The Best Workout Pants That Aren’t Skintight (I Tried Over 40)


Yep…I did, in fact, try more than 40 pairs of workout pants that aren’t skintight. Like, do the research, put in the orders, and then actually put them on my body – no one can say I lack commitment! Especially when searching for the absolute BEST exercise pants that meet my (admittedly very) picky requirements for the random assortment of move-my-body activities in my life.

And you guys…I may have tried over 50 pairs. After 45 I had to stop counting. Even I have a point where I recognize that my “thoroughness” could also be viewed as “pathology”.

But I hate wearing leggings, and I need comfortable (and at least somewhat cute) alternatives if I’m going to convince myself to move my body on a regular basis.

What To Wear For Workouts When You Hate Leggings

So. If there is anyone else out there who isn’t a fan of leggings and IS a fan of loose (or loose-ish), comfortable workout pants, I’m your gal! For those of you who have followed TME for a while, you know I don’t skimp on try-on research (haha #understatement), and I’m all-in pursuing a “Best-Of” endeavor.

Consider this your only warning: this article is long. While I certainly didn’t include photos of all 40/50/whatever pairs of pants, I do go in depth on my top 11 pairs (as well as a quick collage of some of the ones that didn’t work, just for fun).

But in the spirit of cutting to the chase, if you’re going to get just one pair of not-tight workout pants, I still recommend these oldies-but-goodies. After trying over 40 pairs, these are still a favorite.

pants (m) | plus size options

The Ultimate Guide To The 10 Best Workout Pants That Aren’t Skintight

Below are my personal top picks for various categories of movement & workouts. Keep scrolling for the full reviews of each workout pant with pros, cons, fit notes, and how I’d wear them.

My Search For The Best Relaxed Fit Workout Pants

Before getting into the full reviews of the BEST workout pants I found…a bit of an explanation of why I’m so set on finding the best relaxed fit workout pants… as well as a quick peek at just some of the workout pants that did NOT work for me.

Workout Pants

Too thin, too thick, too tight, too scratchy, too much fabric, too pajama-like, too weird, too meh… all sorts of reasons the majority of the pants I tried did not make my final cut.

Why, you may ask, am I so focused on finding the absolute best workout pants that aren’t skintight? What’s wrong with workout leggings?

I don’t mind the actual wearing of tights or leggings during workouts, but most of the time it’s early morning when I’m putting on my workout clothes and I can’t STAND sausaging my body into tight leggings that early in my day before coffee. When faced with squeezing into leggings first thing in the morning, I found myself time after time choosing NOT to put them on and choosing to NOT workout at all. Not good.


I don’t love early morning wake-ups, and I don’t really love most workouts either. But…mornings can’t be avoided, and I’m trying really hard in my late 40’s to make moving my body in SOME way a daily practice. Owning easy, pull-on, comfy workout pants (that aren’t skintight and are cute or cute-ish) is absolutely key to this goal.

The Best Not Skintight Workout Pants: Athleta, Zella, Adidas, & More

I have various requirements for my not skintight workout pants related to my different move-my-body activities. For Solidcore I prefer a stretchy high waist, for dance class I like a loose fitting parachute pant, for physical therapy I like a comfortable straight/wide-leg (for easy knee access)… more details below in each review.

I will preface the reviews, though, by sharing that I absolutely focus more on comfort and cuteness in my workout pants rather than the actual “technicalities” of the fabric. If you’re looking for the best jogger pants for running marathons, this is not the review article for you. I’m definitely more of a “casual exerciser” (dance classes, walks on the trail, and strength-training mostly) and am most happy when my workout pants are comfortable… and when I look in the mirror and think that they look cute.

1. Zella Live-In Jogger : Best For ALL Workouts (Including Spin)

Zella Live In Joggers
Workout Pants

pants (m) | plus size options | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: Stretchy, comfy, legging-like moisture-wicking material, in a relaxed (but not TOO loose) jogger style. The tie at the waist adds a little cuteness and the fit, weight, and comfort is absolutely unmatched. My top recommended “everything” jogger. I’ve worn and loved this style for YEARS! Poly-spandex blend.

Cons: This is definitely a basic black jogger. Nothing terribly exciting or interesting here.

Fit Notes: XS-XXL and plus sizing. I’ve worn multiple sizes in these pants throughout the years. Go smaller if you want a more fitted look (I can wear a size small comfortably and they fit a bit more like leggings, but not skintight), or go bigger if you want a more relaxed fit. My favorite size is the medium shown above. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: I wear these joggers for EVERYTHING! On the Peleton, exercise walks, dance class, Solidcore, yoga, and out and about too. I’m happy wearing them as “real pants” too with a coatigan or sweater-blazer thrown on top.

2. Zella Adjustable Pants: Best For Dance Workouts & Hiking

Zella Workout Parachute Pants
Zella Cargos

pants (m) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: I LOVE the look and fit of these particular Zella parachute style pants. I do like the Trekkie parachute pant from Athleta (that many from the TME team adored from last summer), but these Zellas have a slightly lower waist and hang better on my body. Additional plus: the adjustable hem. I wear these on REPEAT multiple times a week.

Cons: The fabric is a little stiff at the beginning (and makes the swishy sound for sure), but the fabric gets softer with wash. I own and like the look of the pebble color as well, but I have to be cognizant of my underwear choices (and coffee spills) because of the light color, so I don’t wear them as much.

Fit Notes: XS-XXL sizing. Many reviews say they run big, but if you have hips and a butt, don’t size down. I started with a pair in size small and they fit okay, but I’m MUCH happier with the size mediums above. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: As mentioned above, I wear these pants multiple times a week. They’re my go-to for Reggaetone and Latin House dance class, but I also wear them as hiking pants (nylon/spandex blend material makes it easy to brush off dust and dirt). I also wear them out and about with hoodies and t-shirts. In the summer I wore them with cute Birkenstocks, fitted tanks, and a big straw bag. A great travel pant, too.

3. Athleta Wide Leg Cargos: Best For Physical Therapy

Athleta Workout Pants
Athleta Comfy Pants

pants (s) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: Ultra comfortable and easy to move in. I love a wide-leg or relaxed fit straight-leg for physical therapy appointments. Easy access to knees, legs, ankles, whatever…and fine for my strength training exercise at home as well. The comfort, stretchy waistband, and easy fit of these pants make them a pleasure to put on any time of the day. Breathable cotton blend.

Cons: Too much fabric for “major” workouts. I wouldn’t jog or do spin class in these for sure.

Fit Notes: XXS-XL, Regular, Tall, & Petite sizing. I tried both the mediums and smalls and liked the fit of the small better for strength-training/physical therapy. The mediums fit and have a really cute baggier look for lounging or out and about, but they had too much fabric for me for workouts. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: For lounging absolutely (so comfy), but I’d also wear them for physical therapy appointments and light strength-training at home or the gym.

4. Vuori Villa Jogger: Best For Exercise Walks (Summer)

Vuori Workout Pants
Vuori Villa Joggers

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Pros: Silky soft fabric that is WILDLY lightweight. I think these will be PERFECT for hot weather walks this summer. The look of a parachute pant, but much softer than most parachute material and no swish-swish sound. Performance moisture-wicking recycled poly-elastane blend. The drapey fabric and clean lines make this workout pant a little different from the rest.

Cons: Maybe a little too much fabric in the front belly area. It’s a little poofy looking. I may try a size medium instead once summer hits.

Fit Notes: XXS-XL sizing. I’m wearing a large above (Vuori tends to run small on me), and they’re very roomy. I like the very relaxed fit, but may try the mediums this summer just to make sure. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: For everything summer. I’m always looking for pants that feel like you’re wearing nothing in the summer, and these are just that.

5 . Athleta Rainier Jogger: Best For Exercise Walks (Winter)

Athleta Workout Pants
Athleat Rainier Joggers

pants (m) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: Ooooh….so soft and cozy inside! Brushed super soft interior feels amazing on and a perfect weight for outdoor workouts in cool and cold weather. I also love the seam detailing…cute and gives some nice added detail to the look. Nice high waist that’s ultra comfy. Moisture-wicking recycled nylon-lycra blend…feels fantastic for a cold-weather workout pant.

Cons: A bit more fitted than I wanted especially with the compression fabric. Considered sizing up to a large for a looser-fitting “look”, but for actual outdoor jogs and exercise walks, the fit is good the way it is.

Fit Notes: XXS-3X, Petite, Regular, & Tall Sizing. Wearing a size medium above. More fitted than many of my other top picks in this review, but still plenty comfy and not skintight. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: On outdoor winter exercise walks and possible jogs…with a fleece or thin puffer.

6. Adidas French Terry Straight Leg: Best For Cool Girl Workouts

Adidas Workout Pants
Adidas French Terry Pants

pants (m) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: It’s all in the header title above…I feel SUPER cool when I’m wearing these. And I’ve been wearing them a TON! Even my teenager commented that he liked them and I don’t think he has ever noticed ANYTHING I wear. REALLY high waist, so makes it easy to play around with the idea of crop/boxy short tops.

Cons: DON’T PUT THEM IN THE DRYER! They definitely shrink! This is an unfortunate con for sure seeing that pretty much everything in my household eventually ends up in the dryer, even when I’m trying to be careful. They’re soft enough for sure (100% cotton) but not overly cozy soft.

Fit Notes: XS-XL Sizing. Wearing a size medium above and I love the loose-fitting look (with the thick fitted waist).

How I’d Wear Them: I’ve been wearing these for outdoor walks, for weights and physical therapy exercises in the house, and I’m going to attempt to wear them to dance class. Have also been wearing them for out and about and for travel.

7: Beyond Yoga Spacedye Joggers: Best For Pilates & Solidcore

Beyond Yoga Workout Pants
Beyond Yoga Spacedye Joggers

pants (m) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: Buttery soft poly-lycra material with a really nice high leggings-like stretchy waist that feels secure (and stays put). The pant legs and hips are fitted “enough” that you can still see your form for pilates, Solidcore, yoga, etc type workouts, but they aren’t skintight.

Cons: The style of these pants is “fine”…nothing special. I like these more for their usefulness, feel, and fit rather than the look.

Fit Notes: XS-4X Sizing. Wearing a size medium here and I like the fit. For reference, I’m 5’2 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: I like wearing super soft high-waisted pants with fitted tops to my Solidcore classes, so I can make sure my form is correct. These are perfect.

8. Lululemon Dance Studio Pants: Best Butt

Lululemon Dance Pants

pants (12 short) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: Another oldie, but goodie. I used to pretty much ONLY wear these cult-favorite Lululemon dance pants. The butt is STILL the best out there for loose-fitting workout pants. Lulu does this thing in the back where they bring the elastic down to a slight v, and it’s good. Other pros: super lightweight, soft fabric (nylon/elastane blend), and easy-to-move in.

Cons: I’m not typically a huge Lululemon fan. Their sizing runs small on my body shape, and I’m annoyed there’s only one size above my size 12. These are decent dupes from Amazon. The fabric isn’t as good as the Lulu ones, but they’re cute and go up to a size XXL. I wear a size large in the Amazon pants.

Fit Notes: 0-14 sizing, Short, Regular, & Tall. I’m wearing a 12 here and although the hips and butt are perfect, they’re a little too loose in the waist. The 10’s, however, are too tight in the hips and butt. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: They’re FABULOUS for dance workout classes.

9. Amazon: Best Budget-Friendly Workout Pants

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Pros: Love the high thick waist band on these, adjustable tie waist, and fit. All pretty darn good for under $30!

Cons: Poly-spandex blend fabric feels kind of low quality…not as buttery soft as Vuori and not as high quality feeling as Athleta or Zella. Waist is adjustable, but takes a little pulling to get it to truly cinch.

Fit Notes: XS-3X sizing. Wearing a large here and happy with the fit. Mediums were too snug in the hips.

How I’d Wear Them: Keeping them for a variety of activities…walks, Solidcore, and possibly in the mix if I start jogging in the spring? But again…I don’t like them as well as Vuori, Athleta, or Zella.

* For budget-friendly workout pants, I know there are readers who LOVE Target’s tapered workout pants, but the fit just wasn’t right on me. At Target, I ended up liking the Cinch Hem Cargo Pants better than the tapered pants, but not enough to include them in this Best-Of List.

10. Best For Beginner Joggers: TBD…maybe Vuori Performance or Athleta Venice

This category is being left (for now) as To Be Determined. I haven’t started jogging yet, and I haven’t even decided if I’m going to actually TRY jogging. Shana is attempting to convince me to try it out in the spring, so of course my mind immediately went to…what will my “running costume” be? These are the top contenders right now, but I’m definitely open to suggestions.

a. Vuori Performance Jogger

pants (L) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: These are Vuori’s beloved buttery soft magic pants. They are WILDLY soft and comfortable. Because of that…I feel like they’d be a dream to jog in. Soft against the skin, a pleasure to put on (even when I’m dreading the actual jogging part of my workout). When I wear a size large, I’m happy with the relaxed fit and look.

Cons: This buttery soft fabric is wildly soft, BUT it’s also on the thinner side so it shows lumps, bumps and all the jiggles, more than the Athleta Venice joggers below. Although the performance joggers would be ridiculously comfortable for trying out jogging, I don’t know if I would love the jiggle factor. Or maybe they’re so comfortable I don’t care?

Fit Notes: XXS-XXL sizing. Size up! I am MUCH happier with the fit, feel, and look when I size up to a large (even though I’m a small or medium in Athleta pants).

How I’d Wear Them: I wear Vuori’s performance joggers for a variety of activities (I’ve had various pairs for years), but they are most often grabbed for lounging. SO yummy soft.

b. Athleta Venice Jogger

pants (m) | top (m) | sneakers

Pros: I’ve owned and worn the Venice joggers for years as a workout pant. They’re fantastic versatile pants for all sorts of activities. Breathable, moisture-wicking, quick-drying nylon-spandex blend. The Sculptek fabric is lightweight, but is more substantial than some of the other fabrics I’ve tried — meaning they show less lumps and bumps and jiggles. Which is making me think they might be good for jogging. Also..the fabric and zip pocket style is perfect for wearing out and about before or after workouts as well.

Cons: Not as buttery soft as some of the thinner, lighter-weight joggers.

Fit Notes: XXS-3X, Petite, Regular, and Tall sizing. Wearing a size small above and happy with the fit for more rigorous exercising. Style-wise, I like the fit of the mediums better. For reference, I’m 5’2, 140-ish lbs.

How I’d Wear Them: Maybe for jogging on the trail?? I’ve worn mine for years for a variety of activities (Solidcore, exercise walks, dance class, etc), but I especially like to wear them when I know I need to be out and about all day. Because they’re a thicker material and have the back zip pockets, I feel totally comfortable wearing them anywhere.

So…what other favorites do you guys have in the “not skintight workout pant” category? Feel free to chime in if you ALSO prefer a more relaxed fit workout pant! I know you guys are out there, right?

And if you want a blast from the past…check out my very first Mom Edit search for not-tight workout pants back in 2019 (my lighting has gotten significantly better since then) or my 2020 search (I was definitely dedicated to those masks…even alone in my house!) Apparently my dedication to finding the BEST not-tight workout pants has also stayed strong throughout the years.

As always, I love hearing from you all.


Oh hey, Pinners…