In the early 2010s, when one of the biggest things dividing the country was simply whether or not leggings were pants, I was emphatic that leggings should only be worn to the gym. (Tough words from a girl who thought sequined Uggs were the height of fashion, but sure, go off 2012 Allie.) I was really just afraid of what I didn’t understand—kind of like how Ben Shapiro is with WAP. Ultimately, I was easily persuaded to abandon these notions by a pair of soft, simple black Lululemon leggings that made my butt look great. It was my year of like, realizing stuff—and as I’ve been living in leggings ever since. As such, I consider myself somewhat of an arbiter of the best black workout leggings that exist. Here, I rounded up the best black workout leggings for every occasion.
Best If You Are a Self-Described Sweat Monster: Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight, $98
If you leave sweat handprints on the floor 45 seconds into your warm-up as I do, look no further than these leggings. They’re made from the brand’s Everlux fabric, which dries quickly and ensures you won’t be sitting in a swampy, soggy pair of leggings all day.
Shop now: Lululemon Wunder Train High-Rise Tight, $98
Best For Climbing Tall Things: Merrell Evertrail Tight, $85
These leggings got me to the top of not one, but two, 14-ers (AKA really tall mountains) in a day last year, which is quite the feat once you realize that I am sensitive to basically the entire outdoors.
Shop now: Merrell Evertrail Tight, $85
Best For Getting Those Lifting PRs: Roam Loud Vai Legging, $46
These high-waisted leggings were designed for high-intensity workouts. The thick waistband won’t roll down when you’re trying to make it through a zillion box jumps without crying or hit that back squat PR. Plus—they have pockets.
Shop now: Roam Loud Vai Legging, $46
Best For Days When You Really Need a Hug: Reprise Aspen Leggings, $120
These are the softest leggings I have worn. When I took them out of the package, I was actually shocked and delighted by how cushy they were—and I thought both shocked and delighted were feelings that 2020 had deleted from my brain. Putting them on feels like sliding into a warm embrace: comforting and familiar. They’re also sustainably made using a plant-based fabric.
Shop now: Reprise Aspen Leggings, $120
Best For Active Recovery: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings, $98
You shouldn’t do anything too intense in these leggings, as they are more “fashion” than “workout,” but these faux leather beauties are great for a cool-down stretch after spending the last hour trying to decipher why your recently-married ex liked your comment on your mom’s Instagram post.
Shop now: Spanx Faux Leather Leggings, $98
Best If You Plan To Stay In Shavasana Indefinitely: Alo High-Waist Airbrush Legging, $82
Some days you finish your yoga practice and then think, “what would happen if I just decided to stay in corpse pose until the end of the year?” Those are the days you need these supremely soft, stretchy, comfortable leggings.
Shop now: Alo High-Waist Airbrush Legging, $82
Best If You Need a Legging That Does It All: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Compression Plus-Size Leggings, $40
With a high-rise that doesn’t gap or roll down and a stretchy compression fabric, these leggings can take you from interval training to running to dancing in your living room to the playlist you curated to help your plants grow (because, yes, that is a thing).
Shop Now: Old Navy High-Waisted Elevate Compression Plus-Size Leggings, $40
Best For Low Impact Activities: Nike Yoga Luxe Ribbed 7/8 Tights, $100
These leggings were designed for yoga, but they work wonderfully for an array of other low-impact activities as well, like Pilates, barre, and lightly stalking the aforementioned ex’s new wife on social media. (“Lightly” includes a cursory look at her Instagram and her tagged photos. Maybe you send some screenshots to your friends. If you move on to watching her story highlights and checking out who she follows, then it becomes a job for this next pair of leggings.)
Shop now: Nike Yoga Luxe Ribbed 7/8 Tights, $100
Best For High-Intensity Activities: Girlfriend Collective Black Compressive High-Rise Legging, $68
Remember when they were predicting 2020 was gonna be the year low-rise pants made a comeback, and that seemed like the worst possible thing that could happen? I would definitely prefer that timeline to our current situation, but I’m trying this new thing where I “look at the positive” so… at least we don’t have all of this and the return of low-rise bottoms. These sustainable, compressive leggings are made from recycled water bottles, have a super high rise, and are truly not see-through.
Shop now: Girlfriend Collective Black Compressive High-Rise Legging, $68
Best If You Want Soft Leggings That Can Withstand Tough Workouts: All Access Center Stage Legging, $98
The silky, quick-drying compression fabric of these leggings is literally like putting on a second skin, as the texture feels like your legs post-shaving and applying body oil. Admittedly, this is something I don’t do much anymore because I’m #SingleDuringAPandemic, but when I slip these on over my stubbly legs, it reminds me what soft skin feels like. While some silky leggings are better suited for low-impact activities, these ones hold their own in boxing classes and HIIT.
Shop now: All Access Center Stage Legging, $98
Best If You Plan to Post Your Workout to TikTok: Ultracor Ultra High Matte Flash Knockout Leggings, $198
These aren’t regular compressive black leggings that aren’t sheer when you bend over or squat, they’re cool compressive black leggings that aren’t sheer when you bend over or squat. That’s thanks to the matte black stars that run down the sides, which give them the zhuzh they need to stand out on camera.
Shop now: Ultracor Ultra High Matte Flash Knockout Leggings, $198
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