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If you’ve either been wearing compression apparel for a while or are about to make your first compression gym wear purchase, you’re in the right place.

I cover all the compression shirt benefits, such as recovery benefits, whether they help you perform better, their slimming effect, breathing improvement, posture control, and more!

So, what do compression shirts do, exactly?

Let’s expand find out and expand that fitness enthusiast wardrobe of yours…

What is a compression shirt?

A compression shirt is a shirt made of a stretchy material (mostly Spandex) that fits snugly against the torso. While some people wear them on their own, usually in a gym environment, it’s also common to wear them as a base layer underneath another training top.

However, you can also find compression shirts that are designed to be worn as outerwear. These shirts usually have zippers or other features that make them easy to take on and off.

I wear mine solo when doing a workout indoors and under another top when going for a run or cycling outside.

What do compression shirts do & how do compression shirts work?

So, why wear compression shirts and what are compression shirts for?

Arguably, the main purpose of compression shirts is to improve performance by squeezing the muscles, thus improving blood flow, and also to provide support by keeping the muscles stable during a workout.

They do this due to the inherent tight fit, which is down to both the cut and shape of the garment but also the stretchy property of the Spandex. This squeeze constricts the blood vessels, forcing an increase in blood flow (what goes out of the muscles must be replaced).

Note that compression shirts are different than wearing a bandage or an elastic sleeve. Compression shirts are supposed to be tight and create pressure on your muscles, whereas elastic sleeves and bandages are supposed to be loose and provide support for your joints.

But there’s a lot more to this, and we need to explore the science behind these claims (see below!)

What are compression shirts good for? XX Benefits of compression shirts in sports

What do compression shirts do?

There’s absolutely no reason at all why you won’t experience these benefits of wearing compression shirts:

Improved blood circulation and oxygen delivery to muscles

Poor circulation can lead to a number of health problems, including weak muscles, swelling, and varicose veins.

Gym compression shirts may help to improve circulation by delivering more oxygen and nutrients to the tissue around the blood vessels. This can help to reduce congestion and allow blood to flow more freely throughout the body.

If you are considering wearing a compression shirt for improved circulation, be sure to consult with your doctor first to ensure it is safe for you to do so. 

Increased muscle support

Compression gear is designed to hold your muscles in place, providing extra support and preventing them from moving around too much. This can help to reduce fatigue and soreness and improve your performance during exercise. 

Faster recovery

There is scientific evidence to support the use of compression clothing for a faster recovery time. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that wearing a compression garment aided in recovery and in preparing for further exercise.

Reduce muscle soreness

Muscle soreness is caused by microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. These tears occur when the muscles are worked harder than they are used to. The body repairs these tears by building new muscle fibers, which results in muscle growth. However, the repair process can be painful.

Some athletes believe that a sports compression shirt helps to reduce muscle soreness. There is some scientific evidence to support this claim, but more research is needed. While some athletes find that compression technology helps them feel less sore after a workout, others find no difference.

If you think compression shirts might help you, it’s worth giving them a try. (PS… this also works on the calves if you wear leggings!)

Improved performance

When you wear a muscle compression shirt, your muscles are able to work more efficiently. This can lead to better results when you’re working out and trying to improve your athletic performance.

A Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research paper shows that baseball pitchers saw a “significant improvement in fastball accuracy” while wearing a compression garment.

In addition, in the same compression wear study, the participating golfers saw “improvements in driving accuracy as well as shot accuracy.”

Increased range of motion

Compression shirts are designed to increase range of motion and improve athletic performance. The snug fit of the shirt provides support to the muscles and joints, while the stretchy fabric allows for a full range of motion, no matter the type of compression or fabric blend.

Help you stay cooler during workouts & in hot weather

Compression shirts can help you stay cooler in several ways:

  1. Wick away sweat: This prevents the sweat from building up on your skin, causing you to feel overheated.
  2. Air layer: They provide a layer of air between your skin and the shirt, which helps regulate body temperature.
  3. Temperature control: The snug fit prevents excess body heat from escaping, making it easier for your body to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Keep you dry

You’re bound to sweat while working out, no matter how strenuous the sport is—it’s inevitable!

But, have you ever noticed that some people, let’s say that annoying runner-buddy of yours, seem to sweat less than others? It could be because they’re wearing a running compression shirt!

Compression shirts are popular among athletes because they help keep you dry, thanks to their wicking ability. When you wear a compression shirt, you’ll notice that you don’t feel as sweaty, just please still shower afterward!

Getting the right compression fit is also important in keeping you dry. The tighter the fit, the more effective the shirt will be at keeping you dry.

Can help improve your posture

By providing support to the muscles and ligaments in the back and shoulders, compression shirts help to keep the spine in alignment.

This then has a knock-on effect of helping you to stand up straighter and sit with better posture. Additionally, the compression fabric helps to reduce inflammation and pain in the back and shoulders, which can further improve your posture.

Help prevent injuries

It feels natural to assume (I hate that word!) that due to the above properties of reducing inflammation and aiding posture and performance, such nylon garments are also good at preventing injuries.

While this is inherently true, there’s currently no scientific evidence that explicitly states this—so I’ll let you use your own judgment. It could just be a placebo effect.

Even though there’s no guarantee that wearing athletic compression shirts will prevent all injuries, they are certainly worth considering for those who are looking for an edge in their training.

Improved breathing

Compression shirts help to improve breathing by providing support to the chest and shoulders. This support helps to keep the airways open and allows for better airflow. In addition, compression shirts help to reduce vibration in the chest and shoulders, which can help to improve breathing.

Improved breathing can have a number of benefits for both athletes and non-athletes alike. For athletes, improved breathing technique can lead to increased endurance and performance. For non-athletes, improved breathing can lead to reduced stress and anxiety, as well as improved overall health.

With this in mind, there are some compression clothes for anxiety out there!

They’re super comfortable

Many people find compression shirts to be very comfortable, as they’re made from stretchy materials that move with the body. Some compression shirts also have built-in support for the back or shoulders, which can further improve comfort levels.

Just keep in mind that they can get some getting used to, especially as a beginner. And, since they’re figure-hugging, you might feel a bit more conspicuous wearing one.

You’ll look damn good!

Aside from the more conspicuous nature, a flattering fit is one of the main benefits of compression shirts. They create a slimming effect due to the close fit to the body.

In addition, the right garment can help improve your posture and make you look taller and more confident.

They’re also great for hiding problem areas. If you’re self-conscious about your stomach, back, or arms, a compression shirt can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin.

Where to buy compression shirts

If you live in a city or built-up area, popping down to a sports outlet is a good choice.

Since I’m constantly busy, I like to order a bunch online, try them on, and send the ones back that don’t suit my tastes (cheeky?)

If you’re like me, here are some of the best workout compression shirt options:

For the guys

  • Long-sleeve compression shirts: Under Armour is always my go-to, and this HeatGear long sleeve compression option is awesome, especially when the weather’s cooler and if you like to ski.
  • Short-sleeve: Here’s the short-sleeve Under Armour option for warmer conditions, which I use when running outside.
  • Sleeveless/tank top: I wear a sleeveless vest/tank top when I’m in the gym due to keep me cooler and improve airflow (my gym is quite stuffy!). Besides that, there definitely are other compression tank top benefits.
  • Superhero fun: If you want to be a bit more ballsy, check out superhero compression shirts. Exercise life is dull without these!

For the ladies

What size compression shirt should I buy?

Knowing how to wear a compression shirt is key to getting the right fit and feel. There’s no definitive sizing chart for wearing compression clothing, though. Instead, you have to rely on each brand’s size guide, so be sure to check that out before buying.

Remember that when you wear compression garments, they should be tight. Not to the point where you feel suffocated, but at a comfortable level.

My acid test is whether I have to force a finger under the seam of the shirt, shorts, leggings, socks, or whatever it may be. If I can get my digit under with ease, it’s not tight enough and is too baggy. If the fabric is flapping, loose, and not snug to my skin, it’s most definitely too large.

Final points on using compression shirts for working out

There’s no denying the compression shirts benefits, but that extends to compression shorts, compression socks, and all other compression sportswear.

Whether you’re a runner, lifter, yoga-lover, or fighter, they increase blood flow, help with recovery, reduce the onset of muscle soreness after an intensive workout, and more!

If those benefits are what you’re looking for, I feel it’s time to unleash yourself and grab a compression shirt for working out (from the options I showed you above.

FAQs on the benefits of compression clothing

Do compression shirts make you look slimmer?

Compression shirts do make you look slimmer purely due to how figure-hugging they are. A slimming compression shirt can do wonders for your confidence; much more so than a regular type of clothing. Even though you might want a compression shirt to look thinner, you still need to exercise to get slimmer.

Are compression shirts good for you?

Compression shirts are good for you since they help you recover faster (by reducing muscle soreness and fatigue), tighten the muscles and joints, keep you warm (while being moisture wicking), tighten your body shape, and enhance your performance, without limiting freedom of movement but ensuring you look good!

Is it OK to wear compression shirts all day?

Yes, it’s OK to wear upper body compression shirts all day since there aren’t any long-term negative side-effects of doing so. However, keep in mind that if you wear them all day, the compression garments can also start to smell a bit. Also, ensure they aren’t too tight-fitting.

Do compression shirts help anxiety?

Yes, compression shirts can help with anxiety due to the sheer act of the compression piece having that tight, grounding feeling for the body. This can only be a good thing. In addition, although some claim this to be anecdotal, some believe that the compression acts like a weighted blanket does.

Do compression shirts make you sweat more?

Compression shirts can make you sweat more in theory, but this is due to them keeping you warmer, which is thanks to the tight fit. Even so, you won’t necessarily notice the extra sweat due to the moisture-wicking properties. You’d definitely notice less sweat than if you were wearing cotton t-shirts.

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