January 26, 2016

Today's exercise world offers an exceptional variety to trainees when it comes to equipment. Weight vests are one of the more versatile pieces of equipment that can be used for multiple purposes and benefits to aid in your pursuit of health and fitness.

Weight vests are exactly as they sound: vests with varying loads built right in. These vests are worn over the torso and provide varying amounts of resistance. Resistance training performed on its own is a great for strength, mass and also power builder for athletes. However, when resistance training is combined with use of a weight vest, the potential for performance is enhanced. Benefits from wearing weight vests are seen in both strength training and anaerobic activities. Carrying extra weight during exercise requires added strength and oxygen consumption, which in turn makes the body adapt by increasing strength and anaerobic capacity.

The cardiovascular system has to work harder as a result of the added resistance, which will in turn strengthen an individual’s VO2 Max (a measure of the body’s ability to consume oxygen) and their lactate threshold (the exercise intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood).

As well as making you stronger and enhancing workload capacity, wearing a weighted vest when doing sprint work or walking will increase the load transmitted through your bones/joints. The extra loading can result in increased bone mass by stimulating osteoblasts cells to lay down new bone material in response to the new demands being placed on you. So bones become stronger and denser to handle the extra weight.

Another factor to take into account for the use of a Vest is variation, which is a part of a successful exercise program. Weight vests provide a great tool for variation for the simplest exercises such as push ups, Bodyweight squats, pull ups, burpees, etc...This is also great for travel or when you are at home and need to get a quick workout in.


Considerations before implementing a weight vest

Although there are many benefits of weight vests they should be gradually built into your exercise plan. As with any other type of exercise, overtraining is possible.

You also have to watch the amount of weight you initially use in the vest, because to much load can have a negative effect. For example if the vest is too heavy when running, you may run using a different technique like a shorter stride pattern, which alters your technique, Then when you return to running without a vest it may mean that you may not be able to run better. Also wearing a vest that is too heavy increases the impact and forces that are taken by your joints, which can lead to injury. So make sure you start with a light load to minimize the risk of injury, and gradually work your way up from there whether it’s with running , push ups, burpees, etc.. It’s always about progressive overload over time.