I recently started playing the VR game Beat Saber as a form of exercise. It involves waving your arms around a bunch.

I *also* got 1.5 pound wrist weights to use while playing, to increase the degree of workout.

Since then, someone made a vague claim about this potentially being damaging for joints, or something. I'm curious if anyone has a clear sense of whether and why wrist-weights would be beneficial or harmful.

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*What is the injury risk*

To establish what the concern is: 1) the next joint up is the elbow* and that is the one that will have extra stress 2) "joints" tends to either mean tendons or ligaments. I doubt there are any studies on Beat Saber, but this is similar to tennis. In tennis you hold an object of ~1lb at the end of your arms; plus when you hit the ball there is much more force than just weight of the racket. I expect any injury from the weights would be similar to tennis elbow, which is inflammation of the tendon in the elbow.

I wouldn't expect this to be a big deal at all. 1) Most people over 40 have scar tissue in their tendons, most people are basically unaffected by it 2) Not everyone in tennis gets tennis elbow 3) Because there is a more consistent force rather than the sudden impact of the ball I expect this to have a lower injury rate than tennis (note how pulling the slack out of a barbell before lifting it drastically improves safety when the movement is less sudden)

*Yes the shoulder is a thing, but based on watching a single video of Beat Saber on youtube I don't expect much additional shoulder stress from the weights

*Should you use them while playing*

Eh, I'd base that more around what's fun for you. If ya wanna get ripped, you'll need more than this. If you wanna get skinny, that's mostly in the kitchen. If ya wanna improve your cardiovascular health this will help but I don't expect the wrist weights to make or break it.

Mostly I want to improve my cardiovascular health (and, this is optimized a lot around "what I'm empirically actually willing to do a lot of that makes me actually sweat. Previously I've tried more typical weightlifting or other activities, but this one I actually stick with."

Does your "eh, doesn't matter to much one way another" takeaway stay the same if the weight is increased?

FWIW, I think "efficient" beat saber playing tends to focus on elbow moves, but because I'm optimizing a bit for workout I think I move my shoulders more than usual.

I put on Backside by Think Twice and grabbed some 2.5/5/10 lbs weights and did some playing around. I tried optimizing for including shoulder movement.


10 lbs I wouldn't do without a lot of working up to it. The thing to watch for is when you can't stop the momentum of the weight then it's time to lower it because the momentum can keep carrying a movement past your limit. I think 10lbs would probably actually give you tennis elbow if you consistently did it to a song that wasn't super slow. 2.5lbs and 5lbs both felt fun and safe to me. I OHP 185lbs and deadlift 500lbs, so adjust based on your fitness level. Also note the more fatigued you are the higher your chance of injury. Pyramid sets are a nice way to account for that and your warmup all at once. Note that speed and form will always be a tradeoff; so when it comes to something fast like Beat Saber I expect nobody to ever work up to particularly large weights

Cardio Efficiency:

I definitely felt as though with 5lbs I would have only needed a few songs to get my cardio in but unweighted would take a while. Which it's really fine either way. Endurance runners and sprinters both have great ca... (read more)

Thanks! This was quite helpful. (A lot of my motivation was time-efficiency of workouts. Sometimes I enjoy and have time to do fast-paced songs for 30 minutes, and sometimes I'm just trying to get in a 5-10 minute workout in before going to work) I am curious what you consider the epistemic status of both comments to be? i.e. you come across like you know what you're talking about, but I could imagine a random overly confident layman coming across that confident. Curious how much background you have re: exploring the epistemic state of fitness as an overall field?

5 years powerlifting, 5 years wrestling, 3 years BJJ, 2 years dancing (normally don't count that, but for Beat Saber I guess it's relevant?), and a spattering of other sports like climbing/hiking for shorter time periods. Have helped a small handful of friends get fit, the biggest success story dropping 100lbs and now being pretty decent at BJJ where he initially couldn't walk over half a mile without a long rest.

Little formal training but I enjoy reading about the theory. I don't have any particularly compelling example to give here. Just lots of books/articles/diagrams/studies/self-experiments spread out over that time. For an example of the kinda person I read look up any study review by Greg Nuckols.

The comments on safety I have a high amount of confidence in. They're all things that follow directly from knowledge of anatomy. Tennis existing is convenient because it's always nice to have a real world example to verify what the theory would predict.

The rest is half anecdotal half me trying to think about how similar-but-different studies I've read in the past could apply. Studies I thought about before replying were 1) even walks are eno... (read more)

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Comment because this is answering a different question than “should I use wrist weights”

I have found that a weight vest is a nice improvement to the game. I’d recommend trying it, and it possibly might have some of the common benefits with the wrist weights without some of the downsides.

Thanks! Do you have a particular product you recommend here (i.e. amazon link or whatev?)

Thanks. For future people's benefit, the parts of this that were relevant towards my question were more towards the end. The guy is mostly answering a different question, which was:

"Is wearing weighted clothing going to be especially useful for improving performance?"

And the answer is "eh, not really. It's basically the same as just regular weight training, which you should be doing anyway. You might want to wear waiting clothing while weight-training, but not all the time."

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