For Gym based ME strength workouts I.e. Those with squats, jumping split squats, lunges etc with added weight I recommend the use of a weight vest as its hard to perform some of these more dynamic movements with a pack correctly. For all other training that has a weight component (zone 1/2 aerobic capacity train, Hiking based heavy ME outdoors, any training on the treadmill/stairmill with added weight) I recommend folks use a pack and ideally that pack they’ll be carrying on the goal climb. This kind of sport specificity is especially important in the last months of training as the goal nears.
I’ve been wondering about the pro’s / con’s of using a weighted pack vs. a weighted vest for muscular endurance sessions, and relative benefits of each for training purposes.
When training for my previous expedition, I generally used the weighted vest for gym workouts (incline treadmill/stairs) and local walks (hill/stair laps in my neighborhood, as well as just walking my dog). The vest was about 20% of my bodyweight and I enjoyed how relatively easy it was to put on and accurately measure weight. On weekends, I would switch over to my expedition pack and all of the gear I planned to carry up to each campsite (also about 20-25% of my bodyweight). Of course this took more time to put together, but I noticed it helped a lot more with developing balance for carrying a big, bulky pack, especially on uphill/downhill.
In practice, when it came to actually carrying that same weight at high altitude (14,000’+), my legs burned out so much quicker than at sea level. The weight that had felt very manageable during my training sessions instead felt like a literal rock… Keeping balance on uneven terrain was also tricky. My guide pointed out that the weighted vest simply doesn’t fully simulate the expedition pack load because it is so streamlined and close to the body, and that I’d be better off training most often with a filled pack.
Since then, I’ve been wondering:
1. Would training with a pack/weighted vest heavier than my planned expedition weight help compensate for lack of training at altitude?
2. Are there any workouts where you would recommended a weighted vest over a weighted pack? Any insights on the relative benefits of each?
3. Should weighted vest weight generally be heavier than weighted pack weight for a given workout, to compensate for the lack of stability / balance training?
Thanks so much! Would love any thoughts/insights from others who have trained with each.
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