I am no stranger to playing with different techniques to build both speed and strength in my running and general fitness. One of these is the use of a weighted vest. There have been many studies into the use of adding weight to improve results in strength training exercises and when running…but my experience is a little more firsthand from trial and error through the years.
Personal experience has shown me that adding weight to a workout can greatly improve the effect of the session. On the flip side it can also allow you to push yourself a little too far or make a small injury you are nursing even worse. As with any training, I advise that you build up gradually and know your limitations so you don’t risk sickness or injury.
With this being said I still feel the use of a weighted vest is a risk worth taking if you want to add some power to your fitness and you already have a solid level of fitness from more traditional forms of training.
My 3 main uses of a weighted vest are:
My main approach to training with extra weight is a simple one. Add a little weight so when you take it off, your body is stronger and your mindset has adjusted so you feel “lighter”. In the old days I would be using anything up to an additional 25kg in training but have now settled on far less, typically no more than 10kg but usually closer to 10% of my body weight. As mentioned above, you should proceed with caution when adding weight and increase weight very gradually.
I am quite particular about gear and am always searching for the right stuff to help me reach the level of fitness I seek. When it comes to a weighted vest, my first and most important requirement is to have a vest that is small and flexible so it doesn’t impede movement and instead feels like a heavy shirt. This is where most weighted vests are weakest. Most are big and bulky which are uncomfortable to run in and restrict movement, making exercises like sit-ups difficult.
The second is to be able to easily adjust the weight of the vest. This way I can add weight through the months gradually so my body can adapt and improve, without a high risk of injury. Most weighted vests allow you to take out or add weight, but only in half or one kilogram increments.
After having tried a handful of weighted vests through the years, I have finally found one which suits my training needs: the Hyper Vest weighted vest from Hyperwear.
The best description of this vest is being a heavy corset. This has by far been the most comfortable and least restrictive vest I have tried, which apart from the extra weight, doesn’t feel like you are wearing anything. It has small 63gram weights which line the breathable vest allowing for loads of flexibility. An added advantage of these small flat weights is they line your body so if you fall for example when bouldering they don’t dig in.
An additional feature that I didn’t consider being so useful until I started using the vest is the zipper fastening system which is completely separate from the fitting system. If you are doing an interval session where for some reps you use the vest and some you don’t, it is incredibly usefull to be able to get the vest on and off quickly without needing to adjust straps for the fit. Once you try to have as little as 30seconds break between intervals you will see what I mean.