Under Armour: The Science of Fit

Gallery: The scientific innovations keeping athletes ahead of the field

Under Armour has built a global reputation for helping athletes improve performance through comfortable, muscle-enhancing garments, perfectly tailored to the elements.

However, it didn't happen overnight. The firm has poured two decades of research into its clobber.

So while removing cotton and keeping you dry was its initial main concern, the sporting apparel and footwear giant has evolved greatly – and now with its latest ColdGear Infrared range, Under Armour is helping athletes absorb and maintain their body heat. Here are some of those landmark innovations that have enabled athletes to smash those personal bests time and time again…

1996: The original 0039 Compression shirt

The Under Armour story began in 1996 with a t-shirt, but not just any old tee. The lightweight 0039 Compression shirt made from synthetic fabrics that, unlike cotton, wicked away moisture and kept athletes cool and dry. It was a revolution in the athletic community and a launching pad for non-stop innovation.

1998: ColdGear Mock

The first of the ColdGear Mock range was introduced back in 1998 as anything but your average mock turtleneck. The tight 'second skin' fit clings to your body to supercharge your muscles and facilitate better circulation. The ingenious dual layer fabric means it's soft and warm on the inside while remaining sleek and dry on the outside, making it perfect when battling the elements during a workout. It remains a popular choice to this day.

2009: Recharge Suit

The Recharge Suit, first introduced in 2009, promised faster recovery time for athletes than ever before. Specifically, it pledged wearers would experience 50 per cent less soreness, 50 per cent less fatique and 30 per cent more power following a workout. The science behind the super-tight 'compression fit' is designed to prevent damaged muscle fibres from taking on water. The Recharge suit pushes out the water so the muscles recover faster and voila! No more soreness.

2010: UA Coreshorts

The most advanced pair of shorts ever built (and we say built, not made, for a reason, folks), the Coreshorts arrived with a unique X-shaped elastic support system that mimics the functional anatomy of the body's core area. They bring unparalleled performance across the core, hips, pelvis, hamstrings, groin and quads. That translates into increased speed, power and stamina, while also wicking away moisture and keeping you dry. And, lets face it; no one enjoys soggy shorts while out on a run.

2011: Charged Cotton

Wait… cotton? Aren't Under Armour and Cotton sworn enemies? Wasn't the company's entire raison d'etre to stop soaking wet cotton t-shirts from quite literally dragging down performance? But this is Charged Cotton. The first shirts carrying this tech were launched in 2011. Under Armour treats strands of cotton with a water-repellent in order to wick away moisture and the result is a shirt that dries five times faster than regular cotton (which is still the enemy). Best of all, you still get that familiar cotton feel.

2013: UA SpeedForm

If you thought Under Armour gear was all about keeping away those unsightly sweat patches, you're mistaken. The company's talents stretch to footwear too. The UA SpeedForm range of running shoes, which includes the XC Trail and Apollo models, offer a glove-like fit with no distractions. The patented 4D Foam conforms to the exact shape of the wearer's foot, while the Micro G foam promises to cushion your landing and catapult you into the next step. You see, with Under Armour you're getting full body performance boosts. Concerned about fit and comfort? Well, did you know these shoes were developed in an apparel factory?

2013: Armour39

After 17 years of enabling better performance, UA gave athletes the opportunity to quantify the improvements with the Armour39 monitor and chest strap. This performance monitor captures every heart beat, calorie burned, real-time intensity and rewards you with WILLpower, which is a score out of ten for your workout. Everything is synced seamlessly back to a smartphone app.

2013: ColdGear Infrared

This brings us right up to the firm's latest innovation; CGI. Don't worry, you won't be splashing out on a computer generated jacket, this stuff is the real deal. The technology, which sits within the new UA Whitepine Jacket, actually stands for ColdGear Infrared. It features a soft, thermo-conductive coating that's able to absorb and maintain the wearer's own body heat. It also uses infrared imaging to detect and pinpoint heat loss in insulation systems.

If that sounds really advanced… well, that's because it is.