We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

People may choose to wear compression leggings during or after exercise to help support the muscles and aid recovery.

A quick look at 6 of the best compression leggings

This article looks at whether wearing compression leggings benefits health and performance and explains the key features to consider when purchasing them. It also provides details on some of the compression leggings available to buy.

We refer to “women,” “men,” or both to align with how companies market their products, but there is no need to stick to one type or the other. A person should choose the product that best suits their needs.

Wearing compression leggings can bring several health benefits, but they may carry risks for certain people.

Benefits

Compression leggings may provide a faster recovery when athletes wear them after intense, resistance-based exercise. Wearing compression leggings after exercising may help minimize exercise-induced muscle damage.

According to a 2018 article, compression garments may help by:

  • improving recovery by boosting oxygen supply to the muscles and aiding the removal of lactic acid from them
  • supporting the hamstrings in sprinting and increasing leg extension and flexion when the clothing covers the lower legs
  • reducing exercise-related trauma, swelling, and muscle soreness
  • improving performance due to a psychological effect

An older review of 12 studies found that compression garments provided a moderate improvement in recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness after exercise.

Compression leggings are tighter than regular leggings and may stay in place better during a workout or everyday activities.

Risks

As with other compression garments, compression leggings may not suit people with certain health conditions.

The excess pressure they place on the legs can feel uncomfortable and may cause numbness in the affected area.

Too much pressure or unevenly distributed pressure may even break the skin, according to one case report.

Therefore, people with thin or damaged skin may wish to consult a healthcare professional before wearing compression leggings.

Medical News Today chooses compression leggings according to the following criteria where possible:

  • Support: Products offer support to all the major muscles in the legs.
  • Size and comfort: Products fit a majority of people.
  • Materials: Products feature moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials.
  • Activities: Products are suitable for indoor and outdoor activities.

Below are seven pairs of compression leggings available for people to purchase online.

Most of the products listed below are for women’s compression leggings. However, all of the companies mentioned offer versions for men.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for multi-targeted support: CW-X Endurance Generator Compression Tights

According to the CW-X website, these leggings target the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles, as well as the hip and knee joints. The company states that they offer the following compression benefits:

  • improved circulation and increased oxygen supply to reduce muscle fatigue
  • greater muscle support and stability
  • improved performance and reduced recovery time
  • unrestricted range of motion

Below are the available size and color options:

Available sizesXS, S, M, L, and XL
Color optionsblack/sorbet, black, and red

Pros and cons

These leggings have the following benefits:

  • extra support around the lower back and abdominal area
  • breathable, moisture-wicking, stretchy material
  • UV protection
  • flat seams to minimize chafing
  • an adjustable drawstring around the waist
  • an internal pocket

However, these leggings are more expensive than some of the other options on this list.

Price: The CW-X Endurance Generator Compression Tights have a list price of $170.

Best for targeting thigh and calf muscles: CEP Compression Run Tights 3.0

CEP states on its website that the Compression Run Tights 3.0 offer the following benefits and features:

  • increased circulation
  • injury prevention
  • improved performance
  • compression panels around the thigh and calf muscles
  • machine washable

The table below shows the available size and color options:

Available sizesI, II, III, IV, and V
Color optionsblack

Pros and cons

These leggings contain a nylon and spandex brief that may help prevent chafing and discomfort. Additionally, the company offers a 6-month durability guarantee.

However, some reviewers state that the leggings are too tight and ride too low on the hips.

Price: CEP Compression Run Tights have a list price of $129.95.

Best for muscle efficiency: CompressionZ Compression Leggings

According to the CompressionZ website, the company’s Compression Leggings have the following benefits and features:

  • faster recovery after exercise due to increased oxygen supply to remove lactic acid
  • improved circulation and blood flow, leading to more efficient muscle tissue warm-up
  • supported muscles and better muscle efficiency for improved performance
  • flexibility to maximize a range of motion
  • breathability and moisture-wicking

Below are the available size and color options:

Available sizesXS, S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL, 5XL, 6XL
Color optionsblack

Pros and cons

These leggings have an antibacterial and anti-itch fabric, which may help increase comfort. Additionally, the company claims that the leggings keep their shape after washing.

However, some customers report that the leggings are too thin and that the legs are too short.

Price: The Women’s Compression Leggings have a list price of $49.99.

Best for a graduated compression: 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights

The 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights have targeted support for areas around the quad and calf muscles to reduce straining.

They have graduated compression, flat seams to prevent chafing, and an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+.

The company also advises that the compression tights’ fabric is antibacterial, breathable, and moisture-wicking.

The table below shows the available size and color options:

Available sizesXXS, XS, XST, S, ST, M, MT, L, LT, XL, and XXL
Color optionsblack/black reflective, black/gold reflective

Pros and cons

According to 2XU, its compression tights have benefits that include:

  • reduced impact on the knee joints
  • reduced muscle soreness and muscle fatigue
  • reduced muscle damage
  • improved muscle alignment
  • increased agility and recovery
  • lower risk of injury from overuse

However, some reviewers note that the leggings run small, and people may have to size up.

Price: The 2XU MCS Run Compression Tights have a list price of $119.95.

Best for recycled materials: Nike Sculpt Training Tights

The company claims that these tights contain at least 75% recycled polyester fabric. This may appeal to people who wish to avoid purchasing other potentially less sustainable garments.

The table below shows the available size and color options:

Available sizesXS, S, M, L, XL, and 2XL
Color optionsblack/clear

Pros and cons

According to the company, these leggings have the following features:

  • compressive fabric for more support
  • breathable mesh material for ventilation
  • machine-washability
  • dri-FIT technology to reduce discomfort while training

However, some reviewers report that the sizing runs small.

Price: The Nike Sculpt Training Tights have a list price of $68.

Best for a base layer: Under Armour HeatGear High Waisted Leggings

These leggings feature a thin fabric that may be suitable for use as a base layer. The lightweight and dry-wicking fabric may also make them suitable for use in hotter climates or during workouts that make people sweat.

The table below shows the available size and color options:

Available sizesXS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL
Color options:gray, purple, pink, black, charcoal, navy, and white

Pros and cons

According to the company, these leggings have the following features:

  • four-way stretch construction
  • flat-lock seams to minimize chafing
  • no-slip waistband
  • side pocket for small items

However, some customers report that the sizing runs small, and people may have to purchase a larger size than usual.

Price: The Under Armour HeatGear High Waisted Leggings have a list price starting around $36.

The following table compares the leggings in this article.

SizesProConList price
CW-XXS–XLprovides multi-targeted supportmore expensive$170
CEPI–Vtargets thighs and calvesmay be too tight$129.95
CompressionZXS–6XLmore efficient muscle usemay be too thin$49.99
2XUXXS–XXLprovides graduated compressionsizing may run small$119.95
NikeXS–2XLuses recycled materialssizing may run small$68
Under ArmourXS–XXLlightweight base layersizing may run smallaround $36

Key features to consider when choosing compression leggings include:

  • Size: Compression leggings can have a tighter fit than regular leggings, so people may find that the leggings seem smaller than other clothes of the same size.
  • Comfort: Although compression leggings can feel tighter than other leggings, they should still feel comfortable to wear. People may want to start by wearing leggings with a lower compression level.
  • Moisture-wicking: Moisture-wicking fabrics can help draw sweat away from the body and dry quickly to help people stay as comfortable as possible when exercising.
  • Breathability: Breathable fabrics may help the body better regulate temperature during exercise. Antibacterial fabrics may help control odor.
  • Washability: Some leggings may be easier than others to wash and more likely to keep their appearance and shape after washing.

People who are looking for compression clothing but want an alternative to leggings could consider compression shorts, socks, or both.

Compression shorts apply pressure to the upper legs and may be a better option than compression leggings for people who get hot while exercising.

People can wear compression socks with shorts or looser-fitting trousers to apply pressure to the lower legs.

Here we answer some common questions about these leggings.

What is the difference between compression leggings and tights?

Compression leggings are tighter than regular leggings or tights. They contain dense fabric that promotes blood circulation and muscle recovery.

Regular tights and leggings are not as tightly fitting and do not increase blood circulation.

Is it OK to wear compression leggings all day?

People should consult a healthcare professional before wearing compression leggings all day.

While compression leggings may be comfortable to wear, they can cause discomfort, numbness, and breathing difficulty.

Do compression leggings help with cellulite?

There is currently no scientific evidence that compression leggings can reduce the appearance of cellulite.

People with an existing health condition, particularly a skin or circulatory condition, should speak with a healthcare professional about whether it is safe for them to wear compression leggings.