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Training with Weighted Vests

Time of past OR future Camino
04/2024
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
 
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I got mine initially to wear while I trail walk with my pooch since he is getting older and slower but I still wanted a workout but I used it a lot for strength training before the Camino. I normally get to double my bag weight and wear it till about 2 months before the Camino then I transition to my bag since the weight distribution is different.
I started off with 5lb and built it up from there, I added 5lb every 2 weeks or so from memory and I would walk daily with it.
 
I think it’s great training to add weight to simulate the backpack. But I think I would prefer just walking with my actual pack on. That’s because I know that having 12 pounds weight pulling directly on my shoulders (if this is a vest without a hip belt) would make a mess of my lower back. Is there an advantage to using the vest over just packing up your pack and walking with it?
 
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The weight vest sits very close to your body and the weight is evenly distributed (Front/back) which I liked when running/walking with the dog but people did tend to avoid me more when I wore it lol.
 
Today, when I was out running errands I saw a woman walking up the road with a large backpack. I thought that she must be training for something. When I got closer I noticed that not only was she carrying the backpack, but she also had a rope attached to her hip belt that was tied to a tire that she was dragging behind her!
 
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hhmm .. I don't quite understand - I can see how a weighted vest will stress the body so making it stronger in exercise, when used wisely, but I can not see how it is a substitute for a loaded rucksack. All the weight of a rucksack rests on the hips via the hip belt, if correctly fitted there is no weight above this .. the shoulder straps are merely a way of stopping the rucksack bouncing around and there should be a one or two finger gap between the top of the shoulder straps and the shoulders -
- it is the legs, lower joints, feet, that have a problem with the extra weight, not the upper body - so .. no offense - but why don't you just wear your loaded rucksack? Or a weighted hip belt?
 
Yep , train with the pack you will be wearing IMHO. I could put mine on now after nearly 18months of not having it on and feel the bite where the straps dig in :)

Get used to wearing the shoes, your pack with some decent weight and a few hills ( and ear plugs ) :p
 
Today, when I was out running errands I saw a woman walking up the road with a large backpack. I thought that she must be training for something. When I got closer I noticed that not only was she carrying the backpack, but she also had a rope attached to her hip belt that was tied to a tire that she was dragging behind her!
Rather reminds me of the following NZ Police advertisement - you'll understand if you watch it.....

 
The 9th edition the Lightfoot Guide will let you complete the journey your way.
Today, when I was out running errands I saw a woman walking up the road with a large backpack. I thought that she must be training for something. When I got closer I noticed that not only was she carrying the backpack, but she also had a rope attached to her hip belt that was tied to a tire that she was dragging behind her!

She was having a rest day and decided to leave the rest of the car at home!!!🤣
 
Rather reminds me of the following NZ Police advertisement - you'll understand if you watch it.....

So Kiwi! I love that ad! Look out for the Police cat!

I was just chiming in to say I've trained with my hiking pack. I just load up half my kitchen pantry (heavy cans, bottles etc) and go for a brisk walk. It also helps you get used to the ergonomics of the pack, as your posture would be ever so slightly different with a training vest.
 
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
Where did you get this advice? If it wasn’t from a qualified health professional, ignore it.
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
I got mine initially to wear while I trail walk with my pooch since he is getting older and slower but I still wanted a workout but I used it a lot for strength training before the Camino. I normally get to double my bag weight and wear it till about 2 months before the Camino then I transition to my bag since the weight distribution is different.
I started off with 5lb and built it up from there, I added 5lb every 2 weeks or so from memory and I would walk daily with it.
Thanks, not sure if I will use it yet. I don’t want to strain my lower back. I’m leaning towards just using my pack, which would be the real thing.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Because I wear my clothes for Camino in daily life, I don’t want to pack them into my pack for training. I’d imagine this could be the case for lots of us on the forum.
Solution?
I bought 10 pounds of clean play-sand and filled a special sandbag designed for exercise use. Our local outfitter had fundamentally the same thing in the Gregory pack weights they would use to help fit all brands of packs. Taking the idea in my own hands, I made my own that I can place that in my backpack… Bob’s your uncle.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I did two months of training w/ the vest ( 12lbs) , walking two hours of up and down in the threadmill before my last walk, camino de Torres/Camiho de Geira/camino del norte, while wearing heavier than normal hiking boots. Total weight 154 from my 135 normal ( lbs ). All I can say is that it must have helped but reality still bites, them first couple of weeks in the camino were though. Is not just weight that gets you. Mind set can make that pack feel like a ton of bricks. The threadmill can simulate ups and downs but going up for four hours or doing a 25 degree incline at the end of an 8 hour hike for the last hour when thirsty and hungry is not simulatable. So yes any added weight will thoughen you when training but expect to be challenged with reality...
 
We train with our Camino packs. Start light, using pillows to distribute the dumbbells we use for weight and add a pound a week until the packs are several pounds over their camino weight. Wear them walking out doors, on the treadmill at an incline (we have no hills), and on the stair stepper. Works for us.
 
Sure, why not?
Any type of walking workout is great for pre Camino training and I can definitely see how a weighted vest would simulate wearing a backpack.
Physical training before walking 800 kms is a must. That's total physical training to include nutrition and core/upper body. It seems to get little press time on this forum. More chatter goes into equipment, which is great but a total moot point if the person cannot walk a few kilometers in the first place.
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
I recommend using the actual pack, shoes, socks and hiking sticks you plan to walk a Camino in. Either add "dummy weight" (bags of kitty litter or water bottles to approximate you planned pack weight), OR actually pack the rucksack as though you were on Camino for real.

This results in the best shakedown test and training simulation. Train like you fight, and fight like you trained.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
I use one...but actually stick it in my backpack for rucking purposes! Last year I was hiking 4 miles a day with 45lbs on my back! I even add weight to my trekking poles! All that said, I recommend adding weight to your pack rather than a vest to train you for the feel and weight distribution of a pack rather than a vest! Train heavy, pack lite! Buen camino! Note: 2 weeks before you leave, taper off on this training.

PS: Here are the Trekking pole weights I ended up inventing originally for me, and then for others: https://shelltoucher.com/products/s...to-the-next-level?_pos=1&_sid=f31ecab10&_ss=r
 
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I got mine initially to wear while I trail walk with my pooch since he is getting older and slower but I still wanted a workout but I used it a lot for strength training before the Camino. I normally get to double my bag weight and wear it till about 2 months before the Camino then I transition to my bag since the weight distribution is different.
I started off with 5lb and built it up from there, I added 5lb every 2 weeks or so from memory and I would walk daily with it.
I agree with Apollo. Use the vest when the Camino is 3 or more months away, with some backpack workouts when convenient, but transition to using mostly your backpack in the 2 months before your Camino. This approach will have the most benefits, and is similiar to what serious athletes do: cross-train for generalized strength during the off season and then get "sport-specific" as the season approaches. You'll get a base of overall strength with benefits for a wider range of activities, reducing your risk of injury. Two months is plenty of time to develop "Camino-specific" strength for the actual walking. You can more safely do a much wider range of exercises with a vest. Insert some side lunges, get ups, planks, etc for variety in your vest walks. Just ramp the weight up gradually to stay uninjured. Practice climbing up into the upper bunk of a bunk bed with it on - haha! This will make you more resilient, flexible and injury resistant overall.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.

You got bad advice.

A weighted backpack can help strengthen your back because of the uneven weight distribution.

A weighted vest will be useful for conditioning and may give some benefits to your core/torso/legs but will not strengthen your back or upper body.

If you want to strengthen your back, legs and core, gym exercises with a barbell (deadlift, squats and barbell raises) is to me the best option, and also carry a pack on days you're not in the gym for conditioning rather than wearing a weighted vest.
 
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
Prior to even thinking about walking the Camino, I started walking using an 8# weighted vest. I believe that it increased my core strength and the weight was evenly distributed front and back - I also don't have any existing back issues.

When I made the decision to walk the Camino, I trained consistently with a 10# vest up until six weeks before I left for SJPP, when I switched to using my partially loaded backback. Wearing the vest is NOT a substitute for knowing what your loaded pack will feel like as the weight distribution is so different. That said, using the weighted vest built core strength for me in my preparations. I also still walk witht the vest, with no Camino planned until 2025.
Buen Camino!
 
I train with a small pack and 5lb of weight for a few days and then up it to 10lb and continue with that while increasing distance. Then switch to my actual pack with much more weight than I will carry on Camino. My partner has a weight vest and uses that.

The weight distribution is very different between a pack and vest but I think walking with either is important prior to heading on Camino. Even a small amount of weight can be exhausting when you're not used to it! I'm always surprised at how much slower I am with a pack!
 
The 9th edition the Lightfoot Guide will let you complete the journey your way.
Prior to even thinking about walking the Camino, I started walking using an 8# weighted vest. I believe that it increased my core strength and the weight was evenly distributed front and back - I also don't have any existing back issues.

When I made the decision to walk the Camino, I trained consistently with a 10# vest up until six weeks before I left for SJPP, when I switched to using my partially loaded backback. Wearing the vest is NOT a substitute for knowing what your loaded pack will feel like as the weight distribution is so different. That said, using the weighted vest built core strength for me in my preparations. I also still walk witht the vest, with no Camino planned until 2025.
Buen Camino!
That seems very reasonable. I do plan on using mostly my weighted pack. Perhaps using the vest a bit for core strength. I’m walking in a month’s time, but I’ve been training since November, but I’ve always been a walker/hiker. I had a little hiccup breaking my fifth metatarsal, but I’m still going. Mostly because I’m retired and I don’t take it for granted my life expectancy! My time is now! Buen Camino!
 
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
My understanding is that walking with a weighted vest is not primarily intended to strengthen the upper body, but to increase the intensity of the exercise for improved cardiovascular health. I became accustomed to walking with a backpack on my Camino in 2019, however as it is unlikely I will get the opportunity for another Camino any time soon, I find a weighted vest more comfortable for my daily walks.

I also find the weighted vest with a balanced front and back weight distribution gives me better balance on the often pot-holed country road where I walk before sunrise for much of the year. Walking with 10lb (4.5kg) weights takes a noticeable increase in effort to maintain the same walking speed.

Obviously, I will train with a backpack before my next Camino which I hope to do in the next three years.
 
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I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
Great question...I've been researching this, as a yoga therapist and soon-to-be Pilgrim. I agree with the previous comments about a backpack and the benefit of it bearing weight as you will on the Camino. Put most of the weight on your hips when you adjust the straps. I also like the idea of not needing to buy more "stuff". If you'd like, research "rucking" and you'll see a trend to the good old-fashioned backpack.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Not the same, but related, in a Facebook Camino group I recently saw someone selling weights to add to your hiking poles for training. Not for me.
That would be me! ;) It’s amazing how light your gear feels on the trail after training heavy and with resistance leading up to the trip! Thanks for sharing that!
 
In my own experience training for the Camino, I think sometimes too much emphasis is placed on "aerobic" fitness, which having walked it a couple of times now, seems less important. Sure there are moments with steep inclines that might leave you shallow breathing but by and large it is an undulating walk.

Far more important this time around I think is strengthening the muscles that should be used for walking and stability, so your hips and glutes. Learning how to use them in a proper gait pattern, will make the walk much more pleasant as the common injuries you hear from people, low back pain, knee pain etc are symptoms of the pain, not their cause. The pathology is usually weak glutes and lack of proper internal / external hip rotation.

Training the different glute muscles; medius, maximus and minimus, learning to hip hinge correctly and strengthening the muscles around your hips, would make the walking much easier, the aerobic side you'll pick up naturally when you're out there walking.

Previously I trained myself into an injury just before walking, because I was going for 15/20km incline treadmill walks each weekend, thinking it would strengthen my legs appropriately, but it just caused stress on my knee, leading to patella tracking issues. The underlying issue was weak glutes, which have and are taking me months to rehabilitate. So That'd be the training recommendation I think most people could get alot of benefit out of.
 
I agree with Apollo. Use the vest when the Camino is 3 or more months away, with some backpack workouts when convenient, but transition to using mostly your backpack in the 2 months before your Camino. This approach will have the most benefits, and is similiar to what serious athletes do: cross-train for generalized strength during the off season and then get "sport-specific" as the season approaches. You'll get a base of overall strength with benefits for a wider range of activities, reducing your risk of injury. Two months is plenty of time to develop "Camino-specific" strength for the actual walking. You can more safely do a much wider range of exercises with a vest. Insert some side lunges, get ups, planks, etc for variety in your vest walks. Just ramp the weight up gradually to stay uninjured. Practice climbing up into the upper bunk of a bunk bed with it on - haha! This will make you more resilient, flexible and injury resistant overall.
Thank you @GaryRobArms for saying exactly what I would say.

There is a persistent belief here that the best way to train for the Camino is to simulate the hiking as much as possible. It is understandable because it is intuitively logical, but it is not at all what we know about and practice for modern sports conditioning.

The benefit of cross training is a fundamental. Who do you think will do better in a swimming competition, a swimmer who trains twenty hours a week by swimming or one who also trains for twenty hours a week, but cross trains by swimming for 16 hours and running or cycling for the other four? The answer is counterintuitive, but very well established, and it is the one who cross trains. So applying that to Camino preparation, that means that it is not best to prepare by only hiking, wearing your pack and boots. It would be much more beneficial to spend some time - and give your joints a break - by also doing some swimming, cycling, rowing or some other completely different work out.

Another misconception I often see is the idea that we only need to strengthen the muscles that are most used when hiking. Again, that may seem most logical, but it is not true. Whole body strength conditioning is necessary to prepare for any physical activity, the more the better. This is especially important for preventing injuries because, for example if one trips, one unexpectedly needs to use ‘non-hiking’ muscles to stop oneself from falling. If those other muscles are too weak because the poor misguided pilgrim thought ‘to prepare to hike, I need only to hike,’ then those other muscles won’t be strong enough to keep him upright.

I think a weighted vest is an excellent idea, and I have used one myself. Start with much lower weight than 12 pounds. Mine is 8 pounds, and that’s plenty, and I worked up to that amount. The idea that it uses slightly different muscles than wearing a pack is a good thing, not a bad one as it provides a bit of more general conditioning. A vest does not hang on your shoulders, as some have suggested. It fits pretty tightly around your chest and the weight is borne pretty directly downward through your hips. Because it is distributed evenly front and back, it’s quite comfortable. I think it only moderately works your back and abdominal muscles, but is a great workout for your legs and glutes. Another advantage is that you can walk around town wearing it inconspicuously, unlike a pack. For me, it helped a lot as an intermediary step to carrying a full pack.
 
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New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
I got some advice today for strengthening my back and upper body, by wearing a weighted vest. I’m planning on trying it out with a 12 pounder which would simulate my backpack. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has used one. Regardless, I’m going to do it and will follow back with my feedback.
I trained with putting a 10 lb bag of dogfood in my backpack in my backpack and walked the daily distance I hoped to walk. That worked great helping me getting my self used to the weight of the backpack.
 
A vest does not hang on your shoulders, as some have suggested. It fits pretty tightly around your chest and the weight is borne pretty directly downward through your hips.
Thanks for that correction. In your view, is its main advantage over using your camino backpack the fact that it doesn’t look weird walking around town?

And I totally agree with you about the importance of muscle conditioning. I have seen so many extremely fit (and usually young) pilgrims who thought they could sail through a series of 40 km days at the outset and then wound up with something badly messed up. My theory has always been that since they are in such good aerobic condition, their bodies will just keep going a lot longer than those of us who are generations older, but their muscle conditioning may not match up with those distances.

And the other thing that I don’t think has been mentioned is the importance of stretching and icing those shins to counteract the repetitive foot strike that comes from so much pavement. Once it gets bad, it’s hard to get it to go away while continuing to walk, but lots of stretching every time you feel a little tinge and making sure to ice, can prevent things from going down hill.
 
St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
In your view, is its main advantage over using your camino backpack the fact that it doesn’t look weird walking around town?
I’d just say all around convenience is the advantage. Not looking weird, yes, but also knowing exactly how much weight, and storing it in my front hall closet.
 

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