Training with Weighted Vests
By Annette Lang, NASM, NSCA, ACE
I remember the first time I added resistance to my torso for exercise, I was working at a health club in Florida and we used to have to push each other through grueling one-set-to-failure sets. I was never very good at chin ups, so my workout partner suggested I try negative only with extra resistance to get stronger. I was extremely sore the next day-and loved it! I continued training with extra resistance in my efforts to get better at chin ups, but never experimented with a weighted vest until I bought a bulky one quite a few years ago.
Several factors contributed to my interest in a weighted vest. I had read about the potential benefits of adding weight to help increase bone density, and being a personal trainer whose clients were getting older, I checked out some of the research. Also, I had heard about the use of deep pressure and weighted vests to treat children with sensory integration disorder, and that the weight vests helped to calm them down and improve concentration.
Even though there were all these advantages of weight vest training, I didn’t really like the actual vest I owned as it was too bulky and not very comfortable, so it just sat in the closet like many other exercise tools! Last year, I saw my husband wearing it around the apartment, after purging the clothes closet, doing everyday tasks and housework and it got me thinking about it again.
I have to confess, when I saw the Hyper Vest® PRO weighted vest at a conference last November, I bought it because the person working in the booth was a colleague of mine and it reminded me that I wanted to work with a weight vest again. And to my surprise, the Hyper Vest PRO was very different from the first one I had bought! It was so slim, the color was beautiful, and the fit was fantastic. The little tiny weights are almost non-existent to the eye, and the elastic makes it easy to fit to your individual body.
So, after purchasing this new Hyper Vest PRO I made a commitment to myself to try weight vest training again.
I decided that my first experiment would be just wearing it as I went through the day. I ride my bike for transportation and often carry around an 8lb. medicine ball in my backpack, so this couldn’t be very different, right? 10 hours later I had a much different opinion about that 10 lb. vest added onto me! The first thing I noticed was how fatigued my core muscles were. It’s as if I could “feel” the deep muscles along my spine better than I had in a long time, and as a personal trainer I feel this has got to be beneficial in helping to minimize bone loss.
My next experiment was to wear the Hyperwear weight vest while running and doing a workout in the gym. The first time I went for a run, really I should say a jog because it wasn’t so fast, was amazing. This weight vest felt so comfortable! It was definitely challenging, and it made me feel so “bad”! The workout in the gym was interesting, each exercise became harder to just maintain good posture, but the body weight sequences made me appreciate those extra pounds. A plank is no longer the same with a weight vest!
After conducting my “experiments” I started wearing the vest more often. I tried it with and without a little shirt underneath, and it felt fine both ways. I also discovered that weight vest training in the Hyper Vest PRO is a great way to make plyometric exercises more challenging.
Many times when I have 20-30 minutes between clients, I will do a quick workout in the park. A sample circuit with the Hyper Vest PRO and a band might be:
-20 step ups to the bench
-20 rows with the band, changing angles and adding rotation
-10 jump squats
-10 push ups
-15 standing core rotations with the band
If you want to start wearing a weighted vest, you can start with only a few pounds loaded in the vest. It really is amazing what 10 lbs. does to your body.
I am not a fan of holding weights in your hands as you walk or run, and I have read many studies through the years about the potential stress on the extremity joints, so don’t recommend it. However, keeping the weight close to your center, as with a weighted vest, is a whole different story. For example, wearing the vest is a great way to add resistance for people with arthritis who may find it difficult to hold enough resistance/weight in the hands.
A potentially huge benefit of using the Hyperwear weight vest is that it can help the average person increase the level of activity they are getting in their everyday life. Many people tell me they don’t have time to add more activity or exercise into their day. You can wear this vest underneath clothes so that no one even knows you are wearing it. You will burn more calories every minute. Another benefit is that when you have the vest on, you constantly get feedback in terms of your posture. When I think of the hours people spend sitting at their desk, wearing the Hyper Vest PRO would be a constant reminder for them to sit up tall. Who knows? It might even remind them to move more, or get up to walk down the stairs on their lunch break!
When walking with the vest on, try to think about your posture. Stand tall with your head and neck neutral, so your chin isn’t down and forward. Tune into whether you are swinging your arms back and forth as you walk. Many of us are lacking mobility of the thoracic spine/upper back. Deliberately swing your arms as you walk and you will improve your posture. The extra weight of the vest will also give you feedback and resistance.
About Annette Lang
Industry-leading personal trainer, Annette Lang, is a health and fitness veteran who was recently featured in the New York Times article, “No Fancy Footwork Needed” and pictured wearing the Hyper Vest PRO. Annette has her Masters in Health Education, and worked alongside Bob Esquerre to help develop the personal training profit center, and the Equinox Fitness Training Institute (EFTI). Over the course of her career, Annette began teaching more and more, started her own business, contributed to Reebok University and is a regular speaker to chain and individual health clubs such as, Equinox, TSI group: (NY, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia Sports Clubs) and Crunch, among others. She has also spoken at health and fitness conferences including ACSM, Club Industry, IDEA, FitPro UK, Faster Global, IHRSA, CanFitPro. Annette is a certified personal trainer though NASM, NSCA and ACE, and is currently private training in New York City.