In a gym full of iron-pumping muscle athletes and bodybuilders, there are those who go through reps and sets of movements without questioning whether the given exercises benefit their training goals. And then, there is you! Not only you try your best to train hard but also know how to train smart. All you do is use the right resources. And weighted clothing is a great place to start.
From putting on a weighted vest to strapping on those ankle weights, achieving our training goals was never easier. Weighted training clothes enhance the final result by adding extra pressure to certain muscle groups and, thus, strengthening them. Even though the practice is still up for debate, one study suggests that weighted clothing may even benefit children with autism. So, why not our muscles?
Benefits of Weighted Clothing
Between losing weight, enhancing agility and strengthening core muscle groups more than usual, weighted clothing is here to shower us with various benefits. Even though adding extra weight to your regular workout session may seem impossible at first, and the long-term benefits are the last thing you have in mind at the moment, wait before you veto this option altogether.
Gym veterans aside, we all know that weight lifting is the most efficient way to double the size of our muscles as well as strengthen them. So, weighted clothing is a genius and convenient way of doing just that without sweating over kettlebells and dumbbells. From then on, our bones have to keep up with our increasing muscle mass. In fact, one study suggests that our bone density is improved as our muscle mass increases.
But, that’s not all. The extra weight from weighted clothing helps our body adjust to more powerful movements while jogging or boxing, for example. This way we increase our oxygen intake little by little and enhance our athletic performance down the line. And let’s not forget that when the weights are removed, we are bound to perform way better than usual.
Types of Weighted Clothing
Now that we know why weighted clothing should become part of our workout routine, it’s best we learn about the various types to match our training goals.
Being the most popular piece of weighted clothing, vests with adjustable weight not only focus on your abs but also engage multiple muscle groups throughout your entire body. From shoulders to legs, you need to use each muscle on your body to balance out the additional weight and, thus, power through the workout session.
The majority of weighted vests out there is equipped with pockets which hold anything from detachable steel weights to pouches of gel, sand or silicone. In some cases, these bags may contain hydrogel which can be either chilled or heated and warm your muscles up before you hit the gym.
Another important cornerstone of all weighted clothing, arm sleeves also come with detachable weights to fit our individual needs. However, weighted arm sleeves differ from vests as they focus mostly on arm muscles such as biceps and triceps. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that these sleeves are ideal for athletes who need arm strength such as golfers, baseball players and so on. However, using such sleeves also engages other muscle groups such as glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
Although many may think weighted shirts and weighted vests are more or less the same, reality begs to differ. Unlike its distant cousin, weighted shirts also feature the benefits of compression clothing. What does this mean? The shirt is designed to compress the weights against the athlete’s body and, thus, allow more natural and intense movements. Weighted vests are nothing like that. Also, weighted shirts reduce the chances of strains and joint injuries since the weights are aligned with the muscles of the upper torso. Lastly, these shirts allow your skin to breathe thanks to the glove-like material which is not the case with weighted vests, hence the difference.
If the monotonous reps of lifting dumbbells get to you every time you hit the gym, then wrist weights are here to make waves (the right kind, of course!). These weights offer a lot of free movements as they are strapped to your wrists as you perform your workouts. This hands-free dumbbell substitute tones your biceps and triceps but also strengthen your shoulders. Depending on your goals, you can adjust the weight between 1 to 20lbs. However, it’s best to stay away from this type of weights, if you suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or any joint issues.
Wrapped around the waistline, weighted belts are an increasingly popular choice thanks to its movement-friendly nature. In fact, many athletes tend to choose weighted belts over vests as they allow them full-range motions during an intense workout. These belts have sewn-in pockets which carry the adjustable weights. Just keep in mind that weighted belts which don’t fit well can get in the way as you workout. So, choose accordingly.
Weighted Leg Sleeves
Whether you are a passionate sprinter or an aspiring martial artist, weighted leg sleeves are your one-way ticket to muscle up those legs without straying away from your regular workout schedule. Made of anti-bacterial fabric, weighted leg sleeves are designed to prevent skin irritation while “hugging” your legs adequately. In fact, most of them come with a Velcro strap on both ends to avoid moving during workouts. The weights are either sandbags or small blocks of metal which fit inside the sewn-in pockets of the leg sleeves. If you go for the sandbag option, make sure to maintain them properly as they can rupture.
Despite being one of the least popular choices in weighted clothing, shoe weights can actually benefit training regimes that are not that intense such as walking. These weights add resistance to your feet and, thus, increase your sprinting and running skills. If we add plyometrics to the mix, then we are in for an explosive combo. You can strap them around the ankles and below the feet as they are adjustable to the size of your shoes.
Ankle weights are the most popular type of weighted clothing when it comes to leg training. Much like shoe weights, you can use ankle weights while running or walking. What’s great and convenient about ankle weights is that they not only increase leg strength but they also force other muscle groups to engage during a workout. But, don’t get carried away or your hips, ankles, and knees will pay the price.
If your goal is to strengthen your quadriceps, knee joints, and hip flexors, then you might want to hit the breaks at this bullet point. Athletes who want to increase their lower leg strength such as sprinters and boxers will find that weighted shorts are a perfect fit. However, it can be tricky to find a pair of shorts that’s a perfect fit, but (luckily) the variety of styles is broad. To avoid irritation, you should keep an eye for anti-bacterial fabric that allows your skin to breathe.
The Final Verdict
The variety of options out there is dizzying. No matter if you want to build up those biceps or work on your leg strength, weighted clothing offers an appealing alternative to boring sets and reps of weight lifting. Just choose the right garment based on your needs, and you’ll get much more than you settled for.