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The latest innovations in sportswear claim to work us harder and even reduce injuries. Lucy Benyon asked experts to test and assess some new products. We then rated them.
Infrared shorts to train harder
Kymira Sport Men’s Infrared Core 3.0 Shorts, £50, kymirasport.com
Claim: These shorts ‘contain fibres that absorb heat given off from the environment and then release it at a targeted bandwidth of infrared radiation that is thought to help muscular performance and recovery’.
The manufacturer claims that this helps to regulate body temperature, and increase blood circulation, tissue oxygenation and cellular metabolism, so that the body has more energy to train harder for longer.
Expert verdict: ‘These were comfortable and initially felt warmer than my normal base layers,’ says Jim Pate, a senior physiologist at CHHP London, a centre that specialises in health and performance.
‘They remained dry, but it took 70 minutes of running before they really warmed up and the potential benefits kicked in.
‘The claim that these shorts increase circulation, energy production, muscle relaxation and pain relief is backed by credible studies, but what isn’t proven is the effect on performance — although I’d say there is definitely a link.’
The latest innovations in sportswear claim to work us harder and even reduce injuries. A file photo is used above
No.1 London No Bounce Active Bra, £48, no1bra.com
Claim: Available in cup sizes A to GG, this works by ‘cleverly holding and separating the bust volume in place to significantly reduce movement and provide support, meaning that you move but they don’t’, says the maker.
Features include wide straps for extra support, inner lining for a superior fit and lightly structured cups.
Expert verdict: ‘If the breasts move about unsupported, it not only feels painful, but it can cause sagging and reduce the positive impact of exercise,’ says Dr Liz Durden-Myers, a senior lecturer in physical education at Bath Spa University.
‘I love this bit of kit. There is much less vertical bounce than you get with other sports bras, but your chest doesn’t feel compressed or squashed either.
‘I play netball in it most weeks and feel at ease jumping about in it. In fact, it’s so comfortable, I often end up wearing it for most of the day. I’d recommend this bra to anyone — my only negative is that the straps could be more comfortable.’
Leggings to boost metabolic rate
Kilogear Cut Booty Lift Weighted Leggings, £108, freepeople.com
Claim: These leggings ‘turn every movement into a workout’. They contain pockets for weights either above or below the knee (two 0.5lb bars included) to ‘naturally raise the metabolic rate as well as burning more calories naturally, while shaping and toning your entire body’.
Expert verdict: ‘Weighted garments have been used in rehabilitation for more than 30 years to gradually increase the load that the muscles can support, but have recently become more popular as a fitness aid,’ says Dr Liz Durden-Myers.
‘A 2016 study in Malaysia found that wearing 1 lb ankle and wrist weights three times a week for 20 minutes lowered participants’ waist circumference and fat percentage over a six-month period.
‘I thought these leggings were rather good, but I am not convinced that you would continue to increase the metabolic rate too much after exercising. However, if you use them when walking, doing Pilates or weight training, they will probably help with toning.
‘And you won’t do any harm if you choose to wear them throughout the day.’
Top that will monitor heart
Prevayl Men’s Smart Training Pack, £220, prevayl.com
Claim: A T-shirt with a lightweight sensor inserted into a chest pocket which provides a ‘clinical-grade ECG [to measure heart rate], as well as tracking temperature, energy expenditure and physical intensity’.
This data is sent to an app on the user’s phone, and is said to help people achieve their fitness goals.
Expert verdict: ‘Heart rate data during exercise and rest is very useful and when interpreted correctly can help give an insight into changes in fitness and recovery,’ says Jim Pate.
‘This is a good app — the data is well presented and easy to understand — and it is impressive that the sensor can sample a thousand bits of data per second.
‘It compares well to other products on the market, although some other devices provide higher levels of data, particularly the ECG.’
Tights to reduce muscle soreness
Pressio Power Tight Mid Rise, £105, pressio.com
Claim: These tights compress the muscles in the leg to reduce vibrations during exercise, which can ‘cause trauma’, the manufacturer says.
The compression raises the temperature of the skin and tissues to increase blood flow and promote healing. This is said to result in ‘greater output and reduced soreness or swelling’.
Expert verdict: ‘A recent German study showed that when compression garments are worn for sport, they result in quicker muscle recovery afterwards, particularly after intense exercise,’ says Dr Liz Durden-Myers.
‘These tights are well-made, but I’m not fully convinced by the technology used because the support panels aren’t really in alignment with the muscle groups they are designed to support. They were reasonably comfortable to run in, but it was hard to get them on and off.’
T-shirt that builds muscles
Hytro BFR Genesis Tee, £99, hytro.com
Claim: This T-shirt has straps on each sleeve which the user tightens for ‘blood flow training’. This restricts blood flow into and out of an area of muscle to increase muscle size by 31 per cent and power output by 28 per cent, according to the maker.
Expert verdict: ‘There is nothing to back up these very specific statistics,’ says Jim Pate.
‘But there is good evidence to suggest blood flow training can stimulate a hypoxic [low oxygen] environment that encourages your muscles to work harder and therefore increase in size.
‘I don’t think there would be any risks to people using this T-shirt if they are aware that it is not a complete replacement for good fundamental strength and conditioning training.
‘I found it easy to use and very effective — although it’s a shame that it doesn’t incorporate more muscle groups, because it only allows for restriction of the tricep, bicep, and forearm muscles.’