Wearing a weight vest will automatically increase the intensity of a workout routine, especially those who rely on body weight for endurance. Typically, you would expect that wearing a weight vest will help you gain muscle mass (and possibly lose weight). While this is correct, there may also be negative implications if your body is not ready for this, and it’s not always obvious when you should & should not use one. This guide should help you to learn all about weight vest pros and cons, how weighted vests can be useful for training, and when they can be potentially dangerous.
Once you’ve learned about the pros and cons, have a look at our review of the best weight vests.
What Is a Weight Vest?
A weighted vest is generally used by somebody who has already been working out for a while and wants to push themselves even further for better results. These vests have weights in them, which, when worn, will add more weight to the body’s existing mass. Typically, a weight vest will resemble a life jacket. These vests come with many small pockets on the front and back. All these pockets can be filled with steel weights, sand, etc. These pockets and the objects that will be inserted inside them are specially designed to fit inside – this is mainly to ensure that the weight does not move or move when performing intense workouts such as lifting, running, and others.
What Is Weight Vest Training For?
Weighted training has been used to improve physical performance for a long time – since ancient times really. Carrying weights up the hills, soldiers going on long marches with heavy backpacks. There are many examples of training with an extra load to be better prepared for your fight or sport.
Weight vest training brings many advantages. The concept is simple – carrying extra mass located at your center of gravity allows you to distribute it evenly and generally over the whole body. This effectively feels like you are heavier, so your muscles & cardiovascular system have to do more work.
The idea is that once the weight vest comes off, everything you would typically do will make you feel much more comfortable – similar to how some athletes train at high altitudes, so when they return to sea level, they feel stronger than before.
Using a weight vest can also increase the calories you burn during a workout. If you are looking to reduce weight, carrying around 10-15% of your body mass in extra weight will increase your ability to burn calories. The amount will differ from individual to individual.
Who Should Use A Weight Vest?
Weight vests aren’t for everyone. It depends on your sport. This will determine if they might also be useful for you. When deciding whether to use one, look at the sport you compete in & see if it will be beneficial. For example, weight vests may be great for those who fight in combat sports, but not so helpful for weekend golfers or pool players.
The purpose of training with additional weight is to increase your strength. You want to compete in a sport that will not be significantly affected by the technique by adding an external load on it. The nature of the movements themselves determines whether the use of an external load is appropriate or not.
If your sport benefits from significant increases in strength production that don’t directly affect the technique, you might benefit from wearing a weight vest. If your sport requires a considerable amount of it to be done with precision, if adding weight simply takes away that technical accuracy, there may be no benefit, or even a negative impact.
Weight Vest Pros
Like any type of training equipment, weighted vests have both pros and cons. Here are some of the advantages:
An obvious advantage of using a weighted vest is that it can significantly increase the intensity of the training routine. Since you’re adding to your existing mass, it also ends up adding weight to your core. This will allow you to perform a full and dynamic range of movements that will make your workouts even more demanding.
Burn more calories
Carrying extra weight will instantly increase your calorie expenditure.
Most weight vests allow you to add or remove weight – this feature allows you to determine how much extra load you will be subjected to when you train. As you regularly use your weight vest, you will become stronger over time. To increase endurance, you can continue adding more weight to the pockets. This design allows you to continually improve the intensity of your workout so that your workout remains consistent as you progress. These extra weights can usually be bought from the manufacturer of your vest. Check out our review of one of the most popular adjustable weight vests here.
Easy To Transport
Even if you are not going to wear a weight vest in the gym, there is no denying how easy it is to carry around with you, compared to other exercise equipment. One of the main advantages of a weight vest is the fact that you can wear it anywhere, allowing you to do different forms of exercises while wearing it. The great thing is that you can easily fold it, put it in a suitcase, and take it with you when you travel. Thanks to this portability, you can train efficiently even when you are on vacation. It can make cardio exercises such as cycling, walking, and running more intense.
The addition of a weighted load increases the ability to produce force. As the weighted load is removed, the acceleration of the unweighted body or limb increases.
Weight Vest Cons
While a weighted vest has many benefits, it also has some negative aspects, which are essential for you to be aware of.
Can make existing injuries worse
Weighted training can work well if you only have an injury to your hand or arm. However, it can backfire if you have problems with your core muscles. These can be shoulder injuries or back pain. In such cases, a weighted vest can significantly increase the risk of the existing injury getting worse due to the additional load. If you still want to use it even with existing injuries, it is advisable to talk to a doctor or reduce the amount of weight in the vest.
Injuries due to poor adaptation
One aspect of weighted vests that some people don’t consider is the fit. While a brand can say that their vests are one size, suitable for everyone, you must use one that perfectly suits you. If you end up using a larger vest, it can be potentially dangerous. This is because the free mass will eventually break the momentum as you exercise. In general, weighted vests are made of stretchable material, or have adjustable straps that can be modified to adapt appropriately to the body. Make sure the vest fits you correctly, and is snug against your body.
Not Recommended For Everyone
Weighted vests are usually recommended for people who already train and want more from their workouts. Weighted vests can be quite stressful on the heart and cardiovascular system, which is why they work in the first place. Even if you exercise regularly, we recommend that you speak to a doctor before putting on a weighted vest to find out that you can handle the extra load.
When wearing a weight vest, it is very important to ensure it cannot move during exercise, as this can put pressure on your spine. Also, be aware that your body is calibrated as it is, so every time you use a weighted vest, you will change the mechanics, even if slightly. This can lead to poor form and increase the risk of injury. Not only that, excessively heavy vests can alter your neuromuscular fire patterns. Your brain is used to your unique skeleton & muscle make-up, and your unique weight distribution. Getting used to a weighted vest can confuse when not wearing it: the process can create neuromuscular confusion, so your brain has to recalibrate itself.
Increased Joint Stress
Having an external load added to will increase stress throughout the body. If you aren’t used to the increased load, it could cause some future problems.
If you go wrong or move in a certain way, you increase the risk of potential injury due to the additional load.
Those who have breathing or heart problems should avoid the external load of weighted training.
Learning about weight vest pros and cons can help you avoid unnecessary injuries. Always remember that weight vests are a training tool and can be as dangerous as any other piece of gym equipment. Use with caution.