Workout Leggings Connoisseur

You can wear pretty much any leggings to lounge, but which ones are good for actually working out?
As a fitness instructor and enthusiast, I am constantly checking out different brands for workout leggings. I wear them for teaching Jazzercise, running, strength training, yoga, walking, and hiking. In my experience I've learned that there are some key facets that determine the quality of leggings worn for exercising. As a self-proclaimed workout leggings connoisseur, I want to share my reviews with you today.

I will be reviewing 5 different brands of leggings in 4 categories:

Coverage: Do they pass the squat test? (aka can you squat in the dressing room mirror without seeing your undies/skin through them?). Do you have to worry about what underwear lines? Does cellulite show through?

Waistband: Does the waistband have compression? Do the pants stay up throughout the workout, or do they have to be pulled up?

Function: How comfortable are they for working out? Do they stretch and move with you? How well do they work with sweat?

Style: How is the overall look, fit, and brand selection?

I will describe how the leggings perform in each category, and give a rating 1-5 (1 being very poor, 5 being excellent). The maximum score is 20. In the end we will see what workout legging brand wins! This may be the most scientific blog post I've ever written...

For reference in reading the reviews, I have a 5'3" frame with narrow hips, curvy tummy and built thighs. Additionally, my reviews are based on the pants I have owned and may not completely cover all brand options.

1. Old Navy 

Coverage: 5 The Old Navy leggings I've owned have aced the squat test. I can wear any underwear and not worry about it
Waistband: 3 Mixed Reviews here, some materials stay up excellently, others slip a little.
Function: 3 I've worn Old Navy leggings on runs and in Jazzercise and had good experiences for the most part. Concerns are that some are a little stiff and get hot, others stretch out and get baggy.
Style: 5 ON has so many cute patterns and styles, the variety is awesome and the fit is great.

2. Aerie

Coverage: 3 The pair I own has white in the pattern, so neutral undies are a must. No lines.
Waistband: 2 My pair has a high waist with a long compression section, the problem is it rolls up and bunches for the first part of my workout until I'm thoroughly sweaty.
Function: 3  Once I'm sweaty, they work great for Jazzercise, the rolling waistband is too annoying for running or yoga. They keep nice and cool and stay fitted.
Style: 4  I absolutely love the pattern I have, and Aerie has many pretty and soft selections.

3. Betsey Johnson

Coverage: 4 some wild patterns or colors might show through. No lines.
Waistband: 5 Compression is excellent, stays in place well.
Function: 5 Really comfortable, moisture wicking, and the right amount of stretch. I've used for Jazzercise and strength training.
Style: 5 As you would expect with Betsey Johnson, there are tons of really fun and sassy styles. I love the fit.

4. Under Armour

Coverage: 2 Mixed reviews. All pass squat test, some have very bad lines.
Waistband: 4 Maybe 1 or 2 pants pull-ups at the beginning of the workout.
Function: 5 Very comfortable, stretchy, and moisture working, I've worn mine for many workout formats and been pleased.
Style: 3 There are some fun looks, as pictured, but most Under Armour styles are pretty simple.

5. Victoria's Secret

Coverage: 1 Squat test ok, very bad lines, cellulite can show.
Waistband: 3 Needs a few pants-pull ups at the beginning of a workout. Some compression.
Function: 4 Comfortable, stretches and wicks well. The length is too long for me and that can be annoying, especially for running. I love the long side pockets on the knockout legging.
Style: 4 Of course with VS there are lots of fun and flirty styles. The solids colors are a little limited, patterns and mesh cutouts are really fun.

And the rankings are...

Betsey Johnson: 19
Old Navy: 16
Under Armour: 14
Victoria's Secret: 12
Aerie: 12

I'm not surprised with these results, my Betsey Johnson pair are an absolute favorite and dependable workout legging. I am sad because they're getting a little worn, and I found them at Marshalls for less than $20. I'm not quite ready to fork over the $50-70 for full price.

Do you have a favorite brand for workout pants? Any brands you would recommend I check out?

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  1. This is such a great and transparent post! I love my leggings and practically live in them. Lululemon is super spendy but they're such high quality that it's worth the expense for a pair of leggings I'll wear for years!

  2. Love the criteria you used to rate these! I love my Old Navy leggings, but I've also found my C9 Champion leggings from Target are the ones that tend to perform the best and last the longest -- even more than the expensive LuluLemon and Athleta ones I've tried (although Athleta is my fave brand overall!). I have never thought about Betsey Johnson for workout gear, and will have to check it out!

  3. Squat test is a must!! I always drag on buying these because I hate trying leggings on, this is great info!

  4. Such a great way to rate the leggings! I only have a handful of pairs of leggings for exercise and I couldn't even tell you the brand I got them that long ago! Oops!

    Hope that you are having a great week :) It's feeling like summer here, we are in the middle of a heatwave!

    Away From The Blue Blog | Handbag Gift Guide

  5. Check out huge collection of fitness gear accessories to find affordable workout clothing and gym equipment.

  6. I always shop for my workout gear at TJMaxx, though I do love the pair I got from athleta, for the overall style and the fact that they have pockets big enough to stow your phone.
    Chic on the Cheap


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