Benefits of Weighted Vests – All You Need to Know

Exercising helps maintain mental and physical health in human beings. The CDC recommends two types of daily physical activitiesaerobic and muscle-strengthening– for all adults. The CDC recommends logging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities like walking or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activities like running, in order to maintain good health. In addition, it also recommends at least 2 days of major muscle workouts every week[1].

Fit man wearing a weighted vest on the gym

If you can do more than the recommended minimum levels of physical exercise, it will have a profound impact on your physical health. It is well known that a sedentary lifestyle is a major cause of many ailments of the cardiovascular and skeletal systems[2].

One way of adding intensity to your workouts is by using weighted vests. Weighted vests are hands-free pieces of workout equipment worn over the upper body. They come with pockets to carry small & removable weights.

These vests can be used during workouts to enhance their effect on bone density. It has been observed that wearing weights equivalent to 4-10% of body weight while exercising helps stabilize bone density in the body[3].

They can be used while performing exercises like walking, running, or jumping. The presence of external weights puts increasing pressure on the muscular & skeletal systems, without the discomfort of holding or carrying dumbbells.  This makes them very convenient and effective.

Weighted vest workout routines have the power to take your exercises to very effective heights. Weighted vest exercises improve the overall strength of the body by means of increased intensity of the workout, and by converting it into resistance training.

Benefits of Weighted Vests

There are several benefits of working out with weighted vests.

Improved Strength & Endurance

The use of weighted vests makes the body heavier. This added mass will make muscles work harder, consume more oxygen, and burn calories faster. Studies of weighted vest training programs have shown that men and women burned 10-15% more calories if they performed their regular exercises while wearing weighted vests.

For example, doing 50 push-ups a day is a great workout. But if the same 50 were performed while wearing a weighted vest, the benefits would be multi-fold.

Variation

Another advantage of using weighted vests is that it adds variation to your workout. Performing the same set of exercises repeatedly results in the body adapting to them and gaining a lesser incremental benefit over time. 

Man training outdoor with weighted vest

A means of overcoming this adaptation is by using a weighted vest as a tool for variation. Merely adding weighted vests to your workout routine throws your body out of its comfort zone and forces it to exert more.

Benefits on the Cardiovascular System

Weighted vests have a huge benefit on the cardiovascular system. Adding weights strengthens the lungs and improves the body’s oxygen consumption (VO2 Max). Higher the VO2 Max, the better is your cardio-respiratory system.

Studies have also found that using weighted vests improves the body’s lactate threshold, which is the point at which lactate accumulates in your muscles and prevents them from contracting. Having a higher lactate threshold can ensure that you are able to work out better and longer.

 

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Benefits on the Muscles & Bones

Weighted vest cardio workouts like cycling or walking will improve the overall health of your skeletal system, while push-ups or planks will target the arms, abs and back. Performing weight-bearing exercises while wearing a weighted vest can increase bone density and make the skeletal system stronger.

Performing squats with a weighted vest will strengthen hips, knees, and ankles. Weighted vest leg workouts can include jumping, lunges, or step-ups. As with the skeletal system, a weighted vest impacts muscles positively. Routinely employing a weighted vest tends to enhance muscle size and strength.

Losing Weight

Many people work out to keep their body weight in check. A very good way to lose weight is to add a weighted vest to any exercise. Since pretty much any exercise requires energy, weighted vests act as resistance, thereby enhancing the energy burned during a workout. Regular exercise with weighted vests will ensure more fat is burnt to produce the energy required for the workout.

Convenience

Another big advantage of using weighted vests is the convenience. Imagine the discomfort of performing core and lower body exercises while holding dumbbells. Weighted vests add the same load to your body while leaving your hands free.

Man doing gym exercise while wearing weighted vest

While performing upper body workouts, vests can supplement the weights held in the hands.

Management of Osteoporosis

A proven benefit of using a weighted vest is the management of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a medical condition that causes the weakening of the skeletal system due to the reduction in levels of calcium. People afflicted with osteoporosis can end up breaking their bones even with mild stresses or falls.

Our bones are built in such a way that any fracture heals with time. However, for people with osteoporosis, the healing of bones doesn’t keep up with the frequency of breakage.

There are several risk factors associated with osteoporosis, like sex, age, dietary habits, family history, and body frame size. Usually, the older you get, the more susceptible you are to the disease. 50% of women and 25% of men over the age of 50 are susceptible to fractures due to osteoporosis[4].

By using a weighted vest for osteoporosis, bones can be made stronger and their density increased, thereby managing or reversing the progression of the disease.

 

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A Word of Caution

Weighted vests have proved to improve the effectiveness of your workouts and have been found to be beneficial to specific groups of people.  However, certain precautions should be taken while running with weighted vests, though the activity is replete with benefits.

While it is common to experience some heavy breathing, it is important to stop working out with a weighted vest if you experience any pain or discomfort. Ignoring these warning signs may cause damage to the body.

While we make every effort to provide updated and correct information, the advice given in this article and website should not be construed as “medical advice”. Please consult with your physician or medical practitioner before using any weighted vest. Everyone may have his or her unique issues and your medical practitioner is the best person to advise you on the use of a weighted vest.

 

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22073428
[3] https://americanbonehealth.org/exercise/weighted-vests-for-bone-health/
[4] https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324139404579017353182585052