Unlocking Peak Performance: The Science Behind Cycling Jersey Selection for Indoor Training

Unlocking Peak Performance: The Science Behind Cycling Jersey Selection for Indoor Training

Indoor cycling, once a rainy-day alternative, has now become a dedicated regimen for many cyclists and triathletes.  For many of the most dedicated cyclists, this controlled training is the go to rather than the exception.  As garage corners evolve into professional training zones, cyclists face unique challenges. One of the most significant of these, particularly during the summer months, is heat management. Selecting the right jersey isn't just about style or comfort—it directly influences performance. Let's deep dive into Prism's three distinct jersey models to discuss how they work with indoor training: the Criterium, the Spring Classics, and Grand Tour which represents the pinnacle of current generation thermoregulation.

Starting Right: The Criterium Jersey

For many cyclists, the journey begins with the Criterium Jersey. Known for its comfortable feel, it's an entry-level choice that doesn't burn a hole in the pocket.  The compromises that make this jersey so affordable and to still feel so premium are it's limitation with thermoregulation, quick drying and sweat wicking technology. While this a great option for the trainer in winter, early spring and late autumn, iff you wear this jersey on an indoor trainer during the Australian summer, you are likely to be leaving performance improvement opportunities on the floor. When your body heats up excessively, the heart labors to pump more blood to the skin for cooling. This increased cardiovascular stress can raise heart rates, diverting crucial oxygen-rich blood from the muscles, which, in turn, can dwindle power output and overall performance. An enlightening piece from Zwift Insider explains this process.

We love the Criterium Jersey.  We are proud of the value it represents and for many club members it is the perfect mix of quality and price.  However, if you are planning on hard efforts on the trainer during summer, this isn't the jersey we would recommend.

The Midway Excellence: The Spring Classics Jersey - A Gateway Drug for Temperature Doping.

Enter the Spring Classics Jersey, a significant upgrade in terms of thermoregulation technology. Designed with advanced sweat-wicking properties, strategic underarm ventilation, and enhanced heat dissipation, it's a favorite among those venturing into more serious indoor training sessions. Better heat management paves the way for optimal heart rate zones, ensuring efficient oxygen delivery, sustained power outputs, and a noticeable enhancement in overall athletic performance. An article from Outside Online termed this phenomenon as "temperature doping," emphasizing the critical role temperature plays in influencing training outcomes.

If you are likely to do the majority of your training in Sweet Spot, and spend limited time at threshold or above, this is an ideal, all-year round jersey to make sure you are consistently hitting your power targets and not overheating.  

While this jersey is Prism's mid-level performance jersey, for almost all other brands this jersey would sit at the top of their quality arc.  This is a really, high performing, well-price piece of kit.

Elevating Performance:  The Grand Tour Jersey

For athletes who continually push boundaries, the Grand Tour Jersey is a game-changer, especially during rigorous threshold and super threshold efforts. Boasting state-of-the-art thermoregulation, sweat-wicking, and heat dissipation mechanisms, this jersey ensures that athletes never hit their thermal threshold prematurely.  This fabric is eye-wateringly good at managing heat.  Anecdotally, we find about a 20bpm difference in heart rate for the same effort between this and the Criterium Jersey in a 24 degree room with a fan the size of a small jet engine blasting.

Effective heat management fosters optimal muscle function and oxygen supply. When muscles aren't stressed from overheating, they produce and sustain higher power outputs, leading to significantly improved gains in performance. A deep dive byTrainerRoad elucidates how cooling dramatically impacts thermoregulatory efficiency.

I know it sounds like typical marketing BS, but unfortunately, for indoor training, the impact of upgraded jersey technology really does impact performance.

OK Legend.... What About Tarzan Style - Bare Chester FTW

Here is where it gets interesting... of course a kit company is going to say this is a terrible idea.  Bare chested is FREE!

At first glance, it may seem logical: no fabric means more exposed skin for sweat evaporation, leading to rapid cooling. However, research and field studies suggest that a high-performance jersey can be more beneficial than skin alone. These elite jerseys are engineered with advanced fabrics that enhance sweat-wicking, promoting faster evaporation compared to the relatively slow and inconsistent evaporation rate from bare skin. Additionally, they offer superior thermoregulation through specialized ventilation zones, distributing cooling more evenly across the body.

High-tech jerseys are crafted with ultralight materials that reflect radiant heat, something bare skin can't achieve. Thus, while the allure of training without a jersey seems enticing, a high-performance jersey, backed by science, offers tangible benefits.

We Love Science.... So What Next?

There are plenty of variables in any training setup which are difficult to control for in when comparing performance to a scientific study.  We think this is the time to get out and test it yourself.

If this isn't something you have considered when training indoors, it may be the difference between hitting numbers and getting spat out the back by your Kickr on a final effort.

Lets face it, if you made it this far in the article, you are probably overly invested in marginal gains... so you may as well consider testing this stuff for yourself.

We recommend testing bare chested, testing a favourite jersey and testing a base layer only.  Compare your performance on similar (ideally the same) efforts, at similar temperatures and see how you performed.  We would love to know if you found a difference, as we have and whether you think it is worthwhile to try an upgraded jersey to try and eek out every morsel of power gains from your indoor trainer sessions.

And if you cant be arsed doing this... trust us... jersey choice makes a bigger difference than your middle aged cynic inside you might otherwise think.

And no... Chat GPT isn't this funny... a HOOMAN wrote this.

Email us at info@prism.bike to let us know how you get on.