Whether you’re running errands or running on the treadmill, life is simply better in leggings. I’d go so far as to call them the most comfortable pants on the planet, and the last few years, the selection has become chicer than ever. But on the days when you’re wearing leggings to the actual gym (instead of, ya know, to sit on the couch and watch The Christmas Prince), it’s worth keeping in mind that they’re more than just a cute and comfy pair of pants—they’re also a part of your workout. Enter: Compression tights—which do a whole lot more than just make your butt look perky in the gym mirror.
These extra-tight leggings hold muscles in place and tout all kinds of purported body-boosting benefits, like extra support and increased circulation (though they do not, as we recently learned, make you run faster). But with so many options on the market, how can you figure out how to select the right set?
“When choosing any pair of tights, it’s important to keep in mind the product’s feel, function, and fit,” says Tom Waller, SVP Whitespace, Lululemon. “Ensure that any performance claims are directly related to how you want to use the leggings and any specific needs you might have in terms of your workout, recovery, or injury management.”
While that all makes sense, the most important factor, IMO, is comfort, comfort, comfort. “For feel, you want to consider a fabric’s performance properties like sensation profile, breathability, stretch, abrasion resistance, odor management, and sweat-wicking abilities, and it’s equally important to find the right fit,” he adds.
That doesn’t, however, mean that you have to strap your legs into two compression intense sleeves, because compression tights are getting smarter. Nowadays, options only compress in the areas that you need it, or some provide all over light compression make them easier to wear. To help you pick out the perfect pair, we rounded up some of our favorites for every activity on your fitness to-do list.
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