Compression gear has become increasingly popular in the sports and fitness world in recent years. It has been observed to reduce lactic acid levels, increase muscle stability, improve recovery time, reduce cramping, and improve speed and strength results in athletes of all levels.
Compression shirts are one of the key pieces of gear that athletes and fitness enthusiasts use to boost their performance and prevent injuries.
There are a number of things to consider when choosing
With that in mind, we made our top picks in five different categories of compression shirts.
- Best Overall: UnderArmour HeatGear Long-Sleeved Compression Shirt
- Best Value: Mava Sports Men’s Short Sleeve Compression
- Best for Running: TSLA Long Sleeve Baselayer Cool Dry Compression
- Best for Cross Training: 2XU Compression Long Sleeve Top
- Best for Recovery: Compression Z Men’s Long Sleeve Compression Shirt
Best Overall: UnderArmour HeatGear Long-Sleeved Compression Shirt
Why it’s great: Under Armour has been a reliable name in athletic wear for nearly 20 years. Tired of wearing uncomfortable, sweat covered shirts under his jersey, college football player, Kevin Plank, founded the company to produce shirts made of a moisture-wicking fabric that would eventually be mimicked across the entire fitness clothing market. Today, Under Armour offers an extensive line of premium clothing for athletes of all stripes.
Under Armour’s patented HeatGear fabric was designed to keep athletes cool and dry, and this shirt is no exception. It also features stretch mesh underarm panels to help with ventilation and anti-odor technology to fight microbes that cause odor. Sizes from S to 5XL are available, along with a variety of tall sizes, making it a suitable choice for just about anyone.
Drawbacks: Some customers have reported the shirt running smaller than they expected.
- Body: 5.0 oz. 90% Polyester, 10% Elastane
- Mesh: 4.6 oz. 88% Polyester, 12% Elastane
- Moisture-wicking, anti-odor material
- UPF 30
Why it’s great: Mava Sports was created in 2015 by two people in search of the perfect compression gear. They run their company with the goal of designing and engineering sports equipment made with the latest technology and materials. In just a few short years they have expanded into a highly successful and reputable brand in the compression gear category.
MAVA’s short sleeve compression shirt uses targeted compression to improve circulation and aid in recovery. It’s lightweight support to the upper body makes it ideal for a wide range of activities. It is constructed to protect muscles and increase power while also offering enough flexibility to ensure unrestricted mobility.
Drawbacks: The most common complaint about MAVA’s compression shirt is that it runs small. While sizes S through 2XL are available, men who ordered 2XL found the shirt was too small.
- 80% Nylon, 20% Spandex
- 18-25mmHG compression
- Lightweight moisture-wicking material
Best for Running: TSLA Long Sleeve Baselayer Cool Dry Compression
Why it’s great: Tesla (TSLA) is a global sports brand that launched in 2007 to manufacture high-quality rash guards for triathlon suits. Over time, they evolved to produce hi-tech gear for all sports. TSLA compression gear not only offers a great slate of products, they deliver them at an extremely affordable price, making their gear accessible to all.
TSLA’s long sleeve baselayer compression shirt can be worn year round. Its breathable, moisture-wicking material helps to keep you warm in the colder months and cool when it’s hot outside. With a UPF rating of 50+, it also protects your skin from harmful UV rays. It comes in sizes S to XXL, fitting a range of body types.
Drawbacks: The most common complaint from customers about this shirt is that it runs small.
- 87% polyester, 13% Spandex
- UPF 50+ rating
- Moisture-wicking fabric
Best for Cross Training: 2XU Compression Long Sleeve Top
Why it’s great: 2XU is a reliable brand for all compression clothing needs. Started by a professional triathlete, 2XU was created to offer high quality, scientifically-backed compression gear to optimize performance, prevent injury, and improve recovery.
While most brands’ compression shirts feature standard, uniform compression, 2XU’s long sleeve top utilizes graduated compression in the forearms that is designed to improve circulation and shorten recovery time following exercise. The breathable, moisture-wicking, antibacterial material also offers SPF 50 protection from harmful UV rays. The shirt is available in sizes S to XXL.
Drawbacks: While 2XU’s products are high-quality, they are also some of the more expensive options on the market.
- Graduated compression
- Mesh ventilation panels
- Flat seams
Best for Recovery: Compression Z Men’s Long Sleeve Compression Shirt
Why it’s great: CompressionZ was founded with the mission of creating high-quality, affordable compression gear. They developed a patented fabric blend designed to feel smooth and comfortable while providing the right level of compression in the right places. Unlike most athletic wear companies, CompressionZ offers just one expertly crafted compression product in each clothing category.
CompressionZ’s long sleeve shirt features true performance compression, not just a tight fit, making it ideal to shorten recovery time from a wide range of activities, including running, lifting, playing sports, and more. Underarm mesh vents and a moisture-wicking, anti-odor material keep you dry and odor free. The shirt comes in sizes S to XXL, making it suitable for a wide variety of body types.
Drawbacks: A number of customers reported that the shirt ran at least one size smaller than they expected.
- 85% nylon/15% spandex
- Underarm mesh vents
- Anti-odor material
How did we choose these shirts?
With the enormous number of options available in the compression gear category, choosing the best products can be extremely challenging. To put together this list, we looked at a number of important factors including the type of compression, the quality of the material, the specific use and associated benefits, and the cost.
Beyond those criteria, we also researched brands, their approach to compression wear, and their reputation with customers. We looked not only at how the product was designed and marketed, but how it performs for real people. We analyzed product reviews from across the web to find both positive and negative trends until we were confident that each product selected will effectively serve the needs of our readers.
What to consider when choosing a compression shirt for yourself
Our recommendations will hopefully serve as a useful jumping off point for you in your search for the perfect compression gear. Since each person’s wants and needs will vary, you’ll need to find what’s best for you. To this end, there are a few things to consider. Most important, is how you’ll be using your compression shirt. Ask yourself:
- Do you mostly do cardio or strength training?
- If you are a runner, how often and how far do you typically run?
- For sports like basketball or soccer, how often do you play and at what level?
- Do you generally perform your activities inside or outside?
- Do you workout or play in cold weather or warm weather?
The answers to these questions will help you determine what type of compression shirt is best for you. For weightlifting or other resistance training, compression shirts that offer maximum range of motion are very important. Boxers and others engaged in full contact sports will want to look for the most durable, supportive material to offer maximum protection.
What are the benefits of compression shirts?
Compression shirts offer a number of benefits both during and after workouts. While the direct performance benefits of compression
The recovery benefits of compression work in two ways – short-term and long-term – both of which also indirectly impact performance. These benefits are the result of the improved circulation and increased blood flow provided by compression clothing.
- When worn during workouts, compression produces short-term results by more efficiently removing lactic acid from the muscles. Lactic acid build up is what causes you to feel that familiar burn when stretching your muscles to their limit. By speeding the movement of oxygen to the muscles and lactic acid away from them, compression allows you to bounce back more quickly between sets and reach your goals faster.
- When worn during and after a workout, compression eliminates or reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the result of inflammation caused by tiny tears in our muscles. While the repair of these tears is, in part, responsible for muscle growth, DOMS can leave us immobilized in the days following a tough workout. By enhancing the movement of oxygen and other anti-inflammatory agents to the muscles, compression helps muscles heal faster, reducing pain so you can get back to the gym or on the road sooner.
What is Compression Gear?
At the most basic level, compression gear is a category of clothing and other accessories designed to fit tightly around the skin.
Compression gear has a wide variety of applications including, medical, fitness, and personal uses such as fashion and travel. It continues to grow in popularity as athletes, doctors, patients, and regular people find more creative ways to benefit from these products.
Check out our What is Compression Gear? article to get a bigger picture of how compression work, its many benefits, and the role it plays in Fitness, Health, Travel, and Fashion.