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Like everything in sport, the science of the fabrics we wear and the way sports clothing is constructed is constantly evolving. This year, the exciting new developments at 2XU can help improve your performance by enhancing the sensations of speed, muscle support, warmth and comfort overall.
In recent years we've seen the big shoe brands battle it out to strip every excess gram from running shoes to create a greater sensation of lightness. Now 2XU has done the same with running tops. 2XU's world leading GHST tops are built from a proprietary fabric called X-LITE PRO, which results in a top that's no less than 40% lighter than standard run tops. A GHST shirt will weigh only 86g – but it's not all about the grams.
GHST fabric also incorporates 2XU's ICE X fabric, a high-filament yarn that facilitates the evaporation of moisture so that you and the shirt stay dry as you sweat. ICE X is also treated with xylitol. Microencapsulated xylitol changes state in the presence of moisture, producing a cool sensation that can lower the temperature of the shirt or singlet by 4°C. Xylitol also serves as a UV reflector, so the top won't absorb heat from the sun.
GHST works at its best outdoors where there is a little wind to accelerate air flow through the fabric, but it's not just for runners. Athletes who rely on speed of movement are benefitting from the incredible lightness and the cooling properties of GHST clothing. Here's what Taekwondo World Champion Carmen Marton says about GHST:
"When I'm training and competing, my clothes and training gear must be light enough to offer complete freedom of movement. No player likes their kicks, movement or punches to feel restricted or weighed down especially when they have up to 6 or 7 fights in a single day."
"Many tournaments are won in your training. Overheating your core temperature can impact your training and limit your ability to perform. When I train light, my skin has the freedom to release heat from my body in the most effective, efficient manner possible so I can train harder, maintain my focus and achieve more."
On top of all this, GHST fabric feels sensational, unlike the stiff, scratchy, plasticky-feel sometimes experienced with some ‘tech' fabrics. It's soft and has a silky crepe feel that drapes comfortably on the body rather clinging to it.
As the temperatures drop, you'll want to stay warm, but not at the expense of bulky clothes that may weigh you down or restrict your movement. 3D THERMAL is a material 2XU uses in the new men's and women's Performance line of Track Pants, Track Sweats and Track Jackets. 3D THERMAL is a 3D knit structure that forms a type of mesh fabric with a brushed finished underside to offer serious warmth bulk-free, yet it's still breathable so that sweat can evaporate through the fabric. The ‘3D' refers to the way two layers of ultra-thin fabric sandwich a third, middle layer of trapped air for insulation. However, this middle layer is also where moisture absorbed from your skin can disperse and evaporate. In other words, the clothing ‘breathes' and pulls moisture away from the inner layer of fabric that's against your skin.
The next great leap in compression clothing is MCS, 2XU's Muscle Containment Stamping Compression. MCS is considered to be the next level up from 2XU's Elite Compression, but it also has some very distinct applications that have me more than a little excited. Typically, it's the endurance athletes who have benefitted most from wearing compression during activity, but MCS Compression is built specifically for explosive or rapid-movement activity. This makes for a slightly different compression tight (MCS is also available in shorts and calf guards), with flocking (raised elastic on the inside lining of the legging) anatomically mapped over the quads, the calves and the Achilles area. Like all 2XU compression, MCS is made on 8-way stretch machines (most other compression brands use 4-way stretch machines) which eliminate any bagginess in areas such as the knees or crotch. This sensation of your tights being a “second skin” is all-important when attempting to generate power and quickness.
The flocking and the powerful combination of 70-denier fabric on the quads, adductors and shins, and 105-denier fabric (i.e. stronger compression) through the glutes, hamstrings and calves provide greater protection against blood pooling when sitting down after training or competing (think how stiff you get when you have a long drive or flight after training or an event!). What's more, at a discussion with athletes who tested MCS compression, it was interesting to see how many (including the endurance athletes) had comfortably slept in their MCS compression after training and were thrilled with the recovery they achieved.
While early studies on compression for sports tended to focus more on endurance athletes, some more recent research has turned to the effects of compression for speed, power and strength activities.
A 2014 study found that trained men had a faster recovery of their one-repetition maximum for the chest press when they wore compression shirts after training – it went down from eight hours to three hours. The compression shirts were also associated with lower muscle soreness and subjective fatigue scores the morning after the trial.
A 2013 review of research on compression clothing, Bringing Light Into the Dark: Effects of Compression Clothing on Performance and Recovery, found that compression clothing was beneficial during intermittent high-intensity exercise, such as repeated sprinting and jumping. This includes actions such as short duration sprints (10–60 m) and vertical jump height, making compression a useful tool to use during field and court sports.
So it seems compression always had a role to play in sports involving power and strength, but now MCS Compression brings athletes vital support during their activity, in addition to helping them recover.