This article provides a comprehensive review of Under Armour’s latest training apparel, UA RUSH. You’ll hear from two experienced gear reviewers, Michael Nystrom and Molly Hurford, who put the gear through some serious training and racing to test the company’s promise of providing a performance edge through its innovative RUSH fabric.
Fitness brands roll out new products labeled as “revolutionary” or a “breakthrough” on an annual basis. Some of these products are new iterations of previous designs and feature valuable new technology, while other products fail to gain traction or address the problem they were intended to solve.
When Under Armour contacted Molly and I about doing a product review for its new performance apparel line made with UA RUSH fabric, I’ll admit I was curious — albeit a little skeptical. Is UA RUSH really the next step in performance apparel? Under Armour already revolutionized athletic wear with sweat-wicking fabric, but throwing around lines like “designed to optimize human performance at every training occasion” and “the fabric version of an infrared sauna” are pretty bold (and admittedly catchy) statements. We’ve seen grandiose claims like these countless times before, but I couldn’t help but be intrigued. If any product can give an athlete a 1% performance advantage with no additional effort, it’s a home run — that can be the difference between a spot on top of the podium and finishing in second place.
As with all product reviews, we try to remove ourselves from the marketing hype and press releases that come with accepting a review. Under Armour is undoubtedly one of the best out there in this regard — the hype around UA RUSH was second to none. They pulled out the big guns for this release, creating promo images, videos and commercials with sports icons like Stephen Curry, Kelley O’Hara and Anthony Joshua. They’re obviously Under Armour-sponsored athletes, but their involvement in the product development adds a level of credibility to what Under Armour is trying to achieve.
Setting the marketing and hype aside, though, let’s talk about what Under Armour promises with UA RUSH — improving endurance and strength, helping the consumer get 1% better. How is this accomplished? Under Armour partnered with Celliant (think back to the brand’s Athlete Recovery Sleepwear, released in partnership with Tom Brady) to develop a new line of mineral-infused fabric that helps recycle the body’s energy, and therefore enhance performance. More simply put, as your body emits energy while in motion, the fabric absorbs and reflects this energy back into your muscles and tissues. This energy increases circulation, which promotes performance, energy and recovery.
At this point in time, most clothing innovation focuses on tweaks to fit, cut and aerodynamics. Under Armour, however, is one of the few companies still looking at performance fabric itself and searching for the next big thing. (In fact, a lot of other companies have gone retro and returned to old-school staples like merino wool.) So what’s the deal with the space-age concepts of minerals woven into fabric? It might sound like something out of an ‘80s sci-fi book, but if you think about things like the internet or robot vacuums, are we really that far from sci-fi-turned-reality?
The RUSH material is designed to mimic the recovery-promoting benefits of an infrared sauna, which increases blood flow in deep tissue. But the UA RUSH gear isn’t akin to the sauna suits you see boxers wearing to cut weight before a match. Instead, as you sweat, the mineral-infused fabric absorbs the heat and converts it to infrared energy. That energy is then recycled back into your body to promote circulation and improve energy, both in the moment and to aid in recovery post-workout.
While not much work has been published on infrared-mimicking clothing, there was a small study done testing a group of cyclists wearing clothing made with far infrared radiation (FIR) fabric and then a similar control set of clothing with normal fabric. Results showed that, at lower intensities, the subjects consumed statistically significant less oxygen — meaning they were pedaling at the same power but with less effort when wearing the mineral-infused clothing.
My background is in endurance sports — I’m a two-time Ironman triathlon finisher and avid cyclist and runner — so the majority of my testing on the UA RUSH gear was through cardio workouts, with the occasional strength workout thrown into the mix. I was sent the men’s short-sleeve shirt and leggings to put through their paces, so I took both the top and the bottoms on several training runs (long, short and some sprints), as well as a few tough erg workouts. Long story short, I wasn’t disappointed — this product may just live up to the hype.
From an aesthetic sense, the UA Rush short-sleeve shirt is handsome. With swooping seams and a clean design, it has a modern, unique look that pairs well with any ensemble. The fit couldn’t have been better — at 82% polyester and 18% elastane, it’s form-fitting without being too tight, and my movements never felt restricted while running, rowing or working out. I especially liked the low-profile collar (although it’s tight to get over your head) — it has a different mesh fabric lining the inside that has a great skin feel, and if you look closer, you can see the hexagonal pattern that’s mirrored in the RUSH logo. The sleeves are shorter than most workout shirts, but I found they paired well with the next-to-skin build of the shirt.
The UA RUSH leggings stole the show, though. A good pair of leggings can never be underestimated, especially for a runner. These fit like a second skin and were both plenty warm and breathable due to the combination of RUSH fabric and mesh panels. The waistband was a feature that surprisingly stood out — it was firm around the waist, but had plenty of give when hunched over while rowing. The monochromatic design also meant I could easily wear both the leggings and the short-sleeve shirt in a more casual setting, too — not just at the gym or out on a run.
But what about Under Armour’s claims regarding their RUSH technology? Without access to a lab or team of sports scientists, I have no way to accurately measure whether or not this new technology provided any measurable benefits or performance advantages. This is an interesting aspect for me — I’m used to testing gear where you can feel something or tell the difference between two products. While running and rowing, I intentionally thought about how I was feeling during the workout. There’s no doubt I had some great efforts (I even set some new PRs on the erg) while wearing the UA RUSH apparel, but it’s hard to pinpoint whether the mineral-infused fabric or simply wearing a thoughtful, well-designed top and bottom played a part in my performances. At the end of the day, I found myself looking forward to running and rowing in the UA RUSH apparel and seeing how hard I could push while wearing them. I certainly felt energized and motivated with the thought of this fabric in the back of my head, so maybe that’s all that matters.
I’ve taken on all kinds of sports in the last decade, from racing mountain bikes to Ironman triathlons. Lately though, I’ve settled on ultra-distance trail running as my sport of choice. That being said, I’m also a huge fan of a holistic approach to training, so while some runners might stick to the trails and roads, I also teach yoga and strength train on my recovery days. Because I also travel a lot, I’m a bit of a gear snob: One item of clothing needs to run, lift, stretch and preferably look good enough to run errands in because I like to pack light.
The UA RUSH women’s T-shirt and leggings hit all the right aesthetic notes out of the box. On the plain black T-shirt, the neckline offers the slightest hint of visual interest: It’s not quite a collar, but it pops a bit more than a plain T-shirt. This not only meant it looked a bit nicer for errand running, but it also moved a little better than the average neckline of a short-sleeve shirt during yoga sessions. I must also note that while the UA RUSH fabric is infused with minerals, it doesn’t feel scratchy or sticky: It feels silky smooth. The fit is also surprisingly well-done. I often have an issue with women’s athletic short-sleeve tops, because they tend to be shrunken men’s versions. This one, though, was actually designed for curves (such as mine are) without feeling clingy in one spot and droopy in another.
I didn’t just wear the shirt to the gym: I wore it during my most recent 50K trail race, and it was the first time I’ve left a race like that with zero chafing. I tend to dislike short-sleeve shirts for running, but when the distance increases and I need to wear a hydration vest, sleeves of some type are a must. Even while wearing a vest, the shirt stayed in place and there wasn’t a single seam rubbing the wrong way — and anyone who’s run a marathon knows what a huge win that is. While, like Michael, I can’t say for sure that it improved my performance, I will say that the last 50K race I did, I wore a black tank top that was stained white with my sweat at the end, and this one — in similar conditions — saw the shirt still perfectly black crossing the finish line. And scoring second place in the women’s overall and still being able to jog the next day … well, that was icing on the cake.
The women’s UA RUSH tights were even more aesthetically exciting. The color is objectively fantastic, a dusky pinkish purple that still somehow manages to almost be considered a neutral. It could match any color of top, which again, for the capsule wardrobe types, is a huge win. On a run, the mesh pocket on the thigh actually kept my phone in place, and while I wouldn’t normally run with a phone on my leg, it was nice to know I could. (I would definitely do that for a hike!) Running in these tights compared to a similar pair in a different fabric did feel slightly less strenuous, but as Michael noted, without lab testing, it’s impossible to tell whether the effect was psychological or physical. For me, if it makes you feel like you’re expending less energy, it’s an undeniably good thing.
The only issue I found is one I have with most tights: The small tights are made with long legs in mind, so if you’re short like me, you may find they’re a little baggy in the ankles. That said, they don’t fall down like some brands do, even through the most rigorous HIIT class or most intensive yoga poses.
For the comfort and movement alone, both the tights and the top checked all the boxes for me, and they’re now in rotation as wardrobe regulars. And the price point needs to be mentioned as well: The gear ranges from $45 to $100, with the tights priced at only $65, they’re actually a great deal for any type of athletic tights, even ignoring the potential performance benefits.