Weight Vest Speed Training Workouts
By Geno Pierce, CSCS
Weight vest speed training is a key part of making athletes faster. It is undeniable that speed is extremely important in sports. It can be the difference in scoring the game winning touchdown, getting to a rebound, or determining whether you win a 50/50 ball in soccer. Regardless of the sport, speed is a vital component to achieving success on the field/court, and as the saying goes “speed kills.”
Speed can be interpreted many ways, so before we begin our discussion we must first understand what speed is, how it relates to sports, and how it can be improved.
DEFINE: GAME SPEED
As coaches and athletes, we get caught up in 40 times or how fast an athlete ran the 100m. We often associate a number with speed, and in turn, gear our training toward improving that number. The problem with that scenario is track is the only sport that requires the ability to ONLY run in a straight line. All other team sports require you to accelerate, jump, and decelerate all while performing tasks unique to your individual competition. This is what we term game speed and it is where weight vest speed training can be a huge advantage.
BRIEF PHYSICS LESSON
In order to increase game speed we must find a way to create more force and overcome gravity’s inertia to quickly accelerate. Essentially this means we must be able to push into the ground with more force than gravity to increase acceleration. This is illustrated through Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion, which states, “for every reaction there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Simply put, the more force an athlete can produce into the ground the more the ground will “push” back and propel the athlete forward.
Now that we understand game speed and a few basic physics concepts, we can discuss ways to improve speed as it applies to sports by weight vest speed training.
The stronger an athlete becomes the more force they will be able to apply into the ground. This can be accomplished through multi-joint Olympic lifts, squatting variations, and dedicated posterior chain work in the weight room.
TRANSITIONING FROM THE WEIGHT ROOM
Strength is critical but you must be able to translate it to game speed. Sleds, cords, resistors, etc. can all be used to provide additional resistance and begin the transition from the weight room. There is one MAJOR problem though. Most of these tools restrict the athletes’ natural running mechanics and force the athlete into compromised positions. The one tool we have found that gives the athlete added resistance without compromising technique is the weight vest for speed training.
The Hyper Vest PRO weighted vest adds resistance to movement that will improve game speed with proper technique and drills. Whether it is plyometrics, resisted running, or change of direction drills the vest will enhance the athlete’s functional strength and allow for greater speeds when unloaded.
WEIGHTED VEST DRILLS FOR SPEED
Once athletes have become proficient at using their own bodyweight during jumping and plyo’s, you can now use the Hyper Vest PRO to enhance their ability to generate force and become more explosive off of the ground. Just add the weight vest and use the ability of the Hyper Vest PRO to be quickly added or removed by using the zipper. Do sets with weight vest resistance and sets without.
We discussed earlier how an athlete must overcome gravity to accelerate effectively. By adding the weighted vest, the athlete not only has to overcome come gravity but also additional external forces in order to efficiently accelerate. Once the athlete is able to properly accelerate with the vest, he or she will be able to powerfully accelerate with his or her own bodyweight. This same concept will be effective when working with change of direction movements as well.
Post-activation potentiation (PAP) can be explained as the ability to maximally contract a muscle or muscle group, and then perform a lighter or explosive movement after fatigue diminishes. An example of this would be a heavy 2-rep squat followed by a vertical jump. The maximal muscle contraction primes the muscle by activating more motor units, which in turn allows them to be used explosively after a short rest. The Hyper Vest PRO can be used to produce a similar result when accelerating or jumping. The athlete will perform one rep with the vest on, recover, and then perform one rep without the vest. Due to the fact that the athlete has completed the first rep with the vest the second rep then becomes even more explosive.
The weight vest is easy for athlete’s to take on and off and share in a group setting, and it can accommodate a wide range of athletes due to the adjustable side strings. When working with a group of 18 athletes you would only need 6-8 vests depending on the amount of recovery between sets.
The Hyper Vest PRO can also be used for sports that require equipment as way to prepare the athletes for the additional weight of their equipment.
After working with athletes for the last two decades we have found the Hyper Vest PRO to be one of the best tools to improve game speed. The ability of the weight vest to be used for so many applications while accommodating large groups, makes it a great addition for all training programs.
The video below shows drills with the Hyper Vest PRO to build and improve athlete game speed.