was no stretching out and looking baggy halfway through my workout, and no issues with rolling down, which there usually is with athletic pants. I would wear them again, and I wish I had more.” (Size tested: 3XL)

Sizes: XXS–3XL

Buy it: $98,

10. Best Compression Running Tights: Active Truth Workout Full-Length Tight, $115

For cardio workouts where you need a little extra support, these leggings from Active Truth—made with a compression fabric that helps everything feel locked in place—fit the bill. Reviewers liked the structured fit, comfortable high waistband, sturdy compression fabric, and subtle detailing that makes this pair feel just a bit fancier than your standard black legging.

One reviewer says: “The fabric is a compression fabric that’s not too constricting and very soft. It feels really nice to wear these, but they have enough structure that I felt nicely held in during my runs. I love the two mid-thigh pockets on either side, which are really essential for stashing stuff during outdoor runs, and they’re at the perfect height for easy access to your phone. I also liked the cutout detailing along the lower leg—enough to give boring black leggings (my favorite althleisure wardrobe staple) a little bit of interest. They held up, no sweat showed, and they dried quickly as well. The high waistband is really comfortable and doesn’t feel constricting.” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: S–3X

Buy it: $115,

11. Best Cold-Weather Running Pants: Arc’teryx Taema Pant, $129

For those days when you really need some extra warmth, these cozy lined pants from cold-weather specialists Arc’teryx are exactly what you’re looking for. Our reviewers liked that these pants were both warming and sweat-wicking—very important for any outdoor cardio workouts in the cold.

One reviewer says: “The fabric feels really good—it has just a little stretch and is very soft and cozy. The zippered pockets are cool, and I like that the zippers aren’t very noticeable. I liked the built-in gusset/mesh features within the pants—these seem like a great sweat-wicking option for an outdoor winter workout. I usually don’t wear joggers or sweatpants, so I was pleasantly surprised by these—they were flattering, soft with the right amount of stretch, and functional. I would definitely wear them again.” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XS–XL

Buy it: $129,

12. Best Hiking Leggings: The North Face Women’s Utility Hybrid Hiker Tights, $80

Sometimes you need a pant that offers you a little more range of motion—especially when hiking, where you could be lunging up a hillside one minute and scrambling across boulders the next. If hiking is your regular workout of choice, you might want to invest in a pair of hiking-specific leggings like these from the North Face.

One reviewer says: “The fabric feels comfortable while also providing full range of movement for activities like climbing large boulders. The material is clearly for an activity for hiking, and I wouldn’t choose them to wear for a regular workout, as the pants have a bit of thickness to them, which I prefer for hiking to protect my legs from getting cut and scraped from tree branches and other objects I can’t avoid in the woods! They definitely are not see through and held up great during washing and drying! I absolutely loved the amount of pockets and the fact that they had zippers. I was able to zip my iPhone in a pocket in the moments when I needed my hands and could easily access it when I wanted to take a picture. These held up great through sweat, mud, and rock scrapes! The sweat didn’t show through and didn’t feel overly hot even though I normally wear thinner leggings to hike. I am really excited to have these and will be using them as my go-to for hiking during fall weather!” (Size tested: medium)

Sizes: XS–XXL

Buy it: $80,

13. Best Plus-Size Hiking Leggings: Columbia Place to Place High Rise Leggings, $65

Our reviewers also liked these hiking leggings from Columbia that come in extended sizing, up to 3X. They mentioned that these leggings run large, so if you’re between sizing, we suggest sizing down.

One reviewer says: “These felt so luxe! I knew I was going to love them before I even put them on. You can feel the quality as soon as you slide them on. They are squat-proof and surprisingly stayed up without a tie in the waist band. They had a great pocket for a phone—it was a hidden pocket with a zipper, which was really nice—and a bit of paneling details. These are going to be a regular pair I will wear—they are so comfortable, and they are also really presentable. They are a bit more polished looking in style, which I loved!” (Size tested: 1X)

Sizes: XS–3X

Buy it:  $65,

14. Best Leggings for Barre: Beyond Yoga Alloy Ombre High Waisted Midi Leggings, $110

Beyond Yoga is known for their easygoing athleisure and athletic apparel basics made in incredibly soft fabrics you’ll want to live in. These popular high-waisted leggings are a great example—our reviewers appreciated their soft, luxe feel as well as their ability to be dressed up or down. As our testers noted, these tend to run small, so if you’re between sizes, size up.

One reviewer says: “The fabric is soft and thin, but still feels substantial and on the luxe side. They are not see-through at all! But LMAO: These were hard to get on! Once on, they fit absolutely perfectly, but getting them on is half the workout. I LOVE the super-high waistband, definitely appreciate that. I would absolutely wear these again to lighter workouts and activities, like walking through the park or a relaxing yoga class. Maybe even some fall hiking!” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XXS–3X

Buy it: $110,

15. Best Leggings for HIIT: Superfit Hero Pocket Leggings,$89

Reviewers loved this workhorse legging for its overall shining great features, like a waistband that stays put, pockets for your stuff, and substantial-feeling fabric that passes the squat test. They also come in a nice range of sizes, from XS to 5XL.

One reviewer says: “The fabric is pretty nice, soft, and has some thickness. There’s also a nice stretch, and they passed the squat test with flying colors! The tag says they require a line-dry after washing (which I did), and they held up just fine. The high waistband is really nice. I also really like the idea of the side pocket (though I didn’t use it, lol). The fabric is a little on the thicker side and took a little while to dry, however no sweat showed through. These leggings were super easy to get on and off, and I’d definitely wear them again.” (Size tested: XL)

Sizes: XS–5XL

Buy it: $89,

16. Best Leggings for Yoga: L.L. Bean Boundless Performance Tights, $70

Three cheers for versatile leggings that will really pull their weight in your workout wardrobe! Our reviewers liked these slightly loose, comfortable tights for both yoga class and lounging around, and one reviewer even noted that they’d be a fine choice for hiking as well.

One reviewer says: “The fabric on these is stretchy and super comfy, definitely yoga-pants level. They slipped on easily and sit really comfortably around my waist. I’ve washed and dried them and they’ve held up so far. The waistband is high, which I love! I’ll definitely be wearing them again for hiking and just lounging around the house since they have no hard zippers or other features that could potentially rub or chafe.” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XXS–3X

Buy it: $70,

17. Best Leggings for Cycling: JoyLab Women’s High-Waisted Stripe 7/8 Leggings, $40

Indoor cycling classes can get pretty intense, especially when you’ve found your groove. Compression leggings help you feel held in so you can focus on pedaling to the beat. We liked JoyLab’s 7/8 high-waisted version for a sweaty cycling class. Note that our reviewers recommend sizing up if you’re in between sizes (unless you want more compression), since these run a little small.

One reviewer says: “These leggings are true to size, but maybe potentially small because of the compression. The material is great—very stretchy but not see through at all, and the inside detail of the leggings really does help shape the butt! The high waist is super high and a bit more structured, so that could either be really good or not be really good depending on your preference. Sweat dried quickly on these. I would definitely wear them again!” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XS–XL

Buy it: $40,

18. Best Running Shorts: Asics Move Me 2in1, 4 inch, Running Short, from $39

These Asics shorts are basically a running short and a bike short combined into one piece, which is great if you prefer a little more length and coverage during your workouts. Reviewers liked the comfortable waistband that doesn’t ride up, as well as the small pockets for stashing your gear.

One reviewer says: “I love the fabric! The shorts are lined with bike shorts to prevent thigh chafing, and I like the 4″ length—they’re not too short on me! The material of the bike shorts is supersoft and comfortable and best of all—no uncomfortable riding up during workouts. The shorts have a thick band and there are four small ‘pocket’ inserts on the front and back on the outside of the band. This is a slight drawback: I managed to get an AirPod on each side, and the pockets could probably hold your keys or a credit card or cash, but it won’t hold your phone. Still, these will be a mainstay in my summer workout wardrobe.” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XS–2XL

Buy it:  From $39, or

19. Best Plus-Size Bike Shorts: Rsport TRIFECTA SHORT, $68

Our reviewers loved the carefully thought-out features of these bike shorts from Rsport, including breathable fabric that worked well in the heat, a “pee pad” liner for any accidents, and the brand’s commitment to serving the needs of plus-size athletes (sizes range from L to 6X). Note that some of our reviewers said that these shorts run a little large, so size down if needed.

One reviewer says: “Every single part of these shorts felt like they were made for comfort and performance. The waistband is a buttery soft thick material that doesn’t dig into your skin. The shorts themselves are a thinner, but still soft-to-the-touch material that breathes amazingly well. And the ends of the shorts have a grippy material that keeps them in place without squeezing too hard! They were honestly a joy to wear! They have about a million pockets that could fit a phone, keys, or a wallet. I wore them for an indoor workout, but that makes me want to try running in them or taking them for a hike. I also really love the grippy part of the shorts! I know that’s a common feature in a lot of bike shorts, but this is the most comfortable version of that I’ve tried. Not having to constantly pull them back down is genuinely freeing! Overall, I loved wearing these shorts and will definitely wear them again.” (Size tested: XL)

Sizes: L–6X

Buy it: $68,

20. Best Hiking Shorts: Outdoor Voices RecTrek Hike Shorts, $65

These feature-packed hiking shorts from Outdoor Voices were a hit with our testers, who liked the quick-drying and water-repellent fabric, adjustable waist, and hidden pockets galore. Note that our reviewers said that these shorts ran a little small, so you may want to consider sizing up if you’re between sizes. The bad news is that these shorts are sold out as of publication, although you can sign up for the waitlist to be notified when they’re back in stock. The good news is that there’s a similar option available: the RecTrek Zip-Off Pant ($115), which features the same functionality as the RecTrek Hike Shorts and zips away to similar-looking shorts.

One reviewer says: “These shorts are definitely sturdy, and I could see them holding up through many washes (and any potential brushing against rocks), which is good for hiking shorts. I’m really into the color-blocking pattern! I also loved the length—my thighs were not chafing while hiking and sweating—very important to me! The waist has a buckle that you can pull to tighten them, and the shorts are slightly high-waisted, so they sat comfortably just above my hips. I didn’t notice any sweat showing while wearing them on hikes in very hot weather (and I was definitely sweating!). One note: They’re a little bit difficult to get on and off because the elastic waistband is just a tad too small to get over my butt.” (Size tested: small)

Sizes: XS–XL

Buy it: $65,

21. Best Joggers: L.L. Bean’s Cozy Jogger, $60

There’s lots to love about a jogger‚ which can help you look pulled together and feel comfortable at the same time. Our reviewers loved these lined sweatpants-style joggers for everything from lounging in the house to wearing over leggings after a workout.

One reviewer says: “I can’t believe how soft and cozy these joggers are! I literally haven’t stopped wearing them since I first started testing them a few weeks back. They’ve got a wide cuff (some joggers I’ve tried have really narrow ankle cuffs that dig into my legs) and fleece-like lining, so they’re really warm. I do think these run pretty large, but honestly that’s fine with me. I’d throw them on over tights as I leave a workout class in the winter, or just wear them around the house to be extra comfy.” (Size tested: medium)

Sizes: XS–XL

Buy it: $60,

22. Best Plus-Size Joggers: Addition Elle Heathered French Terry Capri Jogger, $20

Addition Elle, which offers stylish athleisure pieces in an extended size range (XL to 6X), makes a solid pair of soft terry-cloth joggers. Our reviewers love this pair for relaxing at home, although they noted that these run a little large, so size down if needed.

One reviewer says: “The material is soft and light, and they seem pretty durable. These joggers are great for hanging out around the house, and I like that they are a crop. The waistband is pretty tall, which is part of why I think they fit a little larger. They have a great drawstring, pockets, and there’s also cute panel down the leg to give it a little more of a curve fit. I will def be wearing these on the regular—especially when home relaxing!” (Size tested: XL)

Sizes: XL–6X

Buy it: $20,

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