Do You Need Compression Gear?

First of all, what is compression gear, you ask? It’s specially designed clothing items that are engineered to conform around specific muscles or body parts and provide a certain level of pressure. It can be t-shirts, tights, arm or calf sleeves. You’ve probably seen pro athletes wearing them during competition or weekend warriors wearing them for all kinds of events. They can come in bright colors or sometimes have distinct design patterns criss-crossing the fabric.

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Calf sleeves were probably the first of these products and they were originally for people with circulatory issues in their lower legs. It didn’t take athletes and fitness-minded people long to decide these products could be helpful for training.

One of the claims is that compression garments improve blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles. Hopefully, I don’t have to explain how that can be good for athletes! An active.com* article describes how compression garments MAY reduce vibration in skeletal muscle during training which could improve muscle contraction and reduce muscle trauma. Again, pretty good potential benefits for any exerciser!

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence from athletes that these sleeves, tights and shirts provide a training benefit and aid in recovery. Some athletes say the compression adds a level of pressure that provides a feeling of stability and support during strenuous or lengthy exercise. This feeling can help them go longer and stronger in their workout.

Abigail Stickford, a post doctoral researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas did a small study to determine if there was any measurable beneficial training effect from wearing calf sleeves during running**. The study concluded that there was no positive effect while wearing the sleeves during training. Some larger studies have backed this up, however, there is evidence from a number of studies that there is a positive effect on muscle RECOVERY from wearing sleeves during and after training. The compression helps keep swelling down that occurs from blood flow during training which helps limit muscle soreness and speeds recovery.

While the majority of studies show little to no evidence of improved performance benefit there is evidence that these products help with recovery. For many people, improved recovery can be almost as valuable, if not more, as improved performance. And, there’s certainly no evidence of harm so if you want to spend the money, compression gear might be worth it.

Consider them just one more piece of equipment in your fitness arsenal. Like anything else, overuse will diminish benefits or have unintentional consequences. As always, do your own research and be an informed consumer.

Here are a few companies that sell compression gear but I’m sure you can find it almost anywhere athletic clothing is sold:

Eastbay

Under Armour

CW-X

Source: * Is Compression Gear Really Effective?

Source: ** Compression Clothing Not the Magic Bullet for PerformanceNational Institute of Health

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Review: FitnessBlender.com

As the name “TheHomeFitnessClub.com” implies, I work out at home and I’m always looking for ways to get a killer workout in my home. I create most of my own workouts because I can keep it simple and do what I like and frankly, it’s what I do!

But, there are times that I don’t want to or feel like coming up with my own workout for many reasons. Sometimes, I just need a change of pace. Sometimes I’m looking for new ideas or inspiration. And the bottom line is that variety in a fitness program is always a good thing.

If you do a search for online fitness videos you’ll get hundreds, even thousands, of returns. There are too many great sites and videos to list so I advise you to do your research, try out, experiment and find what you like. You might love yoga or Barre workouts. There are sites for those! You might want a high intensity cardio circuit workout or Pilates floor workout. There are sites for those too!

When I did this search myself a few months ago, I came across FitnessBlender.com. What a great site!

It’s completely free. You can create an account in order to save favorite workouts and use the calendar function but an account is not necessary. The site has a huge selection of full length individual workout videos as well as whole plans for anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks long. The variety of workouts is great and the instructors are knowledgable and do an excellent job of explaining and demonstrating exercises.

The site includes a comprehensive search and filter function to easily narrow down your workout choices. You can filter your search by:
– time
– difficulty
– body part
– equipment
– training type
For example, do you want a Barre workout or a Kettlebell workout? Are you looking to improve your flexibility or build your cardio endurance? Do you need a workout you can do in 20 minutes or less? You can search for all those variables!

I have not watched or done ALL the workouts (yet!) but I think this website is a valuable gem. I’ve used a few of the flexibility videos because stretching is not something I do regularly unless I’m told to. The programs are quick, effective and easy to follow along with.

As long as you have an internet connection, FitnessBlender.com is a great resource for those of us working out in the family room. Try it out and let me (and FitnessBlender.com) know what you think.

P.S. I have no financial affiliation with FitnessBlender.com. I just think its a great resource and wanted to share!