As the name suggests, weighted clothing is attire designed to add extra resistance and is ideal for bodyweight workouts. When these fitness items were initially released, they were bulky and rather unattractive looking. However, manufacturers have worked hard to rectify the situation, and in the modern era, weighted clothing is sleek, sophisticated and easily worn beneath your everyday clothes. In this guide, we will look at the benefits of weighted clothing, the different types of items available and offer a few concise exercise tips.
Why Wear Weighted Clothing?
Weighted clothing is one of the most versatile pieces of fitness equipment on the market, and it allows you to exercise without traveling to the gym. You can add as much or as little resistance as you need to increase the challenge associated with bodyweight exercise. Here is a quick look at some of the benefits:
- Increased Muscle Mass: Your muscles are forced to work harder than normal when you wear weighted clothing, so they lengthen and have a ‘toned’ appearance. You also benefit from better strength, flexibility, and coordination.
- Metabolic Boost: Since muscle burns calories at a faster rate than fat, increased muscle mass means better fat loss. Also, wearing weighted clothing increases your heart rate which results in more calories burned.
- Bone Density Increase: Wearing the added resistance also works wonders for your bones which increase in mass and density. They become stronger, and this helps combat conditions such as osteoporosis. This is an important fact for the elderly, especially women, as they are more prone to reduced bone density as they age.
- Customization: As you’ll discover when you keep reading, there is a wide range of weighted clothing options including vests, shorts, ankle weights and much more. Your entire body is covered so whether you want to increase your arm, leg or chest strength, there is something for you.
- Convenience: Not everyone has the time to travel to and from the gym. Let’s face it; most commercial gyms are packed with people during the hours you can go. Weighted clothing provides you with the resistance training you need to get stronger and lose fat from the comfort of your home.
Types of Weighted Clothing
This is probably the most commonly sought after piece of weighted clothing. A weighted vest is a specially designed piece of equipment capable of holding up to 100 pounds in extreme cases. The best options allow you to adjust the weight which means you can gradually build up your strength and endurance. Look for vests with pockets sewn into them as they are capable of holding steel weights (which can be purchased separately). Other models allow you to add sand or silicone to increase the weight.
The majority of weighted vests on the market feature a clever design that is slim enough to wear under your clothes and comfortable enough to wear for as long as you’re able to. As well as walking in your vest, you can use it for push-ups, sit-ups, squats, pull-ups and practically any other bodyweight exercise you can think of!
Incidentally, there are also deep pressure vests available for children with sensory disorders. The weight adds pressure to their body and offers a ‘hugging’ sensation to keep them calm.
This is similar to a vest insofar as you wear it over your torso but it is more like a combination of a weighted vest and a compression shirt. Be patient when putting the shirt on because it offers an exceedingly tight fit, but on the plus side, you’ll look fantastic because its weights are placed in line with your real muscles. Indeed, it almost looks like a ‘muscle shirt.’
You’re probably better off choosing a shirt over a vest if you have concerns about injuries because it doesn’t place any unnecessary stress on your joints. It also allows for freedom of movement, so you have a greater degree of agility when compared to a vest. Manufacturers have taken great pains to ensure these shirts are made from the highest quality breathable material and if you spend a little extra, you can get a shirt capable of removing bad odors and bacteria.
Weighted Arm Sleeves
If you wish to improve your arm speed and strength, arm sleeves are a worthy investment. This piece of exercise equipment is cleverly designed to fit over your forearm, so your biceps, triceps, and shoulders receive a solid workout. These sleeves are ideal for athletes, especially for boxers, golfers, martial artists, and sprinters.
They don’t place much stress on your shoulder and elbow joints and are a much better choice for arms training than hand weights if you have joint problems.
There are a number of different designs, but we recommend searching for sleeves that have no fabric covering the elbow as they allow for a greater range of motion.
Weighted gloves are an excellent purchase for anyone training in martial arts, boxing or another form of combat sport. Although they are typically used for aerobic or cardiovascular training, you can improvise as you see fit. Look for gloves that have the weight placed on top of the hand to ensure your palms remain free.
It should be relatively easy to find a perfect fit although you should note that few weighted gloves weigh more than six pounds. Frankly, you don’t need more weight for them to be effective and if you go too heavy, there is a real risk of injuring your hands. Use these gloves to compliment your upper body workouts as they could tone your arms. They are also excellent for shadow boxing.
For most gym goers, improving their grip strength and the size of their wrists and forearms is a difficult struggle. Most sessions involve static holds, farmer’s walks, reverse curls or wrist curls but they can only tackle this weak spot a couple of times a week. With wrist weights, you can place constant tension on your wrists and forearms for real results.
There are different types of wrist weights available so decide if you would rather wear neoprene wristbands made from fabric that absorbs sweat or wrist weights with several Velcro bands designed to store weights. One of the best things about this piece of fitness equipment is that you can wear it all day if you want because your hands remain free. As a bonus, they strengthen your shoulders, biceps, and triceps with wrist weights of up to 20 pounds available.
Weighted shorts are a fairly unique product, and you seldom see anybody wear them. This is a shame because they are capable of helping you build tremendous strength in your legs. As well as working your quadriceps, weighted shorts activate the inner and outer part of the thigh along with your hip flexors. This is the equivalent of a leg session involving squats and the hip abductor machine.
Weighted shorts usually contain built-in pockets which you can add weight to. While it is important to find equipment that fits comfortably for every item of clothing on this list, this advice counts double when choosing the right shorts. The last thing you want is an ill-fitting pair that chafes! Also, look for shorts made from breathable material to ensure there is no nasty bacterial build-up near the groin region.
Weighted belts are another commonly purchased piece of exercise equipment and consist of a padded belt that attaches to your waist. A belt is a reasonable alternative to a vest or a shirt for those seeking assistance for their bodyweight workouts. The majority of belts feature pockets where you can add or reduce resistance through the use of metal weights, sand or gel.
Some trainees prefer a belt to a vest or shirt because it enables them to keep their arms and upper body free while exercising. On the downside, the position of this equipment can restrict movement for certain abdominal exercises such as crunches. Carefully choose a belt with a comfortable fit because a badly fitting version could leave unpleasant marks on your skin.
Weighted Leg Sleeves
This piece of equipment is an alternative to shorts for those seeking to improve their leg strength. Although shorts let you use more weight, leg sleeves allow for a better range of motion, and you’ll feel ‘freer’ when exercising. Martial artists are huge proponents of sleeves because they add resistance while still enabling the wearer to practice their kicks.
A downside of leg sleeves is that they come in one piece which means they have a ‘one size fits all’ kind of vibe. As a result, finding the right size can be tricky; people with skinny calves will find their sleeves are too loose while those with larger calves could struggle to even put a pair on! A potential solution is to find sleeves with Velcro straps at the top and bottom. Most leg sleeves are available in a maximum resistance of six pounds.
We are in the specialist area here because shoe weights are rarities in the world of fitness training. If you can lay your hands on a pair, however, you’ll love what they can do for your legs. Runners will benefit most from shoe weights as they can improve explosiveness and power. Martial artists enjoy shoe weights for much the same reason.
When wearing shoe weights, make sure they are worn near the ankle because the further away they are from your joints, the more stress they create. Most shoe weights come in a standardized, non-adjustable weight and a Velcro strap tightens and loosens the weight. In reality, ankle weights are a better option for most athletes and casual trainees.
Ankle weights arguably lag behind only vests and shirts regarding popularity. You wear them near the ankles and benefit from added strength over the course of time. They are perfect for improving the strength of your lower legs and ideal for football, basketball, athletics and more.
Unlike other weighted clothing, it is important not to wear ankle weights for too long as they can cause stress on the joints. The maximum available weight is 20 pounds although most people need far less. Finally, look for adjustable ankle weights for more freedom as you train.
Weighted Clothing Exercises
If you purchase several weighted clothing items, you can perform a full body workout at home. However, there are plenty of effective routines that can be performed with nothing more than a weighted vest for example. Here are some exercise ideas using popular weighted clothing:
Exercises With Weighted Vests
Push-ups, squats, and lunges. Perform a pre-determined number of sets and repetitions (such as 3 sets of 10 reps) or consider performing each exercise for time. For example, 1 minute of push-ups, followed by 1 minute of squats and 1 minute of lunges. Perform several circuits for a killer session.
Exercises With Ankle Weights
Leg curls, scissor kicks, and lunges. Again, perform a set/rep scheme or circuits for reps or time.
Exercises With Wrist Weights
Bicep curls, overhead arm extensions, and reverse curls. In most cases, it is best to choose a ‘straight’ set/rep protocol here such as 4 sets of 12 reps.
Those acquainted with the world of health and fitness know there are no magic pills or routines capable of stripping away fat and revealing extra pounds of chiseled muscle. Hard work and a sensible diet will get you further than spending thousands of dollars on fancy fitness gadgets.
However, certain pieces of equipment are more useful than others, and few things beat weighted clothing when it comes to getting fitter, slimmer, faster and stronger. They are versatile and durable pieces of clothing capable of lasting for several years. They provide a genuinely effective alternative to a gym membership and using any of the above items for resistance training beats slaving away on a treadmill or elliptical. Best of all, weighted clothing is eminently affordable and easy to find on fitness sites or Amazon.com.