It's no secret that weighted clothing has several healthy benefits, they build strength, explosiveness and can help you become a faster runner. There have been several studies that clearly show that wearing weighted clothes will build strength and tone your muscles. Weighted clothes are even used for soothing and calming down children with Asperger's, Autism or ADHD. Clothes with weight are also widely used by people suffering from osteoporosis, a medical condition where your bones become brittle and fragile.
Body builders have been wearing weighted gear for years because they know that the added weight helps their bones grow stronger and thicker. Something that is highly important, with weak bones the sheer weight of their muscles would cause their body to collapse. Some other good side effects of wearing weighted clothing are an improved oxygen intake in your body. This basically means your body will be able to to take in more air and thus improving your cardiovascular system. That's also one of top reasons why there are weight vests for running.
So to put it simply, by wearing weighted gear on your body, your overall health will improve. You'll also become a lot stronger and perform a lot better when the clothes are taken off.
Having a wide variety of weighted workout clothes to choose from is not easy, so here's a general breakdown of each clothing and their pros and cons.
The most fundamental piece of all weighted clothing, it's used by men and women for all kinds of purposes, running, weight lifting, improving health and much more. Most weight vests that you find today are adjustable which allows for a nice fit, no matter how thin or thick you are. Thanks to this you can get an even weight distribution on your body. An even distribution will have a better effect on your training and will also allow you to do more complex moves, such as jumping jacks, pull ups and lot more. Almost all weight vests that are made for workout purposes will have pockets sewn into them, these pockets are not for your keys or your phone, but for small weights. These weights are usually made from steel or sand. Sand weights will work better for activities where you need to move around a lot, since they will flex to your body shape. Weight pouches that contain hydro-gel can be used for muscle therapy, either by cooling them down or heating them up.
There are also another type of weight vest which is called a "deep pressure vest", while these can be used for workouts they are mainly used as a treatment for children with sensory disorders. The weight puts pressure on their body and because it sits so tight, it basically creates a hugging sensation which calms them down.
It's highly recommended that you get yourself a weight vest that can additional weight. This is because strength progression is quick, you don't want to be buying a new vest each time you grow a little stronger. Also bare in mind that a lot of vests are made from materials that will most likely irritate your skin, so wearing some kind of under-garment underneath the vest is recommended. More expensive vests will also feature a breathable material, which is a godsend during those hot summer training sessions.
A common trend among the best weighted vests is the fact that they're all pretty slim and comfortable, while at the same time allowing for a lot of weight. They also allow for a much larger range of motion compared to cheaper vests, if you're a practitioner of calisthenics, having full range of motion is a must.
If you're training to be the next big martial arts star, getting yourself a pair of weighted gloves is actually a pretty good idea. This type of weighted gear is mostly used for cardio, aerobic and boxing. But you're of course free to use them however you like. See our article about weighted gloves.
Almost all weighted gloves are designed so they weight is placed on top of your hand, that way your palm will be free and you can grip things (bars, weights or your opponent) freely.
Finding a glove that suits you is not hard, there are plenty of designs that will cater to both men and women. It's also important to mention that nearly all weighted gloves have a fixed weight limit, usually ranging from 1 to 6 lbs. There are of course exceptions, but these are rare.
Weighted gloves are a great way to add some resistance to your upper body workouts, they're also super good for toning and defining the muscles on your arm. If you're a boxer, doing some simple sparring with a couple of weighted gloves can improve your punch speed.
Weighted Arm Sleeves
Similar to the weighted gloves, this type of weighted clothing is great if you want to push your arms to their limit. While not working out your forearms as much, they will still give your triceps, biceps and shoulder a challenge. They are popular in sports like baseball and golf. The only downside is that they're pretty hard to get hold of.
Due their design, weighted arm sleeves do not put as much pressure on your elbow and shoulder joints. If you suffer from joint pain and want to train your arms, you should ditch the hand weights and go for the sleeves instead.
Not all weighted sleeves come equal, some will have and fabric where the elbow joint is, making it harder to have full range of motion. It's recommended getting a weighted sleeve that allows for full movement, otherwise you could possibly injure yourself or develop some weird muscle imbalances. Just like the weighted gloves, sleeves will engage your core and help you develop a good overall strength.
You can read more information about weighted arm sleeves here.
What do you get when you combine a compression shirt with a weight vest? You get a weighted shirt of course! A weighted shirt, unlike a vest, has a much better fit. This is because the shirt sits tight on your body (obviously), but also because the weights are placed in line with your real muscles (it sort of looks like one of those fake muscle shirts). If you're worried about unnecessary stress on your joints, a weighted shirt is the way to go.
Not only does it relive pressure from the joints, it has way better movement as well. For athletes that want the benefits from training with weighted clothing but don't want to sacrifice their range of motion, there's nothing better than a weighted shirt.
Another huge plus with shirts like these is the material they're made from. You won't have to worry about moisture or becoming overheated, because they're always made from breathable fabric. It's also not uncommon to find weighted shirts that have special ingredients to remove bacteria, smell and odors.
The major downside to these shirts is obviously limited weight options, you're looking a max weight of 10lbs. Secondly this type of weighted clothing doesn't come cheap, but if you're ready shell out more than $150 on a weighted shirt, I'd say go for it. You won't come any closer to full mobility with weighted clothes than this.
Very much like the weighted arm sleeves and gloves, wrist weights are ideal for toning your arms. They're also a great add-on for your normal training routine, even something as easy as a walk down the park will give you a workout with a set of wrist weights. While they can be used for martial arts like the sleeves and weight gloves, it's not recommended since they're most often pretty clumsy.
They are widely available and can be bought from almost any store. It's important to buy the correct type of wrist weights however. Many cheaper ones will be made from poor quality materials that degrade over time. It's recommended to buy a set that have and adjustable velcro strap.
You'll find wrist weights with either fixes weights or adjustable ones, usually ranging from 1 to 20 lbs. Just bare in mind that this type of weighted clothing puts a lot of stress on your joints, especially your elbow and shoulder joints. If you're suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome it is highly suggested to avoid wrist weights.
Interested in this type of clothing? We have an article that covers everything you need to know about wrist weights!
If you want to get a full body workout but don't like the idea of wearing a weighted vest or shirt, a weighted belt could be your thing. These belts are padded and attach to your waist just like any other belt. They come with either a fixed weight (usually the cheaper lousy ones) or adjustable ones. It's easy to increase the weight of the belt thanks to the sewn pockets, just like the vest they can carry sand bangs, metal weights or gel weights.
The benefit working out with a weighted belt is that you don't have to worry about restricting your upper body. If you're out at the local gym busting out some calisthenics moves, a vest or shirt might hinder you, a weighted belt not so much. You might however find that it's pretty uncomfortable to squat and do other lower body exercises with the belt on. Another major benefit of the belt is that it doesn't get as hot as say a vest or shirt.
A lot of weighted belts come with adjustable straps, but there are also a lot that don't. To get the maximum from your workout it's better to buy a slightly more expensive weighted belt that has velcro straps or buckles. Getting yourself a belt that doesn't sit on your waist comfortably will not only ruin the joy of working out, it will make every exercise a lot harder.
Weighted shorts are a great way for men make themselves look bigger... Down there. All jokes aside, weighted shorts are pretty awesome and are great for people looking to build strength in their legs.
Some of the muscle groups that will get a work out are the hip flexors and your whole thigh, both inner and outer. What's most important with weighted shorts is to get yourself a pair that fits your. Training in a pair of weighted shorts that do not fit your properly will cause muscular imbalances and rub against your skin. Also make sure to get a pair that are breathable, since you don't want bacteria buildup close to your groin.
If you get yourself a pair of high quality shorts, you'll be able to add and remove weights with the sewn in pockets. You can use weights made from metal, sand or gel in these pockets. Best results will come from sand weights, these are notably lighter though. They do however bend with your body allowing you do perform different types of exercises with ease.
Weighted Leg Sleeves
If you find that a set of weighted shorts are too cumbersome, you should try a set of weighted leg sleeves or shin sleeves. While they will not be able to hold as much weight as the shorts, they fit much more snuggly and will allow for great range of motion.
This type of weighted clothing is very popular among martial artists due to their flexibility, doing round house kicks has never been easier than this. No matter how you use your leg sleeves, one thing is for sure, your legs will become a lot stronger after some workouts with these on.
Weighted Leg Sleeves are most often made from fabric and come as one piece, meaning you can't really adjust the fit. If you're suffering from skinny calves you might find some sleeves will not sit as tight as you would expect. The same goes for people with bigger calves, but instead of sitting to loose you might not even be able to put them on. If you're lucky you might find weighted leg sleeves that have adjustable velcro straps at the top and bottom.
This type of weighted clothes are not really that common and mostly used by professional athletes. They're commonly found in sports like volleyball and basketball. Because they're pretty uncommon, you will be better off with a set of ankle weights instead.
Probably as popular as wrist weights, if not even more. They range from 1-20lbs and have huge benefits for people doing sports that involves the legs. Some suitable sports are running, soccer, gymnastics, basketball, football and many more. They're also great to use when doing plyometric exercises.
Since ankle weights are so common, you'll be able to find quality products for a much lower price. Just make sure to get yourself a set of ankle weights that have an adjustable strap, since using non-adjustable will most likely ruin your workout.
One thing to keep in mind is because the weight is located so low, it will put much more stress on your ligaments and joints. People who have used them too much usually get pain in their knees. That's why it's very important to take breaks and not wear them all day long.
Shoe weights are probably the most uncommon weighted clothing item of all. These funky looking weights are great for runners looking to improve their explosiveness and speed. They're also used by martial artists to increase their kicking power, not only will this increase the power but the kicks will become incredibly fast.
Shoe weights function the same way as other weighted clothing, you wrap them around your shoes and tie them down. Most of them will not have adjustable weights, but that's not really needed because too much weight on your feet will cause tremendous stress to your joints.
Generally speaking, the further away the weight is from a joint, the more stress it will create. Personally I would stick to ankle weights or some other weighted clothes and stay away from shoe weights.
That's all you need to know about weighted clothing
As you probably can tell, clothes with weights on them come in many different shapes, sizes and price tags. What kind of weighted gear you will need is only a question you will be able to answer. If you were to ask me, I would say to go for a weighted vest since they put the least stress on your joints.
Also, as a last piece of advice. Please do not overuse weighted gear, while it has huge health benefits, wearing them for too long can cause permanent injury to ligaments and joints. Read our article about the benefits of training with weights for more information.
Take care and train safe.