Weighted Step-Training Benefits

Can a weighted vest be a useful training prop?

By Shirley Archer, JD, MA
May 21, 2019

If you’re looking for a different way to progress a client’s lower-body strength, consider adding a weighted vest to the training program. Specifically, wearing a progressively heavier weighted vest while stepping may be effective in boosting lower-body power and functional ability among older women.

University College Dublin researchers conducted a study with 11 women, aged 65–74. For 6 weeks, the women did home-based drills three times a day, thrice weekly (for a total of 54 sessions), on a 20-centimeter (7.9-inch) step, while wearing a vest. The vest initially had no extra weight, but load increased to 10% of body weight by weeks 5 and 6. All subjects showed significant improvements in stair-climbing ability, on a par with previous weighted training programs, “despite a greatly reduced training volume (in terms of work done, time commitment, external loading, and [program] duration).”

The researchers would like to see a longer investigation with a larger, more diverse sample. The study appeared in the Journal of Clinical Medicine (2019; doi:10.3390/jcm8010041).


Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at www.shirleyarcher.com.

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