Brothers Brendan and Cam Jones of YouTube’s Goal Guys are all about doing fitness challenges to push themselves to improve of set periods of time. For one project, they worked 60 days to increase their vertical jump more than 4 inches. And in another, they took 30 days to work solely on increasing their grip strength. For their latest attempt, Brendan is using a weighted vest pullup challenge to work on improving his upper body strength.
To do it, he purchased a weighted vest that can hold up to 45 pounds to provide an extra challenge to his bodyweight workouts. “My goal is to see how much I can improve my upper body strength with weighted vest training. And to add some incentive, I decided to challenge my brother Cam to a pullup challenge at the end,” says Brendan. At stake: if Brendan wins, Cam will have to read a massive book of his choosing. And if Cam wins, Brendan will have to write a 700-plus word essay on why Cam’s videos are better than his.
To start, Brendan throws on the vest at 25 pounds to see how many pullups he can do on Day 1. He totals can just five reps.
“Getting under six pullups just feels demoralizing,” he says.
With a baseline number to work from, he starts training with a program to strengthen his chest, upper back and biceps two to three times per week. He’ll supplement that with lower body workouts filling in the additional days. He breaks down the program between rep ranges that will target strength, hypertrophy and endurance.
Brendan trains on outdoor exercise rings and pullup bar setup, as well as indoor weighted pushups and TRX training. By the end of Week 3, he’s starting to see real improvement with his pullups. On Day 25, he achieves five full sets of five reps of pullups with the weighted vest on. He notes that his pushups have also improved, and he can do sets of 15 reps with an additional 15 pounds in the vest.
On the final day of the challenge, Brendan and Cam meet in a gym to see who has the ultimate upper body strength. Brendan notes that Cam has also been increasing his strength training, and they are likely equally matched. Once the contest is on, the brothers set up on their own pullup bars. Cam wears no additional weight, while Brendan wears a 25-pound vest. And the winner is: Brendan. He ekes out 6 reps, while Cam only manages 5 reps.
“I feel really good about the progress I was able to make,” says Brendan. “While training with a weighted vest isn’t going to rapidly transform your progress, I do think it’s a valuable next step if you’re consistently able to clear five sets of eight or 10 pullups.” He’s not wrong. Adding resistance like a weight vest to your bodyweight movements is a proven path to building strength.
He notes that he is going to continue to train with the weighted vest, but with a lower weight and higher reps.
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