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In this article, we will discuss weighted vest benefits, how to safely train with them, which exercises are best done with them, how to clean them, and what to look for when buying them.
Before Using A Weighted Vest
You should always contact your physician or primary doctor to ensure that you don’t have any physical problems that would make training with a weighted vest inadvisable.
Never start with a fully loaded vest; your bones and muscles need time to adapt, most people graduate to a weighted vest because they want to have a more intense, challenging workout, but if you’re not smart, you’ll only end up injuring yourself and delaying the results you’re looking for.
What Exactly Is A Weighted Vest
They are simply a vest made of heavy-duty vinyl or composite materials that allow you to add and subtract weight to increase the intensity of any workout.
The common benefit of using a weighted vest is to add weight to specific exercises while raising the intensity, most notably bodyweight exercises, walking, running, jogging, hiking, and any speed or agility drills the perfect application for a weighted vest.
How Much Weight should You Start Off with
The weight you start with will depend on your fitness level; never use a weight that deters you from using the correct form of whatever exercise you’re doing.
This is why most of the vests I recommend can easily adjust the amount of weight you’re using.
Do not let your ego make the decisions and buy a too-heavy vest; you’ll only end up hurting yourself.
Are Weighted Vests Bad for You
Like anything in life, if you don’t take the time to learn how to use something correctly, it can be detrimental to your health or well-being.
Just as long as you use a vest that is the correct weight for your body type, it fits comfortably and snug and doesn’t hinder your movement, doesn’t make you feel unbalanced, and that you use under the appropriate conditions, then a vest can be very beneficial to helping you become healthier and stronger.
Can You Wear A weighted Vest All Day
This may sound like a weird question, but I’ve been asked this before, and my answer is that I wouldn’t recommend it.
I have never done this, but I can imagine that it would be more detrimental than good.
When you work out a particular muscle group, it’s only for a limited amount of time; you don’t do it all day. However, if you wear a vest all day, this is exactly what will happen to your shoulder, neck, lower back, and leg muscles.
In the end, I think you’re going to end up with very sore, tired muscles and joints, without any real benefit from it.
What To Think About Before Using A Vest
Are you comfortable with your routine
If you’re starting a new fitness routine, you will want to become comfortable with the exercises and different types of techniques and forms before using a vest.
Using the correct form during your exercises is always your primary goal; before increasing the intensity or difficulty of any routine, you need to make sure you know how to perform each move perfectly.
If you are not using the correct technique, then adding more weight will make it worse and hurt you. Be smart.
What shape are you in
When I started to work out, I was 305 pounds and would run out of breath walking up the stairs. I had a hard enough time getting through half of a P90X video while wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
My point is that there is a time and place to add a weighted vest to your routine, and it’s not when you’re are struggling with your routine.
Once you start to get into better shape and feel like you’re in control of your movements and the exercises are getting easier, this is when you begin to think about adding difficulty to them, not anytime before.
What exercises are you doing
A weighted vest only makes sense with specific exercises; if you’re bench pressing, then a vest does absolutely nothing to help you target your chest muscles (besides making laying on the bench very uncomfortable). Still, if you’re doing pull-ups or push-ups, then this is the perfect time to grab it and throw it on.
Are you injured or overly sore
I know I keep talking about correct form and technique. Still, it’s essential to take it seriously to diminish the chance of injury and make sure you’re working the exact muscle group you’re targeting.
The main reason why I see my clients using bad form is when they’re sore, hurt, or making a new move and are getting used to doing it.
If you’re hurt, and depending on how bad, you should either be staying out of the gym and focusing on healing, or you should be modifying your workout to adjust to your injury. The last thing you should be doing is making your workouts even more complex and further injuring yourself more.
The same thing goes for when you’re really sore. It’s hard to do an intense workout when you’re recovering from a challenging workout from a day or two before. There isn’t anything wrong with taking an extra rest day or incorporating a stretch day to wait until you’re back to full strength.
This will allow you to feel better and perform your workout with the highest amount of intensity that you can bring to it; this is how you’ll see the most progression and gains in your results.
What Does A Weight Vest Do For You
Using a weighted vest during your workouts will put your muscles under more stress, increasing the amount of strength you develop. In addition, during cardiovascular exercises, the extra weight will make your movements more strenuous, putting your body into a higher oxygen deficit-increasing your aerobic endurance.
Do Weighted Vests Help You Lose Weight
YES. Anytime you make your body work harder to accomplish the task you’re asking for, the result will be more calories burned to produce the energy you need to finish the said task.
The higher the intensity, the more oxygen your body needs to keep your muscles working; a weighted vest will create a more challenging experience that will make your heart beat faster to supply oxygenated blood to your tired muscles, which will burn more calories.
If your goal is to lose weight, then wearing a weighted vest while walking, jogging, running, hiking, or even doing chores around the house will dramatically help you reach your goal faster.
Do Weighted Vests Help You Build Muscle
Yes. The same notion applied to losing weight can be used here; it needs to feel threatened for your body to build muscle. By this, you mean that your body doesn’t use energy for trivial reasons, so you need to give your body an excellent reason to spend vital resources on building muscle.
By creating an intense strength training workout and fatiguing your muscles, your body will respond by building your muscles so that you are stronger.
A weighted vest is a great way to increase specific strength training exercises’ difficulty to receive higher gains in muscle mass.
Benefits Of Using Weighted Vests
- Increased strength and endurance – The harder you push yourself, the greater the results will be, which is true for building muscle and aerobic endurance. The whole point of a weighted vest is to give you an exercise routine that kicks your ass; if done enough, you’ll eventually start to see greater strength and endurance.
- Doesn’t allow your muscles to adapt – If you do the same routine over and over again, your muscles will adjust, and you’ll stop seeing positive results; wearing a weighted vest will force your muscles to respond by making the exercise harder and will keep you from hitting a strength plateau.
- A healthier cardiovascular system helps you lift better – I’ve already explained how wearing a vest during cardio exercises will deplete your muscles of oxygen and force your heart to work harder, delivering oxygenated blood to your affected muscle group. Another benefit to this is how it will help you become fatigued while strength training; the heavier you lift, the faster your heart rate becomes, making you tired. Cardiovascular endurance and muscle endurance go hand in hand.
- Helps burn fat – Creates a higher oxygen deficiency, which makes your heart beat faster to supply your muscles and lungs with oxygenated blood. This increases the amount of energy your body needs to burn more calories to meet these demands. In the end, this means more calories and fat burned.
- Increases performance of specialized skills – Weighted vests are exceptional at helping you improve speed or agility drills. If you run track and want to become quicker, run a couple of miles in a weighted vest. If you’re a running back and want to perform the cone drill faster, try running it with a vest on and see how it makes those muscles stronger.
- Musculoskeletal system benefits greatly – To help your body support the extra weight, your body will start to focus on growing muscle to make you stronger. Still, it will also apply resources to developing thicker, stronger bones and connective tissue. This is great when it comes to avoiding injury and performing strength training routines.
- Strengthen your core – Anytime you add weight above your torso, it will help target the abdominal muscles; even wearing a vest around the house while doing chores will help you target your core. So imagine doing crunches or planks while wearing one.
- Better balance and posture – When your body is constantly adjusting to the added weight that it’s not used to, it is essentially working the same muscle responsible for balancing your body and keeping correct form and posture. Making it easier and a habit to do this when you have the vest off.
Exercises To Do With A Weighted Vest
This is where common sense will play a big part; if you’re doing an exercise that involves pushing or pulling your body weight, then a vest is perfect for this.
Please don’t be caught doing bicep curls while wearing a vest though, I’ve had clients tell me they like to wear it at the gym because they’re moving around and bending over; let’s be sensible. If you’re already lifting weights and exerting yourself, the only thing a vest will do is make you tired sooner, taking away from the workout you’re trying to achieve.
- push ups
- pull ups
This is just a couple of exercises that are perfect for a weighted vest to give you an idea.
Is Walking With A Weighted Vest Good
Most people who are only doing a walk for exercise are probably not in the greatest shape and may have a hard time doing a more intense workout to increase their fitness level.
This is why a weighted vest is perfect for walking; if you’re not feeling very challenged by walking any longer but don’t want to jog or run, then wearing a vest will increase the intensity making your body burn more calories and increasing your aerobic endurance while still allowing you to walk.
How To Pick A Weighted Vest
- Does it Fit – Most vests are one size fits all, and you adjust the shoulder or waist strap to fit your body style. If you have a bigger or smaller body type than normal, you may want to check the manufacturer specs to make sure it will be comfortable on you.
- Can you increase the weights – This is important because some vests have built-in weights that can’t be removed, meaning if your vest is 30 pounds, it will always be 30 pounds. You want to purchase a vest that allows you to remove and add weights to progress with it as you become stronger instead of having to buy new ones.
- What’s the minimum weight – You want to start by using about 15 to 20% of your total body weight. If you weigh 200 pounds, then you want your starting weight in your vest to be between 30 and 40 pounds. Make sure not to buy a vest that is higher than your starting weight should be.
- Gender-specific – Many vests are made for both sexes, but if you happen to be a curvier woman, you may want to find a vest made to help fit and support you as you exercise.
Full Body Weighted Vest workout
10 minutes of dynamic stretching and warm-up
Do each workout for 30 seconds or max rep. Take as little of a break as possible between exercises. Then, after completing the entire circuit, take a 60-second break and repeat for a total of 2 to 3 times.
- Jumping jacks
- mountain climbers
- push ups – max reps
- jump rope
- pull ups – max reps
Weighted vests are another great tool to use to kick your workout into another gear and reach your maximum potential; make sure to safely add it into your fitness regimen once you’re ready and strong enough to use it.