If you want to find out the benefits of exercising with a weighted vest, you’ve come to the right page.
Weighted exercise vests are an excellent tool for individuals who want to add intensity to their workouts. When worn during cardio and strength training sessions, they will improve your athletic performance. However, they aren’t for everyone.
Older people, the very obese and anyone with bone or joint problems may find working out with an exercise vest to be too stressful.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of exercising with a weighted vest. We will also consider the drawbacks. Knowing these will enable you to make an informed decision about whether this type of training is for you.
We will look at the results of studies carried out to determine the degree of benefit gained from weighted vest workouts. And I will outline some exercises that can be done wearing a weighted exercise vest.
But first, for those who are unsure, I will answer the question, “What is a weighted vest?”
Weighted Vest Overview
A weighted exercise vest is a fitted, sleeveless, front-opening top that has small pockets for holding weights. The weights are often steel bars but can be other small, heavy items. The vests slip on the same way as a cardigan. Most have adjustable shoulders and side straps, clips or zippers, depending on the model. These should be secured snugly enough that the vest won’t get in the way, but not so tightly that it will impede your movement or breathing.
Some weighted exercise vests have a fixed weight. Others can be made heavier or lighter by adding additional weights or removing some. This customization will enable you to position the weights in their optimal center of gravity. Doing so will help you to get the most benefit from your workouts.
Usually worn during certain types of exercise or sports training, some of the benefits of a weighted exercise vest can be experienced by wearing one while going about your daily activities.
Weighted Vest Workout & Training Options
One of the primary benefits of a weighted vest is its versatility. Exercise options include walking, running, weight lifting, climbing, plyometrics, and body weight exercises such as lunges and squats. Weighted vests are also the perfect fitness aid for anyone who wants to improve their vertical jump ability. You can do agility and speed training and acceleration exercises wearing a weighted vest.
The vests can also be used to train for various sports, including football, soccer, basketball, baseball, and tennis among others.
70 bodyweight exercises you can do wearing a weighted exercise vest
What Weight Should I Use?
Most fitness trainers recommend using a weighted vest equal to no more than 10% of your body weight. This is a guideline only. Some people will be able to work with a heavier weight.
Weighted vests should not be worn for longer than 60 minutes at a time, and not every day. Taking a break will allow your muscles to recover from the added weight and pressure of the vest.
Benefits of Exercising with a Weighted Vest
Weighted vest workouts combine cardio and strength training, which is one of the most efficient ways to lose body fat and build lean muscle. Doing cardio burns calories during the workout. Strength training burns calories both during and after the workout.
When exercising with a weighted vest, the intensity of your workout will be greater. This will result in you burning more calories and therefore losing weight faster. With greater resistance to work against, your muscles will tone up faster.
This increased intensity will work your cardiovascular system harder, strengthening it and engaging your entire core. Training this way will improve your overall performance, including your speed, strength, and endurance. Regularly wearing a weighted vest while exercising can also help to prevent bone loss.
Drawbacks of Wearing a Weighted Exercise Vest
There are many benefits to weighted vest workouts, but they also come with some potential drawbacks.
Firstly, this type of workout is not recommended if you are new to exercise. Build some fitness before introducing a vest into your routines. When you do start using one, don’t do too much too soon.
Be aware of your form and choose a well-made vest. Using incorrect form while exercising with a weighted vest, or wearing a poorly designed one, could cause muscle and joint pain and even back problems. To help prevent these problems occurring, buy a vest with weight pockets on both the front and the back. Having the weights distributed evenly across your body will enable you to keep better posture and form.
Finally, don’t go with any heavier than 10% of your body weight. This will be enough to increase the intensity of your workouts while enabling you to maintain good form. It’s also a good idea to add more weight to the vest for strength training and remove some when doing endurance training.
Weighted Exercise Vest Study Results
A 10-week study covered in the Journal of Applied Physiology followed the performance gains of participants who wore weighted exercise vests three times a week while doing strength training workouts. At the end of the study, the participants’ leg strength had improved by 30%. Additionally, their short-term endurance when running and cycling improved by between 11% and 13%.
Initial results of a Finnish study involving twelve experienced runners who wore vests equal to 10% of their body weight were surprising. Subjects wore the vests all day and during three of their eight weekly running sessions for four weeks. When tested, the participants were found to run less efficiently than they had before the start of the study.
They were instructed to continue their training schedule for two weeks without wearing the vests. When retested, their sprinting endurance had improved by 25%, and their speed when running up stairs 3%.
The conclusion was that the improvements in speed, strength, and endurance gained while exercising with a weighted exercise vest altered the athlete’s basic running mechanics and activated the fast-twitch muscle fibers in their legs. Their bodies became more efficient and required less energy to produce the same pace.
A study covered in the Medicine & Science in Sports Exercise Journal looked at the effects of wearing a weighted exercise vest while walking on a treadmill. The ten similarly aged participants walked on a treadmill either without a vest or wearing one that was 10%, 15%, or 20% of their body weight.
The weighted vests did not have much effect on participants walking at slow speeds. However, there were appreciable differences at higher speeds. Additionally, the lighter weight vests produced very different results to the heavier vests, which enabled the wearer to burn more calories. The overall conclusion was that walking while wearing a weighted exercise can increase exercise intensity and elevate metabolic rate.
A study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology detailed the results of 12 distance runners. Half of the participants exercised wearing weighted vests that were approximately 10% of their body weight. The other half did not wear vests. The subjects who wore vests showed an improvement in their “VO2 max (an individual’s aerobic capacity) and lactate threshold (the exercise intensity at which lactic acid starts building in the bloodstream).
Benefits of Exercising with a Weighted Vest Summary
As you can see, there are many benefits of exercising with a weighted vest. Use the proper precautions, and it could be one of the best fitness investments you make.
Weighted vest workouts will enable you to increase your strength, endurance, and stamina. They will also help you to prevent bone loss, tone your muscles faster, and burn more calories.
If you are new to exercising, hold off on wearing one for a while. When you start wearing one, take things slowly and make sure the weight is no greater than 10% of your bodyweight. If you are elderly, very overweight, or suffering from joint problems, proceed with caution.