The science behind the benefits of dressing for peak performance
5 min read
There was a time, not long ago, when yoga pants and sweat-wicking fabrics didn’t exist.
Imagine a world where workouts were weighed down by soggy cotton or unfashionable, non-breathable fabrics that left you drenched and cold after your workout. We’ve come a long way since then. Today workout gear for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is high-performing, breathable, flexible, sweat-wicking and fashion-forward. It’s so incredible you can wear it outside the gym. We even came up with a new name to call it: Athleisure wear. Now your best workout outfits can take you from the gym, to wherever you’re going next. Brands are building functional clothing and gear — like sports bras, leggings and high-tech sneakers – to bring you a wardrobe that’ll help your performance and aptitude for high intensity interval training.
What you wear really does make a difference in how you perform. When you’re distracted by annoyances like wet clothes that stick to you, or fabrics that don’t breathe, you’re distracted from focusing on your performance.
The best workout gear for HIIT is all about shoes and accessories too
Clothes aren’t the only way to up your game during your next sweat sesh. Designers have introduced the masses to new shoes, towels, water bottles and other accessories; all built to give you your best workout yet. They’re functional, breathable, flexible and – most importantly – comfortable. And they really help you perform better so you can become healthier, stronger and faster. So, if you’re thinking twice before you click “purchase” on your next workout wear upgrade, here are our top reasons why you shouldn’t leave your cart on hold.
It’s time to treat yourself
Sports bras, gym shorts, leggings and tanks will literally take the sweat off your body so it doesn’t stick to your skin. Sweat is a vehicle for not letting you overheat. When you’re in an aerobic or anaerobic state your body pulls blood away from your muscles and sends it to your skin, the largest organ on your body. In response, your heart rate increases and warms you up from the inside. In order to cool off, your skin sweats. Pulling moisture away from your skin during high-intensity or heated workouts helps your body maintain a tolerable temperature. In new high-performance wear, sweat is pulled away from your skin and absorbed into the fabric, where it eventually evaporates into air. So you’ll be paying less attention to how hot you feel, and more attention to your form on your next lunge or dumbbell move.
Another alternative for a workout-worthy material that will keep you cool is wool. A bit of a surprise, right? Usually, wool springs to mind thick sweaters and bulky socks. But it turns out what was once a go-to material for outdoor enthusiasts also works just as well in the gym. Merino wool comes from merino sheep. Their fibers make material that’s soft and thin, nothing like the itchy thick fabric on an old worn-in couch. Wool fibers aren’t perfectly straight, so they can have a smooth back-and-forth airflow that allows heat to escape your body and fresh air to cool you down; all while keeping you warm.
Another important asset to look for in shopping? Finding a cut and material that don’t restrict your movements. The last thing you want is to not be able to sit deeper into your squat or push harder into the Assault Bike™ just because your clothes won’t let you.
Your feet will thank you
It used to be that there were different shoes for different activities: walking, running, weightlifting, group fitness, hiking. Over time, designers realized the importance of creating hybrid shoes that could be used in multiple settings. With an increased interest in cross-training — a variety of exercises that use different groups of muscles than you are used to working — there’s an increased need for a shoe that will take you from a front squat to burpees to a bike without failing your feet. A cross-trainer shoe combines functions from several types of shoes to create support, flexibility and comfort in whatever exercise you choose to do.
Cross-trainers will give you less support and cushioning than a traditional running shoe. If you have too much lift from a shoe during a movement like a single-leg deadlift or a bent-over row, you might be more focused on not tipping over than holding good form on the heavy weight you’re lifting. And because HIIT movements like jump rope or burpees require more impact on the top-side of your feet, a cross-trainer shoe makes more sense because its low-cushion footbed stretches all the way to your toes rather than just the bottom half of your feet.
It’s an easy miss that’s a cinch to fix
Maybe you’ve lost one too many socks to the sock-monster who lives in the dryer, or perhaps you’re still wearing the same old, yellow-stained pair from three years ago. Socks are almost as important as shoes when it comes to staying safe and supported during your workout. So don’t skimp when it comes to your feet.
Look for socks that have some cushion in them. They will add an extra layer of support to your soles and prevent your feet from having too much friction with your shoe, which could lead to workout setbacks like cuts and blisters. Choose fabrics that can wick away moisture and let your feet breathe. After all, wouldn’t it be a sad way to end a workout with two space heaters as feet?
Your workout wardrobe is an investment
So you’ve built a new gym wardrobe, stocked full of sports bras and leggings and your best workout gear for HIIT. It will take you from class to coffee to home office. Now what? Remember, workout clothes need more TLC than your everyday wear. We advise against letting them pile up before you wash them. The longer they sit saturated in sweat, the more opportunities they have to breed bacteria that will cause them to have a foul-smelling odor over time. And we know you don’t want to be that person in class. We suggest letting your workout clothes dry once you come home to prevent any unwanted scents. Also, your clothes don’t just keep you functioning at your peak; they are also an important investment. Try washing them inside out to maintain their color and newness over time.
SUMHIIT Fitness delivers the results of a 55-minute workout in 35 minutes. No need to thank us, you’re the one who’s going to pack 55 minutes of hustle into a half hour! Haven’t tried a class yet?
SUMHIIT Fitness highlights the impact of proper workout gear on HIIT performance, emphasizing high-tech fabrics, shoes, and socks.
SUMHIIT Fitness uniquely combines high-intensity functional training (HIFT) with science, emphasizing both cardio and strength for maximum efficiency.
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