The trousers have battery-powered heat filaments that sit over the cyclist’s core muscle groups and maintain their temperature between warm-up and the start of an event. Called ADIPOWER muscle warming pants, they’re said to perform a job similar to tyre warmers in Formula 1 racing, keeping the muscles heated in a bid to improve performance.
The trousers are being used by Team GB’s track sprint cyclists, including triple Olympic gold medallist, Sir Chris Hoy.
The Environmental Ergonomics Research Centre at Loughborough University worked with adidas for three years on the project, establishing the scientific basis for the trousers. The research was led by the University’s Professor George Havenith, PhD student Steve Faulkner and Dr Richard Ferguson.
“Before trialling the suit with the British cyclists, adidas first wanted us to make sure there was a real benefit to performance,” explains Professor Havenith. “We did several studies measuring the muscle temperature decline that occurs after the cyclists end their warm-up, and we were able to show that with added heating in the insulated trousers it was possible to slow down the decline in muscle temperature while the athlete waits for the event to start.”
Steve added: “By keeping the cyclists’ muscles warmer we found a substantial increase in sprinting power that would be of practical benefit to the Team GB cyclists.”
After completing the scientific research Loughborough also worked with adidas and British Cycling to develop the trousers further, taking into account input from athletes. The end result is the ground-breaking product that will be used at London 2012 this week.
Professor Havenith concludes: “This project is a great example of cooperation between the University and industry, in this case adidas, to develop a product with direct impact on our Olympic athletes’ performance. We hope it can contribute to the success of team GB.”