Do Compression Shirts Make You Slimmer?


Remember when workout clothing used to be an old T-shirt you’d had since college and a pair of gym shorts?  Now, there’s performance and athletic wear for everyone, every sport, and exercise. So much so that it’s easy to spend as much on gym clothing each month as it is on gym membership.

Some people buy gym wear based on how it makes them look when they’re wearing it: leggings in certain colours and prints, muscle-fit tees or tops with branded logos. Other people buy performance sportswear because they believe it will help them perform better or recover faster.

If you’ve been shopping for sportswear, you’ll have noticed that compression clothing is becoming more popular. Some people swear by it, but does it work or is it just a clever marketing ploy?

GymHugz recently started selling compression shirts.  They’re proving very popular and a few customers have asked do compression shirts make you slimmer? We wanted to find out so that our customers can make an informed decision as to whether or they’re worth purchasing.


What is a compression shirt?

Compression clothing is thin, lightweight and tight-fitting garments that stretch and put a light pressure on the skin.  Compression has long been used in the medical and occupational health field to aid in post-operative recovery and to help with circulation issues for example, compression socks and stockings used to prevent blood clots.

Compression shirts look like tight-fitting T-shirts.  They’re popular with bodybuilders and athletes.


What Do Compression Shirts Do?

Compression shirts are thought to improve athletic performance and to help in post-workout recovery.  They’re believed to increase blood and oxygen flow and to help keep the body cool thanks to their moisture-wicking fabric.

If you have definition in your arms and torso, then compression shirts will help you show off your muscles making the garments something of a fashion statement, too.

Men wear them to aid in recovery and to reduce muscle soreness and fatigue after an intensive workout.

Compression clothing tends to be seamless which makes chafing less likely during exercise.

Because compression shirts are so tight, they’re safer to wear during bodybuilding or cross-fit because there’s no free material to get caught on something or to irritate or distract when lifting or doing HIIT routines.   


 Do Compression Shirts Make You Slimmer?

Compression shirts won’t make you slimmer but they can be a way of accenting muscle definition and body shape in a way that’s more appealing and attractive than looser t-shirts. They’re a good way of showcasing why you go to the gym.  Some people think that sweating in a compression shirt will slim them down but this isn’t true. You may lose a little water but the moment you rehydrate, it’ll be back.

Think of compression shirts a little like the body contouring garments that women wear. It won’t make you slimmer but it can create a pleasing silhouette.


Do Compression Shirts Work?

We’re big fans of compression shirts because they look great on a defined body; they’re moisture wicking, and they don’t get in the way when you’re exercising but the science behind their performance enhancing capabilities is a little muddy.

According to T-Nation, there’s some evidence that compression clothing could help increase blood and oxygen flow during a workout.  The article goes on to say that the true benefit of compression wear could be that when people wear it, they think they’re performing better.  And at the end of the day, if that’s what makes you exercise better, more consistently and happier, then it’s worth considering. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of a placebo effect and lots of people swear that compression shirts help them either during performance or in recovery. You could think of compression clothing as a bit like an actor putting on a costume to get into character.

Other studies, however, suggest that compression clothing can improve performance. James Broatch from the Australian Institute for Sport says that it does work and that independent tests show that ‘compression garments…improve cycling and running performance, lactate clearance and running economy’.


In the same article, Coach Mag asked two other fitness experts to weigh in. One said that there was a small amount of proof that compression clothing helped in recovery but that there was no evidence that it aids in performance. The other expert said he wore compression clothing and whilst he found no real benefit when endurance running, he felt it did help in recovery.

So the science is a little sketchy on the performance enhancing ability of compression wear.  That’s okay.  Deep down, we all know there are no magic bullets when it comes to fitness.

There could be some legs to the idea that it helps in recovery, though. 

The Open Fit website references a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that suggests compression garments reduce perceived muscle soreness.  People may feel that their muscles ache less, even though that’s actually not the case.

Again, don’t underestimate the power of a placebo effect.

If you’re interested in buying compression clothing, there’s no reason not to give it a go.  Be aware that there’s mixed opinion on how reliable the performance enhancing qualities are but there could very well be recovery benefits to this type of clothing.


Should I Buy a Compression Shirt?

You shouldn’t buy a compression shirt if you think it will make you slimmer, because it won’t. If you’re looking for a shirt that highlights your muscle definition and profile, then a compression shirt is a great way of showing off what you’re worked for in the gym.  The science casts some doubt on how well a compression shirt will enhance your performance, but there seems to be some anecdotal (and some scientific studies) suggesting it could help in recovery.  You might also like to go for tighter fitting clothing if you find baggy clothes too annoying to wear when working out.

Or if your skin is irritated by the chafing of seams against the skin.

You should definitely check out the new compression shirt we have in the GymHugz store right now.  And don’t forget to sign up to our email list for a discount and the chance to stay up-to-date with the latest arrivals.


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