(by Coach Chris)
Last month, after I wrote a blog post about how to fix sinking leg syndrome and how to use a pull buoy properly, Xterra contacted me about doing a review of their new Lava pants.
What are Lava pants?
The best way I can describe Lava pants are “wetsuit capris.” They are made out of the same, neoprene material as a wetsuit with the same thickness as one but only go from your mid calf to your hips.
They should fit snuggly over your lower body and they will loosen up in the water. I would recommend you size down to prevent them wrinkling and actually slowing you down with extra drag.
When you first put them on, they should feel tighter than comfortable. Once in the water, I barely noticed wearing them. They do provide some insulation so make sure if you are in a heated pool to bring plenty of water because you will sweat more without realizing it.
With the first stroke, I noticed a significant improvement to my stroke. I felt smoother, more efficient, and faster. I also glided more through the water and got more distance on my flipturns.
These gains did not come as a surprise because the Lava pants are designed to mimic a wetsuit.
Like a wetsuit, they should fix your lower body position by providing extra buoyancy from your waist down and raise your legs, reducing drag and thus, at least theoretically, making you faster, but how much faster?
I put the Lava pants through a basic test of 20×100 at a moderate pace with an RPE of 6 on a 10 scale.
I would do 5 reps without the pants to set a base, 5 with, 5 without, and 5 with. For each rep, I would give myself 15s rest to allow equal amounts of recovery. For both of my control sets, I averaged 1:25/100 without the pants.
With the pants
I jumped down to 1:15 on my first set and 1:13 on my final round. Ten seconds is a significant improvement. From my conversations with others, like wetsuits, it seems that the weaker the swimmer you are the more gains you will see.
However, despite these benefits, I would not recommend wearing Lava pants every practice.
I would use them for race simulation practices where you do long, endurance sets at race pace, when your legs are extremely fatigued from biking and running, or for open water swims where the water is too warm for a full wetsuit.
Overall, I highly recommend Lava Pants as a tool- but just like any good thing, try not to overdo it!
We are also offering a discount that we worked out with Xterra. For $50 off a pair of Lava Pants, just use code ‘CO-TRISC’ upon checkout at: