One of the undeniable perks of being the fitness editor of Women’s Health is getting to try new workout gear. I’ve tested scores of leggings and accumulated dozens. In the process, I’ve worked out what sets a great pair of leggings apart from a good pair. And discovered that, out of my – not modest – collection, I wear the same handful over and over again. This is what sets them apart.
1. A broad, high waistband
Nothing throws me off my gym game like feeling my boep hanging over the top of my tights. A high-waisted design helps, but if the band is too thin, it can still dig into your tummy flab. A broad, high waistband, however, doesn’t dig in or expose flesh you’d rather keep under wraps.
The waistband on these Puma tights is the perfect height and width. Whether I’m squatting under a barbell or running 10kms, I never feel exposed. I’ve had these tights for about four years and wear them constantly, yet they’re still going strong. For a similar investment, try the Puma Power Lux tights.
2. Comfy fabric
I don’t care how hot a pair of leggings looks – if the fabric is scratchy and uncomfortable, there’s no way I can work out in them. I also want to know that I can bend and squat, secure in the knowledge that my tights aren’t turning transparent as soon as they stretch.
These Reebok tights feel as good as they look. They might be a bit too short for taller women, but the length is perfect for me. Try the newer Reebok Prime Luxe leggings.
3. Good stretch
If I wanted my workout gear to get in the way of my movement, I would just hit the gym in jeans. Leggings need to move with my body, whatever weird position I’m trying to twist it into.
So @amy_hoppy challenged me to post this pic in the lead-up to #internationalyogaday on 17 June. I still need a block to get into this pose and can't hold it very long but managed to nail the challenge ?? I nominate @brynicol to post a pic of a crane pose and @danweakley to post runner's lunge. Then each of you tag two more people and let's keep it going. #yoga #calisthenics #balance #crowpose #babycrow #workout #gym #bodyweight #whgetsfit @virginactivesa
These Wildcat leggings are my uniform in summer because they’re light and cool, despite being full length, and they can handle any stretch. The fabric has a mat texture so they’re also grippy enough for crow pose.
4. They don’t budge
That moment when you have to put the kettlebell down so you can quickly adjust your tights. Nope. Workout leggings need to stay put from the moment you slip into them until the moment you awkwardly peel them off.
A big bug bear for me is when cropped tights slip so you end up with one leg longer than the other. These Under Armour cropped tights stick in place on the legs and around the waist like they were glued on. Check out the Breathelux Crop leggings from Under Armour.
5. Perfect length
If you’re tall or just have long legs, you’ll know how hard it is to find full-length tights that are actually full length.
I’ve been on the hunt for gym gloves that fit small hands and testing a few different ones for @womenshealthmagsa. These gloves from @glovesouthafrica come in XS and have cushioning that’s really handy for weights...especially barbell work and bench press. I also like the opening over the top of your hand so the gloves stay in place and don’t pull tight. . . #whtestsit #liftingweights
I only got them this year, but I can already tell these adidas Believe This High-Rise Heathered Tights are going to be a favourite for a very long time. The waistband, fit, fabric and colour all come together in a wonderfully comfy pair of training tights. Most notably, the legs are proper-long, but because the fabric isn’t shiny – it’s almost more like a T-shirt – it doesn’t bunch up and look weird on shorter figures. Win-win.
6. Sport-specific details
I’m no marathon runner, but even on shorter distances, tights that were made for running will make such a difference to your performance. They shouldn’t slip, they should prevent overheating, they should wick away moisture to prevent chafing and they definitely shouldn’t develop sweaty crotch patches.
These Nike running tights are my go-to for winter. They’re made from thicker material so they’re warm on chilly morning runs without overheating and they have lots of reflective detail that lights up like a Christmas tree in a car’s headlights – which makes me feel a lot safer running on the road before sunrise. You’ll find similar reflective detail in the much newer Nike Epic Luxe high-rise printed running tights.
7. A slimming effect
Some days I hit the gym floor with confidence running over. Other days I’m aware of every lump, bump and jiggle. On days like the latter, you need a pair of tights that just sucks everything in.
Time to run for the oceans! ?? ?????? . . Remember you can get the Runtastic app for FREE and join the #runfortheoceans group to log your kays for a great cause. For every Kay you run from now until 8 July @adidasrunning will donate 1US$ to ocean conservation up to a million dollars ?? ?? . . @adidasza @womenshealthmagsa @parley.tv #adidasparley #worldoceansday
For me, that’s this pair of Cotton On Body tights which, again, I’ve had for years. They have enough compression to stop the jiggles, but aren’t the kind of full-on compression tights where half the workout is just getting into them. The newer Cotton On Body Seamfree Jaquard Tight comes in a range of colour options and it’s affordable enough for you to get more than one.
Sometimes a great outfit is all the motivation you need to hit the gym.
I love the colour and print of these adidas by Stella McCartney leggings.
This article was first published in Women's Health SA.
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