You could be an Olympic lifter, bodybuilder, power lifter, or just a regular guy or girl
going to the gym to stay in shape ‒ whatever it is ‒ your body will take a toll after a workout or competition.
And one of the few simple things to do to help the recovery process is:
Wear a compression shirt during and after said workout.
I know this might mess with your go-to style preference, whether that be regular ol’ cotton shirts, bro-tanks, or just going shirtless, but the recovery benefits of compression apparel are enough to justify at least trying one out for a few workouts.
There are a few things I wanted to get out of the way first for individuals who have never tried compression apparel.
People unaware to compression shirts, or compression gear in general, believe they’re tight, constricting pieces of apparel that cut off circulation.
Wrong, or mostly wrong.
While they are on the tighter side, most quality compression shirts will conform and stretch to the size of your body and have a breathable weave design to keep things comfortable and airy. You should expect a compression shirt that outlines and forms to your body including chest, arms, and torso (depending on the sleeve length of course).
What to Look in the Best Compression Shirt
When you’re going about the process of buying a compression shirt there are a few key factors to take into consideration:
Material design, sleeve length, thickness, and weave design.
It’s important to make sure you take these into account because it will affect your comfort levels during and after a workout in the gym.
It’s like any other piece of clothing you’d buy.
You want something you can see yourself wearing repeatedly without it breaking down after a few uses. It should be something that will last you a long time through frequent workouts and gym visits.
Throughout this guide and individual product reviews we will indicate to you the best aspects of each compression shirt.
Shirt Length: Long Sleeve vs Short Sleeve
For normal clothes, the main difference in terms of wear between long sleeves and short sleeves is the amount of warmth and coverage.
For compression apparel, it’s a little different.
Most high quality compression shirts are designed with a breathable fabric and weave to promote air circulation and wick away sweat. So the main the differentiator between wearing short sleeve compression shirt or a long sleeve compression shirt is how much and which areas are being compressed.
For short sleeves, that could extend as far as the biceps and triceps but with long sleeves you get full arm coverage all the way to your forearm.
Long sleeves are more ideal to get the full recovery effect. And this is a great asset to have since you naturally work out your forearms when lifting.
That is why many of the shirts listed will be of the long sleeve variety.
Best Overall: CompressionZ Men’s Long Sleeve Compression Top
One of the most consistent manufacturers in the compression and athletic apparel game is CompressionZ. Although they aren’t big household names like Adidas, Nike, or Under Armour, they bring a lot to the table in terms of comfort and recovery.
Once you put the shirt on it will conform to the shape of your body for a precise fit. It shouldn’t feel uncomfortable unless you bought the wrong size.
It will fit like a compression shirt and not a constricting undershirt.
It’s meant to be worn in the gym and when you work out. The polyester/spandex blend is perfect for your comfort factor while still providing added benefits such as sweat wicking and combating odors with the fabrics natural antimicrobial abilities.
This helps tremendously, especially when you’re going ham in the gym and you start sweating like Niagara Falls.
But the main focus of the entire shirt is the compression itself.
And here’s what we experienced when wearing this shirt.
You could almost feel the compression doing it’s work after most rigorous workouts. You know that feeling when your heart rate’s up, bloods pumping, and you can get a glimpse of your veins popping out. You can feel the compression is pushing on your chest, biceps, and triceps and making sure there is no buildup of lactic acid while promoting recovery and some muscle gains.
Best Runner-Up: G7 Solution Workout Compression Shirt
As is tradition with my lists, we always select a runner up to provide you some variety when you’re looking around for compression products.
Our runner-up today was these recovery compression long sleeves by G7 solutions.
This shirt was fairly new to me and I wasn’t as familiar with the brand compared to our top pick, but let me tell you they are perfect for our #2 spot.
They are a little on the pricier side but are well worth it.
The manufacturer took a unique approach when it came to compression apparel by infusing a copper component into fiber to take advantage of the metallic properties of the element.
This includes additional antibacterial combativeness and a more solid weave design to provide increased compression on the body. The material will enable a constant rate of compression across various muscle groups in the upper body with its conforming nature.
Here is where the extra compression will be key to help prevent any buildup with lactic acid while increasing the flow of blood to recovering muscles in order to help stimulate muscle growth.
The Best Aspects of Each Compression Shirt
We may have listed our top 2 choices out from the get-go, but it is worth it to check out other products and compare to see if there is one that would suit you better.
The following shirts were chosen with a certain aspect that we felt were their strongest point. They exceeded in these individual categories compared to our top picks.
We highlighted these shirts to be the best in their respective category:
Women, budget, comfort, short sleeve, sleeveless.
If you have a certain ‘it’ factor you’re looking for, you can rest easy knowing we did our best to look for the best to satisfy you in each of these individual categories. If we didn’t list out a specific category, you can trust us that there is something similar in the following compression shirts.
Best Compression Shirt for Women: Lavento Women’s Compression Shirt
There are a lot of sketchy brands out there that don’t take as much attention to detail into making their compression shirts for women.
They would be either sized incorrectly or wouldn’t conform as nicely to the woman’s body.
But this is not a problem for the Lavento’s compression shirt.
The overall design is made of a high quality polyester/spandex that stretches to help achieve that comfortable fit and wear you’re looking for.
That comfort is ideal for wearing both during and after the gym. This way the compression aspect is pressing against your skin passively without you having to think about it.This will allow you to wear it for long periods of time and letting the recovery technology of the shirt do it’s job.
Also, if you’re worried about the sweat buildup, don’t sweat it.
With the polyester fiber infused into the shirt, it will naturally wick away sweat to help with moisture regulation. It will help you stay drier than compared to a normal cotton shirt. That way you’re not absorbing sweat into the shirt and getting that nasty feeling of a dry sweat in your workout clothes.
Overall, the well constructed weave and combination of material fabric makes these a great workout shirt for women everywhere.
Best Budget: Tesla Long Sleeve Baselayer Compression Shirt
You won’t find better bang-for-your-buck in terms of compression shirts with Tesla’s compression products.
They are the ideal solution for those on a budget at the moment. Despite their lower prices, they aren’t cheaply made to the point that they wear down quickly. This shirt will be able to withstand many sessions to the gym and during regular normal wear.
They’re made with the same polyester and spandex combination several other manufacturers make their products with.
Even the top picks have a similar fabric make up to these.
This ensures a comfortable fit during long-term wear whether you’re in the gym or you’re going out for the day and need a breathable shirt to wear. Having this comfort makes it easy to wear after a workout which is when your body goes into recovery mode and starts breaking down and rebuilding those new muscle tissue.
By wearing the shirt, you passively increase the efficiency of the recovery speed.
This is all thanks to the all-important compression aspect. The stretchy material conforms to to grooves and curves of your body which trigger that slight pushing against the skin to promote blood circulation throughout the body.
Best in Comfort: Champion’s Men Compression Shirt
They are one of the bigger players in the athletic industry game, and for good reason to.
I’ve been a fan of their apparel for awhile, and these compression shirts are no different. While comfort is subjective and varies from person to person, me and my team took a good look at several contenders and decided that the combination of fabric plus design worked the best for us.
The compression shirt feels solid as it contours to the biceps, chests, and abdominal region.
You can get a sense of the compression comfort especially when you go to the gym.
During recovery times of your workout you can get that feeling when your heart starts pumping faster coupled with sore muscles, but when wearing this compression shirt the shirt will compress against the main muscle groups and it won’t have that constructing feeling. The comfort aspect is key to being able to want to wear a compression shirt for a long period of time.
It’s that perfect fit that feels like another layer of skin. It feels like it belongs.
This shirt captured that feeling for us which is why we chose it to be our choice for best in comfort.
Best Short Sleeve: CompressionZ Short Sleeve Compression Shirt
As this is the short sleeve version of our top pick, it’s only obvious to pick it for our short sleeve category.
Most of our compression shirts we have mentioned have been of the long sleeve variant. This is due to long sleeves obviously having more coverage for areas such as the biceps, triceps, and forearms.
With short sleeves you don’t get that full compression coverage that you would normally get with long sleeves. With that in mind, it takes a high quality short sleeve compression shirt to still accomplish an efficient recovery method.
And that’s what CompressionZ managed to do with their shirt.
They are not a household name to most, but for us in the compression industry, they are big players at hand that could take on the likes of Nike and Adidas.
You don’t even have to wear it to get a sense of how well constructed this shirt is. When you rustle the shirt and feel the material, and start running your fingers down the outlines and seams of the shirt you can be confident in the durability and build of the shirt.
But once you do put it on, it instantly conforms to each of the individual muscles securely. There is a comfortable compression in the main muscle groups that allow you to get a feel for the recovery efficiency this shirt provides.
It doesn’t feel flimsy, and you are still able to take advantage of the recovery thanks to that secure closure fit the shirt provides at the edges of the sleeves. It will still be able to circulate blood flow, prevent lactic buildup, and overall promote an efficient recovery without the large coverage area.
Best Sleeveless: Roc Bodywear Mens Compression Shirt
Sleeveless compression shirts are the best alternative to wearing a regular wife-beater, tank-top, or bro-tanks.
Unlike the previous mentioned three.
A compression baselayer undershirt actually provides benefits besides displaying and showing off those gains.
The sleeveless compression tank by Roc Bodywear consists of all the added benefits you will need during and after the gym.
If you’re not a fan of wearing a full-on compression shirt or long sleeve then using a sleeveless one can be a baby step to get there. Just plop this on first, then wear a tank or regular shirt right over it. This way you can still have that outer appearance you like while still having the benefits hidden under the shirt.
By wearing this compression tank in particular, it promotes a slimmer aesthetic by form fitting the abdominal area while still providing that much needed breathable comfort. Also, it helps engage your core during ab workouts and focuses the compression recovery on the abs.
This shirt is a tight fit but still provides the ideal comfortable and relaxed fit that comes from a compression shirt.
ALWAYS Consider Sizing!
When you are buying anything, there are several underlying factors you always need to consider.
One of the aspects that is extremely important for a compression shirt, or any piece of clothing for that matter is size.
All these compression shirts listed are made by different individual manufacturers, meaning they may have different sizing standards for small, medium, and large.
You will need to have a measuring tape on stand-by when you’re looking through the sizing charts of each product. Most of them may have different sizing guides such as length from the shoulder to the waist or measuring the circumferences of the chest.
Whatever it is, just make sure you’re looking for it in the product descriptions.
The compression aspect can be only done right if you get the correct size. So I urge you, PLEASE double check, triple check sizing.