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What are the Different Types of Body Weights?

Marlene de Wilde
Marlene de Wilde

There are many different types of body weights, which can be worn or attached to the body in order to increase the effectiveness of resistance training. Weighted clothing can be worn as vests, while backpacks, bands and belts can be attached to arms and legs. The use of this kind of exercise equipment is to enable free movement of the body while increasing resistance to movement, which then requires extra strength and burns more calories in the execution of the workout. There are some risks associated with their use.

Ankle and wrist weights are usually wrap-around bands of strong fabric secured with Velcro or buckles and filled with sand, gel or other heavy weighted substances such as steel shot. They come in different sizes and some have extra pockets where weight can be added or removed as desired. They are cheap and easy to use but effective only when used in the right way.

Man lifting weights
Man lifting weights

Ankle weights in particular have their disadvantages especially when used for aerobic exercises like running and walking. Their use does make the muscles work harder and so there is more of a cardiovascular benefit, but they can result in too much stress on the joints and cause problems such as torn ligaments and pulled muscles. Experts suggest that rather than attaching body weights, increasing and varying speeds and rates of difficulty are better ways of increasing the effectiveness of an exercise program that includes running and walking. Ankle weights are more beneficial in other kinds of routines such as controlled strength-building exercises.

Wrist weights help build muscle and add strength, whether they are employed in exercise routines or worn during daily activities such as household chores. The use of body weights when they are too heavy can result in injury to the wrist, elbow and shoulder joints. Weights can also be attached to the upper arm or worn as weighted gloves.

Other kinds of weight exercises can be done using equipment such as a weighted vest, which is worn over the torso. The wearing of a weighted vest while doing resistance training has been shown to greatly increase performance and endurance. Overuse, however, results in possible injury and so they should only be used occasionally as a supplement to the workout. Backpacks that have been loaded with sand, gravel, or weighted plates are also used to increase the training effect of exercise. Weight belts are used by weightlifters to support the spine but do not have any training benefits like increasing strength or endurance.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - Trying a variety of exercises is a good idea as long as people don't overdo it. Body weights are an example of a good idea that can be taken too far. And while most people seem to be aware that ankle weights are probably not a great idea, that holds true of other kinds of body weights as well, if they aren't used properly.

Your body is going to suffer from more wear if it's put under strange pressures and the wrists and ankles are not designed to carry weight. Your back can also be easily injured if weight isn't distributed properly and you exercise too vigorously.

This is not something I would try to do at home paired with strenuous exercise. The potential for injury is just too great.


@clintflint - Exercising in water is definitely a good idea, but you can't do that for everything, particularly if you are training for something in particular. Your body needs a variety of different exercises to be at its best, but it also needs targeted exercises that mimic whatever you are going to ask it to do in competition.

So, if you're training for a race, you still need to run. And I think that it can be an excellent strategy to load yourself with extra weight in order to condition yourself.

But even that is just one technique. You should also try interval training and body weight exercises for strength and so forth. Doing the same thing over and over is not going to put you at your peak fitness, and it's also kind of boring.


If you really want to increase your resistance, a much better method than using ankle weights is to do your workout in a pool. It might need some modification, but it can be a great way to challenge your muscles without stressing or straining yourself.

There is even specialized pool equipment that will ensure you drag in the water and challenge you even further, but like any kind of normal body weight, you should make sure you know how to use them before strapping them on.

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      Man lifting weights