Celebrities are a constant source of influence with regards to how we believe we should look. Whether it be Justin Bieber’s hair or Brad Pitt’s style, megastars such as these are who we look to for inspiration. The same can be said for fitness. If a celebrity claims to be a fan of a certain piece of equipment, the ubiquitous Peloton or Mirror, for example, then you can expect sales to see a significant spike.
But if you’re seeking levels of strength akin to special forces commandos, or you’re on a mission to lose the excess you happily munched during lockdown, the solution could be a lot simpler than switching up your diet or putting yourself through bizarrely convoluted workouts.
Weighted vests – which closely resemble special forces bulletproof vests (and can be made from similar tough and rugged materials) – are a simple yet effective piece of equipment that you can don for your morning walk or run, or rock at the gym when performing certain exercises to help increase both your fitness and strength.
Additionally, if you’re not able to get back into your gym just yet due to the ongoing global situation, then adding a weighted vest into the mix will help to maintain your fitness levels so that you’re not restarting from scratch when you can eventually be reunited with your beloved squat rack.
They’re not solely reserved for bodybuilders or those who look themselves a little too much in the mirror at the gym, but instead can be used by anyone and everyone as they’re available in a wide range of weights (and usually have the capacity for more weight to be added) meaning even someone with a lower level of fitness can wear one to add some resistance to their routine – and with the likes of David Beckham and Laird Hamilton incorporating them into their training regimes, we can only expect their popularity to skyrocket.
Weighted vests have been scientifically proven to help you lose fat too, and you don’t even need to do anything other than just wear it around the house. A 2020 study carried out by the University of Gothenburg separated participants into two groups. One group wore a 1kg vest for three weeks while the second wore 11kg vests for the same duration. They were told to wear the bests for eight hours a day for the three week test period, but otherwise to live as usual.
At the end of the study, the group wearing the lighter vests lost around 0.3kg in weight while the group with the heavier vests lost 1.6kg. Perhaps more importantly, Professor Claes Ohlsson, one of the researchers, found “the heavier weighted vests reduced fat mass while muscle mass simultaneously remained intact”, adding weight to the argument that weighted vests can help to at least maintain your strength until you get back to a gym.
But before you go piling on the upholstered pounds, there are some factors you need to be aware of before you go strapping yourself in. Firstly, you need to already be someone who is regularly active before you think about adding extra weight to your body.
As with anything relating to training, the correct technique and form is the most important thing to consider. If adding weight has a negative effect on your running technique, for example, then you will either need to drop the weight, stop using the vest altogether, or build-up your strength levels without a vest first, so that you can prevent injury and better cope with added weight when you reintroduce the vest.
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Naturally, they’re not suited to all exercises. It would be pretty pointless wearing one when on the barbell bench press, for example, but for core exercises such as planks or bodyweight squats, the added weight will generate greater stress on the muscles, which in the world of fitness, is useful.
A vest will never be able to fully replicate the strength-building effects of a squat rack or performing weighted lunges with dumbbells, but for simple, added resistance that you can easily adjust by adding extra weighted blocks, they could be your new favourite training partner.