How To Use a Weighted Vest Effectively
If you work out at the gym, you may have seen people working out while wearing something that looks like body armor over their torsos. This is a weighted vest, and while it is not worn for protection, it is loaded with heavy materials. The rationale behind it is to improve the effectiveness of your workout by adding resistance.
There is some skepticism about how helpful weighted vests really are to your workout. Some people regard them as a waste of money, a meaningless accessory that people use as a prop in an ostentatious production of how fitness-conscious they are. While some people may use them this way, there is some evidence that they can be helpful for achieving fitness goals under the right circumstances. However, you have to use them correctly to get the most benefit.
What Does a Weighted Vest Do?
When you wear a weighted vest, you add more resistance. More resistance requires your muscles to work harder, burning more calories and increasing strength with time. Adding resistance to an existing workout regimen can help to make it more efficient because you can get better and faster results from the things you are already doing.
Theoretically, you could wear weights anywhere on your body to increase resistance. It is also common to wear body weights on the wrists and ankles while working out. However, there is some evidence to suggest that there is a particular benefit to wearing the weights over your torso. The resistance applies directly to the intercostal muscles and the diaphragm that are required for respiration. As a result, your body works harder to breathe, increasing your heart rate and improving the cardiovascular benefits of your workout. Your upper body is also better equipped to handle more weight than your lower body because of the displacement across the chest, meaning that you can use more weight than you would be able to otherwise.
How Do You Get the Most out of a Weighted Vest?
While a weighted vest can help you improve strength and endurance, it offers more benefits for some workouts than others. If you are performing bench presses, biceps curls, or other isolation exercises of the upper body, there is little that the vest can contribute because you are not doing cardio or working the muscles to which it adds resistance. On the other hand, using a vest can be beneficial when you are working your core or doing plyometrics. Even walking with one can give you a more intense workout.
When choosing a vest, opt to start out with one on the lightweight side. It does not take much to increase resistance, and if you start with a vest that is too heavy, you could injure yourself. As you grow stronger, you can add more weight to the vest for more resistance.
Underlying medical conditions can make training with a weighted vest inappropriate or even dangerous. Before purchasing a vest, be sure to check with a doctor first to make sure the potential risks of using it do not outweigh the benefits.