What do the studies say?
Are compression clothes really worth it?
You may find people that workout regularly use compression clothing to improve their performance. Recent studies have revealed evidence that this compression clothing may alter muscle power, muscle force or muscle contraction efficiency to improve performance.
Your muscles need oxygen to perform at the optimum level and it is said that compression clothing can increase muscle tissue oxygenation and provide an advantage to the user. There was a 24% increase in the short term tissue oxygen index of people that used compression clothing in a recent study.
How Does Compression Clothing Work?
Compression clothing will squeeze your muscles tightly and there is speculation that this can aid recovery time. A new study has cast doubt on whether this compression clothing really functions as it should and help people to work out better and have improved recovery times.
The garments are supposed to improve blood circulation and to refine proprioception. This is the sense of how your body is positioned in space. If your proprioception is improved then this should in turn increase the efficiency of your movement and reduce the number of muscles that are activated.
This should make your workout less tiring and reduce fatigue and soreness afterwards. As the clothing squeezes your muscles it increases the blood flow and will also help to get rid of unwanted biochemicals which form during a workout.
Does Compression Clothing Work?
While some studies show the benefits of compression clothing there are others that claim it has no effect on performance or recovery. Some claim that there is no increase in blood flow to muscles during exercise and in fact the clothing could have the opposite effect.
Most of the studies have been conducted on athletes rather than bodybuilders. One study found that using these garments assisted athletic performance and recovery in given situations in sports such as track and field and basketball.
Some weightlifters who have used the compression garments have reported that they feel “less sore” after their work out. Others claim that compression shirts and shorts will help you to stay warm and control your temperature.
If the weather outside is hot then there is long sleeve compression cold clothes that are designed to evaporate your sweat and cooling you down as a result. Some weight lifters claim that compression shorts are good to wear as they are tight and will not cause chaffing due to normal shorts riding up.
The manufacturers will claim that bench press shirts will help increase your lift and take you to the next level. Add compression to this and you should heal faster as well. This is where compression shirts started from and there are some big claims being made.
There was research conducted with eleven people who each did two workouts that were separated by a week. Some of the group were provided with lower body compression garments for the recovery period and the others were not.
The research concluded that although those who were provided with the compression gear reported lower levels of soreness in their muscles, there was very little to suggest that the compression garments had had any impact on performance or recovery levels.
Types Of Bodybuilding Compression Clothes
A lot of bodybuilders that wear compression clothes love the way that they look in them. The clothing hugs their muscles tightly and they prance around the gym as if they own the place. Others are likely to have a different viewpoint on how you look in these clothes!
If you go to any UnderArmour retailer or their online store, you will find a huge array of bodybuilding compression garments. From heat wear or cold wear technology to combat weather conditions or the extreme comic editions so you can walk around like Superman or Batman at the gym.
There are all kinds of compression apparel items from compression cuffs for joint support, compression wrist sleeves, compression knee sleeves, elbow sleeves, leg sleeves and so on. Every part of your body is covered here!
Should You Buy Compression Clothing?
The jury is really still out on this. If you want to purchase these garments for performance and recovery purposes then you could end up being disappointed with the results if your expectations are high. If you want to strut around the gym wearing this stuff then go right ahead, but be prepared for some stick over it!
I personally have tried different versions of compression wear for the gym, what I found was nothing really in the performance or recovery side of things, although very hard to tell as there are a lot of variables in your daily life that can reflect on this. One thing I do have to say on the positive side was, that I was extremely comfortable when wearing them! This alone I guess could improve performance as it almost felt like working out without a shirt, zero restriction whatsoever.
The cooling shirt I also tried from UnderArmour worked quite well, too well actually! I found myself almost too cold at the gym with this when doing a bodybuilding routine. While I was still sweating, I was quite cooled every time I had any air movement. These would be great for cardio or sports activities as they can keep you cool in extreme heat conditions.
Lastly, I have to admit, you do get that “I look huge” feeling when wearing these which can go to your head pretty quick! They literally accent your muscles while keeping anything loose in place. Great mind motivation boost if anything.
In summary, I think they do have their benefits but just don’t be shocked when you don’t put on an extra 20lbs of muscle because you started wearing compression gear! Your diet and sleep are where your recovery is going to happen, not in a magical shirt. In my personal opinion, much better for athletes playing high intensity sports, especially the cooling gear or vice versa for the sports outside in colder weather, grab yourself some heat gear to keep your core temperature up.