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Weighted Step-Training Benefits

Can a weighted vest be a useful training prop?

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-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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