Weighted training is becoming more and more popular.
It is a great way to boost the benefits from your regular workout, without having to change your routine at all.
But it is not without risks.
We’ll take a look at all the weight vest pros and cons and help you figure out whether using a weighted vest is right for you.
For most people, the advantages easily outweigh the disadvantages (assuming you use them correctly, of course), but that is not the case for everyone.
Let’s dive right in.
Table of Contents
- 1 Benefits Of Weighted Vests
- 2 Drawbacks Of Weight Vests
- 3 Weighted Vest: Good Or Bad?
- 4 Weight Vest Pros And Cons: Final Thoughts
Benefits Of Weighted Vests
Weighted workout vests are designed to increase the efficiency of any workout. The increase in weight and resistance ramps up the results. Here are all the ways a weight vest can help you out in the long-term.
Increased Workout Intensity
We’ve all been there. You’ve been enjoying solid results from your workout routine and then you suddenly hit a plateau, The gains stop.
What can you do?
The best way to get over a plateau is to increase the intensity of your workout. That means you either need to change your routine completely, or find a way to make the same routine more intense.
That is where the weighted vest comes in. It increases the intensity of everything you do while wearing it.
This added intensity will help you get past that plateau. It also makes your workouts feel like actual work again.
Your current routine can start to feel stale, but the added intensity can turn up the heat. This added challenge might be exactly what you needed to keep your interest during the workout.
Better Strength Training
If you know you can lift those 20 pound dumbbells with no issue, but you’re not ready for the 40 pound set yet, that’s okay. Your go-to in-between can be adding a weighted vest to your workout plan and sticking with the same 20 pound dumbbells.
This adds resistance in other parts of your body and makes the overall workout more difficult. It will help train muscles that you may not be properly engaging in your current workout routine.
You can improve any form of resistance training with a weighted vest. Using them properly and keeping them nice and tight means that your body will treat the additional weight as its own. From there, you’ll be able to increase your resistance without having to solely rely on your arms to bear the extra weight.
Simple To Use
Weighted vests are one of the easiest ways to add to your workout routine. All you really need to do is buy a good weight vest and then spend spend the appropriate amount of time setting up your straps and making sure the fit is tight and secure,
But once it’s on, it’s on. You can carry out the rest of your workout plan without having to apply extra weights. The vest does the additional resistance for you. Simple, right? As long as you keep up your posture, it really is simple and safe to use.
With an adjustable weighted vest, you can take out individual weights as you see fit. These are usually just one pound to two pound weights and you add many of these to the pockets all around the vest.
This makes it easy to add or subtract weight as you see fit. You can scale your workouts depending on what you’re currently focusing on.
Maybe pull-ups have become harder and you want to reduce the weight a bit. You take a few weights out of the vest and bring the total weight down to 10 pounds.
But then when it comes time to lift those dumbbells, you want more eight in the vest. Simply add a few more and bring it up to 12 pounds, or 16, or 20, or whatever you feel is right for you and that particular exercise.
There’s something motivating about having the extra weight on your shoulders. It tells you that you’re going to have to overcome this obstacle just to get back to where you were, and it gives you something to work toward.
This isn’t necessarily a direct benefit of the vest itself. There are plenty of people who try workout vests like these and actually lose motivation because they think it’s too hard.
It’s all about perspective, But for the most part, someone who is enthusiastic enough to use a weighted vest in the first place will revel in the additional challenge that it poses.
Drawbacks Of Weight Vests
There are some possible negative health effects that can occur as a result of using a weighted vest. But it is important to note that you can avoid most of these issues if you are smart about using your weighted vest.
Spinal compression is probably the worst disadvantage of long-term weighted vest use. Good posture does go a long way to minimizing this, but it won’t eliminate it altogether.
Due to the additional weight on your shoulders and your upper torso, you’re effectively increasing your body mass, which puts more pressure on your spine.
Good posture really does help remedy much of this, because the muscles in your back can support the weight of the vest.
You can also combat spinal compression a good inversion therapy table. But it’s better not to put your spine under that level of compression in the first place.
Heightened Risk Of Injury
Even if you’re fit and in excellent health, the extra weight from your vest can increase your risk of injuries. Common injuries are torn muscles or slipped discs in your back.
Obviously, some injuries are more severe than others, but you run a slightly higher risk for all of them with the increased weight.
Your muscles have connective tissue that keeps them anchored to your bones. In fact, your muscles are what move your bones, since your bones don’t receive direct signals from the brain.
When a muscle is torn, it cannot properly pull on the bones. Your other muscles then work together to cover for the injured muscle, but that torn muscle still flexes and aches.
Your muscles are not designed to tear from the bone. When you wear a weighted vest, you’re applying an additional 30 to 80 pounds of force to your muscles (on average).
While this weight is evenly distributed, it can stress out your muscles enough that they can’t support the pressure.
And because they will still try to support the weight, the pressure can win and tear the muscle from the bone. You can avoid this problem by simply listening to your body when using a weighted vest. It will let you know when you are overdoing it.
Not Recommended For Athletes With Pre-Existing Conditions
If you have high blood pressure, tendonitis, or other pre-existing conditions, using a weighted vest may actually hurt you more than it can help you.
Worsening conditions such as high blood pressure can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke, Adding an extra 30 to 40 pounds of force on your body (from a 10 pound weighted vest) can be enough to trigger something like that.
Weighted Vest: Good Or Bad?
If you use weighted vests properly, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and make them worthwhile to use. The reason that we put so many cautionary tales and warnings about weighted vests on this site is that many people use them incorrectly.
The common mindset is “wearing this vest means everything will be harder, and I’ll be stronger when I take it off.”
But we both know that it isn’t that simple. You have to pay attention to your posture, avoid overextending your joints, and only add as much weight as you can carry without exerting undue force on your muscles, joints and bones.
There’s a method to it. If you can respect what your body goes through when you use a weighted vest, you can use one properly and reap the benefits with almost none of the drawbacks.
Follow The 10% Rule
The 10% rule dictates that you shouldn’t use a weighted vest that exceeds 10% of your total body weight. This means a 150-pound person should limit the weight in the vest to 15 pounds, and no more.
The 10% rule helps scale resistance to your body size, and in doing so, it ensures your safety. If you carry too much weight your risk of causing one of the injuries we mentioned earlier is significantly higher than if you stick to the 10% rule.
Weight Vest Pros And Cons: Final Thoughts
Any time you work out with weights, the risks of injury increase over simply training with your body weight. And the more weight you use, the higher the risks.
A weighted vest is rarely heavier than 20 pounds at a maximum. This makes it safer to use than free weights, since people usually lift far more weight than that.
But you still need to be cautious of the increased risk and take the appropriate steps to protect yourself. Primarily, this means not overdoing it and listening to your body if it signals you to take a break.
It also means not wearing your weight vest all day long while you do chores. Similarly, you probably shouldn’t use your weighted vest while walking. It is too easy during everyday activities to slip up and forget to maintain proper posture.
If you use a weight vest correctly, you can minimize any increase in risk of injury. And then, the benefits of using a weight vest far outweigh the drawbacks. For most people, weighing the weight vest pros and cons leads you to the same conclusion. The pros win by a long shot.