Skins A400 two year review
I have owned a full set of A400 gear for two years now. I acquired the set before the Dublin Marathon in 2013 and I am happy with it. If you are considering this considerable spenditure on sports clothing, here is some insight for you before you put it into your cart.
Avid readers of my blog will know my measurements already from other reviews and please feel free to subscribe if you are interested in information around sports gear, strength training and marathon running. I try things for you, so that you know what is crap, what works and where to spend your time on.
For everyone else I am 185cm tall, weigh somehwere between 80 - 85kg depending on the time of year and hsap that I am in and have a robust build. My marathon best is 3:58 hours and my back squat personal record is a 150kg at time of writing.
With these measurements I opted for size M for the trousers of the Skins A400 series and size L for the top of the trousers after measuring my chest. I had the advantage of traying them on at the reseller at the Dublin Marathon 2013 fair. If you are ordering online please consult the size charts which the Skins website provides for that purpose and take it serious. The main advantage of this gear only unfolds at the right size when it compresses your muscle for a bit more endurance and power.
I got the A400 long tights and long sleeve shirt. Pictures and size charts provided below.
What is interesting to note is that SKINS since i got them two years ago actually furthered their portfolio with an A400 range which has a bit more design on them and also a range with reflectors. Also, for consumer friendliness I suppose, they changed the size charts from inches to weight. When i got them i distinctly remember that I got measured by the sales representative before he picked the right sizes from the chart.
If you get the correct size the fit is very tight in a good way. It is a bit fiddly to get into the skins, but once on they feel great. The quality of the stitches all around is very high for the top and the trousers and so goes for the fabric.
At the end of the sleeves and tights there is an elastic band for the arms and legs sown in, which tightens them up and makes the fit even better. Especially in winter this keeps the cold out and the warmth in which is very useful.
Keep in mind that the close fit can be quite revealing, so you might only wear the A400 as a second layer, if you are conscious about yourself.
Using them for two years they still fit and are in shape. The band at the end of the right sleeve has worn a bit out, but nothing which hampers with it too much. Both items have been washed regurlarly in normal washings, even though handwash is recommended by the vendor. This did not impact quality yet.
Skins A400 for running
I used the Skins A400 to run following distances in them:
Even though i ran my fastest marathon time in them, I would not recommend the long sleeved and lon tights of the A400 for that purpose. The problem with them is, that they inhibit your ability to regulate your sweat, because they create a closed system. Over the distance of a marathon this leads to serious dehydration and it took my four weeks to recover from my first marathon. This was not the case after my second and third which I partly attribute to not wearing skins. Of course this all depends on climate, but generally speaking I would tend towards wearing the shorter versions of the A400 series for races, as there is a general recommendation for "travelling light" for performance runners anyway.
In training the A400s are great for recovery runs or keeping your running program up in winter. Generally speaking I think they are more suited to be used for short distance rather than long distance runners, because their fit helps more with being explosive than enduring for my tastes.
Strength Training in SKINS
After my three marathons I leaned more heavily into strength training working on the three main pwerlifting lifts
Here the SKINS help a lot when you want to train heavy. The compression definetly helps to squeeze out that one repetition more on your German Volume Training or the last couple of kilos when on Jim Wendler 531 or Stronglifts 5x5.
In pwerlifting compression suits are used to gain in performance. SKINS could be perceived could be perceived as the lighter, cheaper version of a benchpress shirt. Does not necessarily achieve the same, but works with the same principle if you wanted to get some gear which can be apllied for helping your bench press, but also can be used for other activities. I always look forward to strength sessions wearing my SKINS.
Options to consider based on your climate
The warmer the area is you live in the less likely SKINS will be a good purchase for runners. The colder the area in which you train the more attractive an option SKINS become and the more of your body they should cover.
I personally live in Dublin where it is wet almost all your around, the summers are not excessively hot and the winters are not super cold. If I had unlimited resources for SKINS I therefore would purchase 3 pairs of long tights and long sleeves for winter and same but the half versions for summer.
If I was living in Madrid, i might just consider buying 3 shoirt sets for my winter training and leave them for the summer entirely.
If I trained in Siberia I would wear SKINS under my over armour against the cold.
I have not owned anything better for the purpose of compression training wear yet. I got some cheap copies from Lidl out of which keep you warm, but are definetly inferior in terms of fit and feel. Skins just make you feel like an athlete. Another interesting option on which my beady eyes fell is the Titin system. This is basically SKINS, but with added weight and looks really interesting (and high priced).
Compared to other gear SKINS are quite higher in price, unless you only shop for adidas and nike for your gym bag. The long sleeves will put you back roughly 100€ / 85 pounds / 100 USD. The long tights 100 pounds / 120€ / 130USD depending and exchange rates, discount code you apply and where you buy them. They are definetly worth the price tag and I would only recommend them for poeple who either have a lot of surplus money to spend or are really serious about their exercise regime. If you are someone only training occasionally to stay fit without any performance goals, this is not a must have.
SKINS A400 does what it says on the tin in every sports situation. It is sturdy, good value for money sports gear for the semi or professional athlete whowants to get ahead and has some extra money to spend. It is easily washed, endures for years and won't let you down. It is more suited to strength sports than endurance sports generally for my tastes and more useful in cold than in hot climates.
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