Tight Shirts: Good or Bad?
Compression clothes are on the rise, but popularity doesn’t necessarily mean best practice. Are tight-fitted shirts right for you?
The benefits of a fitted shirt can vary based on many factors, such as the type of activity you’ll be engaged in, your body type, and simply personal preference. Today, we’re talking through what sorts of factors to consider and how to make the most informed decision for yourself that you can.
There are a number of objectively essential qualities for any circumstance, too. Choosing the right fabric and features is especially important with a fitted shirt, as the style will naturally amplify any positive or negative qualities.
Let’s jump into it below.
When’s the Best Time To Wear a Tight Shirt?
The benefits of a tight fit compared to a loose fit will each shine differently depending on the uses you intend. That’s why it’s always important to know your routine and plan ahead for your gear.
While there are objectively more and less ideal situations to wear a fitted workout shirt, it’s also important to keep personal preference in mind.
Let’s talk about some of the most common situations where fitted shirts may be considered.
HIIT or Crossfit
Possibly the most popular use for fitted tops is an intense exercise, such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and Crossfit.
Compression tops with a tight fit offer functional features that synergize perfectly with this type of workout. They can help to prevent and relieve muscle soreness and increase muscle oxygenation.
The aesthetic appeal of a tight-fitting shirt is a popular quality, especially amongst the most dedicated athletes who may wish to show off their physique.
That’s not to say you need to be a bodybuilder to wear fitted shirts—not by any means. As long as you’re confident in your look, fitted shirts can be a great way to supplement your style.
Even for the fittest athletes, a looser shirt may be preferable if showing off your physique is not your thing.
Whether or not fitted shirts are best for yoga practices is up to contentious debate.
On the one hand, a form-fitting shirt gives you close control over the positioning of your body, allowing you to see your form with total clarity (where a loose shirt would not).
On the other hand, without choosing the right fabrics, a form-fitting shirt could restrict your range of movement, limiting your capabilities for certain poses.
As always, choosing the best quality fabric and design is the way to go and mitigates some of the concerns. Fitted tops can be an excellent option for yoga, but it ultimately comes down to your preference for this one.
Compression can be both comfortable and beneficial during endurance exercises such as running.
Chafing affects different body types in different ways, and for many, a fitted shirt better prevents chafing than a loose shirt.
A tight shirt also benefits running in much the same way as any other intense activity, promoting blood flow and fighting against muscle soreness.
What Are the Benefits of a Fitted Shirt?
Whatever situation you’re thinking of bringing a fitted shirt into, there are a number of benefits the design offers. Outside the essential qualities that come from the fabric, the compression style has some unique features ideal for intense activity. They are useful in low-intensity workouts as well.
It Helps Promote Blood Flow
Maintaining the right blood oxygen levels is essential to positive performance during any kind of training, even more so the more intense your routine becomes.
Compression is one such way to increase oxygenation, making it easier for your body to efficiently deliver oxygen to your blood and muscles.
Of course, it’s important to choose the right fit as well. A tight shirt that fits improperly will actually restrict blood flow, so it’s important to choose mindfully designed styles and check the feel of the fit before you get into your workout to ensure you don’t feel any discomfort or excessive tightness.
It Helps You Position Your Body
Unlike looser fitting tops, where excess fabric hangs about, a fitted shirt lets you keep a close eye on every joint and muscle, so you can position your body with precision.
When technique is most important, a fitted shirt can be your best friend. This makes tight tops an ideal choice for weight-lifting, yoga, or high-intensity workouts where technical precision is a focus.
What Should I Look for in a Fitted Shirt?
There are a number of essential features you should always look for in any workout shirt, but especially in a fitted shirt, as the tight profile can amplify the lack of these features in a low-quality top, ultimately hindering you rather than helping.
Choose the Right Fabric
For every feature below, the foundation is the fabric of your shirt. Choosing the best fabric is the most important thing you can do to ensure your fitted shirt works for you rather than against you.
As a traditional fabric, cotton has a few benefits that have kept it popular for so long. With innovations in technology and techniques, new and better fabrics have arisen. These allow us to move past the glaring downsides of cotton, such as its lack of moisture-wicking properties and the adverse environmental impacts it leaves.
Synthetic fabrics have long been a staple amongst activewear, but because of the chemical treatments required to achieve most of their benefits, they are far from ideal. Such chemicals are not only detrimental to the environment but potentially to your own health and safety as well, as they can trigger fabric allergies or other conditions.
As an alternative to cotton, organic cotton has risen in popularity with good reason. Not only is the production of organic cotton responsible and sustainable, the fabric itself needs no chemical treatment, so you can feel safe and comfortable with total peace of mind.
One of the most powerful fabrics available today, though, is bamboo. With an excellent rating in sustainability thanks to the super-fast growing nature of the bamboo plant and responsible production practices, bamboo is great for you and for the planet.
Bamboo carries a huge array of natural qualities that check off every box we’ll go into below—and more. The fact that these qualities are independent of chemical treatment tells you your fabric does its part in keeping the planet and its people safer.
Choosing a thoughtfully designed compression top made with a bamboo and organic cotton fabric blend is the surest way to get all the features below in an all-natural package. That’s why our Recess Athletic Fitted Long Sleeve is one of the best options available.
Paramount amongst performance features is moisture-wicking capability.
Moisture-wicking is the ability of a fabric to draw moisture, such as sweat, from your skin and through the fabric, up to its surface where the moisture evaporates.
It’s an essential factor in keeping you dry and cool through your workout. Without it, a fabric (like traditional, cheap cotton) will hold in all the moisture it comes in contact with, which will quickly interfere with your body’s thermoregulatory processes, leading to overheating.
Much more than a comfort factor, moisture-wicking works towards keeping you safe and performing at your best.
For styles like fitted shirts where the fabric will be close to your body, moisture-wicking is especially important. Natural airflow and room for moisture to run off your body through openings in your clothes won’t be as available as a looser style.
In any case, always look for fabrics such as bamboo that offer excellent, chemical-free moisture-wicking capabilities.
Even with the best moisture-wicking capabilities, consistent contact with sweat will inevitably build up odor over time. Unless, of course, your fabric also has built-in anti-odor capabilities, like bamboo does.
Staying fresh is important for your appearance, sure, but also for your health and peace of mind. Choose fabrics that fight odor for you, so you never have to encounter that lingering stench after a wash again.
Another factor that works alongside moisture-wicking to protect your comfort and thermoregulatory state is breathability.
Breathable fabric is essential to allow airflow where possible, particularly in a fitted shirt where air does not pass through openings around the arms, neck, and waist like it would with a loose top.
Sun protection may not be the first thing you think of when breaking down what you need in your activewear, but it’s absolutely an important feature to look out for.
Unless you’re satisfied with never taking your shirt in the sun, the best practice is preparation. Believe it or not, UV rays penetrate through clouds and clothes alike, raining down radiation that can be harmful to unprotected skin.
That’s why choosing SPF (sun protection factor) rated clothing is a must for any outdoor activity. Look for a rating of 50+ (which scores Excellent on the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation scale) for the best protection—a rating which bamboo carries through all-natural qualities.
When Should I Wear a Looser Shirt?
Fitted shirts are definitely an exciting prospect, but looser shirts still have their place in your workout wardrobe.
For lower intensity activities, you might prefer the comfort of a looser-fitting shirt to the tight fit of compression tops. Consider the extremely versatile Carrollton Fitness T-Shirt or our Nola Fitness T-Shirt to find your new go-to or just to round off your options.
A looser fit may also be better for certain body types. Excessive compressive around your lungs or waist could result in significant discomfort, so be sure to test things out and see what works for you.
If you’re looking to take your training to the next level, fitted shirts may be just the thing for you. As with any exercise style, be sure to use only the best fabric (like bamboo). Always be on the lookout for the latest innovations from Tasc Performance to be at your best.