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While most spend their winters sipping cocoa and packing on the pounds, you're willing to get out into the cold and keep training. However, this doesn't mean that the benefits of compression apparel no longer apply to you -- far from it. With the Zoot Ultra CompressRx Long Sleeve Thermal Top, you'll gain extra warmth, increase your aerobic output, and decrease your recovery time. Sound to good to be true? Read on Grasshopper. Read on.

Now, we know that the term 'compression' is thrown around rather loosely within the industry, but there are a handful of true compression-driven designers out there, with one of the foremost being Zoot. Accordingly, you'll find that the pieces like the Ultra CompressRx long sleeve thermal top are actually close to medical grade. In fact, prescription grade compression pressures run from 25mmHg and up, while the Ultra features pressures ranging from 18 to 25mmHg. How is this possible from a sports piece? Well, to start, the Ultra uses a 30 x 17 compression level that specifically targets the muscle groups used in endurance exercise. So, according to Zoot's graduated compression ideology, each group, or zone, of compression work to stabilize the core areas of exertion within the legs. Effectively, this improves blood flow to the heart by accelerating the circulation. These core principle encompass what Zoot calls its ZoneRx and CRx graduated designs.

Of course, maximizing circulation is vital to both long, top-output exertions and recovery. But, we've found that most compression pieces are lacking is the field of muscle support. Over a run or ride, your muscles are constantly under assault from the detrimental effects of road or impact vibration. Over time, this variable will cause major muscle fatigue. So, to minimize this effect, the Ultra features Zoot's proprioception paneling. That's a big word, we know, so let's break it down. Basically, this means that the paneling is designed to account for the sensations that are enacted from within the body itself. Everyone has what are called 'proprioceptors.' These are cells and nerves that emit stimuli to account for your body's position in movement. Or, in more basic terms, think of balance. Your unconscious sensory correction of staying upright is attributable to these cells. And when you're body is performing repetitive, practiced movements, their impact on the required muscle groups also become predictable. So, the Zoot's design uses specific paneling to account for your body's internal movements. Even more impressively, over time, this localized support will train your muscle's non-visual sensory movements, and accordingly, it will enhance your body's proprioception.

You might have noticed that while this design supports the muscles, it still creates a graduated compression system. We've already mentioned the importance of rapid circulation, but where most compression pieces go astray, is that the same pressures of compression are used throughout. So, the Ultra instead opts for a graduated, or gradient, design. Think of a value scale of shading -- darkest to lightest. Basically, graduated compression works the same way. With the Ultra, you'll find that the highest pressures fall at the bottom of the shirt, and then get gradually less constrictive towards the top. Essentially, this puts pressure on the muscles, arteries, and veins that are farthest away from the heart, ultimately forcing the body to circulate blood through narrower circulatory channels. So, almost like kinking a hose, it creates arterial pressure, and like when you finally release the kink, blood circulates faster to the heart.

As for the warmth aspect, this where the Ultra's SynchroRX construction really shines. This material uses a thermal, hollow-core yarn that traps warm air to reported benefit of up to an 11 degree temperature boost. Additionally, Zoot gave the fabric its SilverTech treatment in order to rapidly pull sweat away from the skin. Zoot also claims that SilverTech gives the fabric a 99.9% antimicrobial protection.

The Zoot Ultra CompressRx Long Sleeve Thermal Top is available in the color Heather Grey and in six sizes from Zero to Five.

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