Everything You Need to Know About Compression Gear

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Complex Original

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When you think “compression,” the first thing that may come to mind is personal trainers flaunting skin-tight bodysuits. But in truth, 

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What To Expect

Compression gear is meant to be tight fitting, in some cases (running tights) super, super tight. Ask for a professional’s advice if you are trying them on in-store as they shouldn’t cut off circulation or leave the rest of your body spilling out.



What to Wear

Be prepared to layer and treat compression wear as a baselayer, especially in the winter months. While some fleece-enhanced items are made to keep you warm, most gear is designed with breathability and your muscles in mind. While some athletes are confident to go all out Robin Hood, most should not. Layering a pair of shorts over tights for training will keep you covered at the gym or in any training environment.



Brand Breakdown: CW-X

CW-X has been in this biz for long time. From the Wacoal Human Science Research Center in Kyoto, the study of compression wear has materialized to include products that range from muscle centric to joint centric support systems. This collection of running tights, tops, and accessories utilize a targeted support system for support where it counts.

This brand does offer some great pieces, from complete seamless tights to the ultimate running sock, but be sure to check that you’re sporting the right size. Too small could be very painful, while too large is completely ineffective.



puma actv running tights

Brand Breakdown: Puma

Puma’s first stab at compression apparel was a bold and effective one, using strategically placed compression tape built directly into the interior of the tights to help you maximize your workout. The ACTV running tight has an aesthetic advantage over its competitors, the simple black silhouette has just a bit of sheen to reveal the concealed support system underneath.



Under Armour Tom Brady

Brand Breakdown: Under Armour

Arguably the most wearable, Under Armour delivers an ultra tight fit without any distracting seams or over-the-top graphics. The 4-way stretch material is flexible but maintains it’s shape and wicks moisture away from the body. With HeatGear for the summer and ColdGear for the winter, UA has you prepared for year round workouts.

Under Armour has mastered a super flattering fit through smooth fabrics and a streamlined design, most of America agrees. Dudes love it and chicks dig it. Also true to its claims, tops and bottoms wick away sweat quickly and effectively, though a post-workout quick rinse is useful as the sweaty evidence tends to cling after an especially tough workout.

[Under Armour]


Brand Breakdown: 2XU

This compression brand is equipped to manage moisture, battle extreme conditions, and keep athletes comfortable whether running, cycling, skiing, or swimming. Easily the most low-maintenance compression items, our tights have withstood multiple harsh washer / dryer mistakes (not recommended, but they’re fine!), passed the smell test post-race and the see-through test in direct sunlight.

With their expanding collection of outerwear and running accessories, we’ll be happy to see this brand grow as compression continues to grow into the mainstream of activewear (we see you Harden).


Let us know if you have any favorite brands or products that you can’t live without. Whether you’re a first time user or a compression hound, we love hearing athlete’s thoughts on all things compression.

RELATED: Finding the Truth Behind the Compression Sock
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