Perfect Weight Vest Inside Weight Pockets
If you are looking for different ways to train for your backpacking adventures, then you should try the Perfect® Weight Vest. It comes in two sizes: a 20 pound or 40 pound vest with the ability to adjust the weight from 1 pound up to 40 pounds. Pictured is the 20 pound vest (the 40 pound vest is longer).  This vest is much slimmer than other brands I have tried and more secure with the double-belly Velcro band.  This is important because you want the vest to stay snug to the body and out of the way while you are moving.  Other bonus features include reflective material for safety in low light situations, a pocket for a smart phone or MP3 player and soft padding that makes it comfortable for the shoulders.
Perfect Weight Vest MP3 Player Pouch
When training with a weight vest, you can help build your cardiovascular endurance (which you need on a hike) or you can use it to build strength.  Your body must first be conditioned enough without the vest. This is extremely important, because you obviously want to reduce the risk of injuring yourself. If you can easily perform movements (hikes and exercises) without any added weight or resistance, then you are ready to add the weight vest.  You should first start with a vest weighing no more than 5% of your body weight. See how you feel with your training, and increase weight as you are successful with perfect form.  Perfect form means good posture with abs contracted, chest open and shoulders retracted and depressed (able to keep spine in a neutral position while performing various exercises). The core exercises (such as planks and weighted triangle) should always be performed with lighter weight.
Perfect Weight Vest (1)
The only negative I have found with this weight vest (and all weight vests) is that you get really warm.  Even though it has a breathable shell, once you put the weights in the pockets, you get warmer than you would just holding dumbbells or weights in your hands or having a pack on your back.  With that said, it’s nice to change it up and have the weight evenly distributed on your body.  This challenges your body differently and may even help you break through fitness plateaus.
Specs:  Depth 2 in. / Height 16.5 in. / Width 17 in. / Total Weight = 21 pounds
*Here’s some strengthening exercises for backpacking using a weighted vest:
1 Legged Deadlift (Targets core, legs, and glutes)
  • Stand tall on one leg with knee soft.
  • Slowly reach towards your knee as you hinge forward.
  • Keep your spine straight with your abs contracted and chest open.
  • Raise back up slowly and repeat 30-60 seconds on each leg.
  • Make easier:  Tap back foot down.
  • Make harder:  Reach towards shin (don’t round your spine).
Plank (Targets core muscles)
  • Start in a tabletop position on hands and knees.
  • Push your hips forward with your shoulders directly over your hands or elbows (also known as modified plank).
  • Straighten legs to increase difficulty and hold 20-60 seconds.
  • Make harder:  Add rotation by slowly raising arm out to side and overhead.  Slowly lower back down and repeat on other side.
Side Squat (Targets legs, glutes and hips)
  • Stand tall with feet together.
  • Step out to side with your right foot and press your hips back into a squat with your chest open.
  • Push off your right foot to bring feet together standing tall again.
  • Repeat for 30-60 seconds on each leg.
  • Make easier:  Modify your squat by only bending your knees slightly.
  • Make harder:  Increase your range of motion with thighs parallel to ground.
Alternating Front Lunges (Targets legs, glutes and hips)
  • Stand tall with feet together.
  • Step forward with the right leg.
  • Keep weight on your right heel as you lower down into a lunge.
  • Push off your right leg to stand with feet together again.
  • Repeat sequence with the left leg.
  • Alternate front lunges for 30-60 seconds.
Triangle (Targets core, hip and leg muscles)
*This is a great way to work your abs and back without doing crunches.
  • Start in a wide stance, feet wider than shoulders.
  • Turn your right toes out with weight even on both legs (don’t let your left foot cave in).
  • Squeeze your quads as you open your chest and pinch your shoulder blades.
  • Slowly hinge from the hips as you tilt your torso to the right with chest open.
  • Only lower a couple inches, hold 2-3 seconds and slowly raise back up.
  • Repeat 3-10 times on each side.
  • Make easier:  Plant your back foot (left foot) at a wall for more stability.
  • Make harder:  Increase range of motion (as shown in photo).
Perfect Weight Vest Exercises for Backpacking
*Always start exercises without the weight vest first.  Consult your physician before starting this or any new exercise program.
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