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Weighted Vests
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By Cody Brechtel
From Glendale, AZ
Nov 22, 2011
Steves Arete

Thinking about buying an ergonomic, breathable, weighted vest to train with at the gym. Does anyone have any comments about the following: Is it effective for training? What vest is best? etc.


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By Finn the Human
From The Land of Ooo
Nov 22, 2011
Mathematical!

I'm curious about this as well.


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Nov 22, 2011

It's a good way to do weighted hang board or system wall so you don't have to hang weight plates off your harness.
For bouldering or route climbing it messes with your center of gravity too much to be beneficial.
At your climbing level (per profile) I wouldn't recommend it. If you want to get stronger just boulder more and if you want to get fitter just do 4x4s (on a rope or bouldering).
This is a great post from the Self Coached Climber about improving by simply focusing the time you already put into climbing.


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By Matt N
From Santa Barbara, CA
Nov 22, 2011
OTL

Eat plenty on Thursday.


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By Crag Dweller
From New York, NY
Nov 22, 2011
My navigator keeps me from getting lost

Why not simply climb harder routes? That's a serious question, not a smart ass one.

I've seen people in the gym climbing moderate grades and wondered why they didn't just get on harder routes.


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By Adam Volwiler
Nov 22, 2011
Sharkfin Tower Boston Basin.

When I want to train with weight I tend to just rack up with a single or double rack. It helps you get used to all that crap swinging around. I always figured I need to train like I climb.


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By S.Stelli
From Colorado Springs, CO
Nov 22, 2011

Adam Volwiler wrote:
When I want to train with weight I tend to just rack up with a single or double rack. It helps you get used to all that crap swinging around. I always figured I need to train like I climb.


I like this.


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By Curt Hokanson
Nov 22, 2011

Are you really going to be that guy at the gym with a Rack on your harness though...?


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By Crimp Junkie
From New Britain, CT
Nov 23, 2011
Profile

I purchased this one and have been pleased with it.


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By TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Nov 23, 2011
Me on One Pitch Wonder at Whitesides.  Photo credits to Kyle Jones and his lucky anti-rain jacket.

Hypergravity training is effective. Both from personal experience and literature. I would not suggest starting out with more than 10 lbs. in the vest. Overtraining with the vest or using too much weight can definitely damage joints, especially the elbows. I started out with 20 lbs. and learned the hard way with some elbow pain. It went away after a week or so. I have a cheap vest made by valero (maybe) that is a 20 lbs. vest with pockets to remove or add 1 lbs. increments. I do not believe the brand of vest matters too much.

Once your technique starts to suffer during a training session you should stop. It is not a good idea to build bad muscle memory just so you can eek out a climb with the vest. I mainly only use the vest at home with the hangboard setup I made. It has an elevated foot board to invert yourself towards a horizontal position in order to train endurance similar to steep routes. Without the weight vest, some of the workouts would take much longer to reach a pump.

The goal should be to train the larger muscle groups. Don't work on crimps with a weight vest unless you like finger injuries that never heal. Normally I use large slopers or the jugs on the Simulator. Invert myself and either perform pull-ups to max (3 sets) or interval lock-offs (3 sets of 1 min. with 15 sec. intervals). Those were a few exercises that I got from Eric Horsts book, but if you read his book he is not very specific on workouts. I would suggest reading some literature and developing your own workouts that fit your desired climbing.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Nov 23, 2011

IMO the only even marginally useful activity for a vest is on a systems board.

Hangboarding? Sorry but 20 lbs is really nothing.

Climbing? Like the ghost said above, messes with center of gravity too much and since all the weight is on your traps, just having/raising your hands over your head, reaching etc is funky.

Using the rack instead of a vest? C'mon that's maybe 5 lbs.

Again IMO, don't waste your money. Get a dipping belt and some plates for the hangboard (or just strap the plates to an old harness with a piece of cord, biners and the belay loop/tie in...that's what I do), or use the vest for PE work on the systems board.

If you're dead set on it, I'd go with divers' weight belts before a vest due to center of gravity issues...same reason I harness rack instead of using a gear sling (with the exception of wide cracks).

All IMO, YMMV.


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By Hansel
From Boulder, CO
Nov 23, 2011
My ride

Why not just wear your cragging backpack with your gear or a dumbbell in it? After all, that's probably what you'll be climbing with, and you might as well get used to climbing with a pack on. I see people at the gym climbing with backpacks quite frequently.


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By Jamesmcj09
From Leesburg
Dec 8, 2011
Pleasant Overhangs... taking a break to eat an apple. Odd timing because I just left the belay ledge.

I have seen people using those vests and I have tried them a time or two myself. For harder routes (5.11 and up) I do not think they will help you simply because there will be more focus on body movement, balance, and sequencing. I think that is why climbers use them for moderate routes to build up strength. They do throw off your center of balance and I don't feel like they would help a whole lot for improving the technical aspect of climbing. it will surely make you stronger though... Personally I would not buy a vest but instead buy a belt. this will kind of create a feeling of a racked harness (I realize an argument could be made that a racked shoulder sling could be created with a vest but in my experience its not really the same). Just my 2 cents. I would give it a try if you think it is right for you! who knows, it may be the next big thing for the hard sport climbing generation.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 8, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

WillS, and others - what is the maximum amount of weight that you put on your harness? for me, it seems like if i put on more than 40 or 50 lbs, it is pretty uncomfortable. usually i will switch to a single handed hang and use a pully to take weight off, but this adds a lot of time to my hangboard workout. it seems like the weight vest could be useful in this sort of situation.


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By Monomaniac
Administrator
From Morrison, CO
Dec 8, 2011
Insurrection, 5.14c.  Photo Adam Sanders.

slim wrote:
WillS, and others - what is the maximum amount of weight that you put on your harness? for me, it seems like if i put on more than 40 or 50 lbs, it is pretty uncomfortable. usually i will switch to a single handed hang and use a pully to take weight off, but this adds a lot of time to my hangboard workout. it seems like the weight vest could be useful in this sort of situation.


I've gone up to 65 lbs. or so, and yes it is uncomfortable. It helps to use a padded harness. However, the lng-term solution is to transition to smaller holds as you get stronger. If your consistently getting up to and over 50 lb. on a given grip, find a smaller version of that same grip.


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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Dec 8, 2011

slim wrote:
WillS, and others - what is the maximum amount of weight that you put on your harness? for me, it seems like if i put on more than 40 or 50 lbs, it is pretty uncomfortable. usually i will switch to a single handed hang and use a pully to take weight off, but this adds a lot of time to my hangboard workout. it seems like the weight vest could be useful in this sort of situation.


One way to reduce the amount of weight you need is to reduce the hold size. You can do this by adding tape strips on the wall behind the hold. As you get stronger just add more tape strips.
I think single arm hangs are crucial for building the supporting muscles needed for hard bouldering. Rarely are you hanging on two level crimps when you climb, why focus all of your training on that skill?


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By Mike Anderson
From Dayton, OH
Dec 8, 2011

I've gone up to 90 lbs, but I climb primarily on steep rock these days (big holds), so I think it's warranted. I hear what you're saying Brendan, but I've always found one arm hangs to be impractical, and time consuming. I feel like the return isn't worth the investment.

I absolutely LOVE your idea of adding tape behind holds to make them smaller. That is a brilliant idea. What about popsicle sticks out something like that? You could almost ditch the weights altogether and just record your progress in popsicle sticks.


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By Will S
From Joshua Tree
Dec 8, 2011

The last few cycles, at the end of the cycle I've ended up with 100-105 on a largish edge and up to 85-90 on some good slopers and about 60 on smaller holds (e.g. smallest edge on the wooden metolius board, and smallest campus rung).

While the lighter weights on smaller edges seems to be as beneficial (or moreso) than heavy stuff on larger ones, I feel like those heavy/big sets work my lats/bis/shoulders in a way that lighter/smaller won't.

Yeah, it is very uncomfortable, I get a wicked scrape/compression mark on one hip every time. That's why I recommend a dipping belt if you can get one, they're much more comfy. It also starts to become impractical in other ways, like if I use 25s and 10s the stack gets so wide my knees flare out and that forces some back-arching and can affect the hangs themselves, especially on pinches and slopers. But if I'm using 35s they start to hang too low and bang into the litte step thing I use to access the holds.

Dipping belt with a chain offers complete adjustability with how high/low. Just be aware that most of the cheaper ones that are nylon instead of leather have a capacity around 70 (before things start breaking), whereas the leather ones you can stack probably 150 or more on there with no problem.

As for making the holds smaller, I just got one of the DRCC V512 boards to add to the collection and immediately made some cutouts of cardboard to fit the hole above the smallest edges...you just have to make your templates before you mount the board so you can trace through the hole. Next hang cycle starts week of Christmas, so no real feedback on that board yet, other than to say the middle sloper (what I envisioned as the most useful) is not wide enough, I can barely get both hands on it with them touching each other.

On the one-arms, it just feels too threatening to shoudlers to me. You end up loading them in a weird way because your torso swings to be directly below that shoulder. But I'm also almost 40yr old, can't afford to have a shoulder issue...might never return to normal.


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By kevin deweese
From walnut creek, ca
Dec 9, 2011
don't throw rocks

Curt Hokanson wrote:
Are you really going to be that guy at the gym with a Rack on your harness though...?


use a chest harness with ankle / wrist weights tied to it. you get the weight, the swing and none of the THAT GUY factor.


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By Aerili
From Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 9, 2011
Get down from there! <br /> <br />May 2013 <br />Photo by Duc

TomCaldwell wrote:
Once your technique starts to suffer during a training session you should stop. ... I mainly only use the vest at home with the hangboard setup I made.

Right. The problem is that one cannot tell when technique begins to suffer with this kind of training. It definitely happens before you get tired. It most likely occurs immediately with a weight as small as 10 to 20 lbs added-- as that is enough to alter movement patterns.

It's good general advice people have given here to only apply this overweighting concept to purely non-skill components of conditioning. Overweighting and under-weighting skilled movements is a controversial area of training methodology and a subject of much biomechanical research. To my knowledge, the only benefit most studies have found with over- or underweighting (skilled movements) is when the weights added or subtracted are very small. And I mean small.


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By slim
Administrator
Dec 9, 2011
tomato, tomotto, kill mike amato.

thanks for the responses everybody. interesting to see the comments about the weights kind of getting in the way (knocking around between knees, trying to drag on the floor when you are hanging, etc), as i run into this quite a bit. i think i need to install my hangboard a bit higher so that i don't run into the problem of the weights wanting to drag on the floor when i am on the lowest edge.

also,
great tip about adding strips to the small edge - i might buy another hangboard just to play around with this a bit.


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By thedogfather
From Las Vegas, NV
Dec 9, 2011

I have two weight vests purchased from Dick's Sporting Goods. One has 20 lbs, the other has half the little sand inserts removed so it is 10 lbs. They fit like a vest with velcro so you can get them snug. With this setup, I can start with both on for 30lb, drop the 10lb after some sets, then swap the 20 and the 10. This allows me to do great pyramids. I used this setup for hangboarding and occasionally some fingertip chins all summer. No tendinitis, no injuries. And, I'm 62. I took the advice of Dave McLeod on this in his great book "9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes"


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