Weighted Vests: Power Walking

Weighted Vest is clothing that adds weight to various parts of the body, usually as part of resistance training. The effect is achieved through attaching weighted pieces to the body (or to other garments) which leave the hands free to grasp objects. Unlike with held weights or machines, weighted clothing can leave users more able to do a variety of movements and manual labour. In some cases certain weighted clothing can be worn under normal clothing, to disguise its use to allow exercise in casual environments.

The use of weighted clothing is a form of resistance training, generally a kind of weight training. In addition to the greater effect of gravity on the person, it also adds resistance during ballistic movements, due to more force needed to overcome the inertia of heavier masses, as well as a greater momentum that needs deceleration at the end of the movement to avoid injury. The method may increase muscle mass or lose weight; however, there have been concerns about the safety of some uses of weights, such as wrist and ankle weights.

It is normally done in the form of small weights, attached to increase endurance when performed in long repetitive events, such as running, swimming, punching, kicking or jumping. Heavier weighted clothing can also be used for slow, controlled movements, and as a way to add resistance to body-weight exercises.

The purpose of using a weight vest is to add extra weight for body-weight exercises and to create an overload effect for walking, distance running or speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) drills. Research demonstrates that using an overload during sprinting or speed drills requires lower-body muscles to generate more force against the ground which could lead to gains in strength and power and ultimately faster acceleration during running. Weight vests are used by athletes to increase strength and efficiency during speed, power and agility drills; producing a unique training effect that is unavailable with traditional free weight training equipment. They can also be used by casual walkers or runners.

Weight vests are becoming a very popular form of adding weight around the entire core to, for the most part, simulate the fat storage areas of the human body. It is very useful for adding weight to limb-centric movements, and for handling great weights. Due to the large area available, it can also handle more weight. If well-affixed, it is the safest most natural means of mimicking added body mass without unbalancing the body’s muscles. They can be used to add resistance to almost any whole-body movement. A study has shown that using a weighted vest can increase the metabolic costs, relative exercise intensity, and loading of the skeletal system during walking.

One problem with some weighted vests is that due to tightness in the shoulder girdle, in movements like pull-ups or high range of motion pushups, the vest can be shearing, either damaging the person or in some cases, the vest itself being slowly torn away. This can also be seen as an advantage, however, in those who wish to limit their range of motion due to lack of strength or flexibility, to avoid injury. The limitations of front and back bending of the core is for example, contrasted by ergonomic construction to encourage good posture in modern weighted vests such as the x-vest, hyper vest or game-breakers pro suit.

Another problem with some weighted vests is the constriction of breathing and overheating due to the use of heavy, non-breathing materials such as nylon and neoprene. The latest developments in weighted vest products offer comfortable weight vests with cool wicking fabric that allow full range and direction of movement, chest expansion for breathing, open sides connected with lacing, and low profile design allowing a vest to be worn under clothing or football pads, unlike traditional vests made of nylon or neoprene.

Sensory integration therapy, a popular therapy for children with autism and other developmental disabilities, often employs weighted vests, weighted belts and weighted blankets, under the theory that behavioral problems such as inattentiveness and stereotypy are due to over- or under-sensitivity to sensory input, and that weighted belts and weighted blankets provide proprioceptive feedback that has a calming effect. Only a limited amount of scientific research is available on this treatment, but it suggests no significant improvement with weighted vest.

Of all of the weights suggested for walkers, a weighted vest is probably the least likely to cause injury. The extra weight is carried where the body naturally adds on extra weight — the torso, at the center of mass. You don’t have the risk of repetitive motion injury and unnatural stress on the feet, arms or ankles you do with ankle weights or hand weights. If you have any problems with your knees, ankles, feet, hips, it is better to weigh less when you walk, as each pound adds even more stress to those joints. If you have no aches or pains, I don’t recommend against using a weighted vest, but I think there are better (or more useful) ways of achieving the same goals.

Power Walking with Weighted Vest burn more calories

The more you weigh, the more calories you burn per mile. This is true, but the difference is small for any amount of weight you could comfortably add to your body. I’d rather not mess with adding weight to my body, I’d prefer to walk an extra minute to achieve the same effect. I usually wear a hydration backpack, carrying a couple of pounds of water and a couple of pounds of backpack, cell phone, wallet, etc. I don’t do this to burn more calories, I carry it to have water and essentials with me on a walk of more than 30 minutes. However, a backpack has disadvantages — the straps may be uncomfortable, and all of the weight is on your back unless you use the chest strap and belly strap to evenly distribute the weight to your hips rather than your shoulders.

A weighted vest is used in many sports for speed training. If you train with the vest, then compete without it, you will go faster. If you have already trained fully for speed and distance and achieved the best results you can, then this may be a way to get further increases in speed. But if you still have basic training to do for speed and distance, concentrate on that without adding weight.

Benefits of the Women’s Weighted Vest

  • The weights can be inserted in small pockets located all over the vest allowing you to gradually build up the overall weight of the vest.
  • The pockets are evenly distributed around the vest from the shoulders to the waist.
  • The weights are soft and flexible making the vest comfortable to wear.
  • The vest fits high on the sides making movement very comfortable.
  • Velcro tabs are located on the front of the vest making fitting and adjustments easy.
  • The vest is slim and easily fits underneath a jacket or other cover.

The concept of using a weight vest for exercise is getting to be more popular. This has left more people wondering whether or not using a weight vest is actually a good idea to lose weight. The purpose of wearing a weight vest is to give you a more intense workout, by adding more weight to your body. They are basically heavy vests that you wear over your torso and which provide you with various amounts of resistance. Two of the most popular weights used for vests are the 20- and 50-pound versions, though other weight limits also exist.

Resistance Training

The primary use of a weight vest is for resistance training, though losing weight is another effect. Resistance training is meant to build muscle. Mass, strength and power increases are usually seen as a consequence of resistance training. The benefits with a vest are increased because of the extra weight. A study from a leading university tracked two groups of people: one that was resistance training with a weight vest and another that was doing only traditional resistance training. In six weeks, both groups were tested to determine progress. The group that used weight vests in addition to their resistance training performed better. That group’s results in the vertical jump, broad jump and 40-yard dash were meaningfully better than the group not using weight vests.

Weight Loss

The weight loss factor of weight vests occurs through the burning of calories. This is especially seen when cardio workouts are performed with the weight vest on. Running is already hard enough on its own, so putting on an extra-heavy weight vest will only enhance the effects of this cardio workout. The theory behind the weight vest helping you to lose weight is that it intensifies the aerobic workout. With the increased intensity of the workout comes a proportional increase in the amount of calories that you are burning while wearing the weight vest. If the desired effect of running with a weight vest is to enhance the amount of calories you burn, then that increase will occur.

A weight vest does increase the rate at which you lose weight, because it enhances the calorie-burning effects of cardio exercises like running. Though the primary use of a weight vest is for resistance training, aerobic exercises with a weight vest are also possible. Aerobic exercises with a weight vest on increases the number of calories that you burn during such a workout. Using a weight vest to lose weight is only a good idea if it is done sparingly. A potenial risk with using the weight vest is overtraining. You could end up injuring yourself because you are getting too dependent on the weight vest as an exercise supplement.

A six-week study of 36 postmenopausal women, published this year in the journal Rheumatology International, found walking on a treadmill three times a week wearing a weighted vest improved balance, compared with a control group who walked without a vest.

In clinical studies, benefits have been found with vests containing weights equal to 4% to 10% of body weight. If a person is significantly overweight, a weight vest probably isn’t necessary because the excess pounds already give bones a workout, doctors say.

A four-year study of 167 postmenopausal women found bone density was improved by an exercise program that included weight training and stair climbing with a weighted vest. But since the activities were studied together, we can’t tell “that the weighted vest made the difference,” says Tim Lohman, co-author of the study, published in 2005. Weightlifting is one of the best activities for osteoporosis, says Dr. Lohman, professor emeritus, University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. It’s most important people chose an activity they’ll stick with since muscle builds slowly over years, he adds.

The vest should fit snugly. If it is too loose, it could throw a person’s balance off and cause injuries, says Karen Kemmis, a physical therapist at State University of New York Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. Petite women may find a better fit with a women’s model rather than a unisex one, she adds. Wearing a weight vest may cause a flare-up of pre-existing back or knee injuries, physical therapists say. Build up the weight gradually—and if you feel soreness in your joints, stop using it for a few days, Dr. Kemmis says.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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