So you want to step your climbing game up, huh?
You want to be that bouldering beast that you’ve always wanted to be. And you’ve got your eyes on a weighted vest to help you get there.
You may wonder: “Is climbing with a weighted vest a good form of training for boulderers?”
I asked that same question myself and I so did some research. Here’s a few things to consider:
Climbing with a weighted vest has several benefits
In general, training with a weighted vest is said to boost at least 4 things every athlete should desire:
1. Burns fat
First, it boosts your body’s burning of fat. This naturally is favourable to your climbing performance. Getting rid of a pound or two has never hurt anyone’s climbing: as long as it’s not muscular tissue that we’re getting rid of.
2. Increases muscle & bone strength
Secondly, it is said to increase not only your muscles but also your bone strength. As climbers, we use our bones for various grips, such as crimp grips, and adding some extra strength to these bones is never a luxury. So a weighted vest might be useful here too.
Keep in mind, however, that the increased bone strength comes from the extra strain put on by the weighted vest. Wearing it normally probably won’t do a thing for the bones in your fingers: you’ll have to actually climb using it. Perhaps you could even consider training at a fingerboard with your weighted vest. It goes without saying that you should be careful, though, as training with a weighted vest does increase your chances to get injuries.
In any case, the increased strength in your leg bones could come in handy when doing a knee bar and all the other muscles that your weighted vest helps you build in your whole body will definitely help your climbing.
3. Cardiovascular benefits
Wearing weighted vests trains your cardiovascular system. This means that you’ll notice a boost in your endurance once you take your vest off. You’ll be able to climb for longer periods of time, experiencing pump later than you normally would have.
4. Works your core strength
It’s a great boost for your core strength. This is one of the most important muscle groups for climbers. You utilize your core when you’re flagging, on overhanging faces, and when pulling yourself up. So climbing with a weighted vest will definitely give you an edge when it comes to your core strength.
Climbing with a weighted vest shifts your center of gravity
There’s a downside to climbing with a weighted vest, too.
When you’re climbing, you need to coordinate yourself perfectly in order to land your next grip. Wearing a weighted vest, however, does shift your balance, which becomes increasingly significant during horizontal climbs.
If you train a lot while wearing a weighted vest, this might disrupt your coordination next time you climb without one. So it’s probably best practise to stay in touch with your natural center of gravity by not climbing exclusively with a weighted vest on.
What to look for in a weighted vest for climbing
We’ve already established that climbing with a weighted vest has a great potential to benefit your climbing. We’ve also covered that the pullback to training with a vest is the shift in your body’s center of gravity.
Therefore, a weighted vest suited for climbers, should have a nice and equal distribution of the weights across a relatively large area, to minimize this shift.
Another disadvantage a weighted vest can have on your climbing performance while wearing it, is the diminished action radius of your arms it might cause. So it’s important that your weighted vest leaves enough space for your arms to move properly as well.
In case you want to try it out yourself, I’ve had a look on Amazon and found that there are some vests that seem to fit these two requirements, like this one.
Personally, I think that climbing with a weighted vest sounds like a fun and interesting idea. But I would be thoughtful to do it responsibly too. I haven’t bought a weighted vest myself yet, but I’m really keen on testing it out. when I do, you can be sure to find a post about it!