Contemporary Ergonomics 2001

By Margaret A. Hanson | Go to book overview

ERGONOMIC EVALUATION OF A WEIGHTED VEST FOR POWER TRAINING

Philip Graham-Smith, Neil Fell, Gareth Gilbert, Joanne Burke and Thomas Reilly

Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences,
Liverpool John Moores University,
Henry Cotton Campus, Webster St.,
Liverpool, L3 2E

Weighted vests are becomingly increasingly popular as resistance devices for power training. They provide additional resistance to the lower limb musculature for vertical jumping and sprinting drills, but this additional load may cause increased compressive forces on the spine. The aim of this study was therefore to quantify the mechanical loading of the spine by measuring changes in stature following unloaded and loaded jump training using a commercially available weighted vest. The PowerVest© has been uniquely designed to distribute the load in the lumbar region and over the shoulders. Spinal shrinkage was found to increase throughout the 5 sets of 10 vertical jumps, in both counter-movement and drop jump conditions. The addition of a PowerVest© with 10% body mass did not significantly increase spinal shrinkage over the period of testing compared to unloaded counter-movement jumps and drop jumps from a height of 20 cm. It was concluded that the PowerVest© provided a safe means of adding resistance to the body in power training activities under the conditions studied. Subjective responses also indicated that the PowerVest© was comfortable to wear, rarely impaired lower and upper limb movement and that performance enhancing benefits could be felt from wearing the PowerVest©.


Introduction

The ability of the muscles to generate power for explosive actions is critical for success in many sports. Explosive muscle actions are required in sports that involve both jumping and throwing movements. Equally, sudden bursts of power are essential for rapid changes in direction, or accelerating during various sports events, such as football, rugby, basketball, tennis and hockey (Newton and Kraemer, 1994).

The optimal training method to develop explosive speed and power is not always clearly established. For several decades sprint athletes have trained with various apparatus, such as pulling a tyre or sled, wearing a parachute or simply being held by a partner, to increase the external resistance and therefore overload the neuromuscular system to perform at a higher level (Dintiman et al., 1998; Seagrove, 1996).

In addition to the implements described above for enhancing speed capabilities, the systematic loading of weight to the body in different forms (vest, pants, or suit) has

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