Weight vests are getting increasingly popular as we begin working out more from home, especially as a new year and coronavirus strains are upon us. If your handheld weights aren't pushing your muscles to their limits, you want an extra challenge, or you want to maximize your gains at home without commuting to a gym, weight vests are a popular and effective solution.
You may see countless reviewers, fitness influencers, or online coaches preach the advantages of weighted vest workouts, but are they true? Does walking with a weighted vest benefit you? This article will break down the positives of weighted vest workouts and potentially justify their hype.
Are weighted vests safe?
Before we discuss the advantages of tactical weight and training vests, you must remember that they are contingent on you using the weighted vest properly. Firstly, ensure you use a comfortable, adjustable (ideally a vest with sand weights) and secure training vest.
Next, you will not feel the effects of weight harnesses and vests unless you fill them with an appropriate weight. Additionally, functional strength training exercises will trump maxing out your weights and sets. The goal of wearing a weighted vest is to gradually condition your body to lift, maneuver, and carry more weight, rather than overloading it for short bursts of exercise.
With that said, weight vests are perfectly safe so long as you don't add too much weight too quickly, which can overload your back, core, chest, and shoulders and potentially lead to injury. We recommend reading through our article "Best weighted vest workouts" to help you recognize how much weight to add to your exercises, which exercises you can add more weight to, and how to ensure you are not overexerting yourself.
What are the benefits of a weighted vest?
1. Build strength
Everyone gets excited at the thought of weighted vests amplifying your gains. Even though it may sound a little overhyped, you will almost always increase your strength and muscle mass so long as you pace your weight progression as you would with any workout.
A couple of researchers conducted a study in 2012 that analyzed the effect weighted vests had on young men as they worked out. This research breaks down their increase in muscle mass, endurance, and overall strength through empirical numbers. We highly recommend reading through it if you're curious about the science behind gains.
Another fascinating read is this study, which observed a weighted vest's ability to preserve muscle mass in older adults.
2. Improve Endurance and Running Performance
Everyone from long-distance runners, sprinters, and power walkers advocates for training with a weighted running vest, walk weights, or weighted bodysuits. If you are running, jogging, or walking, acclimating your body to carry added weight significantly improves your stamina and endurance.
Countless studies examine this topic because many Olympic athletes train with weighted vests religiously. If there weren't already enough reasons to get a weighted vest for running performance, we have more.
Suppose you are interested in sprints, dashes, or non-cross-country athletics. In that case, studies like this one show that participants training with heavier weight (greater than 5-8% of their body weight in the vest) experience more remarkable performance after training.
Additionally, for the long-distance track stars, conditioning your body to carry nominal intervals of weight (starting at 5% of your body weight) in a tactical vest results in easier breathing, better blood-oxygen levels, and of course, faster times.
3. Increase Cardio Intensity
For Crossfit proponents, wearing a weighted vest drastically improves your endurance, calorie burn, and fat loss. You can probably piece together why that is.
The more weight you train your body to carry while movement training, the more calories you burn. As a result, you gain better endurance, and fat loss becomes more efficient.
Common research studies indicate that nominal weight vest capacities (~10% of your bodyweight) lead to over 13% more calories burned as your exercise. That seems like a fair trade in our eyes.
We recommend seeking out specialty weight loss vests if you are interested in losing a lot of weight and CrossFit weighted vests if you want a well-rounded all-purpose vest. We can help you decide which popular vests might be best for you in our article, "Best weighted vests."
4. Strengthen Bones
As your weighted vest workouts stress your muscles, your joints and bones also work. Weight-bearing activities like focused strength training reduce your risk of osteoporosis due to your bone tissue adapting to the increased weight.
Workouts like dead-lifting, squatting, and power training improve bones like your pelvis, shoulders, knees, elbows, and spine. Check this research out to learn more!
There are countless reasons to get a weighted vest. However, of all the objective causes we covered above, the most crucial reason is taking care of yourself and your body.
Exercise is the key to maintaining health throughout your life, and we can't expect to live long, perform seamlessly, or even feel energized as we age if we don't support our bodies. Invest in a weight vest, and your muscles, joints, and bones will thank you for it.
And if you don't already have one, shop our selection of weighted vests. See you out there!