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Create & Develop | Activewear: The Womenswear Review

The activewear market has now elevated to super trend status. As brands look to develop new pieces that balance function and style whilst incorporating a gym to street appeal. The trusty fitness legging is redesigned season after season, continually evolving. For this month's blog post I have created a round up of the top 10 leggings currently out there. Including brands and retailers to give a price, design, technical fabrics, trend and function comparison.

I have also included a PT session with my long time trainer Lucinda Abell. During our PT session, Lucinda and I worked on her top 5 favourite exercises, including an advanced version demonstrated by Lucinda and a beginner version which I demonstrate.

1. F&F ACTIVE | Colour Block Quick Dry Leggings £14.00

Mesh panelling really adds some interest to the garment, I'm also a big fan of the grey marl interest base fabric! I have selected this F&F Active for Tesco version, as it hits all the trend boxes whilst still supporting me during my workout.

2. NIKE | Epic Lux Flash, Reflective Running Tights £94.95

The Nike Epic Lux Flash Reflective Running Tights feature reflective graphics circling the legs to help you stand out. Nike power fabric is supportive and stretchy to keep you moving freely.

3. MATALAN SOULUXE | Tape Sports Leggings £14.00

Classic technical sports tape remains a firm staple creating an elongating illusion which sculpts and shapes the leg. The bold colours in this Souluxe for Matalan version work so well together, this has best seller all over it!

Contrast colour stitching is also another way to create this effect and with the introduction of neat bonded seams creates a smoother finish.

4. SWEATY BETTY | Power Mesh Leggings £90.00

The polyamide elastane fabric in these Sweaty Betty Power Mesh Leggings create a bum-sculpting effect, which are supportive for every sport. The base fabric also incorporates moisture wicking technology, making these leggings super flattering and comfortable.

5. REEBOK | Linear High Rise 3/4 Leggings £32.48

Reebok have incorporated comfort and function, by including a high rise waist on these leggings. The bonded seams ensure a no-rub back effect whilst creating a flattering shape. Including moisture wicking fabric along with antimicrobial gusset.

6. GYMSHARK | Ombre Seamless Leggings £40.00

Gymshark is a relatively new fitness apparel brand. Supported by over 3 million highly engaged social media followers. This Ombre Seamless Knit Legging includes contouring shading and rib detail woven into a luxuriously soft fabric with a high waist to ensure a comfort fit and dry moisture management technology.

7. SAINSBURY'S TU | Multicoloured Marble Print Leggings £16.00

I just love the colours in this bold Marble Print Legging from TU at Sainsbury's. The print looks really fresh and new, married up with the matching slogan vest and I can't wait to get to the gym.

8. H&M | Yoga Tights Shaping Waist £19.99

H&M have created a pocket friendly flattering and comfortable yoga tight in a fast drying fabric made with wide ribbing at the waist to hold and shape. Flattering cut at the centre back, with tonal flatlock stitch detail and a really lovely interest fabric base.

9. ADIDAS | Warp Knit Tights £79.99

Squat and leg lift proof seamless UV protection training tights, with breathable, moisture wicking climacool to keep you cool and comfortable during your workout. These are super flattering Adidas Seamless Tights, really have such an incredible base fabric, leading the way in technical fabrics.

10. ADIDAS | Alphaskin 360 Tights £119.95

At the top of the budget we have selected these Adidas Alphaskin 360 Tights, but these leggings are really worth every penny, they're made of mesh-like climachill base that pull heat away from your skin for cooling comfort, whilst the tech compression offers muscle support and the Alphaskin allows freedom of movement. Not forgetting the UPF50+ UV protection. Plus the flattering cut at the waist.



1. Glute Bridge (Glutes, Core)

'The only glute dominated exercise. You can really put a lot of weight / resistance through the butt.'

Pure Exercise:

  • Lie on back on the floor, feet hip spaced apart.

  • Peel spine off floor squeezing glutes until hips are just below knee level.

  • Using stronger resistance bands (here we used My Protein band tripled)

  • Keep knees pushing out slightly against the resistance. 20-30 reps, 3 sets.


  • Rest upper back and head on a bench and raise feet on a step or similar.

  • With a bar on lap, lower hips down and squeeze glutes to lift hips up.

  • Keep knees inline with feet and drive through heels. 20-30 reps, 3 sets.

2. Single Leg Split Squat (Glute, Legs, Obliques)

'Great for rebalancing the body, a functional core move that focuses on the glutes, when you go low enough, with the quads and hamstrings assisting as secondary muscles, really gets the heart rate up!'

Pure Exercise:

  • Find a raised surface like a chair that's approx knee height.

  • Rest back foot on it with heel facing up and ankle at the edge.

  • Lower back knee back and down towards the bench and floor, lower front thigh until its parallel to the floor.

  • Drive up through front heel.

  • Tip, Keep back leg relaxed and if you feel it in the front of thigh (quad), you are not going low enough for the gluten to fire up.

  • 12-20 reps, 3 sets.


  • Loop one TRX strap through the other and secure. Place foot in one strap.

  • Slide back leg behind and towards the floor, followed by bending front knee and lowering front thigh parallel to floor.

  • Front knee 90 degrees, back leg straighter. When you feel a stretch under the front legs butt cheek, Drive up through heels to bring hips under shoulders. You should feel this principally in the front legs glute.

  • 12-20 reps, 3 sets.

3. Core Sequence

'This engages all the core muscles and keeps the heart rate up.'

Pure Exercise:

  • Plank/Downward Dog / Spider Plank / Tricep Press-up on knees.

  • On mat on the floor, form a plank with hands under shoulders and either on your toes with butt inline with body, or on knees with body in a diagonal line.

  • Downward Dog: Lift hips to ceiling, push chest towards knees until upper back dips slightly and shoulder blades slide down back.

  • Start with slight bend in knees and heels just off the floor. Crouch back by bending knees.

  • Spider Plank: From crouch, lead with chest and straighten body forwards into plank, at the same time lifting one leg, knee turned out. Bring knee towards shoulder and feel oblique's (waist ab' muscles) engage. Take leg back into plank.

  • Tricep Press-up: Lower knees slowly to floor to form low plank. With hands under shoulders push chest forwards and down with elbows pushing back, alongside sides of body. 90 degrees at elbow is low enough, feel it in the backs of your arms. Repeat and Spider Plank the other side.

  • Tip, Keep everything slow and controlled to really feel your core muscles fire up correctly.

  • 4-10 reps, 2-3 sets.

Modification Using TRX:

  • Pike / Spider Plank / Tricep Press-up with feet in TRX lift knees to form a plank.

  • Pike: Brace abs, lift hips high and relax head and neck down, reset to plank.

  • Spider: Bring one knee alongside body towards shoulder, reset to plank.

  • Tricep Press-up: Lower chest towards floor by bending elbows back and close to sides of ribs. 90 degree bend at elbows is low enough, push up through heels of hands and back of arms to plank.

  • repeat Spider on the other side. Repeat whole sequence.

  • 6-15 reps, 2-3 sets.

4. American Deadlift Using Strong Resistance Band

'This works the posterior muscle chain (hamstring / glutes / back). Deadlifts are great for posture.'


  • Step into anchored resistance band with band around hips.

  • Walk forward until you feel you are about to be pulled back by the band, pick up weight.

  • With feet under hip bones and slight toe turn out, tip at hips allowing knees to bend over ankles.

  • Push hips back until you feel hamstrings (back of legs) engage.

  • Drive through heels to bring hips forwards and into slight hyperextension against the resistance band until you feel glutes engage.

  • Keeping shoulders back and down will keep back posture muscles engaged.

  • 12-20 reps, 3 sets.

5. Back / Shoulder / Glute Circuit: Battle Ropes with Squat Walk

'This mainly uses the shoulders and back muscles and creates great cardio effect too. The addition of the squat walk keeps the core and glute muscles fired up. The more muscles you engage at once, especially when the glutes are involved, the higher the heart rate, thus burning calories and toning at the same time!"


  • With soft resistance bands around calves and thighs, sit down into squat.

  • Squat by standing with feet outside hip width, slight toe turn out.

  • Bend knees forwards and out until over second toe, at same time sit hips down and back until butt just below knee line, keep chest up.

  • Take hold of battle ropes and lift up shoulder height and slam back down, alternating arms is harder than both arms at the same time.Stay in squat and start walking side to side... at the same time! A real killer.

  • 45-90 seconds, 3 sets.

Modified Back / Shoulder / Glute Circuit: Single Arm Row / Side and Front Shoulder Raises / Squat Walk

"The single arm row isolates the lat (large backside muscle) and the obliques. The side and front raises isolate the side and front of the delt (shoulders) and the squat walk works the glutes (butt) and core (back and abs). To perform these exercises back to back without rest will raise the heart rate too.'

Single Arm Row:

  • Kneel one knee on a bench or raised surface, hand placed on bench directly under shoulder.

  • Step the other foot out on the floor until the hips are square.

  • Pick up weight; roll shoulder back to create neutral back posture.

  • Perform the row by lifting elbow back and upwards, until upper arm is parallel with floor.

  • Squeeze shoulder blade in towards spine to activate lat muscle.

  • Underhand grip target the lower lats.

  • This single arm exercise will use the lat of the rowing arm and the oblique waist muscle of the opposite side to stabilise body. 12-10 reps, 3 sets.

Shoulder Alternating Side and Front Raise

Pure Exercise:

  • Start with the arms by sides and a slight bend in elbows.

  • Lift arms up and out from the sides until shoulder height.

  • Elbows slightly higher than wrists with the thumbs turned slightly forwards and down, as if you are going to pour from thumb. Lower arms to body side with control. Lift arms forward to chin height, arms almost straight.

  • Brace abs here, check knees are soft and stand very still. Feel it in the sides and fronts of the shoulders.

  • 12-20 reps, 3 sets.

Squat Walk

Pure Exercise:

  • With soft resistance bands around the legs sit into a squat position, squeeze the butt and walk 10+ steps to one side and back again before you release.

  • To squat set feet outside hip width, toes slightly turned out, bend knees forwards and out at the same time, sit hips back and down as if sitting in a chair.

  • Posture fairly upright with chest lifted.

  • Chest lifted is very important as it engages the 6-pack abs, the rectus abdominals and keeps the pressure in the top of the glutes instead of the lower back.

  • Perform all exercises back to back, no rest, 10 reps, 3 sets.

Create & Develop Resourcing handle permanent, contract and freelance opportunities from entry to senior level - you can check out our live performance sport and activewear roles HERE

About Our Authors: Amy Poole Design are a Suffolk based design agency, specialising in multi product garment and graphic design including trend forecasting and analysis.

Amy has over 10 years experience of working with high street retailers, brands and suppliers specialising in ladies, men’s and childrenswear with a sound understanding of market dynamics and consumer wants, meaning her designs meet the needs and aspirations of her clients’ target markets. You can find out more by visiting Amy's website HERE

Lucinda Abell is a Level 3 Personal Trainer, Group Exercise Instructor, UK Bikini Fitness Finalist and Sports Science Lecturer who is based in Cheshire.

Lucinda also works as a freelance designer and studied her Fashion Design Technology degree at the London College of Fashion, later going to specialise in Printed Textiles in her Masters degree at the Royal College of Art. You can discover more about Lucinda HERE

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