Wearing a weighted vest while doing cardio has potential for being quite beneficial. It is not for everyone, however; learn whether wearing a weighted vest while doing cardio is suitable for you here.
Wearing a Weighted Vest While Doing Cardio
If you're a regular runner, or consider yourself to be at an intermediate level or better at some other sport like it, a weighted vest may be just what you need to kick things up a notch. By adding extra weight, you increase the amount of calories burned and strengthen your muscles so as to handle the extra weight.
This in turn means your performance without the weight vest will improve, since your muscles are essentially conditioned to a state of overkill. Practice jumping with the vest, then remove the weight and you'll be ready to explode into the air. Uphill sprints without the weight will feel like flat or even downhill running. Whatever your sport, a weighted vest will give you a boost.
Who Shouldn't Do It
If you're just starting out, exercising with just your bodyweight will be plenty enough to get you good and tired. This is especially true if you carry some extra pounds. Adding even more weight will of course hike the calorie burn further, but your joints and ligaments may pay a dear price. If they're not yet used to regular exercise by itself, adding more weight is a bit like putting a diver's weight belt on someone still learning to swim.
There are medical conditions that exclude the use of weight vests, especially back injuries. Weight vests move the center of gravity higher and put extra strain on the midsection, and some experts advocate even healthy individuals should wear an extra support belt (like weight lifters wear) to prevent undue back stress.
Making the Purchase
So, let's say you want to give the weighted vest a shot. There are many brands and models, but here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping around:
Adjustable weight -- Never buy a cheap vest with fixed weight. You have to start light and gradually phase into the target weight, or you're almost certain to run into problems.
Washable -- It should be a given, but it may not strike you to look for this when you're comparing vests in the store. You'll be sweating plenty, so prepare accordingly.
Right kind -- As stated earlier, there are many different models out there. Weight typically ranges from ten to 100 lbs, and there are of course different models for males and females. Some are shorter, putting most of the weight up high and thus shifting the center of gravity further up, but you also get more midsection flexibility for obstacle courses and the like. There's no one-size-fits-all vest out there, so try several and talk to a knowledgeable salesperson about the activities you're planning to make sure you get the best fit.
You get what you pay for -- The old chestnut certainly applies here, as a poorly constructed vest can be downright harmful. Say your vest is unbalanced, so your right side gets a few pounds more than your left. It might not be immediately noticeable when you try on a 75 lb vest in a store, but after a few months of running miles with it every day your back will start noticing. Or perhaps it's shoddy sewing work where a small fold keeps rubbing against your left bicep with every step. Bottom line: quality is important for the long-term prospects.
Photo courtesy of Joe Tran, www.thexvest.com