Can one simple piece of exercise equipment drastically improve your cardio stamina, muscular endurance, explosiveness, and even your bone density? Can it re-invigorate old workouts, cut down your time in the gym, and give you an edge against your sports competition? The answer is an emphatic yes! A weight vest, and weight vest training could be your ticket to faster and better fitness results.
Perhaps you’ve seen an athlete jogging around the block with a weight vest strapped around his/her torso, or someone at the gym wearing a weight vest while performing squats and pushups. Weight vests are growing in popularity and can help athletes at almost any level improve their general fitness. It can also be a crucial tool to help advanced athletes and competitive weekend warriors break through fitness plateaus and continue seeing gains. As you put the final touches on your workout schedule for the new year, you might want to consider adding weight vest training into the mix.
What Is a Weight Vest?
Weight vest training is still a relatively new strategy in the fitness world. As its name implies, a weight vest is a weighted mantle that is placed over the torso. Most weight vests are adjustable, using straps and buckles to fit snugly around your torso.
Many weight vests also allow for the weight of the vest to be adjusted. In most cases, athletes can add or remove small plates from pockets within the vest to increase or decrease the weight. These pockets help to distribute the weight of the vest evenly, so that all the muscles of the body endure the added burden.
Weight vest tip: Don’t strap your weight vest too snugly. Give yourself a little room. The vest will move a little as you jog or work out, but most athletes find that this movement doesn’t hamper their performance.
The Benefits of Weight Vest Training
Wearing a weight vest can seem intimidating, and it’s definitely not right for every type of athlete or every type of workout (more on that at the end of this article). However, incorporating weight vest training into your fitness routine can offer some truly tantalizing results and other great benefits.
Here are just six reasons why weight vest training could be that special ingredient that your current workout plan has been missing.
1. Improves Muscular and Cardio Endurance
The beauty of wearing a weight vest is that it forces your cardiovascular system and your muscles to work just a little harder for every step forward or every rep that you complete. Weight vest training will amp up the challenge of your workout, forcing your body to adapt to the added strain. Over time, your cardiovascular system will become more efficient at moving your body, while your muscular endurance also improves. In other words, you’ll become more fit working out with a weight vest than if you did the same workouts without the added weight.
A study of football players at Texas Tech University hits this point home. Researchers studied two groups of football players as they trained. One group used traditional resistance training and plyometrics to get ready for football season. The second group trained with these two methods and added in weight vest training. After six weeks, researchers found that both groups improved on a variety of fitness tests. The group that incorporated weight vests into their training improved significantly more!
2. Speeds Up Results for People of All Fitness Levels
The Texas Tech University study also shows that you can see results more quickly when you throw on a weight vest for a few workouts each week. That is why the football players in the study showed such significant results after only six weeks of training with weight vests compared to the control group.
If you want to burn more fat, build more muscle, and see results more quickly then embrace weight vest training.
3. Re-Invigorates Your Workouts
You’ve been training for some time, and now your workouts seem a little too easy. While you used to struggle to perform three sets of ten push-ups, now you can do those in your sleep. This is actually good news! It means your body is doing what it was designed to do – adapting to the stress you put on it. Unfortunately, if you stick with the exact same fitness routine, your results will plateau.
A great way to banish the very thought of a fitness plateau and to make your old fitness routines newly challenging is to put on a weight vest. Chances are those push-ups won’t be so easy anymore with ten, 20, or even 30 pounds strapped to your body! Just a simple weight vest can make all your old routines feel completely new again. If things start to feel a little too easy again, just add more weight to your vest. This way, your workout will never cease to be a worthy challenge.
4. Improves Bone Density
Resistance training is one of the best ways to protect your long-term bone health (especially for post-menopausal women). When your bones are placed under pressure (such as when you do back squats with a barbell), they will respond by getting stronger and more dense. This is incredibly important as we age, and our bones naturally become more fragile. A weight vest acts as extra loading on the body, which can spur this same bone-strengthening process.
5. Improves Explosive Movements
Many competitive sports require raw power and explosiveness. Soccer players need to be able to race across a field to score that goal. Football players must sprint and tackle. Even runners may need to dig deep and race to the finish line to beat the competitor right behind them or to earn a new personal record.
Weight vest training is an excellent way to improve the body’s raw power and explosive potential. Particularly athletes who participate in team sports or who compete in individual competitions can increase their explosiveness by wearing a weight vest for track sprints, box jumps, broad jumps, and any variety of speed and agility drills.
After your body gets used to performing these movements while weighted down with a vest, you’ll notice how much more explosive you feel on game day.
6. Is Great for Travel
You can’t exactly fit your treadmill, barbell, or set of dumbbells in your check-in luggage when it’s time to go on vacation or take that business trip. If you want to stay fit on the road, how about tossing your weight vest in your suitcase? With a weight vest in tow you can turn any guest bedroom or hotel room into your personal gym. Find an empty corner, strap on your weight vest, and perform push-ups, air squats, lunges, burpees, planks, and more.
Weight vest tip: Weight vests aren’t just great for working out while on the road. They can also be an excellent way to work out at home, especially if you don’t have the space for larger equipment. All the movements listed above can be done in the amount of space taken up by a yoga mat.
Is Weight Vest Training Right for You?
Many exercisers assume that weight vests are only for advanced athletes who want to nudge their incredible fitness just a little higher. Weight vest training can be used by anyone who wants to speed up their results and add more challenge and variety into their fitness routine.
Certainly, if you are struggling to complete workouts using just your body weight, then you should probably hold off on adding a weight vest for those particular movements. However, that doesn’t mean a weight vest has no place in your routine.
What about strapping on a weight vest the next time you plan to take a walk around the neighborhood? Even adding a five-pound weight vest to your walk will make it just a little more challenging, which will help you burn more calories and see faster results overall.
Whether you are a beginning exerciser or a seasoned athlete, don’t underestimate the difficulty of a weight vest workout. A 10-pound weight vest may not seem very heavy when you first put it on, but after a few miles of running, you will feel it! Be conservative in your first weight vest workout. Keep the weight low and see how your body reacts. You’ll be surprised at how much more quickly you tire when you wear the vest. After a few workouts with the vest, you’ll have a good idea of what weight is appropriate for different workouts.
With these tips in mind, a weight vest can be a wonderful (and low-cost) way to increase the results of your workouts. At Marcy, we offer multiple weight vests that are comfortable, flexible, and versatile. Our weight vests and all of our fitness equipment are designed to help you achieve your fitness goals.