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When To Use a Weight Vest
 
 
John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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04-16-2019, 05:55 PM
 
Hello Everyone,

Earlier today I received an e-mail from a young man that competes in MMA and he wanted advice for when to use a weight vest. Some of you may be wondering the same.

I'll answer the question this way.

Years ago I had a great number of discussions with Dr. Laurence E. Morehouse. Dr. Morehouse had a great personality and was as down to earth as any man you could possibly meet.

The results of his years as director of the Human Performance Laboratory at UCLA was that he had developed specific guidelines for getting the most from exercise. And not only did he have established guidelines but he de-mystified everything because as he put it, "There's no magic going on here."

The guideline for enhancing muscle mass/size is as follows.

For building muscle mass Dr. Morehouse believed that sets of 15 to 20 reps were ideal for that purpose based on the research subjects they tested. It didn't matter whether the exercise was for the upper body or lower body. What mattered was that muscles were thoroughly worked so that they were fatigued between 15 and 20 reps. Once people got into the advanced stages of conditioning it would require making serious adjustments by increasing the intensity of resistance so that fatigue was still felt at 15 to 20 reps. At first, you can do all kinds of things to make bodyweight exercises seem more intense but after you have made all the adjustments to the most difficult positions then its time to use a weight vest that you can gradually add weight to so that at the end of 8 weeks you still fatigued in the 15 to 20 rep range. The number of sets he recommended was from 2 to 5 while maintaining the 15 to 20 threshold of intensity.

Dr. Morehouse believed you should change intensity levels every 8 weeks in order to keep the body adapting to a new challenge.

So at the end of 8 weeks, he would then have you switch to another physiological objective such as building endurance at which time you would lower the amount of resistance and perform more reps aiming for fatigue to hit at some time between 40 and 50 reps per set while moving as fast as you can. The number of sets was to be at least 3 but not more than 5 in a given workout but he did say that some people could workout twice each day and still gain.

The last objective was intense strength gain and once again he thought everyone was best served by staying on 8-week cycles starting with adding mass, then endurance, and finally strength. Strength workouts were his favorite because they were short and intense. And just so you all know, Dr. Morehouse told me that if strength gain was the sole objective that isometric contraction was by far the most effective way of achieving it and that if someone could perform an Isometric contraction at every position within a range of motion that it would then be the most effective means of achieving strength as applied to athletics. Unfortunately, measuring the intensity of Isometric Contraction was not and is not an easy thing to do. Yet, Morehouse told me that from time to time he had students that would achieve fantastic results with isometrics that had enhanced strength for performing other exercises. In fact, there was one young man that Morehouse coached that he said could probably have entered and won a great many physique contests and that young man was doing Isometrics daily. Morehouse said that if anyone had ever fully mastered Isometrics it was that young man. Unfortunately most people don't have the ability to push themselves that hard, so for the average person, Dr. Morehouse stated that the body weight workouts needed to be so intense that 1 really good rep was the ideal starting point per set but to then work up with the same level of intensity to where you are completing sets of 5 with the same resistance that you had originally used for just one rep.

So here is the bottom line on weight vest training. There is no no doubt that you can achieve a great deal of strength with bodyweight workouts alone and you can certainly sculpt your muscles that way but unless you want or enjoy performing long, high volume sets you'll get to the point where wearing a weight vest makes sense because by doing so you can cut your reps dramatically from 50 or more to sets 15 to 20. You'll see what I mean if you are currently doing sets of 50 push-ups but then start using a weight vest. You'll want to use enough weight so that your muscles are fatigued 15 reps to a set and work up 20 reps before adding more resistance. How far should you take it? That would be up to the man. BUT think of how strong and sculpted you would be if you started weight vest training and you got to the point where you were capable of doing the high volume sets you do now with an added 25 pounds directly over your upper back, chest, and shoulders. I realize that 25 pounds does not sound like much but if you do work up to sets of 50 it will be amazing to see what it does to your strength to body weight ratio.

--John Peterson

P.S. 5 X 15 to 20 reps with 52-pound weight vest is in the realm of dreams for performing Push-Ups.


Last edited by John Peterson; 04-18-2019 at 04:38 PM.
 
 
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jaymo jaymo is offline
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04-17-2019, 07:48 PM
 
John, this is a good summation! More intensity to keep the reps lower is great.

I tried a vest, but for me, well- I hated it! Just my temperament I guess, but it seemed somehow that I just couldn't make it hard enough without really piling on the weight; which I had just gotten away from, after dropping heavy weight training.

For me, SLOWING the movement down is magical. I can literally destroy myself with very few reps, especially with negatives, when done extremely SLOWLY.

But I believe the higher reps also need to be done, just to infuse the muscles with oxygenating blood: you taught me this! I do the higher rep sets first, sets of 30, 25, and 20 with legs raised, for 4 sets - and then finish with a SLOW set of as many as I can, but really, really slow.

Anyway, this is what works for me, both physically and temperamentally. Perhaps others will benefit.

Oh- and about your stretching piece: I agree 100%! So many believe overstretching and flexibility is the holy grail. Stretching is VERY important indeed, and I do a lot of it every morning, on the floor on my mat- but I never try to become a Gumby.

For instance, I can't do a 'nose to mat' backbridge. But I do one daily, with my nose about 1" off the floor, because that is as far as my body let's me go


Still is one of my favorite moves! If my nose actually reached to the floor.... so what? It would just mean I was built to be a ..... GUMBY!
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John Peterson John Peterson is offline
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04-18-2019, 04:46 PM
 
Hey Jaymo,

Thank You for the feedback. I'm sort of the opposite. The Super Slow reps are something that doesn't fit my temperament. But I am glad to read that it works well for you.


--John Peterson

 
 
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05-03-2019, 03:40 PM
 
Hello Everyone,

This is in answer to a man that asked about using a weight vest for high volume sets and the answer is that if you really enjoy high volume why not start by adding somewhere around 5 to 10 pounds and then rebuild to the same numbers that you are doing presently without the vest. At that point, you can gradually add 2 & 1/2 pounds at a time and rebuild each time to where you are presently at without the vest. Believe me, if the day ever comes that you are doing the same volume in the future with from 25 to 52 pounds in a weight vest you will be a great deal stronger and more enduring but it will require a long-term commitment. 5 to 10 pounds does not sound like much but I assure you that it is. For every 100 repetitions, you'd be adding an additional 1000 pounds of work. Trust me on this, It will all add up.

---John Peterson
 
 
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