To get stronger on the bike, it is best to also spend some time training off the bike. Whether it’s yoga, weight lifting or core work, most of us (try to) adhere to some cross training programme. The industry is slowly catching on to the demand for non-cycling apparel for cyclists but in the meantime, there are plenty of brands already serving that all-encompassing active wear market.
With claims to speed recovery and limit lactic acid build-up, the compression apparel sector is growing quickly, and SKINS is a well-known brand among it.
The Australian company recently launched a new women’s line in collaboration with Sydney-based street artist James Jirat Patradoon. The line aims to offer active women the benefits of compression with a stylish new look.
I reviewed two items from the women’s DNAmic range, and here’s what I thought.
Women’s DNAmic 1/2 tights and tank top
Please note that I cannot scientifically attest to the physiological benefits of compression apparel. The efficiency of compression is a much debated and researched topic. All I can tell you how it made me feel.
The use of compression isn’t anything new. In the medical field, compression stockings have been used for many, many years to treat poor blood flow, and plenty of us wear compression socks to keep our legs and feet from swelling on a long flight.
In sports, some people wear compression tights following a workout to aid the recovery process, while others wear it during for more power. SKINS encourages both, stating that compression increases oxygen delivery to active muscles while in motion and reduces lactic-acid build-up for more power and less recovery time. They even claim that by supporting the key muscle groups to reduce movement, it causes less vibration in the muscles, which in turn causes less soft tissue damage and less soreness after exercise.
It’s important to note that all compression garments are banned by the UCI for use during racing as it’s considered a “non-essential item of clothing designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider.”
Personally, I have been a fan of post-workout recovery tights for some years now. Whether it actually helps my legs recover faster or not, it makes me feel better. For the purpose of this review, I wore the SKINS items for my cross training workouts –doing core and strength training- rather than for recovery only.
Fit and Feel:
SKINS is very clear about the importance of ordering the right size, stating you only get the full benefits of gradient compression if your SKINS fits you properly. SKINS has unique sizing system that is based on a Body Mass Index (BMI)/anthropometrical algorithm.
I’ll admit that I was critical about the sizing when I received my items. In fact, I laughed out loud when I saw the size of the tights. I wear lycra every day and know how stretchy fabric can be, but there was no way I was going to fit into them!
I was wrong.
I wrestled my way into the tights the same way a sausage is squeezed into its skin, and then something funny happened: I didn’t feel like a sausage. And I dare say, I didn’t even look too much like one either. Putting the tank top on was slightly less of a wrestle but, just like the shorts, felt comfortable once in place.
SKINS uses a fabric that is a warp knit, a method which uses multiple fine quality yarns zigzagged along the length of the fabric. This knitting method increases the fabric’s sturdiness and makes it resistant to runs and tearing. But since warp knit fabrics have no natural stretch, SKINS mixes it with spandex to add elasticity. The fabric is fairly thin and has the familiar cool silkiness of lycra.
The tank top has wide straps across the shoulders, an elaborate cross-back and front construction and built-in breast support. A band similar to the waist band sits snugly right below the breast. It’s clear that you’re holding a highly technical piece of apparel.
SKINS says the top is made for medium intensity workouts but I’d claim that everything would stay perfectly in place during a high intensity workout as well. As the company’s name suggest, it’s skin-tight alright!
With that said, the garments don’t feel restricting or uncomfortable at all. Nothing is being pinched and it doesn’t feel like the seams are being pressed into my skin.
And what really sets this line apart from the other, mostly black, compression wear on the market is the designs. There are currently three designs available: midnight sage, living lines and black/limoncello. The black/limoncello is probably the most conservative or traditional of the designs and the living lines the loudest. I received the midnight sage design, which features an olive green as its primary colour with white, peach and black accents. While perhaps a little army-esque, it’s a flattering and well- done design.
These items are made for movement so comfort is key. With that box checked, other important features include a wicking quality to draw moisture away from your skin, so you stay dry and comfortable, and UV protection. With a UV protection of 50+, you can easily take your workouts out of the gym and into the outdoors without worrying about your skin.
Overall, I was impressed with the comfort of these items. I could move freely and the compression made me feel ready for a good, hard workout. And the designs certainly are some of the best I have seen. Both items are a little too tight, however, to comfortably lounge in for a long time after a workout, let alone sleep in. And the other drawback for some buyers will be the price. At US$80 a pop, it’s not an easy sell.