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Which Fabric is Best for Gym Leggings?

When it comes to your workout clothes, you want something that is going to be comfortable, breathable, and has a bit of stretch. But with so many different fabric options out there, it can be hard to know which one is the best for your gym leggings.

Here is our quick guide to help you pick the right fabric for your workout needs. We'll take a look at which fabric is best for gym leggings, alongside some options that you should try to avoid.

What to Look for When Buying Gym Leggings

Before we look at some of the best fabrics for workout leggings, let's see what properties you should be looking for when purchasing your next pair.

  • Comfort: Comfort is key when it comes to workout clothing, so make sure to choose the right size and a fabric that is soft and gentle on the skin.
  • Moisture-wicking properties: These are a must in any pair of workout leggings. You want a fabric that will pull sweat away from the skin and allow it to evaporate quickly, keeping you cool and dry during your workout.
  • Stretchiness: Stretch is important in workout leggings as it allows you to move freely without feeling restricted. Look for a fabric that offers a good amount of stretch such as spandex or Lycra.
  • Durability: You want your workout leggings to last, so make sure to choose a fabric that is durable and will withstand regular wear and tear. Polyester is a great option as it is a strong and sturdy fabric.

Fabrics To Avoid in Gym Wear

While standard cotton fabric may look like they would be ideal for workout clothes, it is actually one of the worst fabrics you could choose. 

100% cotton leggings might be great for day-to-day comfort, but they are not very breathable, meaning that you will likely end up feeling sweaty and uncomfortable during a workout. This can also lead to skin irritation, which nobody wants after a heavy session at the gym. Certified personal trainer Chad Moeller states

“Cotton literally absorbs every ounce of sweat, which makes you feel like you’re wearing a wet towel.”

In addition to this, while acrylic and other thick synthetic fabrics may be great for cold weather, they are also not ideal for working out. In general, you want to steer clear of any fabric that doesn't allow your skin to breathe.

Not only will this make your workout more uncomfortable, but it can also lead to health problems like overheating and dehydration.

Now that we've looked at a couple of fabrics to avoid, let's take a look at some of the best fabric options for gym leggings.

7 Fabrics That Make the Best Workout Wear

1. Spandex/Lycra

Spandex or Lycra is one of the great synthetic fabrics of the 20th Century, and one of our particular favourites. As a breathable fabric that also offers a great deal of stretch, it is perfect for workout clothing as it allows you to move freely without feeling restricted. 

Spandex is often used in sportswear and swimwear due to its moisture-wicking properties, making it ideal for swimming or sweating it out at the gym.

2. Moisture Wicking Cotton

Unlike standard cotton, moisture-wicking cotton is designed to pull sweat away from the skin and allow it to evaporate quickly, making it ideal for high-intensity workouts. Moisture wicking cotton is often used in sportswear as it helps to keep athletes cool and dry during even the most strenuous exercise. 

3. Polyester/Spandex Blends

While basic polyester is more breathable than cotton and is found in almost all fitness fabrics due to its lightweight and wrinkle-free properties, it isn’t quite as robust as spandex or other specifically moisture-wicking fabrics. 

So when buying polyester workout wear, it's important to make sure your leggings include a blend of other breathable fabrics to help with moisture control, especially if you're hitting the gym regularly.

This blend truly makes the best fabric when it comes to workout leggings, sports bras and yoga pants. As we mentioned before, polyester is a great fabric for workout clothes due to its wrinkle-resistant and lightweight properties. When combined with spandex, you get a fabric that is breathable, stretchy, and moisture-wicking, making it perfect for any type of workout.

Our collection of funky leggings for women use a buttery-soft microfiber yarn made from 82% polyester and 18% spandex. This provides a four-way stretch, a sweat wicking fabric, and leggings that won't lose their shape after a heavy workout. If you're a fan of hot yoga, make sure you check out our range of cropped leggings to keep as cool as possible!

4. Bamboo Fibre 

Organic fabrics such as bamboo fabric often utilise recycled material to create their cloth. This can be a popular option for fitness clothing as it is environmentally friendly as well as being absorbent, breathable, and comfortable. Bamboo is often blended with other fabrics such as spandex to create the perfect pair of workout leggings.

5. Nylon

Nylon fabric is a synthetic material often used in workout clothing such as sports bras and leggings. Recycled nylon is a great option for fitness clothing as it is environmentally friendly as well as being an absorbent, breathable, and stretchy fabric. Nylon is often blended with other fabrics such as spandex to create the perfect pair of workout leggings.

6. Polypropylene

Another synthetic fabric suitable for gym clothes is polypropylene. Polypropylene can be more water-resistant than polyester because it transfers moisture instead of absorbing it. This makes it a great option for athletic wear, alongside its breathable and comfortable properties.

CNet recommends this type of material when you're exercising outside in sleet, rain, snow or high humidity

7. Merino wool

Merino wool can be a great fabric for activewear and is also often blended with fabrics like nylon and spandex. Merino wool is a natural fabric that helps to regulate body temperature, making it ideal for both cold and warm weather workouts. The fabric is also moisture-wicking and breathable, making it perfect for high-intensity exercise.

Other Reasons To Find The Right Workout Gear

It’s important to mention that leggings fabric isn’t just about breathability or sweat-wicking; oftentimes, it’s a matter of safety.

Breathable materials are fantastic and, as they literally (and figuratively) save your skin, you should definitely choose them over that heavy cotton shirt you have laying around. These materials can aid in protecting your body from overheating when going for a mid-summer run.

Furthermore, certain injuries can be avoided with form-fitting clothing. If, for example, you wear baggy gym pants that get caught in the pedals when you're riding a bike, you have a greater chance of getting hurt.

Your range of motion is possibly one of the most significant factors, as was mentioned before in this piece. This is crucial when working out because too much or too little might strain your muscles and perhaps prevent you from realising your full potential.

So – Which Fabric is Best For Gym Leggings?

All of the above fabrics have their own individual benefits that make them great as sports fabrics. However, our personal favourite for gym leggings is the polyester/spandex blend. 

This fabric offers a great deal of stretch while being wrinkle-resistant and quick drying, making it perfect for any type of workout. Other fabrics such as bamboo and nylon are also great options for gym leggings, so it really comes down to personal preference and how you want your work out leggings to fit.

Funky floral leggings for women. Model "Tropics" Olive and green.

Best Fabrics For Gym Leggings FAQs

Is nylon or polyester better for leggings?

Both nylon and polyester are great fabrics for leggings, however nylon can sometimes shrink so make sure to check the care instructions before washing. Polyester is a great fabric for leggings as it doesn't shrink, but can be best blended with other materials to create the perfect pair of leggings.

Is polyester good for leggings?

Polyester is a great fabric for leggings as it is lightweight and wrinkle-resistant. Polyester can also be blended with other materials such as spandex to create a breathable, stretchy, and comfortable pair of workout leggings.

How do I choose fabric for leggings?

To choose the ideal fabric for your leggings, it is important to consider the type of workout you will be doing. If you are looking for a pair of leggings to wear to yoga or Pilates something like spandex or bamboo would be ideal as they are stretchy and breathable.

However, if you are looking for a pair of leggings to wear to the gym, then a polyester/spandex blend or recycled polyester would be a great option as they are quick drying and moisture-wicking.


Looking For Top-Quality, Breathable Workout Leggings?

At Loony Legs, our leggings not only provide a lightweight, second skin feel, but our buttery-soft microfibre yarn - made with 82% polyester and 18% spandex - is both sweat wicking, stretchy and quick drying. Plus, our high-waisted leggings will stay in place no matter how hard you work out.

Our mission is to create a unique piece for every woman, which is why we offer a range of sizes from XS to XL, as well as a variety of bold colours, designs and prints. Don’t miss out on our creative, durable collection – shop today.

Check out our high-quality collection of funky workout leggings today!


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