A Guide To Training With A Weighted Vest

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

Weighted vests are a popular item used to enhance workouts with resistance training. The vests can be quite useful, but there are some potential risks which need to be taken into consideration. This article highlights those pros and cons along with some potential workouts for those using weighted vests.

What Are Weighted Clothes?

Weighted clothes are items of clothing used for resistance training workouts. In most cases, these clothes have compartments which contain extra weights. The added weight makes certain activities more challenging, thereby increasing strength and performance.

Weighted vests are one type of weighted clothing. They can have a variety of different weights, particularly since most have removable inserts that can be taken out or added into the vest’s compartments to reduce or increase the vest’s total weight. Most weight vests are hung over the shoulder with straps around the chest and abdomen to secure the vest to the body. In addition, padding is usually added in certain areas (particularly the shoulders) to make the vest comfortable and safe to wear.

How To Train With Weighted Vests

There are several activities during which a weighted vest can be worn to increase the effectiveness of the workout. The following are tips for completing various exercises while wearing a weighted vest:

  • Walking: Casual walkers can increase their strength and number of calories burned while wearing a weighted vest during their workout. Be sure to keep good posture while walking with a weighted vest to prevent back strain.
  • Running: Runners can also use weighted vests for the same purposes as walkers. As an added benefit, those using weighted vests for running or sprinting drills often experience improved performance once the weight is removed.
  • Bodyweight exercises: Squats, pull-ups, push-ups and other exercises which utilize bodyweight can be enhanced by the addition of a weighted vest. For these exercises, it’s important to use a vest which allows for proper flexibility.
  • Jumping: Those who want to improve their vertical leap can try using a weighted vest. Their muscles will acclimate to the extra weight so that when it is removed, they are able to jump higher.
  • Sports: Many athletes find that using a weighted vest to practice sports helps to improve their performance during competition. The added weight makes their body work harder to run, jump and utilize their reflexes so that when the weight is gone they perform better and have more endurance. Those playing sports with a weighted vest should make sure they find one with adequate ventilation to avoid overheating.
  • Daily activities: Some people like to use a weighted vest to perform daily activities, whether it’s vacuuming their house, gardening or going grocery shopping. By adding extra weight, they can burn more calories while performing these basic activities.

Potential Benefits

Weighted vests can provide a number of great health benefits, including:

  • Increased strength: The added weight of the vest makes the body’s muscles work harder to complete certain activities, thereby increasing the strength of those muscles.
  • Improved performance: Weighted vests are often used to increase performance in certain activities, including sports. This is because the vest allows the body to get used to performing under added weight. When that weight is removed, the body is able to perform with more endurance, speed and strength since it is not compensating for the added weight.
  • More calories burned: The body has to work harder when it carries extra weight, helping those using weighted vests to burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight.

Potential Risks

There are some risks to using weighted vests that need to be considered before adding them to any workout. Those risks may include:

  • Joint stress: The extra weight in the vest leads to added weight that your joints are supporting. Those who have joint which are already somewhat weak may find that weighted vests do more harm than good if they increase joint pain during and after working out.
  • Back issues: Weighted vests which aren’t strapped on properly or which don’t have evenly distributed weight could cause back pain due to the added stress on the back. In addition, those who try using weighted vests before their back is strong enough to support the extra weight may experience strain in their back from the vest.
  • Injury: Those who aren’t equipped to handle the extra weight or who have a vest which is not properly secured to the body may increase their risk of injury while using a weighted vest.
  • Overheating: Since weighted vests cover a large area of the body, those who use them during strenuous or extended workouts could potentially overheat. To reduce this risk, find a vest made from cool wicking fabric that has built in vents.
  • Limited flexibility: There are some workouts for which a weighted vest cannot be used simply because the vest itself can limit flexibility for certain movements.

Bottom Line

Weighted vests are not for everyone, but for certain individuals they can really improve the effectiveness of their workouts. Consult with a doctor or professional trainer before adding weighted vests to your workout routine.


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