How do weighted vests help? The idea behind a weighted vest is very simple. They are designed to be heavy and to force you to carry more weight, making exercise that little bit tougher and making the body work harder.
But are weighted vests any good? Do they actually work? Let’s take a look at what the science says:
Weighted vest benefits
Research has shown that weighted vests may help with the following:
Endurance and strength training.
Even a few added pounds on the body can massively increase the intensity of your endurance or strength training. And a weighted vest has more than a few pounds (with a typical starting off weight being 1.5kg without any additional weight plates).
Working out with all this extra weight will increase the forces of resistance that your muscles will encounter — making them work harder and grow back stronger. Over time, you should notice a significant improvement in stamina, endurance and strength (source).
Read more: Are weighted vests good for building muscle?
Walking and running agility.
Studies have shown that wearing a weighted vest can significantly improve stamina and endurance in runners and walkers (source).
You can see great results simply by walking in a weighted vest, during a warm up period, or just by going on a gentle jog. In fact, light or shorter runs are the best, and you can slowly get used to the vest as you go on longer and longer runs.
Though please keep in mind that long-distance running in a vest is not recommended, as the strain can accumulate over the time and risk injury.
Read more: Are weighted vests good for running?
Read more: Are weighted vests good for walking?
A weighted vest will make your body work harder, burning more calories and fat in the process — while at the same time strengthening and building muscle (source).
Read more: Are weighted vests good for weight loss?
Increasing bone density.
Long-term exercise using weighted vests may increase bone density. This is not only great for improving our athletic performance, but also to prevent bone fractures in later life as we get older (source).
Read more: Are weighted vests good for osteoporosis?
Increasing anaerobic metabolism.
Research has shown that a weighted vest can increase your anaerobic metabolism if you walk briskly or run (source). An added bonus is that this may help your body build up a tolerance to lactic acid and other factors that may inhibit your endurance levels.
Improving posture, balance and agility.
Studies have shown that wearing a weighted vest can have a small positive effect on your posture (source). Probably due to the fact that the weights act as a counterbalance, reducing the pressure on weak back muscles (which is often the cause of bad posture).
So, with all that taken into account, do weighted vests work? The evidence very strongly suggests that they do.
What are weighted vests good for?
Weighted vests are good for the following types of exercises:
- Strength training
- HIIT (high-intensity interval training)
- LISS (Low-intensity steady-state training)
If you can safely carry out an exercise with the increased load of a weighted vest, then by all means go for it.
How effective are weighted vests?
We have found the sales of weighted vests rapidly increase, as a result of the popularity of functional training sports, such as CrossFit and HYROX. Weighted vests can be used for a variety of exercises to improve strength and power, and can implement a progressive overload regime for pull-ups, lunges, and box jumps.
Additionally, individuals that have implemented weighted vests during runs and walks have been said to experience amazing results in their cardiovascular fitness and endurance.
It is important to note when choosing a weighted vest, focused on the comfort and fit, in particular, whether the padding is easily removable. Furthermore, the ability to alter the weight of the vest is essential and will determine the way exercises are performed and the degree of progress that can be achieved.
Why are weighted vests becoming so popular?
A growing interest in fitness and strength training
The popularity of functional training exercises and sports, such as CrossFit and HYROX, which benefit from the use of weighted vests in competition and training, have grown the demand for this innovative product.
Furthermore, as more people become interested in improving their fitness and strength, they are looking for new ways to challenge themselves. Weighted vests can provide an extra level of resistance to bodyweight exercises, making them more challenging and effective.
Increase in home workouts:
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have shifted to working out at home instead of going to the gym. Weighted vests are a popular piece of equipment for home workouts, as they are compact and versatile, allowing people to add resistance to their workouts without taking up too much space.
What to look out for in a weighted vest?
Fit and comfort
When choosing a weighted vest you should ensure that it fits snugly but comfortably around your torso. A vest should not be too loose or too tight and should not restrict range of motion. Good quality weighted vests often have padded shoulder straps to help distribute the weight evenly and reduce discomfort when performing exercises.
One of the key components to look for in a vest is if the weight of the vest can be adjusted. This can be especially helpful if you plan to use the vest for a variety of exercises or if you need to adjust the weight over time.
Weighted vests are an easy way to add some variety to your workout routine.
Are weighted vests safe?
Yes, they are generally safe. But if you have a condition, or overuse them, they can lead to injury. Do not use one — or speak to a health advisor first — if you have any of the following:
- Back or neck problems, such as spinal stenosis or a disc degeneration issue.
Or if you develop or have:
- Excessive soreness.
Chronic strain or pain.
If you are physically able to wear one alright (and do not have a condition), break yourself into them slowly. Take it nice and steady and get used to them over time.
Who can use weighted vests?
Anyone can use a weights vest, and wearing one simply to do mundane everyday activities can benefit the body — including going for a short walk. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to enjoy the benefits of a weighted vest.
Anything beyond 11% of your body weight is considered a ‘high load’ (source). You shouldn’t exceed that percentage. Most studies seem to think that anywhere in the 4-10% range is adequate to see the health and performance benefits.
It’s not recommended. Too much excess weight all day is likely to cause injury. If you are planning to wear one for extended periods, then the lighter the weight the better.
Check out our weighted vests and weight plates here at Exersci.
So, given the evidence, what do you think? Are weighted vests worth it? We sell our very own one-size-fits-all tactical weighted vests in a variety of colours and with additional weight plates so that you can customise the load.
Got a question about weighted vests or can’t find what you’re looking for? Then please contact us today — we’ll be happy to help.