Weighted Vest Overview
If you are wondering how good are weighted vests, and whether they are actually worth it, then you are in the right place. Below, you will find out firstly a brief introduction as to what a weighted vest is and how it works, and then I will go on to show and discuss some of the potential gains and benefits that a weighted vest can provide you, as well as some of their drawbacks you need to be aware of.
What are Weighted Vests?
Weighted vests are simply that, a vest with distributed weights. The idea is to create an added resistance to the user when carrying out various exercises (from push-ups to running drills), which causes body muscles to work harder due to more force being required to initiate the movements -- referred to commonly as resistance training (aka gravity training). The main aspects that a weighted vest can present as opposed to that of free weights, is the simple fact it allows the user to be hands-free and can apply greater weights due to the larger area distribution on the torso.
The Advantages of Weighted Vests
Explosive Power - weighted vests are often used by athletes who are in need of speed and agility. As the weight vests creates an 'overload' effect, when running or sprinting it causes the lower body and leg muscles to require more effort, leading ultimately to increased strength and effectiveness. Hence, the user should experience both increased acceleration as well as speed.
Endurance - several studies have indicated towards an increased endurance, such as livestrong.com citing a study by H.Rusko & C.C Bosco where they found from the athletes who wore the weighted vests whilst training demonstrated an increased oxygen uptake, allowing them to last longer . As well as a study from the European Journal of Applied Physiology found athletes who used the weighted vests experienced improved gains in their VO2 max as well as their lactate threshold.
Burns Calories - by simply adding a weighted vest whilst exercising or playing your favourite sport, you are simply asking your body to put in more effort (provided you play or exercise to the same standard as you would without it), which in turn amplifies the calorie burning results. Particularly useful, for when you are coming down to your last few pounds and hit the plateau, where you have both lost weight and have becoming increasingly fit. By having the weighted vest you are, in a sense, tricking your body into thinking it is heavier than it is and therefore burning more calories than otherwise.
Build Muscle - if you are looking to carry out exercises such as pull ups, press ups etc. then a weighted vest is a great addition in order for you to get some further muscle gains. They can also be used in addition to free weight workouts with lunging exercises with dumbbells for further added resistance, however are advised not be a replacement for free weights in that particular circumstance.
(If you have any further advantages and benefits of weighted vests then I encourage you to share them in the comments box below.)
Are There any Issues with Weighted Vests?
If you invest in a quality weighted vest that is right for you (i.e not too heavy, imbalance of weights), and retain good posture you aren't going to undergo any major issues with weighted vests. Most injuries that are caused as a result of weighted vests and any general weighted clothing are as a result of imbalance of weights. If the load is unevenly balanced, this causes an area of muscles to become under added stress, which can cause your body to be subject to a unnatural position and therefore be more likely to result in injury.
Buying a Quality Weighted Vest
This is why it is important when it comes to buying a weighted vest that it is worth paying for the more expensive versions, as you will want to minimize any risk of potential injury. The more modern weight vests are designed to be practical, safe and ergonomic. Often being designed with a cool wicking fabric, allowing for full mobility as well as for sporting clothing to be piled over the top.
With weighted vests, there are obviously a range of designs, as well as a range different weights. So what weight should you buy? You have to consider primarily what will you be doing with it. If you are going to be mainly aiming to build muscle and conducting slower movements you are likely going to be wanting to invest in a higher weighted vest (such as the TKO on the right). Whereas if you are aiming to undergo long distance running and jogging, then a lighter weighted vest with a more comfortable design will be perhaps be a better fit for you.
Summary: How Good Are Weighted Vests?
What makes weighted vests such a great fitness device, is the simple fact that they are so versatile, they can literally be used by anyone (right from the beginner at a lighter-weighted vest to that of an advanced fitness expert) to achieve a whole range of positive benefits (some of which have been discussed above e.g. explosive power) when used in the right and appropriate way.