Workout Pants That Don’t Roll Down – You’re So Very Welcome

Three women, wearing leggings that don't roll when you exercise, stand confidently with a heavenly backdrop.

You know that moment when you’ve met your limit? When you say enough is enough? I just finished spinning, and I had to unbuckle the thick, wide band of my leggings. It felt like my body was going to be severed in half. Feeling somewhat adjusted, I positioned myself on a mat near my bike, ready for a floor Pilates class. And just when I went to do a roll up – snap! – the waistband rolled down again. Despite my readjustment and unable to pause during the hundreds, it rolled yet again. That was it – I’m done, in internally screamed. I was never wearing these leggings again to a hunched-over cycling class or folded-over abs flow. I was determined to find a pair of leggings or workout pants that don’t roll down. I did better, I found three pairs – and expert advice on avoiding it ever happening again.

“We’ve all been in the situation where you’re constantly having to tug your leggings up during your workout, [and] it really takes away from the experience,” says Laura Santino, co-founder of Permission, a Canadian retailer for women’s activewear, prided on comfortable fitness clothes. “It’s definitely not something you have to put up with, there’s so many options out there for you to feel amazing in.”

Why do my workout pants roll down at the waist?

I learned something from those leggings. I originally thought they were the solution to my other leggings that would fall down from a lack of any tightness around my midsection. But a thick elastic waist band doesn’t always mean quality.

In fact, the heavy elastic band only rolled down but amplified the feeling as it pinched its way down my body with every forward-bend movement.

Another thing I learned: You should always move when trying on fitness clothes. When it comes to workout leggings, it’s not just about holding stuff in or having a high waistband.

“I always recommend trying on different styles and fits of leggings to feel the difference once they’re on your body,“ says Santino. “Our bodies are all so different, and the beauty of that is there is something different for everyone.“

That’s so true. As someone who is tall-ish with an “athletic body type,” meaning my waist isn’t very defined, high-waisted pants (including jeans) don’t always work or stay up on me. But every woman I know and talk to has this problem in finding workout pants that don’t roll down.

“There’s not a one size fits all approach to comfort, so I always suggest trying new brands or styles that you normally wouldn’t,” says Santino. 

How to keep workout pants from rolling down

You don’t have to stop shopping for pants that look good, but just make sure that they work *with* your body and not against it. Here are three things to look for when trying on workout bottoms that stay put.

  1. Compression fabric
    As I pointed out, thicker isn’t always better. “I recommend fabrics you feel most comfortable in with a compression that works for the type of workout you love the most,” says Santino.
  2. Waist positioning
    The top of the leggings – the waist band – should sit at your natural waist. Anything too high or too low may end up like a Fruit Roll-Up.
  3. Drawstring check
    A pull of a drawstring just before your workout could make all the difference in your workout.

Buying online? No problem. Santino says: “If you don’t have the opportunity to try on before you buy, look for high-waist leggings with compression, an adjustable drawstring on the waist, and always check sizing charts to make sure they’re the perfect fit on you.”

Reviews: Workout pants that don’t fall down

Not an urban myth. Truth here. I found three pairs leggings and workout pants that stay put when no matter what fitness class you’re taking. I rotated each pair for six weeks of exercising, ensuring that they each went through the same moves in multiple workouts. To know if they will work out (get it?) for you, ensure a good fit either by trying them on or checking the size chart.

Athleta workout pants

Transcend Pant, $109, at athleta.com.

Technically speaking: Made of breathable lightweight nylon and Lycra, these no-side-seam pants offer all-around stretch. Waist sits at the natural waist and there’s a hidden small pocket in the waistband. Other good things to note: UPF 50+, machine washable and fair-trade made.

Test driven: Athleta makes what feels like the softest fabric to ever cling to my thighs. To be honest, I had to remind myself that I didn’t forget to wear pants, as these are so light. It was a bit unnerving at first!

These workout pants are high-waisted, but they’re not made with an elastic band. Instead it’s the same stretchy material the pants are made of, folded over. Because it’s like second skin, they stay put on me through my bike bootcamp classes, even with a section dedicated to crunches and burpees. The material moves with my body, instead of fighting to keep my tummy tucked in. 

On leggings

Tights Long, $159, at on-running.com

Technically speaking: Athletic fit and true to size, these leggings are made of recycled materials, including 65% recycled polyamide, as well as elastane for that compression and stretch. The waist is adjustable, and the knees are structured for warmth for outdoor activity. There’s a zipper pocket in the waistband, too.

Test driven: If you’re a fan of leggings that hold everything in and stay put, these may be for you. The feel like compression pants, with designed sections for the different parts of the lower body. And for me, these sit right at my natural waist. Although they have a drawstring, I didn’t find that I really needed to pull it for the waistband to not budge. But when I did – whoa. It’s like compression on compression. I do also love the zippered bottoms which, when undone, reveal a sliver of white fabric. I found it chic. When you click through to the website, you’ll see that these are running leggings, which can be worn outside in cooler weather. But they also work just fine for in-studio or at-home fitness classes, too.

Lululemon workout leggings

Wunder Train Contour Fit High-Rise Tight, $98, at lululemon.com

Technically speaking: Made with the brand’s trademarked Everlux fabric, these slim-fit leggings have four-way stretch, thanks to the Lycra and nylon mix. The cut is also meant to be snug from waist to hips to ankles. The waistband features a drawstring and a pocket.

Test driven: This pair of leggings are a sleeper hit. They kinda look like every pair I have in my workout wardrobe, except the one design feature that makes them worthy of being on this list: A secret drawstring. To be honest, when I first noticed the string, I thought it was just part of the waistband, not a feature I could access. But when I pulled the string, I heard the ahahahhhhh sound. Suddenly they transformed into workout pants that not only looked good, but improved my workouts by not making me fidget and pull at my pants. When I did forget to pull the string, they rolled down and immediately reminded me of my task: To pull the string.

Want more stay-put workout pant options?

Here are some pants Santino carries in her own shop because they are meant to not fall down when you move

  1. Football Legging from Year of Ours
    “One of our bestsellers and for a reason. They’re not just cute, but the tie allows them to be super functional and adjustable. The tie holds them up for a slip-free workout.”
  2. Original Super Soft Legging from The Upside
    “Again, the drawstring on these allows them to be adjustable and tight on the waist. Tie them up and don’t think twice about having to pull up your leggings.”
  3. Cami Unitard by Girlfriend Collective
    “Don’t worry about leggings falling, this one piece has you covered. Compressive material that still allows you to move, plus it’s an all in one kinda outfit.”