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The Benefits Of Training With A Weighted Vest

March 27, 2021 8 min read

A favourite of soldiers, athletes, and strongmen, weighted vest training has been making waves among the fitness community. Boasting many health benefits, the weighted vest seems to be the latest craze in endurance training.

We're here to take you through the health and fitness benefits and considerations before in-vest-ing in this serious piece body weight kit. Weighted vest benefits seem to be endless, but they aren't to be trifled with.

The weighted vest provides you with extra weight/resistance to push back against, making almost every system in your body work harder to accommodate the extra weight. This improves your balance, posture, bone strength and even strengthens your lungs and heart.

Not only that, you can lose weight faster, increase your stability and agility hugely. But there are some things you have to consider as it will make your workouts much more intense.

How do weight vests work?

The weighted vest workout was developed by a very courageous marine looking to add resistance to his bodyweight exercises and fitness routine. Due to its intense nature and fast-yielding results, the weighted vest benefits seem to be endless. The added weight pushes your body to work harder than it would during a normal workout, which in turn builds greater muscular strength.

They're vests worn over the torso with compartments to add and remove plates, bars, and many other weighted objects. They are most generally used for bodyweight workouts and cardio, as they make your lower body work much harder against gravity, improving your strength, resistance, and overall performance.

How to workout with a weight vest

Whether you love fitness training,  bodyweight training, or circuit routines, a weighted vest can maximise your results. Running, rowing and cycling are all great ways to work your cardiovascular system while wearing a weighted vest.

Even lifting weights in a weighted vest can improve your ability and form over extended periods of time. You can even turn normal chores into random workouts with the addition of a weighted vest.

You can add a weighted vest to any circuit, spin, or CrossFit workout if it starts to get too easy or add it to your usual floor routine. Wearing a weighted vest will influence the variety of ways in which your muscles will tear and repair, to achieve those all-important results.

Before using a weighted vest

There are some considerations to make before you buy a weighted vest. They can be anywhere from £150 for a premium vest, so you need to make sure it's right for you, and you will get the maximum use out of it.

It's important to know that it fits you, your vest should be loose enough you can put your fingers between it and your chest, but not so loose that it's bouncing or moving when you're trying to work out. If your vest is too loose, it could cause some serious muscular injuries.

Make sure it has padded shoulder straps, Velcro straps around the waist, and weight plates that are positioned evenly on both the front and back that each has a secure plate closure. Ultimately, due to the effects that this type of resistance training activity has on you, if you don't buy a comfortable vest you'll pay for it long term.  

Fitness level

Vest training is only recommended for established fitness fanatics. You will need a base level of fitness and stamina in order to get results without becoming injured. Some experts have recommended 4-6 months of regular exercises before attempting a weighted vest workout. It's important to be realistic about your fitness goals so you don't put yourself out of action for a long time.

This is especially true when it comes to adding additional weight to the vest. And although our vests have removable weights that allow more or less weight to be added, you must always be sure of your cardio capacity when doing your sessions. 

This applies to a seemingly straightforward 45-minute walk, too. Carrying heavier weights around adds additional resistance and will test your cardiovascular endurance, your aerobic endurance, and your muscular endurance.

Type of workouts

There are many types of workouts that you can customise with a body weight vest. All cardio workouts can be adjusted to include a weighted vest and can target everything from your leg muscles to your abdominal muscles.

We recommend that you can start with a lightweight vest (7kg) 2-3 times a week before you get to the muscle building and muscle burn phase by adding more training plates.

You can integrate a weighted training vest into your cardio exercise routine in the form of interval training, preparatory exercises, a 100-meter sprint, or a hill sprint. These are all fantastic explosive movements and greatly help with your daily activities and are proven to increase your overall speed (source). 

If building muscle and weight lifting is more your thing then upper body workouts could include:

  • Burpees
  • Push-ups
  • Pull-ups
  • Mountain climbers
  • Planks
  • Sit-ups

If you want tired muscles in your legs then a tactical vest like ours can build muscle mass by doing the following exercises:

  • Regular squats
  • Split squats
  • Box jumps
  • Lunges

Try 3 reps or 20 seconds on each movement, to be completed three times. This will create an intense upper body burn you'll definitely be able to feel!

It's important to balance these kinds of workouts with a cardio workout or circuit workout to achieve all-around better health. Some squats will strengthen your legs, but running and cycling will help your overall stamina and endurance.

Using a weighted vest while doing box jumps or climbing stairs will increase your heart rate tenfold. Even using a vest for walking will become an intense workout, and it will help you make gains when you don't have a lot of time.

When cycling, the best way to get the most out of your vest is by alternating standing and sitting in intervals while peddling, the rolling hills setting on an exercise bike would work great!

The weight of the vest

You should start small. Start with around 2, 5, or 7 kilos for your first run, and make sure you're listening to your body. If the weight is to intense decrease it and work back up. The best way to increase endurance is to increase the weight slightly and slowly, and for this, you need a versatile vest that allows you to add or remove the weight plates accordingly.

Some people put as much as 30 KG in a vest at a time, but we wouldn't recommend this for any amateur athlete. If you injure yourself by putting too much weight into the vest before your body can take it, you'll end up hindering your progress by being unable to exercise than building slowly over time.

Increase endurance and strength

Strength training is a key part of fitness. In order to achieve your goals, whether that's fat loss, muscle size, or weight training. As you exercise regularly you build strength, and with the addition of a weighted vest, you will get stronger, faster. The added pressure on your muscles forces them to work much harder, meaning your strength and endurance will increase.

You will notice the increase in endurance when, for example, you run with a weighted vest vs without. After using the vest for some time you will notice your increased endurance when you're not wearing it. As it increases the intensity of your workout you will find yourself running faster and longer.

Can be used as a variation tool

You might be asking yourself, what is the variation? Don't worry, we've got your back! Variation is the practice of constantly changing your muscular exercises while performing at high intensity. When adding a weight vest, this increases your resistance and varies what our bodies are used to, yielding great results. Variation has been known to improve bone strength and endurance.

You can vary your workouts every time, or by weeks or days! It's important as it also reduces the risk of injury when exercising the same part of the body.

Two to three variations are recommended for every muscle/movement, that way you should be able to shake up your routine every time you need to, whether you're in the gym, on the pavement, or at home.

Musculoskeletal benefits

The Musculoskeletal benefits are increased bone mass, density, and power. Improving this system helps keep you mobile throughout your life and old age, and can help fight osteoarthritis and other degenerative diseases.

Vest workouts have been known to massively increase bone mass and density, reducing your chances of workout injury and overall boosting the health and strength of your body. When wearing a weighted vest more pressure is put on your musculoskeletal system, helping you achieve greater strength by encouraging connective tissue and bone to grow and repair.

Cardiovascular benefits

Running, rowing or any other cardio is extremely difficult when wearing a weighted vest, meaning any exercise in a weight vest will send your cardiovascular system into overdrive, increasing your lung strength and VO2 MAX, which is a measure of your body's ability to consume and convert oxygen.

Moreover, it increases your lactate thresholds proved in a data collection study which helps you push harder and recover more easily after a grueling workout.

Working your cardiovascular system harder allows it to become stronger, through an increased heart rate. Raising your heart rate is the key to seeing the results you want. When your lungs are stronger, it increases your ability to pump oxygen around your body, improving your performance with every stride.

Improved balance and posture

Weighted vests increase your balance due to the increased weight on your upper body. This is due to proprioceptors in the body, which control your ability to counterbalance. The more weight you add the harder they have to work to keep you upright.

Wearing weight vests helps straighten your spine and back muscles. Working your spine and core muscles will assist you in standing and moving with greatly improved posture, lessening pain in your later years. Keeping a good posture will help with bodyweight workout form too!

Once your posture and back improve, you'll notice you become more agile, and experience fewer aches and pains, and even improved flexibility!

Weight loss

The best way to lose weight healthily is with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Weighted vests greatly increase the calorie burn in your workout, as the extra weight puts increased demand on the energy conversion process, meaning you need more calories to keep going.

It also speeds up your metabolic rate meaning you burn calories and convert energy after and more efficiently even when you're not working out. When your calorie count is in a deficit it will start converting fat deposits into energy, increasing your weight loss. The more calorie burn, the better your results after exercise.

Cardio sessions in weighted vests increases your EPOC, or exercise post oxygen consumption. This is how much oxygen and energy are burned after a workout, by increasing this you'll find your recovery time will lessen, and your body will keep burning fat after you've started to cool down.

Final Thoughts

A weighted vest can really transform the results you're seeing from your workout routine. There is plenty of data to corroborate the benefits for your physique, agility, and endurance. Although it may be tempting to go hard and fast (especially cardio activities), it's really important that you build to increase the weight slowly over time to avoid injuring your neck, shoulders, and back.

As the weighted vest distributes the weight evenly around your core, it will help you build all your torso muscles at once, while doing a variety of daily exercises from running to groceries! It will transform the ordinary into an intense workout, and help you build mass and lose fat faster than simply lifting weights.

A weighted vest is a brilliant next step for experienced fitness fans everywhere. It will help make you a better athlete with its capacity to increase agility and endurance. However, they can be pricey, and make you sore. Make sure you're really ready and remember building weight is a marathon and not a sprint.

Alex Nicholas
Alex Nicholas

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