Compression vs regular gear
I am looking to buy a tri suit or a separate top and bottom for my first triathlon. Should I go with compression gear or non-compression? I don’t mind spending some extra money if it’s worth it. I don’t plan on wearing or buying a wetsuit for a while if that makes a difference.
Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:
In our opinion compression tri suits are a waste of time, because the muscles they are compressing (quads and hamstrings) are not the weak link in the system. For most people, in a triathlon, it is the calves that incur the most muscle damage during the run and therefore these muscles need the most support.
Tri suits need to be comfortable in all the range of motions involved in a triathlon – when you are flat in the water, when you are bent over on the bike, and when running. This is probably the most important feature of a good tri suit for the average person.
Tri suits also need to be fast in water. The key to this is a good fit – so no bagging, and no excess material.
The more expensive ones are usually made of more aquaphobic material (ie water slides off it, making it faster through the water).
These features will have far more of an effect on performance than will compression.
Compression calf guards are worth considering if you get sore calves during or after a race as they can reduce muscle damage. Do remember these have to be calf guards not socks as you can’t have your feet covered when racing. Compression guards are particularly likely to be beneficial the longer the race you are doing.
With regards a one piece suit versus a two piece, this is really a matter of personal preference. If you are going to be racing in hot conditions, a 2 piece suit could be good as it would help with cooling – you would have more surface area of skin showing to help lose heat. However two piece tri suits are not as fast in water as a one piece.
If you are racing in cool environments, a one piece might be more practical as it would keep you warmer. And you wouldn’t get such dodgy sun tan lines!!
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