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If you are hoping to add some additional resistance to your cardio routine, you have a few options including hand weights or weighted accessories. Hand weights can be bulky and may be dangerous if your drop them. Weighted gloves and wrist weights are designed to add resistance to your workout without requiring you to grip weights or dumbbells. Wrist weights and weighted gloves share several characteristics and benefits but each type is best suited to specific kinds of exercises.
Both wrist weights and weighted gloves are designed to add weight and resistance so your upper body remains engaged during workouts or physical activities. Wrist weights are secured with straps or adhesive strips and weighted gloves fit over your hands. The weight from wrist weights is distributed around your wrist, while the majority of the weight in weighted gloves sits on the top of your hand or inside your palm, depending on the type of glove. Most types of weighted gloves and wrist weights feature a cushioned inner lining that wicks away moisture if you sweat during your workout.
Various weighted gloves are designed with specific workouts in mind. For example, if you want to include weighted gloves in a boxing workout, you can purchase a glove in the same size and shape as traditional boxing gloves. If your weighted glove is intended to add weight during cardiovascular training, you can purchase sleek gloves with open finger tips for maximum mobility. Some weight lifting gloves are also classified as weighted gloves because of their added weight to support a bar during lifting.
Some wrist weights resemble inflated rubber straps filled with a sand-like material. Other wrist weights are made of a series of pockets so that you can add or subtract weights as needed. Some wrist weights are designed to strap tightly around your wrist with other versions allow more flexibility in sizing so you can choose the most comfortable fit.
Weighted gloves and wrist weights are not interchangeable. Weighted gloves are most commonly used in training for sports like boxing or mixed martial arts. Weighted gloves not only build lean muscle mass during training activities, but they force you to increase the speed of your punches to combat the added resistance. During a regular match, your punches will be faster without the added weight thanks to the weighted gloves used during training.
Wrist weights are more commonly used to enhance simple cardiovascular activities like jogging, step aerobics, dancing or jumping rope. Many cardiovascular workouts engage the lower body more effectively than the upper body. Wrist weights place more stress on your arms so that your upper body muscles remain engaged throughout the workout for optimal caloric expenditure.
Your first consideration in choosing either weighted gloves or wrist weights should be the type of workout in which you typically engage, but you should also consider the more objective benefits and drawbacks of each. Weighted gloves cover most of your hand, which may be uncomfortable if you sweat excessively or experience swelling during your workouts. Wrist weights, though adjustable, may move during your workout and cause skin irritation. If you have joint pain in your wrists, shoulders or elbows, avoid both wrist weights and weighted gloves unless under the instruction of a physical therapist. The added weight may exacerbate existing problems.
The effectiveness of adding wrist weights or weighted gloves to your workout is controversial. A 1988 study published in "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise" found that wrist weights, hand weights and ankle weights all increased heart rates when compared to similar exercises without any additional weights. A subsequent study from 1998 published in "Gerontology" found that wrist weights had no positive or negative effects on moderate intensity aerobic activity. A heart rate monitor is the most effective way to monitor the effectiveness of your aerobic workout, and wrist weights or weighted gloves do not replace more intense strength training like lifting weights.
- PubMed.gov: Physiological Responses to Walking with Hand Weights, Wrist Weights, and Ankle Weights
- PubMed.gov: Effects of Low-Impact, Moderate-intensity Exercise Training With and Without Wrist Weights on Functional Capacities and Mood States in Older Adults
- The Globe and Mail: Will Wrist Weights Help Me Get Fit?
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images