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Matt Saternus

110% Play Harder Compression Gear Review

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110% Play Harder Gear Review














We've all heard the expression, “No pain, no gain.” The gear that 110% Play Harder creates seeks to make this phrase obsolete. Their gear is designed to allow you to train harder, but without the pain and with greater gain. By combining compression and ice into a single garment, their gear is supposed to allow you to perform better and recover faster. Does it deliver? Read on, spies…










Ease of Use/Set Up – 10 Points


To use the compression aspect of 110% Play Harder, the set up consists of putting on the clothes. While this seems like a no brainer, the compression is so intense that it actually takes more effort than you might think. The sleeve is particularly tough; it takes me a solid twenty second to get it on. That said, there's no penalty for this: it can't do its job without being tight.


The ice sheets do require a little bit of set up they need to be cut to fit the pockets in the apparel that you have. While it would be nice if the sheets came pre-cut for each particular garment, I can't see docking more than 1 point for this because once they're cut to size they are set forever.


Score: 9/10










Effectiveness – 30 points


110% Play Harder sent two pieces of gear for testing: the Transformer shorts and one Alchemy sleeve. This actually worked out very well because I was able to test the shorts on a part of my body that was already hurting (left hip) and I could test the sleeve on a part of my body that (knock on wood) never hurts. I'll discuss each piece of gear separately, then make some overall observations.


Transformer shorts: For the last month or two, my left hip has been in pain. I'm not sure what caused it, but I was very excited when the Transformer shorts arrived because I was hoping that compression would be the cure. I immediately put the shorts on and was blown away by the level of compression (important note for the gentlemen: the shorts are designed so there isn't any compression where you don't want it). 110% Play Harder says on their website, “Everything else is just tight clothes.” This is not just a marketing line. I've worn lots of other “compression gear” before (Under Armor, Nike, Adidas) and nothing compares to this. When I first put the shorts on I actually felt like I was walking differently. This feeling is the result of greater stability in your hips and thighs. I wore the shorts frequently while golfing and running, and they definitely helped to alleviate the pain in my hip.


My one complaint about the Transformer shorts relates to the ice component. The “pockets” for the ice packs are only on the thighs which is great if you want to ice your quads or hamstrings, but it did not help me with icing my hip. I was able to simply slide an ice pack inside the shorts to ice my hip and the compression held it in place, but I would have preferred a pocket to put the pack into.


Alchemy sleeve: Since I do not have any chronic problems with my arm, I thought that I would use the sleeve to test the claim of “train harder, recover faster.” I put the sleeve on my left arm and proceeded with a fairly brutal arm workout. During the workout, there was a distinct difference between the arm with the sleeve and the arm without: in the second half of a set, the arm with the sleeve felt more stable than the arm without. Had I wanted to, I could have actually done more reps with the sleeved arm than the naked arm because of this feeling of stability. The difference was even more dramatic during the recovery phase. When I woke up the next day, my left arm felt as good as new, but my right arm was sore for two days. In the interest of being scientific, I repeated this experiment a week later with the sleeve on my right arm and the results were identical.


Again, my only complaint about the sleeve relates to the ice pockets. On the sleeve, the pocket only allows for icing the forearm and wrist. I would really have liked an ice pocket on the elbow or around the bicep and tricep. That said, the compression alone was so effective at aiding recovery, that I'm not sure how much I will be using the ice pockets.


Overall, I found that the gear from 110% Play Harder definitely added stability through intense compression. The compression did alleviate the pain that I had been experiencing in my hip, and the sleeve allowed me to train harder and recover faster. Now I just need another sleeve so I that both arms can recover quickly.


*****EDIT: I always do my best to get my facts straight before I write a review, but sometimes I overlook things. In this case, I wrote two "complaints" that were factually incorrect. The sleeve does have "pockets" for icing the upper arm and the short have "pockets" for icing the hips. In light of this, I'm boosting the effectiveness score to a perfect 30/30. I also learned that the packaging is not just flashy and cool looking, it's actually a thermal bag that keeps the ice sheets cold for 6 hours. With it, you can bring your ice sheets with you to the gym so that you can start icing immediately post-workout.


Score: 30/30









Longevity – 20 points


For me, there are three ways to rate high on longevity: 1) don't ask me to do anything that I'm not already doing 2) be really fun to use 3) be so ridiculously effective that I will use it even if it takes time out of my day. 110% Play Harder actually hits two of the three: it doesn't ask the user to do anything out of the ordinary (assuming you already wear clothes) and it's very effective. As such, I expect that anyone who buys 110% Play Harder gear will, like me, use it regularly for a long time.


Score: 20/20









Value – 20 points


The Transformer shorts tested here cost $110, and the Alchemy sleeves cost $70 each or $125 for a pair. Both come with ice sheets, though you can buy even more for around $10. I think for most people, these prices are going to be a little tough to swallow. That said, if you experience serious pain in one particular area of your body, this is a relatively small cost to alleviate that pain when compared to doctors or medicine. Also, if you're a serious athlete who trains really hard, these products will likely allow you to recover more quickly and train even harder and it's hard to put a price tag on that.


Conclusion: for the average golfer/person, these are probably too expensive. For the person that needs/wants the benefits that 110% Play Harder offers, I think the price is quite fair. On balance, it's a solid B for value.


Score: 17/20




The Peanut Gallery – 20 points


The gear from 110% Play Harder does not lend itself to being tested easily by a large group of people, so this section is based on a smaller-than-normal sample size and some discussions with people who are knowledgeable regarding athletic training. Among those I talked to, no one really questioned the benefits of real compression, and certainly no one doubts the restorative power of ice. Everyone I talked to thought the concept of combining them seemed like a great idea. Those that tested the sleeve were wowed by the level of compression that it offered. Most everyone had worn compression gear from a major apparel manufacturer, and they all agreed that comparing the two is apples and oranges. As ever, price got in the way of a perfect Peanut Gallery score. As I mentioned in the Value section, I don't see the average golfer shelling out for this stuff and The Peanut Gallery validated my guess. Very few of The Peanut Gallery members saw themselves buying any gear from 110% Play Harder, but a couple of guys who are college athletes and one golfer with chronic arm pain said they would seriously consider it.


Score: 17/20






Final Thoughts


Plain and simple: the gear from 110% Play Harder works. The level of compression is unlike anything I've experienced before and it does add stability, allow you to train harder, and helps you recover more quickly. While I had some minor complaints about the placement of the ice pockets, I found the compression to be so effective that the ice wasn't really necessary. The price of this gear will likely scare off the casual athlete, but for those who train hard or have chronic muscle pain, 110% Play Harder is something you need to look into.


Score: 93/100

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