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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best compression leggings for women

Having comfortable workout gear is crucial for powering through a tough cardio session or multiple sets of squats. But some workout clothes can actually help boost performance, which is why you may want to invest in a pair of compression leggings for women.

Compression leggings are similar to other workout leggings or tights: they’re snug-fitting pants that are stretchy enough to easily move with you. However, compression leggings are even tighter than traditional workout leggings to boost blood flow to the muscles in your lower body. This is thought to help slow muscle fatigue and soreness, prevent muscle strains and pulls, and increase power for explosive moves. You may also find that you recover more quickly after a workout, so you can get back to the gym sooner, too. 

But with so many styles of women’s compression leggings to choose from, finding the right pair can be a challenge. We’ve compiled this buying guide with all the tips you need to find the best pair for you. For even faster shopping, check out our specific product recommendations above. 

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Don’t worry if compression leggings look a little small when you first purchase them. They’re designed to be tight, so they’re smaller than regular leggings, but they stretch more easily.

Key considerations

Outerwear vs. underwear

Women’s compression leggings are available in two styles: outerwear and underwear. 

Outerwear compression leggings are meant to be worn on their own and provide support for the muscles in your legs while running, biking, or performing other activities involving the lower body. They usually have more durable stitching to hold up to intense workouts and are more elastic to allow for better stretch to help maintain the compression without ripping.

Underwear compression leggings are typically shorter than outerwear styles and designed to be worn under shorts or other workout pants. They take the place of other underwear because the leggings are so tight that wearing anything under them can be uncomfortable. Underwear compression leggings provide stability and support to the muscles in the legs and are effective at wicking away moisture during workouts.

Fit

Compression leggings for women obviously need to be tight to stimulate blood flow and support the legs. A tighter fit also helps prevent the leggings from loosening when they’re wet with sweat and helps keep you warm in windy weather. 

However, compression leggings shouldn’t be too tight or they can restrict circulation. They should feel comfortable and allow for easy movement while working out. You don’t need to buy a size down when shopping because the leggings are designed to provide a tighter fit. 

Pay attention to the placement of the seams, too. They should sit comfortably on the legs and follow the line of your muscles so they don’t chafe or irritate the skin when exercising. Flatlock seams that don’t have excess material are the best option for compression leggings you’ll wear for workouts.

Opacity

If you plan to buy compression leggings for outerwear, you should consider how opaque they are when you’re wearing them. Because the material is designed to stretch as you move, some leggings can get fairly sheer when you bend, exposing you in a way you don’t want. Thicker leggings are a safer bet because they typically stay opaque even when you bend and stretch. If you intend to wear your leggings under shorts, the opacity doesn’t really matter since you’ll have coverage for the areas you don’t want to show off. 

If you’re prone to shin splints or calf cramps while running, compression leggings can provide support and boost blood flow to your legs to reduce lactic acid buildup and prevent pain.

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Features

Components

Waistband: Women’s compression leggings all have an elastic waistband for a comfortable fit. Most are simple spandex waistbands that are comfortable and stretchy enough for basic workouts, but they can differ in their rise. Some leggings have a high-rise waistband that covers up to the navel, while others have a mid-rise waistband that hits at the natural waist. High-rise waistbands provide more support while still staying flexible enough for easy movement. 

Pockets: When you’re running, cycling, or working out, it helps to have a pocket to carry essential items like your keys or ID. Many pairs of compression leggings have a pocket at the waist for small items, while some have a pocket on the thigh that’s large enough to hold a phone. Zippered pockets are an excellent option because you don’t have to worry about items falling out when you’re running or exercising. 

Reflective panels: If you plan to wear your compression leggings for running or other outdoor activities in low light, look for a pair with reflective panels. They pick up the light, so you’re more visible on the road after dark or in the early morning. 

Length

Most compression leggings for women are full length, extending to or just above the ankle. Some pairs are cropped, hitting just below the knee or mid-calf. Choosing a length is usually a matter of personal preference. For year-round use, a full-length pair works best, but cropped leggings work well in warmer weather.

Moisture-wicking

To help you stay comfortable during a workout, compression leggings should have a moisture-wicking fabric. These materials move moisture away from the skin, so the fabric doesn’t feel wet and uncomfortable when you sweat. 

You can usually tell if compression leggings are moisture-wicking by sprinkling some water on the fabric. If it spreads out quickly, the leggings can effectively move the moisture away from the skin and help it evaporate. Leggings made of fabric that allows water to bead up on it can get soaked pretty quickly.

Color/pattern

While most compression leggings for women are black, you can find styles in various colors if you want to match the rest of your workout gear. You can even find leggings in fun patterns like stripes or animal prints. 

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DID YOU KNOW?
According to some studies, sleeping in compression leggings the night after a tough workout can help your muscles recover more quickly.
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Accessories

Running shoes: ASICS Women’s GEL-Kayano 23 Running Shoes
If you’re wearing your compression leggings to jog, comfortable running shoes are a must. This pair from ASICS is a favorite because they have gel cushioning for shock absorption and they glow in the dark for safe nighttime running.

Running shorts: Under Armour Fly by Running Shorts
You need a high-quality pair of running shorts to wear over compression leggings meant to be underwear. We love this pair from Under Armour because they have a stay-put waistband, reflective details for safety, and come in lots of fun colors. 

Compression leggings for women prices

Compression leggings for women vary in price based on the type, opacity, and other features. Most pairs cost between $9 and $148.

Inexpensive: The most affordable compression leggings for women are those best worn under shorts. They’re not very opaque and typically don’t offer special features like flatlock seams, pockets, or reflective panels. These leggings generally cost between $9 and $26.

Mid-range: These compression leggings can usually be worn under shorts or on their own. They’re more opaque to prevent any show-through and often have special features like flatlock seams, pockets, moisture-wicking material, and/or reflective panels. You can find both cropped and full-length styles in this price range. Expect to spend between $27 and $65 for these leggings.

Expensive: The most expensive compression leggings are typically thick enough to wear on their own. They’re fully opaque to eliminate any show-through and have special features like flatlock seams, pockets, moisture-wicking material, and/or reflective panels. Most styles in this price range are full-length leggings. You’ll generally pay between $60 and $148 for these. 

Because compression leggings fit so snugly, they’re less likely to slide down or shift during a workout.

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Tips

  • Buy several pairs. Compression leggings are particularly helpful for running, cycling, and strength training. If you’re an avid runner, biker, or weightlifter, you’ll likely want to invest in a few pairs of leggings. 
  • Wear compression leggings after your workout, too. For post-workout recovery, it helps to wear compression leggings for at least a few hours to help fight muscle fatigue and tightness.
  • Follow the care instructions on the label. It’s usually best to let compression leggings air-dry after washing to maintain their stretchiness. 
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Wearing compression leggings during pregnancy can reduce swelling, soothe lower back pain, and prevent varicose veins.

FAQ

Q. What are the benefits of compression leggings?

A. Compression leggings have many benefits. Because they fit so snugly, they don’t create much drag while running or cycling, which can increase your speed. They also increase blood flow to the legs to help keep you warm on cold days, provide support and stability to limit injuries, and reduce muscle fatigue after workouts.

Q. Can I wear compression leggings all day? 

A. If you want to wear compression leggings for a day of running errands, you definitely can. While they’re mainly meant for use during workouts and other rigorous activities, it won’t do any harm if you wear them for less intense activities. 

Q. Should I wear underwear with compression leggings? 

A. It’s really a matter of personal preference. The leggings are tight, so there’s a good chance that panty lines will be visible when you’re wearing them. Some people find that their underwear bunches up under the leggings, too, which can be uncomfortable. If you feel more comfortable wearing underwear, it’s best to opt for sports or athletic underwear, which is more breathable and moisture-wicking than traditional cotton garments.

 

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