If you’re determined to complete your new year’s resolution this year and you find yourself constantly at the gym, it’s likely you’ve encountered a couple of gym junkies or freakishly ripped cross-fitters heaving their way through the room in a pair of compression shorts.
The athleisure movement has seen an explosion of compression apparel over the last few years – whether the workout is limited to scrolling through Instagram at a local cafe, trying to impress mates with a one-rep squat, or a full-on training session.
Before you collapse at the notion of decking yourself out in enough spandex to embarrass Spider-Man, we’re here to help you understand why compression gear is everywhere, what it does, who the big boys in the business are, and why you should be stocking up.
The Benefits of Compression Gear
You might scoff at the notion of prancing around the gym in a leotard, but compression apparel – whether it’s socks or shorts – is reputed to offer some valuable benefits to your next workout.
For men out there who are prone to chafing, compression gear wicks away moisture and stops skin abrasions in their tracks. Compression garments are also designed to stimulate blood flow, ensuring that strained muscles receive enough oxygen during periods of elevated activity.
They prevent fluid accumulation in muscle tissue, which is a boon considering how muscle fibers tend to swell and expand under pressure. Compression gear is also a valuable recovery tool. The additional pressure from these garments can reduce swelling – provided you continue to wear them after you’ve hung up the dumbbells, and taken your fifth and final selfie for the workout.
Compression gear, like any part of fitness, is designed for long-term application. It’s debatable whether you’ll get any benefit from wearing them as just an occasional addendum to your fitness outfit.
It’s also important to consider your lifestyle in your choice of compression gear – a swimmer wouldn’t wear compression socks, and a boxer wouldn’t bash his opponent’s head in wearing compression tights designed for an Olympic sprinter.
Final Fitting Words
Compression apparel looks set to gather more steam and sweat in the coming season.
You don’t need to go head to toe skin tight, but it’s worth adding a pair of shorts or socks to your workout ensemble and seeing the benefits stack up. Whether you’re preparing for Knees of Fury or just like to create the impression that you can move mountains, it’s never been cooler to be seen looking like you’re a barbell-crushing superhuman, so take a look at our curated list below featuring the best brands you can get compression wear from.
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They’ve introduced a sweat-busting feature called Heatgear, that redistributes unwanted perspiration and stops both overheating and painful rash development. Their kit also boasts anti-funk odour killing tech, in case you’ve begun wondering what those second glances at the dumbbell rack really mean.
Under Armour is very much a functional brand; you can’t get much better for a serious session at the new F45 around the corner.
Nike’s compression gear has all sorts of goodies to help you reclaim that six pack you always tell your mates about. Nike’s DRI-FIT technology turns chafing into a distant memory, allowing athletes to keep sprinting, lifting, and posing for gym selfies pain and rash-free.
For muscular recovery, their ‘Hypercompression’ tights include silicone panels at key locations where injury likes to make an appearance. These give your thighs and calves plenty of backup and support for cool down and post-flogging recuperation. If the prospect of a busted hamstring keeps you up at night, Nike Training compression apparel is your bridge over troubled workouts.
Scrapes and abrasions are also a thing of the past, thanks to linked toe construction and additional cushioning throughout the heel. Compression socks are an underrated addition to your workouts. They’re less expensive than larger compression items, don’t occupy a huge chunk of space in your supplement-crammed gym bag, and do wonders for dodgy ankles and heels.
After all, you might never do ankle raises or heel curls, but your feet are the supporting appendages that never really catch a break. Look after them while you can.
While they don’t offer a huge range of compression gear, Gymshark does offer compression leggings and tights that support you through every movement whether it be yoga, running, or strength training. Made with nylon and elastane, and completely seamless, Gymshark’s compression bottoms are stretchy and comfortable, so you won’t feel restricted despite the skin tight fit of their compression pants.
If you’re weary of getting into compression gear, Gymshark’s the perfect brand for you to dip your toe into the pool of compression apparel.
Lululemon offers compression tights that all serve a different purpose. Their Vital Drive Train tight is specifically designed for strength and weight training, as it is made with abrasion-resistant fabric, whereas the Surge tight is specifically designed for running with its lightweight fabric for a full range of movement.
All of Lululemon’s compression bottoms have four way stretch, sweat wicking abilities, and added support, but make sure you purchase the right tights specifically designed for your preferred way of exercising for optimal performance.
With an impressive range of compression tights, shorts and socks, Alo Yoga’s collection of compression wear are all designed to be comfortable and allow for a full range of movement. With odor-resistant and moisture-wicking fabric, Alo Yoga compression wear will keep you supported all throughout your workout, even if that workout is just a walk to your local coffee shop.
Despite only having one item of compression wear, The Men's Performance Calf Tight, this compression pant is impressive. Designed to provide comfort and support to your hips and lower body, the tights feature a double layered front crotch panel, a UV cut finish, and are made with an extremely breathable fabric. These tights have even been sported by professional football, basketball, and hockey athletes, so you know these compression tights are good.
Available in 10 stylish colours, Leorêver’s compression tights will improve your performance of whatever exercise you decide to tackle.
Vuori’s compression shorts and pants are made with stretch knit fabrics for support and comfort, and feature flatlock seams to prevent chafing. Their garments also sport Vuori’s ‘Interlock’ technology which keeps the compression wear soft and cooling to the touch.
Whether you go for the shorts or the full length pants, Vuori’s compression range will keep you feeling good while you get those gains.