Compression shirts are primarily designed as a training aid. They are purposefully very tight on the skin. It is achieved with the use of spandex fibers. It makes it very uncomfortable for your muscles when you are working out. The idea is that the tightness will result in a higher rate of blood circulation, which will fast track oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. The tightness is also meant to keep the muscle tight and engaged while you are exercising.
A compression shirt for men provides a level of therapeutic compression that gives you compression without restricting your range of motion. Compression shirts are about 15 percent smaller than a plain t-shirt or tank top. They are believed to make your exercise performance more efficient by limiting any extraneous movement. As an example, when you are doing the bench press, the compression shirt keeps your key training muscles – the pectorals, triceps and front deltoids – tight and engaged, leading to better performance. Many powerlifters wear men’s compression shirts to get their bench totals as high as possible.
There have been many claims made regarding the benefits of compression shirts, the majority of them coming from the people who make the compression clothing. The main benefits that are promoted are as follows: improved blood circulation, decreased post-workout soreness, increased endurance, injury prevention. Many people like to wear compression shirts because they like the Superhero look that it produces in terms of its tightness. Guys who have some muscle to show off may enjoy that bulging muscle look. Because compression shirts are in fashion right now, they may also enjoy the style aspect of the garment. Then, of course, there is a positive placebo effect of wearing compression clothing.
Many people believe that compression shirts only work on the top 3 inches of the human body – the brain. Having spent a sizable amount of money on a garment designed to improve performance and feeling comfortable – if slightly tight – while wearing the clothing, many people will perform better because they are convinced that they should do so.
While it is true that there is a positive placebo effect when it comes to compression shirts, that is not to say that there no real benefits to be derived from wearing them. However, the reality is that the substantial scientific evidence behind the use of compression shirts as a training aid is limited. Much of that evidence is specific to compression clothing for other areas of the body (most notably the legs), but we can extrapolate the findings to cover compression shirts.
In 2016, a study was conducted that involved long-distance runners and the ability of compression shorts to improve post-run recovery. It was seen that the wearing of compression shorts markedly improved recovery time and post-run muscle soreness. It was suggested that this was primarily due to the increased flow of oxygen and nutrients to the target muscles that resulted from the increased compression. The speeding up of the blood circulation process will also enhance the removal of lactic acid from the working muscle, which is another factor that leads to improved recovery and reduced post-exercise muscle soreness.
As already mentioned, wearing compression clothing may also help to keep your muscles on point while you are working out. There will be a marked decrease in muscle vibration as a result of the tightness of the garment. This especially comes into play when you are performing more complex exercises, such as the bench press, squat or deadlift. While there is, no doubt, a placebo effect where – you feel more in control because you are wearing the compression shirt – the tightness on the muscle will also reduce extraneous movement, making you a more efficient athlete.
Compression shirts may feel quite uncomfortable as a result of their tightness. The tightness can also produce sweat more readily. Fortunately, many compression shirts include advanced moisture-wicking properties that will help to remove sweat from your skin quickly. It will also keep you comfortable during and after your workout. It will both allow you to exercise more efficiently and to recover faster.
On the other hand, some compression shirt manufacturers include thermal technology to help to keep you want during the workout. It helps to maintain consistent body temperature during warm-ups, training, and cool down. Many compression shirts also include a level of UV protection to keep you safe when you are training out under the sunlight.
There have been many claims that compression shirts, along with other compression garments, are effective weight loss aids. So, do these claims stack up? The genesis of the compression to lose weight belief goes back to those neoprene bands that people have been wearing around their waists for decades. It was claimed that the bands would melt away the fat that lies beneath them as a result of the increased core body temperature and leads to increased sweating. It was also believed that a vibrating movement of the band would also lead to fat loss because it breaks up the cellulite sufficiently to make the skin smoother.
It is true that compression clothing, including compression shirts, will make you sweat more (which is why you should buy a shirt with built-in moisture-wicking properties), and you will lose water weight as a result. But there is a big difference between water weight and fat loss. Drink a liter of water, and you will have put that weight straight back on!
Some types of compression garments will make you look slimmer. That is because their tightness acts much like a girdle to keep the fatty areas tightly compressed. Also, medical-grade compression garments are often used following weight loss surgery. But this is not to enhance the weight loss process but, instead, to reduce post-surgery pain and speed up the healing process.
The answer, then, is that compressions garments will not help you to lose weight. Using compression clothing for that purpose can be dangerous. Excess tightness around the core can cause the muscle in that area to relax, leading to loss of muscle tone. They can also lead to overheating, which may result in dizziness. The excess loss of water through increased sweating may also lead to dehydration.