In this day and age when companies spend so much money on advertising and the development of clever marketing tactics to get you to buy their products, it's sometimes hard to separate what works from what is just a gimmick.  Since the first type of compression sportswear was introduced, countless other brands have jumped on the bandwagon and developed their own version of the performance-enhancing gear.  Once you clear away all of the unfounded claims and celebrity endorsements (that tend to only cloud rational thought) the facts on compression gear become clear and sensible.

First of all, just using common sense, the very concept of compression gear is logical, athletically-speaking.  By compressing the muscles and keeping them more compact, it would naturally allow those same muscles to warm-up faster.  In a more dense state, it would also keep those muscles warmer for a longer period of time.  The very act of compression would also help reduce injury by keeping muscles more restricted from extraneous movement.   Even through the simple feel they provide, as an athlete, you get a greater sense of power because compression gear makes you feel more lean and aerodynamic.  Through self-containment, the gear would also help retain energy flow, as the muscles and joints work to produce movement and action.  Regardless of whether these benefits are all in your head or have an actual scientific foundation, they make logical sense.

On the other hand, what has been proven by research is that specific compression gear can help reduce your heart rate and decrease lactic acid concentrations.  Both of these benefits translate into better athletic performance by directly affecting your endurance levels, especially in long distance or extended duration activities.  Through their design to contain various muscle groups and make movements more efficient, compression gear also enhances blood flow in the capillaries.  Blood moves oxygen through your system and that's vital to your cardiovascular output.  Plus, once all of the work is complete, compression gear has also been shown to reduce muscle recovery time.   Wearing the gear during, and even after, moderate - high intensity exercise produces faster recovery, which means you can train harder, longer and more frequently than you would be able to otherwise.  Unfortunately, the importance of proper rest and recovery is all too often overlooked and undervalued in intense athletic training, but incorporating compression gear can help you achieve that.

All of these advantages, both logical and proven, make a case for using compression gear in training or even beneath your gear in competition.  If you can improve your performance and capitalize on rest and recovery periods simply through what you wear, it might be worth slipping into some high quality compression gear.  You don't have to be a superhero to run faster than a speeding bullet, make you able to jump tall buildings in a single bound or punch with the power of a just have to suit up in the right gear.  First, you just might want to consider leaving the cape behind though.  The guys at the gym might not let you by with that one.

Doug Ward is the President and Trainer for the Underground Boxing Company.