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Why you should workout in a weighted vest, or not!

Have you done your workout in a weighted vest? May be not. Yet, this underrated and cumbersome looking fitness tool can boost your calorie burn and add a strength element to your routine. Here’s how:-

What Exactly Is a Weighted Vest for Workouts?

Weighted vests are exactly what they sound like: Workout vests with small weights in them. Most vests sit over the shoulders, chest, back, and core, like a vest you would wear under a suit or a life vest for swimming. You may also get some for arms or shanks (just below the knee).

Benefits of Exercising with a Weighted Vest

Because weighted vests literally force you to carry extra weight on your body, they make any activity—from walking to running to pull-ups—a lot harder. Since you’re moving more weight, you’ll need to exert more effort to perform any exercise or activity compared to using just your body.

This can help improve your cardio capacity, muscular endurance, and overall strength. It’s like exercising while holding dumbbells, but those dumbbells are dispersed across your torso in a piece of clothing, freeing your hands for more exercise moves.

You can use a weighted vest to increase the load on bodyweight moves such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups to increase the demand on your muscles and induce strength- and endurance-related muscle gains. Unlike dumbbells, however, weighted vests keep your hands free—allowing you to do unconventional movement patterns and cardio blasts without decreasing the extra resistance.

Thought burpees or push-ups were hard? Try them with a weighted vest on. How about lower-body plyometric moves like squat jumps and switch lunges. 

Also, if you’re deconditioned or out of shape, simply wearing a weighted vest while walking can be a way to increase calorie burn without cranking up the intensity too much. Researchers at the University of New Mexico asked untrained adult women to walk on a flat treadmill at 2.5 mph while wearing a vest weighing about 15 percent of their body weight. Women wearing the weighted vest burned about 12 percent more calories compared with the women who were not wearing a vest, according to the study, which was conducted for the American Council on Exercise.

Wearing a vest will make cardio feel more challenging and build your cardiovascular endurance —and when you train without the vest, you’ll be faster and more conditioned. In fact, runners who warmed up by doing strides (in this case, 10-second sprints) while wearing a weighted vest showed improvements in speed and performance during a treadmill test immediately after, according to a study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.

And When Not to Use a Weighted Vest

Before you start using weighted vests for your moves: if you’re struggling with form, endurance, or strength with the current training program you’re doing, do not add a weighted vest.

Master the proper form of bodyweight move you’re doing first, then you can up the ante with more resistance from a vest. Pushing too much too soon, the stress could leave you with an injury.

Tossing on a weighted vest doesn’t automatically equal a better workout. For instance, wearing a weighted vest during yoga or spin class isn’t worth it. Reserve it for exercise where you’re responsible for moving your bodyweight, like climbing stairs, biking, running, and total bodyweight workouts.

And, like with most strength training, don’t do back-to-back workouts wearing a weighted vest. Aim for about one or two days a week to start, and spread out the days.

Once you feel you have built up the tolerance to train with the vest, limit to no more than four days a week, no matter the level of ftiness. Because it does put some stress on the joints, it’s best to vary workouts and not use the weighted vest each day. 

Rest. Take take a full day of rest per week to let the body heal and muscles grow, weighted vest or not!

How to Train In a Weighted Vest

When choosing your weight, start small. While it varies with each individual, it is recommended starting off light and adding more as you get conditioned. The amount of weight varies from 5 pounds all the way up to 20, 50, 80 pounds and some can even accommodate upto 100 pounds.

Like with any weight lifting, progression is always more beneficial than regression or risk of injury, if you no longer feel challenged, up the weight. Start with an additional 5 pounds and continue from there.

The vest should fit snugly and not bounce around. Many allow you to insert or remove the weights (usually small sandbags or steel bars/plates) to change the overall load.

Not sure where to start? Some great options include this one which you can opt for wrist and shank weights or this one which has capacity upto 110 pounds (50kgs).

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