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From smart shirts, to activity tracking bracelets, to smart watches, to smart running shoes, sports and technology are increasingly colliding to produce amazing wearable technology. Smart clothing for health and fitness gives us direct access to valuable data in real-life settings instead of in a lab or clinic, however if you’ve never tried wearable tech you may be wondering what can it really do for you.

 The truth is that learning more about yourself through technology is the smartest thing you can do for your training. Through monitoring your heart rate, steps, cadence, sleep, recovery, and more, you can not only learn more about yourself, but also seriously improve your game. Aren’t we all looking for an extra edge to give us a competitive advantage over our opponents?

 Professional athletes like the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, the Cirque du Soleil, and Olympians from around the world, and many others, rely on Hexoskin, the world leader in smart clothing design and intelligent software for health and performance, to monitor their training and recovery. Athletes from all over use this “invisible advantage” to get a leg up over their competition and continuously push themselves to the next level. Here they explain 3 ways that smart clothing can push you to the next level:

 1 – Prevent overtraining and injury

 When you’re dedicated to your sport, you’re also dedicated to your training, and naturally develop the all-or-nothing mindset to push yourself beyond your limits on a daily basis. This is a great attitude that separates the winners from the losers, but without taking overtraining and recovery into account, it can result in some major problems. Nobody wants to be sidelined with an injury, but that’s a risk you run everyday without monitoring your training and recovery.

 Overtraining is when the intensity and frequency of your training is higher that your body’s ability to recover. Beyond nutrition and hydration, simple things like keeping an eye on your steps and cadence (overstriding is a common pathway to injury) and getting adequate sleep (ensuring you consistently have a restful night’s sleep will help your body regenerate and repair quickly,) along with more advanced metrics can all contribute to preventing overtraining and injury.

 We all have horror stories of an avoidable injury that we sustained that either significantly slowed down our athletic evolution or completely sidelined us for months on end. There’s nothing worse than missing out on an important competition (Rio 2016, anyone?) when you’ve invested so much of your time, money, energy, and heart into your sport. Ideally, you should choose a convenient and easy to use tool that can gather all of the above information at once so that you don’t stall your goal achievement.

 2 – View your progress and analyze your training over time

 Whether it’s your running pace, calories burned during a workout, or your heart rate variability (HRV) we all rely on different sets of biometric data to get a good picture of our progress, based on our sport and goals. Wearable tech like Hexoskin’s smart shirt can help you collect valuable data to gain insights on your health that can drive you to new heights with your training and performance. The best part is that with the right tool, all of this crucial data is stored on cloud servers, exportable to be analyzed by you and your trainers, and viewable in an app or on a dashboard (read: no need keep manual logs anymore.)

 You can get an accurate view of your fitness status at any point in time by challenging yourself with high-quality fitness tests integrated within the accompanying apps, which can provide you with V02max, maximal heart rate, heart rate recovery, resting heart rate, and more. Fitness tests allow you to establish baselines that you can then build your goals and plan your training around. Even better, you can compare your results time over time to celebrate any improvements and pinpoint any problem areas or setbacks.

 Smart clothing that offers real-time monitoring provides biofeedback to help you recognize good and bad habits. The ability to isolate biometric data from specific points in your training can do wonders. For instance, while training Chloé and Justine Dufour-Lapointe, the gold and silver medal winning freestyle skiers from Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics using Hexoskin, their trainer was able to determine that one of the sisters was not breathing during her jumps, something that he was not aware of until he was able to get access to their breathing data. With this knowledge, they were able to make the necessary adjustments, after which she gained inches on her jumps. Imagine the improvements smart clothing can help you make.

 3 – Work with your heart rate zones

 Heart rate serves as an objective way to evaluate how your cardiorespiratory system is performing; the higher the intensity of the workout, the higher your heart rate will be.  Heart rate training zones take into account your maximum heart rate (HRmax – the highest heart rate a person can achieve during a maximal exercise) and your resting heart rate (HRrest - the lowest heart rate value that is measured while awake, lying down, fully relaxed and undistracted.)

 There are five heart rate zones which each offer different advantages to athletes. The best smart clothing will calculate your 5 heart rate zones based on your own personal data and let you know how long you trained in each specific zone for each activity. Being aware of how long you spend in each zone will allow you to avoid injury and burnout (for instance, running too fast too often,) get the most of out your training and pinpoint why you may not have made improvements in certain areas (for instance, you’re not doing enough high-intensity training.) From there, you and your trainers can establish a plan that will maximize your time in each zone based on your individual goals.

 Of course, there are many more advantages to using smart clothing like the Hexoskin Smart shirt as part of your training. Based on your individual goals and training program, you will be able to choose which piece of wearable tech is best for you. Learn more about Hexoskin below; it may just become the newest member of your training team.

 What is Hexoskin?

Hexoskin is a smart shirt with embedded sensors to monitor your heart rate, breathing, movement, and sleep. After the success of their first smart shirt, Hexoskin Classic, they have just launched a brand new product, Hexoskin Smart, which is the first smart shirt that is compatible with popular fitness apps like Runkeeper, Strava, MapMyRun, Endomondo, and so many more, as well as GPS watches, smart watches, bike computers, and so on. Hexoskin Smart, which will ship in April 2016, is currently available for pre-order on Indiegogo, with a significant discount off the retail price.

 This means that you can ditch the bulky heart rate monitor strap, and instead get all the data from the piece of clothing that you will be wearing anyway: your shirt!

How will athletes benefit from it? 

Many athletes use a heart rate strap to track their heart rate. The problem with those straps is that they’re bulky, cumbersome, and often cause chafing during workouts. Nobody likes that! And with many contact sports, it’s dangerous (and usually against regulations) to wear a strap since the device can injure you.

With the shirt, you can ditch the heart rate strap and get this data directly from your shirt. Their new release can connect to your favorite fitness app that you’re already using, and whichever app you love will display your heart rate directly from the shirt.

They also have their own app that you can use to track your breathing, heart rate, steps, cadence, movement, different sports and activities, and more. One of our favorite features is the ability to track your sleep, which gives you details only on your total sleep time and how long you spent in each sleep stage, but also on how long it took for you to fall asleep, and HRV, which is a measure of your fatigue level that can be used to detect overtraining. On top of all of this, their app has built-in fitness tests that you can use to get an accurate picture of your current fitness status, and then track the changes regularly.

Discover Hexoskin: http://www.hexoskin.com