Best Compression Shirts

​updated January 1, 2019

What are Compression Shirts

The wearing of compression clothing in order to improve athletic performance and speed up recovery has rapidly gained acceptance in the fitness community. Compression clothing is available for all parts of the body. The market has responded to the demand for compression clothing with many companies producing compressions shirts. The leading brands are 2XU and Skins. In this article we focus on compression shirts, which come in both short and long sleeve versions.

Compression shirts have been designed to provide a tight fit theat compresses the part of the body in which they were being worn. Often different levels of pressure are applied to different parts of the body. We’ll review the top 3 players in the various market segments, dig deep on the supposed and real benefits of compression shirts and provide you with an invaluable buyers guide so you can be confident in making your purchasing decision.

Best Short Sleeved Compression Shirts for Men

Short sleeved compression shirts look like very tight t-shirts. They are designed to be worn while working out in the gym or while engaging in outdoor training activity. The key areas of compression are through the deltoids, pectorals and core. However, when you wear a short sleeved compression shirt, there will be no compression on the biceps, triceps or forearms.

#1. Under Armor Men’s Tactical HeatGear

Compression Shirt

The Under Armor Men’s Tactical HeatGear has been marketed as the second skin that will make you a better athlete. This shirt provides you with a very soft, lightweight and comfortable fitting shirt that feels great against your skin. The unique four-stretch fabrication of this shirt will improve your range of motion while exercising. The shirt also has built-in moisture wicking properties that will remove sweat thanks to the advanced moisture treatment system.

The shirt also includes anti-odor properties that prevents the growth of bacteria causing microbes. The shirt is made from a blend of polyester and elastane. The shirt has a good level of durability and should last for years. This shirt has a UPF rating of 30+, so will give you a good level of sun protection while training outdoors. 

One complaint that some people have mentioned is that the seams under the armpits tend to dig in. 


  • 4-stretch fabric
  • Advanced moisture treatment
  • Anti odor properties


  • ​Seam may dig into armpits

#2. Neleus Men’s Workout Athletics Compression Shirt

Compression Shirts for men

The Neleus Men’s Workout Athletic Compression Shirt is made from a blend of 85% polyester and 15% spandex. It delivers a frm yet comfortable fit that provides maximum compression around the deltoids, pecs and abdominals. You also get a high degree of flexibility which allows for free range of movement during your workout. A moisture transport system sweeps away sweat and dries quickly. The shirt features flat-lock seams to prevent any potential chafing. The seams are also comprised of four needle, six line stitching to provide the greatest level of strength and durability.

The Neleus compression shirt is constructed with a wicking technology that makes it extremely breathable and dry during extreme sports activity. The seamless design of this shirt is also ideal for reducing friction.


  • 85% polyester / 15% spandex
  • Very flexible
  • Flat lock seams


  • ​Sizing chart not accurate

#3. Nike Men’s ProCool

Compression Short-Sleeved Shirt for men

The Nike Men’s ProCool is another polyester / spandex blend (92% polyester / 8% spandex) that delivers comfortable yet tight fit for maximum compression. It features Nike’s classic dri-fit technology that effectively manages moisture, wicks away sweat and keeps you dry while you are working out. The shirt will automatically adjust to your sweat ratio, allowing you to operate at your ideal body temperature.

This shirt makes use of a network of interlocking seams that provide an extremely comfortable fit that contours to your body and provides a flattering body hugging fit thanks to built in hem vents. The ProCool is available in a humber of cool colors so that you can choose the one that best fits your wardrobe. 


  • 92% polyester / 8% spandex
  • Dit Fit technology
  • Interlocking seams


  • ​Expensive

Best Long Sleeve Compression Shirts for Men

Long sleeved compression shirts do the same thing as the short sleeved version, but also cover the arms right down to the wrists. They, therefore, provide compression to all of the areas that are covered by short sleeved shirts but include the biceps, triceps and forearms.

#1. Defender Men’s QuickDry

Compression Men Shirt

The Defender Men’s Quickdry baseline long sleeve compression shirt is a 92% polyester / 8% spandex blend shirt that provides you with a high level of compression for your entire upper body. This is a lightweight shirt that provides very little in the way of restriction. It incorporates a quick and dry transport system that will quickly wick away sweat from the body to keep you cool and dry. This shirt will also keep you warm in winter, as it provides you with a good level of heat retention. You also get UPF30 sun protection when you wear this shirt.

The Defender Men’s Quickdry can be used as either an under or an outer garment. It also works great when worn under your sports uniform. This Defender shirt works just as well as the leading brands yet comes in at a considerably lower price point.You should be aware, however, that the sizing runs very small, even for a compression garment.


  • Great price
  • Quick dry transport system
  • Good heat retention


  • ​Sizing runs very small

#2. Huge Sports Wildling Series Rash Guard

Athletic Compression Rash Guard

The Huge Sports Wildling Series UV Protection Rash Guard compression shirt is made from 80% polyamide nylon and 20% elastane to deliver an extremely soft wearing garment that also has superior flexibility. The Huge Sports Wild series of compression garments merge the animal totem with the aesthetics of geometry to produce a truly unique look and style.

This compression shirts provides with a massive UPF50 level of sun protection so you can confidently train in the summer heat for hours on end. The two way stretch fabric stabilizes muscles with compression to prevent fatigue and energy loss. The breathable fabric balances out the temperature while also eliminating sweat and moisture. A woven tape behind the neck is designed to eliminate friction. This shirt also features regional pressure application.


  • Superior flexibility
  • UPF50 sun protection
  • Two way stretch fabric


  • Sizing issues

#3. Baleaf Men’s CoolDry Long Sleeve Compression Shirt

Long Sleeve Compression Shirt for men

The Baleaf Men’s CoolDry Long Sleeve compression shirt is a 90% polyester / 10% elastane fabric that provides you with breathable, soft and moisture wicking fit.It will keep you dry and comfortable during your training while also enhancing your workout efficiency thanks to its compression and temperature regulating effects. The four needle flat seam minimizes the irritation caused by chafing. You also get an ergonomic compression fit for enhanced range of motion.


  • 90% polyester / 10 elastane
  • Four way needle flat seam
  • Ergonomic compression fit


  • ​May be too tight for comfort for some people

Best Sleeveless Compression Shirts

Sleeveless compression tops are a more breathable, less restricting version of the compressions shirt. They do not provide coverage for the shoulders and arms, allowing for a freer movement around the shoulder joint. They are also more breathable as there is no coverage under the armpits. The downside is that you do not get any compression on the deltoids, biceps, triceps and forearms.

#1. Under Armor Men’s HeatGear Sleeveless Compression Shirt

Sleeveless Compression Shirt for men

The Under Armor Men’s HeatGear Sleeveless Compression Shirt is constructed from a blend of 84% polyester and 16% elastane. The HeatGear fabric provides you with all the benefits of compression training combined with the comfort of a highly flexible garment. Stretch mesh underarm panels deliver strategic ventilation. You also get UPF30+ protection to keep you safe under the sun. In addition, there is get a high level of moisture wicking technology to get rid of sweat build up and excess moisture. 

There is a mesh panel on the back of the neck to prevent any friction from the stitching. Built-in anti-odor technology will ensure that no odor causes microbes. Mesh panels have been strategically placed on the back of the neck for greater compression.


  • Heatgear fabric
  • Underarm panels
  • UPF 30+ protection


  • ​​May not provide enough compression for some

#2. Tesla Men’s R Neck

R Neck Compression Shirt for men

The Tesla Men’s R Neck Sleeveless muscle tank top is made from 87% polyester and 13% spandex. This blend provides an excellent level of elasticity to provide an enhanced range of motion. This is a non abrasive fabric material which is amazingly comfortable against the skin. It is also very durable.

The Tesla Men’s muscle tank is fitted with moisture sensing, quick time dry, two-way circulation. This combination effectively wicks away sweat while also keeping you dry and ensuring that the garment is breathable. You also get a UPF protection level of 50+, providing you with safety when you’re training outdoors.


  • Good elasticity and range of motion
  • UPF50+ sun protection
  • Moisture wicking


  • ​​Colors may fade

#3. Esteem Apparel Chest Compression Shirt

Men's Chest Compression Shirt

The Esteem Apparel chest compression shirt is specifically designed for people who are suffering from gynecomastia. The shirt will provide and immediate chest slimming appearance. This shirt features a girdle binder to produce a slim looking chest underneath of any type of garment. The shoulder mesh material makes this shirt very comfortable as well as extremely easy to put on and take off. The shirt is made from a high quality nylon / spandex blend, so you know that it is very stretchable and comfortable.

The Esteem Apparel chest compression shirt has been designed to be worn as an undergarment. It is highly breathable and soft to the skin, making it ideal to wear under your workout clothing. This shirt is ideal for post surgery compression. It will immediately flatten out your chest and you abdominal wall, providing you with relief from gynecomastia without having to resort to medication or surgery. It is a also a great way to relieve the anxiety that many men confront as a result of this condition.

Best Superhero Compression Shirts

Compression shirts became hugely popular as a result of the saturation of Superhero movies that we have been subject to over the past decade. It’s not surprising, then, that a whole new sub-category has developed focusing on compression shirts that follow the design and include the logos and other emblazoned images that are worn by the various Superheros on screen. Of course, these garments are more than just a gimmick, as they include all of the compression benefits of other compression shirts. The majority of Superhero compression shirts are long sleeved. 

#1. Generic Superhero Compression Costume

Compression Costume T-Shirt

The Generic Superhero compression costume is a Superho range of compressions shirts that are available in a large number of designs. They are made from 87% polyester and 13% spandex that provides you with excellent elasticity and flexibility. The non abrasion fabric material feels very comfortable against the skin while also providing you with a superior level of moisture wicking technology to remove sweat and keep you nice and dry.

The printed designs on these Superhero compression shirts are very high quality, providing long lasting durability and bright, non fade colors. The range of Superhero characters available extends to all of the characters from the latest Superhero movies, including Deadpool and Black Panther.


  • 87% polyester / 13% spandex
  • Non abrasive fabric
  • Great quality of printed designs


  • ​​A little tight fitting

#2. CosFunMax Winter Soldier Shirt

Men's Long Sleeve Compression Sports Shirt

The CosFunMax winter soldier shirt is made from lightweight, moisture wicking fabric, consisting of 86% polyester and 14% spandex. This provides you with 4-way stretch fabrication that provides greater mobility in any direction while you are training. The Black Panther styled shirt looks fantastic and is perfect for people who are wanting to try out Cosplay in real life.

This Winter Soldier shirt is ideal for Cosplay, but it is equally effective as a conventional training compression garment. It features advanced moisture wicking technology that rapidly removes sweat, keeping you cool and dry throughout your training. It provides you with a good level of compression to fast track oxygen and nutrients to your working muscle groups. However, the costume design of the shirt may cause some restriction of movement on some compound exercise movements.

The print quality on this superhero compression shirt is not as high as the Generic Superhero compression costume. Some people have complained that the print started to fade over time.


  • 86% polyester / 14% spandex
  • 4-way stretch fabrication
  • Moisture wicking


  • ​​Print may fade

#3. Red Plume Men’s Compression Sports Fitness Shirt

Sport Fitness Printing Shirt

The Red Plume Men’s Compression Sports Fitness shirt is made from 86% polyester and 14% recycled polyester fiber. This provides you with a professional elastically stretchable fabric to provide the ultimate level of fit and comfort. Computer controlled digital printing will not fade or change color in time. It includes a good level of exercise compression and includes moisture wicking technology to remove sweat to keep you dry and to control your training temperature. There is also an anti odor technology included in the fabric in order to prevent odors that could lead to bacteria build up.

The Red Plume range of men’s compression shirts comes in at a very affordable price point, making it extremely competitive on the market. As well as being a great look for Cosplay or Halloween, it can also be used as a conventional training shirt for working out in the gym or outdoors. It provides you with a good level of SPF protection from the sun while training outside.


  • 86% polyester / 14% recycled polyester
  • Elastic and stretchable
  • Moisture and odor resistant


  • ​​Fits too small

What do Compression Shirts do?

Compression shirts are primarily designed as a training aid. They are purposefully very tight on the skin. This is achieved with the use of spandex fibers. This makes it very tight for your muscles when you are working out. The idea is that the tightness will result in a greater 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.

Compression shirts provide you with a level of therapeutic compression that provides you with compression without restricting your range of motion. Compression shirts are about 15 percent smaller than a conventional 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 compression shirts in order to get their bench totals as high as possible. 

Benefits of Wearing a Compression Shirt?

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:

  • Boost blood circulation
  • Decrease post workout soreness
  • Increase endurance
  • Prevent injury
Benefits of Wearing a Compression Shirt

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 vogue right now, they may also enjoy the style aspect of the garment. Then, of course, there is the undeniable 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 garment, many people will perform better because they are convinced that they should do so. 

What Compression Shirts Really Do

While it is true that there is a definite 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 solid 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.

What Compression Shirts Really Do

In 2016, a study was conducted that involved long distance runners an 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 largely 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 here - 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 quickly remove sweat from your skin. It will also keep you comfortable during and after your workout. This 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. This helps to maintain a 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.

Do Compression Shirts help you lose weight?

There have been many claims that compression shirts, along with other compression garments, are effective weight loss aids. So, do these claims really stack up?

Do compression shirts help you lose weight

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 will 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 will 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. In addition, medical grade compression garments are often used following weight loss surgery. But this is not to enhance the weight loss process but, rather, 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. In fact, 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. 

What to Look for in a Compression Shirt?

  • Material
    There are a range of materials that compression shirts may be made for. The construction material will have a lot to do with the durability, breathability and fit. Here are the main ones and what to consider with each.
  • Polyester
    While not the most durable of materials, polyester is a good choice if you are going to be training outdoors. It is water resistant and it is more resistant to UV radiation than any other material that is used for compression shirt construction. With this material you do not have to worry about the material fading in the sun or the fibers breaking down.
  • Nylon
    Nylon is quite a common material in compression shirt construction. It usually has a blend ratio of 2 to 1 with lycra, with which it is usually paired. After neoprene, nylon is the most durable fiber used in compression short construction. It is also the most water resistant natural fiber that you will come across. And, because it is a smooth fiber, nylon will not cause irritation to those who have a skin condition.
  • Lycra
    Lycra is also known as spandex. You will find it, to a lesser or greater degree, in virtually every compression shirt on the market. The greater the lycra content, the better. Its great benefit is that it provides a great deal of flexibility while still retaining its shape. It is, therefore, the spandex which allows for the form hugging fit of compression shorts. It allows them to perform without any restriction of movement.
  • Neoprene
    Of all of the materials in this list, neoprene is the least breathable. Neoprene is resistant to water and sunlight so wil nor deteriorate from extended outdoor use. It is also thermal and heat resistant. While being thick it is also lightweight, which makes it a popular choice for protective sports gear. Neoprene is technically a rubber, and is far more durable than most other compression shirt construction materials. It is not as breathable as other materials, however.
  • Level of Compression
    Look for the compression level of the shirt. Graduated compression means that the level changes in different parts of the garment, which is believed to increase the effectiveness of the compression. Compression levels of between 20-30 mmHG are the best. Many compression shirts have panels imbedded in them which have been placed in specific areas, such as over the abs or pectoral muscles.
  • Moisture Wicking
    You should look for a compression shirts that have inbuilt moisture wicking and sweat removal properties.
  • Type of Shirt
    You need to decide which of the various types of compression shirt you want to buy.

Your options are:

  • Sleeveless compression shirt
  • Short sleeved compression shirt
  • Long sleeved compression shirt
  • Superhero compression shirt

If you are going to be primarily wearing your compression shirt as an undergarment, you will be better off with a sleeveless compression shirt. This is also the best option if you will be wearing the compression shirt under your sports uniform. Short sleeved shirts are good for very warm climates and for those who want freer arm movement. Long sleeved shirts will keep you warmer and will also provide compression for your biceps, triceps and forearms. If you want to look as stylish as possible, you might consider going with a Superhero compression shirt.


Compression shirts may make you look like a Superhero, but they will not instantly turn you into one. While some of the claims relating to compression shirts are over the top, there are some very real benefits from wearing them. Our favorite brand of short sleeved compression shirt is the Under Armor Men’s Tactical HeatGear , with its 4-stretch fabric, advanced moisture treatment and anti odor properties. The best sleeveless compression shirt out there is the Under Armor Men’s HeatGear Sleeveless Compression Shirt , delivering heatgear fabric, underarm panels and UPF 30+ sun protection.

Our top long sleeved compression shirt is the Defender Men’s Quickdry, which provides you with a Quick dry transport system, good heat retention and a great price. And finally, the best Superhero compression shirt on the current market is the Generic Superhero compression costume, with its non abrasive fabric and great quality of printed designs.

Top 3 Compression Shirts

Under Armor Men’s Tactical HeatGear

Our #1. Recommendation Short Sleeved Compression Shirts

Under Armor Men’s Tactical HeatGear

jim roose

My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.