If you’ve been perusing the interwebs in search of new ways to punish your body and get a great workout, then something you may have come across is the weighted vest. It certainly looks like a punishing contraption – more like something you would get in an insane asylum than in a gym – but is it any good? Here we’ll look at how use them and whether they’re worth their sometimes steep price tag.
What Is a Weighted Vest For?
The main idea of using a weighted vest is that you have extra weight distributed evenly around your body and that this then makes your various exercises more difficult. The vest straps tightly to your body and normally comes with pockets allowing you to insert more or fewer weights and carry them around with you, and that in turn means that you have a tougher time fighting against gravity and you increase the resistance working against you while you work out.
This is particularly useful for a number of specific bodyweight exercises. For instance doing pull ups becomes more difficult of course as here the main source of resistance is your body weight and now you have the weights in the vest added to that so you are lifting more. Because you can quickly swap the smaller weights in and out as well, this then means that you can effectively do ‘drop sets’ making the repetitions easier as you go on. Other great exercises are tricep dips, of course normal dips (this is much better than having a belt with 20kg hanging from it) and press ups.
That said there are also certainly some limitations to the weighted vest. For one it really will only help you that much with bodyweight exercises – you aren’t going to get any benefit from wearing a weighted vest during the bench press for instance or while you use the lat pull down, and so if you aren’t a bodyweight buff it won’t get that much use in your regular routine.
You might be thinking ‘I’ll just wear it all the time so that every move becomes more difficult and I build more muscle as a result’ (I did), but then this is missing the fact that it will increase the impact on your joints when you are rubbing, be incredibly hot, and move around and be uncomfortable. It’s not practical to wear this thing all the time, and it’s not terribly good for your back and knees.
And actually this can even be a bit of a problem just during press ups or pull ups. It’s better than a weighted back pack, but considering how expensive they are and how messy they look around the house you need to ask yourself whether it’s better enough to warrant a purchase.
In short if you love working out, love bodyweight training, and like challenging yourself in new and exciting ways then it’s worth a go if you have some spare cash working around. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you don’t really need one.