Does what you wear affect your fitness goals?

Check out this article on how sports gear influences performance, and a few reasons why you should choose the right athletic clothing.

We all know the popular phrase “dress for success”, but many of us are unaware that this is especially true in the world of exercise and sports.

When raising the topic amongst some gymers and park runners I’ve often heard people say things like, “I’m going to get sweaty anyway, so I just slip into an old t-shirt and shorts.” And “It doesn’t matter what you wear for a workout.”, but this not always the case.

Below are reasons why you should consider investing in some good quality workout clothing:

Confidence Boost

Two words – “enclothed cognition” …

Pointing to studies in the field of cognition, this term could be applied to the workplace and sports/exercise. If you know you look great – chances are you will act it out too. If you like what you are wearing at the gym, there is a greater chance you will want to exercise.

While it is not advisable to test this theory when you’re trying to push your maximum at the bench press machine, there is a noticeable difference in your confidence when you’re dressed in the right athletic gear, as opposed to when you are not.

When you have the right tools – well fitted workout clothes that offer support in the right areas – you’re going to feel more confident. The confidence translates into better performance.

Speed & Performance

Materials and fits affect performance in each area differently.

For example, there are certain outfits that are currently banned in professional swimming because they shave time off a swimmer’s lap time by creating a more aerodynamic flow in the water.

Full body swimsuits made from polyurethane were banned in 2010 following complaints from top athletes about the unfair advantage they created for wearers.

You may not swim competitively – but these outfits can boost your performance on your weekly swim practices.

Most men go for the default basketball shorts as swimming trunks… The drag created by the pockets will slow you down. A decent swimsuit will make a difference to your swimming form.

Maybe you don’t swim – maybe you need something practical like a shirt that wicks moisture away from the body so your morning jogs are more comfortable and you can stay out longer…

A top that is made of non-breathable material is going to stop the release of heat from your body. This results in excessive heating and discomfort that cuts short your exercise time.

Workout shirts made of 100% cotton will absorb the sweat and hold it against your body. Choose workout clothing that wicks perspiration away from your body.

A pair of running shoes would be inadvisable on the soccer field. Footwear made for running or aerobics lacks the flexibility, lateral stability and traction required for other sports.

Any exercise that requires complex movements (almost every sport) – requires the right gear to prevent injury.


Adds Protection & Prevents Injuries

Using improperly fitted equipment is a major cause of sports-related injuries that can interfere with your workout routine.

In cold weather, you would want to wear long sleeved tops and pants on morning runs to cover your body, so that you can run longer when it gets really cold.

In hot weather, you may want a cap to cover your head and protect your face. You need protection when you’re out running but also have something that’s long sleeved. That way you don’t have to apply sun screen that clogs up the pores on your skin.

You might want to use gloves in the gym to protect your hands from developing calluses on the palms. Or if you’re out rock climbing.

Shoes that are not the right size can cause blisters, cramps and slipping that slows you down. High-tops are required for protection of weak ankles. Good sports shoes have cushions that protect the foot from heavy landings when you jump and lessen the impact of your steps.

Depending on the arches of your feet – you might require orthotic inserts to offer the right support during jumping and running movements.

While improper shoes can cause a number of injuries, even the right shoes will not provide adequate protection during workouts if they are worn out. Change your running shoes after every 400 to 500 miles, checking the mid-sole for signs of damage.


Well-Fitted Athletic Clothing Improves Movement

We often buy the wrong clothing because it is cheap. But that shorts you got for 70% probably don’t fit very well and won’t last very long.

They may have looked like a great deal at first but in retrospect, paying full price gets you better value over the long run.

Freedom of movement is important in active wear.

A tight shirt can restrict your movement. Even if you are able to dunk, spike, swing or make other movements – your shots will be affected if you are aware of the tightness around your body.

Make sure your shorts don’t ride up or slip down when you jump. If you buy a pair that’s too big in the crotch – the shorts will come in the way of complex movements in the gym.

If you are wearing a cap – make sure it’s not too tight around your head but also ensure it won’t fall off or slip.

Focusing on movement is important especially when performing compound exercises. You might end up doing it wrong if your clothing is restrictive or doesn’t offer the right support.


Compression Clothing Can Aid In Recovery After Exercise

The faster you can recover from a workout, the sooner you can train again. Many athletes are turning to compression clothing as an aid to better training and faster recovery.

Depending on who you ask, compression garments make a huge difference, or they’re just really tight underwear. Some controlled studies have yielded interesting results, while others are completely inconclusive. Overall, though, most people can agree on the basics.

Compression garments increase blood flow and have a long history of being used with patients with circulatory issues to help promote blood circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the extremities. Some athletes also wear compression socks when they take long flights to competitions, as they seem to reduce the foot and ankle swelling that tends to happen on airline flights.

During activity, increased blood flow helps you to warm up faster, allows faster delivery of fuel to the muscles, and enables faster removal of metabolic waste such as lactic acid.

 It reduces muscle oscillation & provides support by limiting muscle damage and soreness from activity. Running and biking for hours or making high-speed, change-of-direction movements can cause the muscles to be thrown around quite a bit.

 They Increase Proprioception: Increasing body awareness helps athletes to be in the best position possible during sport. Compression clothing increases your awareness of your body because it is against the nerve endings of your body’s largest organ, your skin. This provides a constant stream of data to your brain.

Improved proprioception can improve posture, stance, agility, and stability during activity. Compression tops can also reinforce good posture while running and cycling. This can improve breathing which, in turn, makes you more aerobically efficient. Compression tights can reinforce proper running mechanics, making you more mechanically efficient.

True compression garments are almost always made from high-denier, heavyweight stretch fabric. This is much more compressive and durable than ordinary Lycra fabric. Materials of different weights, knit patterns, and stretch are often combined in one garment to achieve specific aims, be it targeted support or circulation assistance.