Question I was asked the other night:
What are the advantages of wearing or working out in a weight vest?
Well, let’s try to answer that:
Weight vests look really damn cool and seem to intensify every aspect of your high or low intensity workouts.
But are you ready for it and what will you get from wearing it?
Are you ready for a weight vest?
This should be your first question because not everyone is ready or should wear one.
Weight vest are exactly what they sound like – heavy vests. You wear them over your chest and shoulders (just like a vest should be worn) and they provide varying amounts of resistance. A lot of them are designed to be able to add or remove weighted bars as needed. The key is to make sure the weighted vest fits snugly and appropriate to your body. Before you put one of these bad boys on let’s consider just a few things first.
#1: Consider Your Fitness Level
Before you strap one on and go bonkers, be real about your current level of fitness.
Do you struggle with your current bodyweight exercises? Do you have to currently scale your exercises to a lower level? Do you have to rest the following day due to soreness or fatigue? Do you only workout once or twice a week?
If any of these are the case, you should focus on building up your general level of fitness before adding any extra resistance.
In the meantime, focus on using a vest for walking or other low-intensity cardio work and build up from there.
#2: Consider Your Workout Program
The intensity, duration and movements of your workout can vary, and can definitely play a role in whether you should wear a vest or not.
For example, if you are doing heavy Olympic lifts, heavy deadlifts or sprints then I really don’t think you need to make your job any harder by adding extra resistance.
If you are performing bodyweight or lower weight exercises and they are getting easier then by all means add the weight vest for an added challenge.
What are the advantages to wearing a weight vest?
There can be various benefits from wearing a weight vest in both strength training and aerobic activities.
Carrying extra weight during exercise requires added strength and oxygen consumption. With any exercise, the more weight used, the more muscles must adapt to the higher weight – which builds strength and muscular endurance (check this article out)
Due to the added resistance, the cardiovascular system also has to go into overdrive as a result of the added resistance, strengthening the lungs and causing an increase in VO2 Max (the measure of the body’s ability to consume oxygen) as well as lactate threshold (basically, the point at which the body slows down when training at a high intensity - check this article out)
Wearing a weighted vest can also be beneficial for bones. The extra loading can theoretically result in increased or sustained bone mass by stimulating cells in the body (osteoblasts) to lay down new bone in response to the demands on your skeleton. Basically, bones become stronger and denser to handle the extra weight.
Weight vests can be beneficial if used in a progressive manner dependent on your current fitness level and workout program. They are not cheap so be prepared to spend $100-200 on a quality vest. Make sure that the load of the vest is appropriate for what you are doing in and out of the gym. Make sure to start with a light load (5% of your body weight or lower) to minimize the risk of injury and work your way up slowly from there.
If you have any questions about what exercises may benefit you the most, feel free to reach out anytime at Hunter@starkperformancept.com or call 850-912-9203. If you're in Pensacola or the surrounding area then let's work together to get you a long-term plan to improve!