The Best Compression Tops for Fitness Workouts in 2021

Couple running on treadmill wearing compression tops

We have delved deep into all things athletic shirts and have hunted down and reviewed 3 of the best compression tops for women and the top 3 for men.

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We’ve reviewed each of the categories of compression shirts below and these are our picks.

Our 3 Best Compression Tops For Women

Our 3 Best Compression Tops For Men

Our Best Compression Tops in Detail

Look no further.

Men’s TSLA Mock Long-Sleeved T-Shirt Cool Dry Compression 

The cool dry compression T-shirt is made from 87% polyester and 13% spandex and is nice close-fitting garment but also very comfortable.


The compression shirt boasts excellent elasticity with an enhanced range of motion meaning you can comfortably perform cardiovascular activity, endurance or resistance training without worries about bunching or chafing.

The long sleeved compression t-shirt is a solid option for a range of activities indoors or out designed as it does with flat-lock seams and built-in UV protection.

This top is very figure exposing, ideally for those who are already in shape although for similar tight fitting tops I like to wear them as a base layer and wear one or more shirts on top.

It’s strongly recommended that you order ONE size up compared to what you would normally wear due to the sizes being a bit on the smaller side.

Pros:

  • Available in a huge range of colors for all tastes.
  • Flat-lock seams seem to work well for comfort and protection from chafing while you work out.
  • Moisture sensing Quick time Dry/TWO-WAY air circulation which is their brand name for wicking which is effective.
  • Built-in UV protection. This safeguards your skin from ultraviolet rays (UPF 50+) for outdoor activities.
  • Deodorization function to ensure you always smell fresh and sweating doesn’t ruin your or someone else’s workout.
  • Great value for money.

Cons:

  • Some people may not like the high-ish neck – personally, I don’t as I find it slightly annoying and rubs a bit.
  • Don’t put in the dryer as the shirt may shrink and they may no longer fit. Some colors may have the potential to bleed in the wash – sticking to black or white shouldn’t be a problem.

Men’s Under Armour HeatGear Compression Shirt

The Under Armour Men’s HeatGear shirt is made from 84% polyester and 16% elastane for a comfortable and another close fit.


The specialist HeatGear fabric incorporates all the benefits of UA compression and is comfortable enough to be worn all day long.

The top has stretch-mesh underarm panels and delivers strategic ventilation all the way through your workout.

It has a 4-way stretch fabrication which allows greater mobility in any direction and an innovative moisture transport system, wicking sweat away and drying fast.

Pros:

  • Is ideal to wear as an undergarment to add a smoother shape to your figure and appears to be well designed to allow for total freedom of movement.
  • Provides a great base layer for everyday wear as well as for outdoor activities or the gym making it very versatile.
  • Comfortable to wear, so much so that it seems to be the choice for many casual day to day, under the normal clothing sort of people.
  • Good value price
  • Large range of colors and designs.

It also comes as a sleeveless version with otherwise the same specifications as the shirt-sleeved version reviewed.

Cons:

  • Due to the fit, it can rise a little when working out.
  • The fabric is a little thin – it’s difficult to say how durable it would be.
  • The brand UA Heatgear is clearly designed for general wear and activity and not as specific as a base layer for warmth.

DRSKIN Thermal Fleece ColdGear Compression Baselayer

Well one of the criteria for a good man’s compression top is the ability to wick moisture away efficiently and this DRSKIN top is great.

I was impressed for what is a value end option. I’m not sure what is meant by “fleece”. There is no fleece that I can ascertain and anyway, why!

I really like this design, a short sleeve and v-neck. It’s practical and you can, as I do, wear it underneath other layers when doing any activities or even when you’re not.

However, this design is just one of a multitude in a range including crew neck, long sleeve, no sleeve and I had to get the high neck long sleeve option just ‘cos it looks so good.

As the name suggests the emphasis is on a top for extra warmth and so suitable as a baselayer.

So cool in Summer and holding the heat in winter.

The compression didn’t seem as good as our first 2 selections but it was a good tight fit. I’m guessing the compression might lose it’s efficacy over time.

The fabric is 92% polyester, 8% spandex.

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Able to order many different styles

Cons:

  • No integrated sun block

Our Top 3 Women’s Compression Tops

Women’s Under Armour ColdGear Compression

For a seriously flattering silhouette, the ColdGear Compression Mock is made from 87% Polyester and 13% Elastane for a stretchy, comfortable form-fitting shape.

The fabric is smooth and soft against the skin and increases your comfort along with your sporting or athletic performance. It incorporates soft brushback knit traps to better maintain your core temperature.

You can also benefit from the signature moisture transport system that effectively wicks away any sweat to keep you nice and dry.

An excellent feature of the compression mock is the extended, 26″ body length, which covers your butt being useful for those who are a little self-conscious or just require some extra length.

It’s specifically the Under Armour version Coldgear that is designed more for use as a warm base layer but we found it effective in removing moisture so found it to have all-round versatility.

Pros:

  • High neck and extended body length to shape your body giving the illusion of a more slender toned shape.
  • Available in a range of colors.
  • Excellent, true to size snug-fitting compression top.
  • The mock neck opening is a little loose to ensure you are comfortable.
  • Doesn’t lose color and dries really fast in the air.
  • Temperature control fabric keeps you cool in warm weather and warm in colder weather making it ideal for all seasons.
  • Versatile enough to wear for cardiovascular activity and strength training.

Cons:

  • The stitching around the high neckline could irritate some.

Women’s SKINS DNAmic Women’s Compression Shirt Sleeve Top

Crafted from 75% Nylon and 25% Elastane the DNAmic compression top for women is the world’s first dynamic gradient compression top which was designed to concentrate the blood supply to the active muscle groups.

This then increases your endurance, power, and efficiency before and after your workout.

This compression top is theoretically available in three styles including sleeveless, short sleeve, and long sleeve.

If you’re a fan of SKINS as a quality brand, like me, you might want to grab one of these. Otherwise tread with caution as since the company filed for bankruptcy in 2019 availability, support and returning products have been a bit suspect.

Pros:

  • The compression top has a UPF 50+ UV protection and chafe-free flatlock stitching making your workouts comfortable and irritation-free.
  • You can wear during your physical activity for enhanced performance and post activity for a quicker more optimized recovery.
  • The perfect piece of equipment for physical activity.
  • The postural support is exceptional even as you push through your fatigue curve.
  • Enjoy less muscle soreness after your workouts.
  • Underarm ventilation and a comfortable neckline for a good fit and a streamlined look.

Cons:

  • The top can be a little bit pricey if it’s not on sale.
  • The arms of the long sleeve option can be tight.
  • The company is in limbo. Support is questionable.

Women’s Brontierie Crew Neck Crop Top

This Brontierie crew neck crop top is something a little different and very stylish. With the elegant crew neck and crossover-tummy design I could see me wearing this as a part of a casual outfit.

Although would it look cool or not with the thumb holes. I like them and practical too for when it’s cold.

The material is stretchy with it being made of 92% Polyester and 8% Spandex.

I personally wouldn’t wear it for running but definately yoga, general exercising, workouts and just out and about too.

Although the fabric is lightweight and quick-drying it’s not the best when you’re sweating a lot so not great at moisture wicking.

Comes in colors black, grey, pink and white.

Pros:

  • A lot of stretch.
  • Competitive price.
  • Thumbhole design so no riding up of the sleeves and hands stay warm.
  • If after a crop top this is a lovely design.
  • The sleek design makes your figure appear slim
  • Could easily be worn with nothing else anywhere on a warm day.

Cons:

  • Make sure on the size – size up.
  • Not the best at wicking moisture.
  • More casual wear than sports I would say.

The best of the best compression tops

We are fans of all the above compression tops largely due to their quality and versatility.

We wanted to select compression tops that would be suitable for quite serious levels of exercise and sport as well as for those wanting to look good and feel comfortable whilst doing a turn at the gym or simply taking the dog for a walk.

Even for those who wanted the comfort of them as a base layer under everyday clothes.

Best Compression Shirt For Men

Well, it doesn’t look as though there’ll ever be a resurgence of the SKINS brand of compression tops. It went into administration in 2019 and the future is unclear for the company.

It’s a shame because the AS400 was a long standing favorite of mine.

So up moves into the first position the Men’s TSLA Mock Long-Sleeved T-Shirt, a pretty darn good back-up.

Soft material, great moisture wicking properties and excellent comfort.

It’s good value too.


Best Compression Shirt For Women

The Under Armour ColdGear is the women’s compression top we went for due to its design and all-round usefulness.

Again like our top choice for the men’s compression top this Under Armour garment has a quality about it. It even seems to slide on easily.

Not only does it boast a high neckline and long sleeves it has an extended, 26″ body length, which covers your butt meaning whether you are resistance training or performing cardio you won’t need to keep making adjustments.

For the best of the best in the compression tops of category for women this garment ticks every box. It allows you to look slimmer and it enhances your workout. How can that in any way be bad?


What Are Compression Shirts

The best compression tops are form hugging garments usually made from a  mixture of man-made material with a percentage of spandex but can also include neoprene, lycra or nylon.

Up until around 40 years ago, compression garments were strictly the preserve of the medical profession for prescribing the wearing of stockings, sleeves and pantyhose to generally more mature people with poor circulation or those having to stand a lot.

The medical benefits from recovery after surgery, for instance, was soon noticed by the ever-progressive sports community and research and development into finding the best material combination and design was on.

For sports and outdoor activities compression shirts are usually worn to keep the muscles warm, to prevent muscle strain and purportedly to aid in performance and recovery – a little more about that later.

Most clothing is available in a compression style such as tops, sleeves, waist belts, knee sleeves, leggings and much more.

What’s the purpose of compression clothing?

First, we’ll look at why we might use compression garments for reasons other than during sports and other activities.

Compression stockings, in particular, are used as an aid to the prevention of deep vein thrombosis​ and swelling especially for those traveling far distances.

Compression stockings are often prescribed for patients after surgery and injury or at any time when the blood circulatory system has been compromised and there is danger from blood clots to form.

I had bad varicose veins when I was quite young but didn’t cause a lot of pain but I had them stripped out and wore compression stockings for weeks after the operation – not a very good look especially in those days when they were a lot less sporty than they are now.

Wearing compression tights whilst pregnant helps stop the pooling of the blood in the veins further reducing the risk of an increased heart rate in both mother and baby.

Blood has to work against gravity to get pumped back to the heart so wearing a tight garment around the extremities aids this process and helps prevent the pooling of blood.

Compression garments are ‘cool’

Well, I use the term cool here not in the sense of temperature but rather in the modern idiom so they look pretty good.

Compression tops are for both men and women alike and as they are a tight fit can be worn comfortably underneath everyday garments. Although I wouldn’t recommend wearing them all the time.

Do compression shirts make you look slimmer?

The answer is yes – providing you get the correct size and fit. Compression tops should be tightly fitting and snug to wear.

They pull you in and compress your muscles and fat which gives you a smoother, more toned appearance. You can wear them to train in for added body confidence or underneath your clothes for a slimmer look.

In another article, we’ve looked at the best men’s slimming compression shirts.

Is compression gear any good for losing weight?

There’s no doubt that compression clothing can make you appear slimmer and also makes you feel more confident in the way you look – I can certainly attest to that but is there any evidence of aiding in weight loss?

No. That’s the simple answer although it can be argued that wearing such garments increases sweating and water is weight, but as you’ll probably know as soon as you take in liquids the body says thanks very much I’ll keep hold of that.

There is also the matter of micro-massage which is the small amounts of pressure made on the body every time it moves giving an overall mini-massage – sounds nice!

However, it does nothing for losing weight although wearing a compression top can help to break up cellulite under your skin, which can help make the appearance of lost weight look more attractive.​

Do compression shirts work for moobs?

Gynecomastia is a condition in which men suffer from an excess influx of the hormone estrogen causing the appearance of extra breast tissue often referred to as man boobs or ‘moobs’.

Compression tops for gynecomastia are a popular choice because they effectively compress and hide the appearance of ‘moobs’. Compression tops will help alleviate this embarrassing issue by compressing the size and therefore changing the appearance.

Check our guide with reviews of men’s compression shirts for slimming.

Compression clothing in sport and other activities

Compression garments also act as base layers in activities like hiking and running where the design is more about temperature control.

hiking with base layers

Breathable materials

The shirt captures a layer of air naturally warmed by body heat and any sweat is wicked away through the specially designed ‘breathable’ material keeping you feeling dry and more comfortable.

For me this is one of the most useful benefits. I used to run around 50 miles a week and you didn’t always know what the weather was going to be doing.

I’m hiking more these days but I still find it as important. Sweat is your natural cooling device and when the moisture lingers and the sun goes down the last thing you want is to get cold.

Multiple ordinary t-shirt layers will hold the moisture and make you cold, which can lead to many problems even hyperthermia.

The wicking qualities of these materials are a huge advantage for the best way of not holding onto moisture but promoting evaporation. We have covered some of the best moisture wicking shirts in another article. These shirts are not necessarily compressing.

A lot of compression tops or base layers have built into them an effective sunscreen that can protect against potentially harmful UVA, UVB and UVC rays.

Sporting performance benefits

There has been plenty of studies done over the last 10 years on whether the wearing of compression garments give the sportsperson an edge however small that might be.

Claims have been made that compression garments on the legs, especially whilst taking part in a physical activity cuts down the risk of injury through the micro support of muscles.​

Conversely, the use of compression clothing was thought to improve recovery by the increased flow of oxygenated blood to the muscles and removal of metabolic waste.

Generally, it’s thought that a. such garments increase performance for athletes and b. that recovery was speeded up so that further activity could take place.

Sprinter leaving starting blocks on the running track. The best compression tops are those that are compression bottoms too.

I won’t spend too long on these this as, to be honest, I am not and I’m guessing our readers probably aren’t elite athletes looking for that extra 3% performance gain – hey I might be wrong!

Whether this technology improves performance or not, nobody has yet come up with a definitive answer but it’s generally believed that wearing compression leggings doesn’t have any significant performance gain for runners.

However, it seems that wearing these types of garments can aid in recovery, which means sportsmen and women can do more effective and back to back training sessions. Some studies were carried out using a procedure which meant the participants wore the garments long after each event though.

I’m quite keen to get out of my clothes and have a shower.​

Personally, I love wearing compression shirts for the reasons I have mentioned and there are still further benefits.

Benefits of compression clothing for strength training?

Strength training can help to strengthen joints and increase mobility in later life but wearing a compression garment can be an added benefit.

During strength training, there is increased blood flow to the upper body and thus your muscles can enjoy a more efficient oxygen exchange for a more comfortable session.​

Compression garments are also believed to reduce fatigue and soreness after exercise by literally compressing your muscles with a micro-massage but also by supporting the frame.

Benefits of compression shirts for working out?

Compression clothing is an ideal choice of gym clothing. Compression clothing can add that little bit of added, extra support you need during your exercises.

The best compression top is also believed to refine proprioception, which ultimately means how your body and posture is positioned, in this case during the workout.

In theory, proprioception improves the efficiency of your movement or lift and reduces the number of muscles that require activating, making exercise more efficient and less tiring.

This is even more important in older participants as let’s face out things are wearing out but major body movements such as exercise in general cause oscillatory movements in the muscular system as they accelerate and absorb impact shocks.

If you work out in a compression top on ‘upper body day’ you can enjoy better form and better muscle activation. Compression tops “work” by constricting the muscles in your upper body such as your arms, back and chest.

This compression reduces the amount of fluid build-up, decreasing the swelling and pressure after your workout which can help reduce the amount of post-workout muscle soreness.

How to choose compression wear that fits

Compression clothing or technology as it’s called these days isn’t like ordinary everyday wear. It’s a little trickier to get on in the first place so you should take note of a few things when choosing a size.

fitness and exercise in the old days not the best compression tops
Ah, the old days!

Whether you are choosing a compression top or bottoms the size you select should be based on your weight and height and not on typical sportswear measurements.

So whichever brand you go for reading the measurements carefully on their specific size charts. If you find yourself on the borderline between two sizes, go for the smaller size to ensure you get all the benefits of the compression. While you might feel a little squished, the added benefit is that they will flatter.

And don’t worry if you’re not used to compression garments and you have it arrived and it looks ridiculously small, all the best compression garments these days are made of amazing technology and you’ll be surprised how straight forward they are to get on.​


Concluding our Best Compression Tops for Both Men & Women

Compression garments are an excellent choice for young and older. They can add support to the body and gives the confidence you need to achieve any exercise goals.

Not only can they make you look more toned and slimmer they can also help you combat post-workout muscle soreness.

You can also wear them underneath your everyday clothes.

My number 1 choice has to be the TSLA Cool Dry Fit for men’s tops. Great for workouts. There are so many colors to choose from.

And for the women’s, we like best, the Women’s Under Armour Coldgear compression shirt. Just a comfortable and elegant-looking solution. Both shirts are excellent at sweat dispertion.

Although when it comes to wicking we have that covered with our best moisture-wicking shirts roundup.

We hope you found this useful.