Sunday, October 16, 2011

CEP Clone Review

I was originally going to post a product review of my CEP Clone when I first received them but later decided it would be better served to wait a little bit to see how they perform over time. Before I go too far, first let me summarize what the CEP Clone is.

CEP is not another name brand company jumping into the latest fad and flooding the market with low quality replicas. They have been successfully manufacturing compression for over 60 years. They are known as MediUSA in the medical world and CEP in the sport world. Most people don’t know this, but CEP actually used to make the compression gear for some of their competition. They manufacture their garments on a circular loom by graduating the medical grade compression so it is tightest at the ankle and less tight as it moves towards the heart. The result is maximum compression where it needs to be, furthest from the heart.

CEP recently unveiled the Clone compression program this Spring with the allure of recovery compression that is custom-made to your exact body measurements. Whether you have long skinny legs, short squatty legs or somewhere in-between, there are no Small, Medium and Large sizing charts that you have to refer to and hope that all of your measurements fit into one of the sizes. The CEP Clone is the ultimate in recovery compression that is essentially a lower body double generated from 41 exact measurements taken by a CEP Rep or specifically trained individual; you don’t take your own measurements and send them in. This is to guarantee that the applied compression is the precise amount up and down the entire leg, they aren’t too long or too short and no gapping in certain spots because your quads, knees and calves don’t all align within other brand’s sizing chart. The $290 price tag might be considered a little spendy but keep in mind that this includes 2 pairs that you can choose to receive at once or one at a time. They also are shipped with a wash bag, detergent, gloves to help put them on and skin care samples. For $50 less you can opt for the thigh-high version that come with either beaded silicone or lace. Yep, lace! Nothing like trying to sexify compression thigh-highs. If you opt for the waist-high suit, they are gender specific so you guys can include that coveted “man pocket”.

I have tons of people ask me every year, why compression? Compression isn’t only for recovery but can be used while training or racing as well. I don't profess to be a PhD but from what I have read, compression works because your arterial walls are sensitive to pressure. When pressure is applied by squeezing the arterial walls, it relaxes and allows more blood to flow through. The result is up to 40% more blood flowing through your muscles which will then receive more oxygen and according to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning this can cut the lactic acid build-up by up to 30%. Some studies suggest that runners ran 5% faster while using 6% less energy; for a 4 hour marathon this could save you 12 minutes. Along the lines of recovery, the same principles apply. Increased blood to the muscles reduces your lactic acid levels faster and by increasing the oxygen it will help promote healing. Would you believe that 80% of individuals who experience blood clots while traveling are endurance athletes. Why? Because their heart rate is lower. Sitting for long periods of time while you travel with a lower heart rate can lead to clotting because your blood is moving slower through your veins. If you sleep while your spouse drives you home after a race like I do, your heart rate is even lower and could be problematic.

I have used compression for post-race and post-training therapy for years and am a firm believer in the benefits. Over the years I have tried a number of different brands of compression for recovery and have never been completely satisfied because the fit isn’t quite right or they lose their compressive features over a short period (if they had any to start with). All compression gear will eventually loosen which is why CEP sends you 2 pair to get you through an entire year. I started using the CEP compression calf sleeves during the 2010 race season to help minimize muscle fatigue during training and racing and immediately started to notice a direct correlation to performance. I was, however, still using a different compression brand for recovery. I read about the Clone earlier this year and CEP had a booth set up in the expo at Wildflower and the Reps at the expo were not able to collect the measurements for the Clone at the race venue. They instead put me in contact with the local CEP Compression Sales Rep who immediately scheduled a time for us to meet at the George’s Cycles store on Fairview. After about 20 minutes, the measurements were complete and I was told that within 2 weeks I should have them delivered to my door. I actually contacted Jon before he sent in the measurements and asked him to hold off because I was worried that the measurements were not truly representative at that time because my legs were still very swollen from racing two days in a row. We were able to align schedules later and got more accurate measurements to order off of.

I went with the waist-high suit, not the thigh-highs, and have to say that they are TIGHT! Tight like compressive tight, but also tight like sick. These are medical grade but intended for athletic or non-medical use. I loved them from the moment I put them on, which took a couple of minutes and caused a bead of sweat on my forehead. The compression was exactly where it should be and not too much at the knees or ankles like other brands I’ve used that cause them to be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. I wear mine all the time when I’m not training. I sleep in them, wear them under my jeans and even have been known to wear them to church. I know, my husband is a lucky man. My Clone is much more compressive today, 3 months later, than other products out of the box even after wearing my Clone literally everyday.

If you are serious about training and racing you need to be serious about compression. If you are serious about compression then the CEP Clone is a must-have item in your gear bag. Recovery is so important to being able to continuously get out and train and race throughout the season. I would not be in the condition I am today without my Clone.

Additional CEP compression gear that I use during racing and training and are also worth the time to look at are:

  • Running Compression Shorts - I tried these on a whim and am now hooked, my fastest track workouts have been in these.
  • Cycling Compression Shorts - these are a little longer than the traditional cycling shorts so they provide that extra compression on more of the quad.
  • All Sports Compression Sleeves - I never leave home without them and wear them for every workout, honest. You'll want to get at least 2-3 pair so you always have clean ones to wear. There are a multitude of colors but I highly recommend the green. :)
  • Wintersports Compression Socks - intended more for skiing but I've found that these work great for cold weather cycling. There is also a cycling compression sock but I only wear socks when I cycle during the winter months but wear the calf sleeves the rest of the time.
Visit their website at to see all of their great products.