A good pair of workout leggings is an essential part of your exercise kit.

We share our definitive guide to the best exercise tights (in our book) for strength training, HIIT, pilates & yoga and running.

The formula for the perfect legging is:

  • No slippage or bunching – hoisting up your waistband every minute is a real dampener on a workout.
  • Opaque – during every squat and downward dog.
  • Performs just as hard as you do – they last without pilling or tearing at the seam.
  • Inclusive – a wide range of sizes are available.
  • Sustainable – think recycled fabrics and minimising water usage during the manufaction -where possible.
  • No itch – ideally, they feel like you’re wearing nothing at all.
  • Supportive – and have the perfect amount of compression to keep everything tucked in.
Nike Epic Luxe Legging for Running

Nike Epic Luxe Legging

Best Workout Tights for Strength Training

For strength training, you generally want a firm fitting tight with a bit more support and resilience than your usual pair. Lululemon’s Wunder Train does this no better than any other tight we’ve trialled. Although you pay a pretty penny for a pair, their cost per wear is high. They will last you a couple of years, depending how often you wear them (I wear mine 3-4x a week and they are in their third year of life). Wunder Train’s come in a range of lengths from 21 inch to 28 inch. They have a high-rise waistband that doesn’t cut in (thank you very much) and options with pockets. 

Best Workout Tights for HIIT

For High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), the perfect tight is supportive and won’t slip or bunch during fast-pased movements. It has a bit of breathability for when you get sweaty and wicks that away to banish any sweat marks. The girls at Clique are serious about quality and performance of their tights. In particular, the Power Compression’s are perfect for high intensity workouts as they move with you and have a grippy waistband – no slippage here. They come in multiple lengths, from short shortsbiker7/8‘s, full-length short and full-length tall. Their size range is the best we’ve seen – leggings are available from sizes 6 to 22. Not to mention, pockets. Clique uses recycled polyester from post-consumer recycled bottles – we’ll drink to that. 

Best Workout Tights For Yoga and Pilates

For yoga and pilates, we’re looking for a tight that feels like you’re wearing nothing at all – nothing to hold you back while you twist, reach and stretch. The cult Align leggings are buttery soft with good stretch (I wore these all throughout my pregnancy, in my usual size) with flat seams that don’t dig in. They’re extremely comfortable. Word of warning, Align’s aren’t robust – they’re best for wearing around home and in the studio. Like Lululemon’s other tights, Align’s come in multiple lengths – from shorts to cropped 17 inch and all the way up to 28 inch. More recently, Lulu created options for pockets. If you love the feel, Align tank tops will also be up your alley.

If you’re looking to try something further afield, Alo Yoga Airbrush tights offer the same buttery feel and matte look but in thicker fabric. As their name suggests, Alo Yoga creates yoga gear that looks good and performs well. If you want to leave your comfort zone from tradition black leggings, Alo is the place for it. Airbrush leggings come in bluewhite and even melon. They also offer these in 7/8 and full length. Most styles are available XXS-L, but some styles go up to XL. Like Lululemon, if you like the fabric of Airbrush, you can find their entire range here. Added bonus? Free shipping to New Zealand.

Best Workout Tights for Running

Ideally, the perfect running legging is lightweight, breathable and stretchy with pockets for keys and a bank card. A drawstring around the hips is helpful to keep the waistband firmly in place. Nike’s Epic Luxe Legging ticks all of these boxes. It has five easy-access pockets so there’s no more storing your key precariously in your bra. The generous size range goes from XS to XXL. Depending on the size, the legging is roughly 27 inches.