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Use your vest to build speed and acceleration.
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The weighted vest is a useful tool whether you're training to build speed, strength and athletic power, or just looking for a way to make training a little tougher. A 40-lb. vest would be suitable for an intermediate to advanced trainer. Planning a workout with a vest takes a little more consideration than a traditional weights workout however, as there are numerous factors to consider.
Building Up the Upper-Body
Free-weight moves, such as dumbbell or bench presses and barbell rows, along with machine training are effective for building upper-body size and strength, but a weighted vest can add a new element to your torso training. Pushups, pull-ups and dips all lend themselves well to training in the vest. Bear in mind your body-weight and experience levels when adding a vest, warns personal trainer and body-weight training expert Al Kavadlo. Beginners should only add around 10 to 20 percent of their body-weight in the form of a vest. Therefore, unless you weigh 200 pounds, or are an advanced trainer, jumping straight to a 40-lb. vest may be a little too much.
Vest is Best for Legs
The vest comes into its own when working the lower-body. While it can be beneficial under normal circumstances, it's especially helpful if you've suffered an upper-body injury that prevents you from holding or supporting a barbell or dumbbells, but still want to train your legs with added resistance. Master standard squats with the vest before progressing to more challenging exercises. Single-leg moves such as lunges, reverse lunges and split squats are the next step up from here. On some split squat variations, holding an additional load can be tricky, so weighted vests come to the rescue.
The Speed Solution
Vests aren't only strength and size-builders, they can also increase your speed and acceleration. Hill sprints, stair sprints, or even just sprints on the flat are all tough ways to ramp up your speed workouts. The focus here should be on quality of movement and speed, not the duration of your sprints, notes D1 Sports director of training Kurt Hester. For every 10 yards sprinted, you need 80 seconds of rest. If you're not at an advanced level, or have suffered from lower-body joint injuries in the past, then weighted vest walks may be a better option. You can burn around 14 percent more calories when walking in a vest weighing 20 percent of your body-weight, writes Holly St. Lifer on the "Fitness" magazine website.
Plan of Attack
If you're switching solely to weighted vest training, aim for four workouts per week. Perform two resistance-based sessions, hitting your whole body in each one. Perform one pushup or dip exercise and one pull-up variation, along with two lower-body moves. The 40-lb. vest will make most upper-body exercises feel much tougher and the lower-body ones moderately tougher, so perform five sets of four to six reps on the upper moves and four sets of eight to 12 on your legs. Add in one speed session, consisting of eight to 12 short, powerful sprints and one 40- to 60-minute walk to make up your four workouts.