If you’re into fitness, you’ve probably heard about compression shirts. Even if you haven’t, it’s likely that you’ve seen a fellow gym-goer or sports player wearing one.
Compression shirts are designed to fit tightly to the body, providing support and relieving some of the strain from the muscles.
The compression effect also stimulates the circulation of blood through the body, helps to reduce swelling, and encourage muscle and tissue repair.
If this sounds like exactly what you need to enhance and recover from your workouts, then read on, because we’ve made a list of the 5 best compression shirts on the market.
You can also find our buyer’s guide and FAQ section down below for extra guidance in making the right choice for your body and workout preferences.
Pressed for time? Check out our top pick:
- Patented HeatGear fabric
- 4-way stretch construction
- UPF30 UV ray protection
- Underarm mesh ventilation panels
- Sizes Small to 5X-Large
- 6 colors available
OUR TOP PICK
Under Armour’s Men’s HeatGear Sleeveless Compression T-Shirt is made with the company’s patented HeatGear fabric.
This fabric is constructed from polyester and Estane fibers and is designed to keep the wearer cool and free from excessive sweat during exercise.
The fabric incorporates UPF30 UV protection to keep your skin shielded from sun damage when workout out outdoors.
Meanwhile, the 4-way stretch construction allows for a full range of movement in all directions, so you don’t need to worry about the tight fit of the shirt restricting your workout.
The built-in mesh panels under the arms provide ventilation where it’s most needed.
Another huge benefit to the HeatGear sleeveless compression shirt is its inclusive size range.
Available in sizes Small to 5X-Large, with additional ‘tall’ line options in X-Large, XX-Large, and 3X-Large, the vast majority of customers will be able to purchase this shirt in their size.
This compression shirt is also available in 6 colors, including black, white, navy, carbon, royal blue, and red, to fit with almost any workout style.
- Made from breathable, lightweight HeatGear fabric
- 4-way stretch construction for free movement
- Incorporates UPF30 protection
- Underarm ventilation panels
- Available in sizes Small to 5X-Large
- 6 color options
- Product information advertises a zipper closure, which is not featured on the product itself
DevOps has created a gym wear staple with its Men’s Thermal Long Sleeve Compression Shirts.
These shirts are made from a blend of polyester and spandex for a combination of stretch and durability.
A soft, comfortable fleece lining has been added to the inside of each shirt for maximum heat retention. This is great for exercising outside or at night, especially during the colder months.
However, it does mean that this shirt might generate too much heat to wear for indoor workouts, particularly in the summer.
You can purchase this compression shirt style in sizes Small to XX-Large.
Each set of 2 contains at least one black color option, with a choice of 8 additional colors, including black, charcoal, white, light gray, navy, olive, red, and wine.
- Stretchable and durable polyester/spandex blend
- Fleece lining for heat retention
- Available in sizes Small to XX-Large
- 8 color options
- May be too warm for indoor workouts
These compression t-shirts from Neleus are a great alternative to full-length sleeve compression shirts for when you really want to push yourself without breaking too much of a sweat.
The polyester and spandex fabric blend is lightweight and breathable to keep your workouts as dry as possible.
The breathability of this shirt design is enhanced by Neleus’s Dri-FIT Moisture Transport System, which helps to make the shirt moisture-wicking and fast-drying.
The fabric is also elastic, durable, and non-abrasive, so you can throw yourself into your exercise without worrying about restriction, tearing, or chafing.
These shirts come in packs of 3 and are available in sizes Small through 3X-Large. You can purchase a 3-pack of these shirts in multiple color combinations of black, blue, gray, red, and white.
- Short-sleeved for warmer weather
- Lightweight polyester/spandex fabric
- Elastic and durable
- Available in sizes Small to 3X-Large
- Multiple color combinations available
- Some customers have found the compression to be insufficient
If you search for compression shirts online, you’re likely to find far more designs for men than women.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t great compression shirts for women out there, and WANAYOU’s Women’s Compression Shirt is one of them.
Made from polyester and spandex fibers, this shirt easily absorbs sweat for a moisture-wicking effect.
It is lightweight and soft for maximum comfort and breathability, with close-fitting hems and seams for compression and support.
Thanks to the 4-way stretch technology and elasticity, this shirt allows complete freedom of movement.
You can also wear this shirt outside in hot and sunny weather without worrying about sun exposure because of UPF50+ protection.
Available in sizes Small to XXL, and in packs of 2 or 3, this compression shirt will fit most sizes. Color options include combinations of black, white, blue, gray, red, and pink.
- Moisture-wicking polyester/spandex construction
- Lightweight and breathable
- 4-way stretch technology
- UPF50+ protection
- Available in sizes Small to XXL
- Several color combinations available
- Sizing down may be required for effective compression
Another shirt design from Neleus, these Women’s Compression Base Layer Dry Fit Tank Tops are ideal for providing chest, back, and torso compression, especially during the warmer months when a long-sleeved shirt or even a t-shirt might be too much to work out in.
The polyester and spandex material is both stretchy and form-fitting for a balance between support and unrestricted body motion.
However, many customers do feel that this compression shirt could have benefitted from a bra insert for extra support.
The lightweight, Dry-Fit design ensures fast drying and moisture-wicking for a comfortable, dry exercise experience.
This shirt can be purchased in packs of 3, and sizes range from X Small to 3X-Large. In terms of color options, packs include combinations of black, gray, white, blue, red, green, and pink.
- Tank-top style for hot weather
- Stretchy and supportive polyester/spandex material
- Lightweight and moisture-wicking
- Sizes X-Small to 3X-Large
- Multiple color combinations available
- No bra insert
- Downsizing may be required for full compression
Best Compression Shirts Buying Guide
Need a little extra guidance in choosing your perfect compression shirt?
Our buyer’s guide will run you through all the key elements of compression shirt sizing, construction, and style to consider.
In order to derive the full benefits from your compression shirt, it’s essential to make sure the sizing is correct.
Too large, and the compression will be ineffective. Too small, and you may find yourself feeling uncomfortable and constrained, which is definitely not ideal when working out.
Your compression shirt needs to fit snugly without being so tight that it restricts your movement or causes you discomfort.
Everyone should be able to work out in the gear that makes them feel comfortable and confident, regardless of shape or size.
Therefore, the compression shirts included on our list are size-inclusive wherever possible.
Because some compression shirts run looser or tighter than others, it’s always a good idea to consult the individual size guide for each product as well as the product reviews to make sure that you get the desired level of compression out of your shirt.
The most common materials that compression shirts are made from are polyester and spandex.
Usually, a combination of the two is used, at a respective ratio of 90% to 10% or 85% to 15%.
Both of these materials are ideal for compression shirts because they are lightweight and elastic.
Moreover, polyester is highly moisture-wicking and fast-drying, which are highly sought-after features in activewear in general.
Polyester and spandex are also non-abrasive materials. This is an essential factor to consider given how common chafing is during exercise, especially when wearing tight clothing.
In some cases, such as in UnderArmour’s sleeveless compression t-shirt, Estane may be added to the construction for extra moisture-wicking.
Mesh panels can also be beneficial for increasing ventilation to sweat-prone areas such as the underarms, helping you to stay as dry as possible during your workout.
For cold-weather workouts, the addition of a layer of fleece inside the compression shirt will help to keep you warm and has the added benefit of making the shirt extremely soft and comfortable to wear.
This section links into the discussion of material since the fabrics used to make compression shirts are instrumental in their construction.
However, there are a couple of specific construction technologies and systems that can improve the quality and function of a compression shirt and deserve to be discussed here.
4-way stretch technology is used by several compression shirt manufacturers. This technology ensures that fabric can be stretched (you guessed it) 4 ways - from the tom and bottom, and from both sides.
This is an important feature of workout gear and is especially useful with compression wear due to the tightness of the fit, which might otherwise restrict movement.
With 4-way stretch technology, you can exercise freely without feeling trapped in your gear or worrying about damaging it.
Another innovative construction feature often found in compression shirts is the use of moisture transport systems.
Moisture transport technology involves multi-layer fabric construction that helps to channel moisture away from the body so that it can evaporate and dry quicker.
When it comes to compression activewear (especially shirts, due to the accumulation of sweat in the armpit area) the close proximity of the fabric to the skin has the potential to create quite a moist, unpleasant environment.
The use of a moisture transport system can help to minimize this. It also means that your shirt will dry more quickly after washing, which is always a convenient bonus.
There are plenty of health and fitness-related reasons why someone might choose to wear a compression shirt to the gym, but let’s be honest, a big contributing factor to the popularity of compression workout gear is style.
Compression shirts are known for being slimming whilst emphasizing your hard-earned muscle tone and wearing one of these shirts in your favorite color, or in a color that matches the rest of your gear, is likely to make you feel even better.
Something worth considering in this respect is that compression shirts are often sold in packs of 2 or 3, and multiple color combinations are usually available in this case.
This is great because it means that you can either vary your workout gear or buy several in the same color so that you’re never without your favorite shirt design on wash day.
Also on the subject of style, as you may have noticed, compression shirts are available in various sleeve lengths, from tank tops to long-sleeved t-shirts.
Now, your own individual style preference will influence your decision in this area, but it’s also important to think about the practical side.
The weather, your location (indoor or outdoor), and the type of exercise you engage in should all play a part in determining which kind of compression shirt you invest in.
For example, if you regularly exercise outdoors even during the colder months, you may wish to prioritize long-sleeved compression shirts over t-shirt or tank-top styles.
On the other hand, if most of your exercise takes place in the gym, or you work out a lot during the warmer seasons, a t-shirt or tank-top compression shirt might be more appropriate.
Did you know that UV rays can penetrate layers of clothing and cause skin damage?
Not many people do, but it’s something that’s worth remembering if you regularly exercise outside, especially in the summer months.
Because compression shirts are often designed to be super lightweight, the risk of UV penetration is higher than with other kinds of clothing.
Thankfully, several compression activewear manufacturers have taken this into account and incorporated UV protection into their compression shirts.
On our list, you can find compression shirts with UV protection in UFP30 for men’s sizing and UPF50+ for women’s sizing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do compression shirts work?
There has been some debate regarding the scientific evidence for the benefits of compression shirts.
Some health and exercise scientists feel that the findings of research on the subject are evidence enough to support the benefits claimed by manufacturers.
Other experts remain doubtful due to the fact that research on compression wear is still in the early stages.
Most scientists can agree that this type of activewear would benefit from more research being conducted so that the benefits can be confirmed.
The general consensus is that, while the actual benefits of compression shirts during workouts are disputed, research suggests that they are likely to help to some extent with post-workout muscle and tissue recovery.
The bottom line is that if a compression shirt makes you feel comfortable and supported during and/or after your workouts, then that is the most important thing.
Do compression shirts help with belly fat?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that compression, through clothing or any other method, contributes to actual weight loss or reduction of fat deposits.
However, wearing a compression shirt in the correct size can definitely have a temporary slimming or stomach-flattening effect due to the compression pressing on your stomach.
Can I wear a compression shirt all day?
In most cases, wearing your compression shirt all day long shouldn’t be a problem.
Wearing a compression shirt all day would usually only pose a significant health risk if it were significantly too tight, to the point where it would restrict circulation or put excessive pressure on your internal organs.
In this case, you’d probably be so uncomfortable that you wouldn’t want to wear it all day anyway.
Additionally, if you suffer from circulatory problems, including blood clotting disorder, you should check with your doctor whether compression wear is suitable for you and whether you can wear it for long periods of time.
In general, it’s advisable to give your body some room to breathe outside of tight compression clothing, shirts included.
Saving your compression shirts for working out and post-workout recovery is going to be the most comfortable and sensible course of action overall.
How do I wash my compression shirt?
Most compression shirts are machine washable, so you can toss it in the wash for thorough cleaning after a good workout.
However, a cold water setting should ideally be used, and machine drying should be avoided where possible unless the manufacturer has stated otherwise.
This is because polyester and spandex (the most commonly used materials in compression shirts) have a tendency to stretch out and lose their shape over time, and hot washes combined with tumble drying can speed up this process.
Harsh chemicals such as bleach should also be avoided to minimize the risk of color or fabric damage.