How to Choose Activewear Compression Gear

With the huge number of compression gear options out there today, it can be difficult to know how to choose the items that are best for you.

While your doctor can recommend or prescribe the proper items to treat specific medical conditions, selecting compression items for personal fitness use requires a bit of research. To get the most out of your compression gear you’ll need to focus on quality, fit, and purpose.


When choosing the best compression gear you need to consider how you will be using it. Most compression gear is divided into two categories: graduated and compartmental.

More common in activewear, compartmental compression gear is designed to focus pressure on specific parts of the body depending on what sport or activity you’re engaged in.

For example, swimmers will want different pressure points than runners, and basketball players will benefit from different items than weight trainers.

Beyond the specific activity, you may also be looking for compression gear designed for recovery rather than performance. Items designed for recovery may offer different types and levels of compression than those used during your activity.

Finally, while not compression-specific, consider when and where you will be wearing your compression gear. Many companies offer compression clothing designed for specific weather and other conditions. Some items will insulate you from cold while others offer breathable layers to keep you cool. There are even compression items with ultra-violet protection to keep your skin safe from the sun when you’re working out or playing outdoors.


Finding the right fit for your compression gear can be tricky. If you’ve never worn a compression garment, it can be difficult to know just how tightly it should fit.

Many people, having difficulting getting into a pair of compression tights or pulling on a compression shirt will assume they need to size up to find the right fit. This, however, can be counterproductive to the benefits you’re looking to get from a compression item.

When looking for the best fit, avoid relying on your typical size and instead review each brand’s sizing chart and measurements. Most reliable compression brands will include a comprehensive sizing guide to ensure you get the level of compression you’re looking for to get the most out of their products.


Activewear is a major industry, so weeding through all of the options to find the best items can be overwhelming. As compression gear gains popularity, more and more brands have put out clothing that claims to fit this category.

However, not all compression gear is created equal. Within this trendy and often overloaded market, there are several high-quality brands offering compression clothing that can make a real difference in your workout and recovery.

A good way to find high-quality products is to check out companies that cater specifically to compression gear or produce a dedicated line of compression options. Any athletic wear brand can make tight clothing and call it compression gear, but only some companies have gone beyond labels to build unique compression items.

Often, these brands will include specific information about the technology and research put into designing their compression wear.

Finding the Right Brand

When it comes to shopping for compression gear, most major athletic wear companies have some great offerings. Nike and Under Armour, for example, both feature a number of high-quality compression items for workouts and recovery.

Since many athletes already have a trusted brand for their athletic wear needs, checking out what they have to offer in the compression category can be a great place to start. However, be sure any products labeled “compression” offer specifics about their compression technology.

For those without brand loyalty, or athletes looking for more targeted compression gear tailored to their specific sport or physical needs, choosing a company that’s really done their homework when it comes to compression technology can make a big difference.

Two excellent brands to start with are 2XU and CW-X.


Started by a professional triathlete, 2XU was created to offer high quality, scientifically-backed compression gear to optimize performance, prevent injury, and improve recovery. 2XU has worked directly with scientists and researchers using the most advanced technology available to develop top of the line fabrics and designs.

2XU has an enormous offering of compression gear for both performance and recovery.

Their Muscle Containment Stamping technology is designed to apply targeted compression across muscle groups depending on activity and performance goals.

  • Their recovery gear offers graduated compression to stabilize muscles and promote increased blood flow.
  • Their maternity line offers compression gear specifically designed to help women maintain an active lifestyle throughout pregnancy and protect and support their bodies during postpartum recovery.
  • They offer an extensive line of full tights, ¾ tights, shorts, tops, socks, and arm and leg sleeves.


CW-X markets itself as the world’s first truly anatomically-engineered, high-performance sports apparel. In business since 1991, CW-X has a long history of developing state of the art fitness gear that helps athletes thrive.

  • Their patented EXO-WEB technology is designed to mimic kinesiology-taping techniques to boost both muscle and joint support.
  • The web design creates variable compression to reduce muscle oscillation, improve blood flow, and minimize lactic acid build-up for more controlled workouts and faster recovery times.
  • They use a number of high-performance fabrics to keep athletes cool and comfortable.
  • They offer a wide range of compression products for both men and women, including tights, shorts, tops, and bras.


As with any flooded market, finding the right compression gear can be a headache. It’s difficult to know what products are best for your body and your goals. To find the right compression gear for you, take some time to find the best quality products, the right fit, and the proper design for your needs.