Effect of Clothing Fabric on 20-km Cycling Performance in Endurance Athletes

Jared Ferguson, Amir Hadid, Yoram Epstein, Dennis Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Examine the effect of synthetic fabrics (SYN, 60% polyester: 40% nylon) vs. 100% cotton fabric (CTN) on the 20-km cycling time trial (20 kmCTT) performance of competitive cyclists and triathletes. Methods: In this randomized controlled crossover study, 15 adults (5 women) aged 29.6 ± 2.7 years (mean ± SE) with a peak rate of O2 consumption of 60.0 ± 2.0 ml/kg/min completed a 20 kmCTT under ambient laboratory conditions (24.3 ± 0.7°C and 17 ± 7% relative humidity) with a simulated wind of ~3 m/s while wearing SYN or CTN clothing ensembles. Both ensembles were of snowflake mesh bi-layer construction and consisted of a loose-fitting long-sleeved shirt with full-length trousers. Results: Participants maintained a significantly (p < 0.05) higher cycling speed and power output over the last 6-km of the 20 kmCTT while wearing the SYN vs. CTN ensemble (e.g., by 0.98 km/h and 18.4 watts at the 20-km mark). Consequently, 20 kmCTT duration was significantly reduced by 15.7 ± 6.8 sec or 0.8 ± 0.3% during SYN vs. CTN trials (p < 0.05). Improved 20 kmCTT performance with SYN vs. CTN clothing could not be explained by concurrent differences in esophageal temperature, sweat rate, ratings of perceived exertion and/or cardiometabolic responses to exercise. However, it was accompanied by significantly lower mean skin temperatures (~1°C) and more favorable ratings of perceived clothing comfort and thermal sensation during exercise. Conclusion: Under the experimental conditions of the current study, athletic clothing made of synthetic fabrics significantly improved the 20 kmCTT performance of endurance-trained athletes by optimizing selected thermoregulatory and perceptual responses to exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number735923
JournalFrontiers in Sports and Active Living
StatePublished - 5 Jan 2022


FundersFunder number
Lamour Hosiery Inc.
McGill Sports Science
McGill University
Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé
University of Sydney


    • 20-km cycling time
    • exercise
    • natural fabrics
    • synthetic fabrics
    • thermoregulation


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