The Best Compression Shirts: Will They Improve Your Workout and Performance?

Compression Shirts: Will They Improve Your Workout?

Walk into any gym nowadays and you’re likely to see guys (and girls) training in tight spandex clothing that reminds you of the 80’s aerobics craze. But this is not a tribute to former days – it’s all part of a hot new trend that has many gym goers convinced that wearing ‘compression’ clothing will allow them to train harder and with less fatigue and muscle soreness.

In this article, we’ll delve into the world of compression shirts in order to get to the bottom of the issue. We’ll find out if compression shirts really can benefit your training and take a look at the science behind compression shirt training. Then we’ll review the best compression shirts on the 2016 market.

What Is a Compression Shirt?

A compression shirt is a form fitting t-shirt that may or may not have long arms. It is constructed of some variation of spandex. Manufacturers use a tighter elastic than spandex, providing the ability to maintain a much tighter body hugging shape. The shirts also make use of graduated pressure, which helps to enhance the body’s circulation.

Compression clothing has become popular as gym wear, with many people believing that they will help to improve their performance, especially when lifting weights. These shirts conform to and squeeze around your muscles.

Compression shirts and other clothing are reputed to increase the circulation of blood which delivers more oxygen for cell uptake. It is also believed that they improve a person’s proprioception, which is the awareness of where their body is in space.


For a long time, the benefits to do with compression training have been anecdotal. There has been little in the way of hard science to back up the claims. It has been claimed that wearing a compression shirt will:

Deliver increased power and staminaIncrease acceleration when runningAllow you to lift more weight in the gymProvide a reduction in inflammation and soreness following exerciseReduce swelling and fatigue post-exercise


In the last few years, there has been quite a lot of research in order to test out the claims that are being made about compression clothing. The majority of these studies are to do with the question of whether or not compression clothing will improve running performance.

A study out of New Zealand and Australia focused on 400 meter sprint times for 11 experienced athletes. Runners were wearing either a combination of compression clothing or no compression clothing at all. The study reported no difference in sprint time, 100 meter split time, heart rate, blood lactate, or perceived soreness between the compression and noncompression groups. However, athletes who wore the compression clothing had a faster rate of lactic acid clearance from the muscles, following training. They also reported less perceived effort when running than the other group.

A longer study involved rugby players running for 30 minutes on a treadmill. Each player ran for 30 minutes with and without compression clothing. The intensity of the run was increased every five minutes. Blood lactate and pH levels were measured. There was no difference in the pH levels (acidity / alkalinity balance) and just a small decrease in lactate concentrations for the compression treadmill workout.

Other studies based on compression clothing and running have shown similar results to the effect that compression clothing does not markedly affect running performance but does provide a slight benefit in terms of lactate clearance following the workout.

To test whether compression clothing can improve muscle power, researchers at Indiana University tested the vertical jump of athletes when wearing compression clothing and when jumping in standard clothing. They were unable to perceive any improvement in the compression group.

A 2013 meta-study conducted by researchers out of the University of Wuppertal in Germany reviewed studies that had focused on the effect of compression clothing on endurance, strength and power, motor control, and physiological, psychological, and biomechanical parameters during or after exercise. They concluded that the studies revealed a small improvement in the vertical jump, short duration sprints, extending time to exhaustion and time-trial performance. Small to moderate improvements were also seen in the key indicators of recovery from exercise, such as reduced muscle swelling and perceived muscle pain, blood lactate removal and increased body temperatures.

Researchers believe that the slight benefits that have been seen to be derived from wearing compression clothing are due to the application of external pressure, limited movement and the preventing of excessive damage to contractile fibers. It was noted that there is also a placebo effect when wearing compression clothing wherein the athlete feels more positive about his training, leading to an improved performance.

2016 Compression Shirt Reviews

Tesla Men’s Cool Dry Compression Baselayer Short Sleeve T Shirt

The Telsla range of Baselayer T-shirts makes use of Plazma skin, which is Tesla’s lightweight, breathable 4-way stretch performance fabric. This state of the art fabric will provide for quick drying of moisture. Sweat is evaporated through a unique 3-layer capillary action. As a result, you will stay dry for a longer period of time, regardless of how much sweat comes off your body.

The Plazma skin fabric that the Baselayer is made from features fiber nanotechnology which includes antibacterial silver dioxide to deliver antibacterial freshness. It also includes titanium oxide for UVA and UVB protection.

In addition to its moisture sensing capabilities, and quick time drying, the Baselayer T-shirt provides excellent two-way circulation. These features will provide you with an excellent level of comfort as you sweat it out during your workout.

Tesla Men’s Cool Dry Compression Baselayer Long Sleeve Baselayer T-Shirt

The Tesla Baselayer long sleeve T-shirt has the same functionality as the short sleeve, except that it also fully covers your arms. It is constructed from 84% polyester and 16% spandex. This shirt provides fantastic elasticity, with an excellent range of motion. It will keep your muscles warm and tight, improve your proprioception and rapidly eliminate sweat from your body.

The flat lock seam system used in the making of the Baselayer Long-sleeve T-Shirt ensures that there is an absence of friction on your skin. The titanium oxide componentry shields your skin from ultra-violet radiation by up to 99% in direct sunlight. In addition, the moisturization / deodorant technology that is built into the shirt will make sure that there is no unpleasant smell accompanying your hard work.

This is a top of the line compression shirt that looks stylish and performs well, ensuring that your muscles remain tight, warm and fluid while removing sweat and providing maximum sun and sweat protection.

Champion Double Dry® Short-Sleeve Men’s Compression T-ShirtThe sleek double dry fabric that makes up the Champion Double Dry stretches in all four directions to provide maximum ease of movement. It is constructed from 84% polyester and 16% spandex. The shirt has flat-chafe resistant seams and there is also no tag to scratch your skin.

The close to the body fit of the Champion Double Dry makes it a great base garment. The super soft mock mesh fabric of this shirt wicks moisture away from the body, which helps to control moisture build-up.

The Champion Double Dry is a very comfortable, body hugging shirt that will keep your body moisture free as it supports, warms and protects your muscles.

Under Armour Men’s HeatGear Armour Short Sleeve Compression Shirt

Under Armour is the original compression shirt supplier. They began with a design for a shirt to take sweat away from the body and that is still their main goal. The Under Armour HeatGear shirt is especially good at wicking away sweat from the body.

The Under Armour T-Shirt has built-in stretch-mesh underarm panels, which deliver strategic ventilation to keep you cooler and more comfortable. The shirt has a UPF rating of 30+ to protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

This shirt is 84% cotton and 16% elastane. It features built-in anti-odor technology to ward off nasty odors and odor causing microbes. It also features a mesh panel on the back of the neck for enhanced ventilation.

There have been a number of companies that have attempted to copy the success of the Under Armour range. None of them have succeeded. The Under Armour Heat Gear compression shirt is the best moisture reducing shirt that we came across.

Baleaf Men’s Cool Dry Skin Fit Long Sleeve Compression Shirt

The Baleaf Long Sleeve Compression shirt for men has a moisture absorbing fabric that will quickly get rid of the sweat that builds up when you work out. In fact, sweat will be absorbed and dry in just a couple of seconds. The soft, breathable, moisture wicking fabric will work to provide maximum comfort as you exercise.

The stretchy material of the shirt will cling to your muscles, providing maximum support when you lift weights. The four needles flat seams provide no friction on the skin and allow for an ergonomic compression to enhance athletic performance.

To get the snuggest, most form-fitting fit, you should order one size up from your normal size. The Baleaf shirt is 88% polyester and 12% spandex.


Compression shirts will make you feel a lot more comfortable when you work out. They are great at getting rid of sweat and providing warmth and muscular support. Let our reviewed products serve as your buying guide and you are bound to end up with a compression shirt that will enhance your training effect while looking good at the same time.