In this article we’re going to discuss weighted vest benefits, how to safely train with them, which exercises are best done with them, how to clean them, and what to look for when buying them.
Before Using A Weighted Vest
You should always contact your physician or primary doctor to first make sure that you don’t have any physical problems that would make training with a weighted vest inadvisable.
Never start with a fully loaded vest, your bones and muscles need time to adapt, most people graduate to a weighted vest because they want to have a more intense, challenging workout, but if you’re not smart you’ll only end up injuring yourself and delaying the results you’re looking for.
What Exactly Is A Weighted Vest
They are simply a vest made out of heavy duty vinyl or composite materials that allow you to add and subtract weight to increase the intensity of any workout.
The common benefit of using a weighted vest is to add weight to certain exercises while raising the intensity, most notably would be bodyweight exercises, walking, running, jogging, hiking, and any speed or agility drills would be considered the perfect application for a weighted vest.
How Much Weight should You Start Off with
You want your starting weight to be between 15 and 20% of your total bodyweight. If you weigh 150 pounds then your starting weight would be between 20 and 30 pounds.
Do not let your ego make the decisions and buy a vest that is to heavy, you’ll only end up hurting yourself.
Are Weighted Vests Bad for You
Like anything in life if you don’t take the time to learn how to use something correctly it can end up being detrimental to your health or well being.
Just as long as you use a vest that is the correct weight for your body type, it fits comfortably and snug and doesn’t hinder you movement, doesn’t make you feel unbalanced, and that you use under the appropriate conditions then a vest can be very beneficial to helping you become healthier and stronger.
Can You Wear A weighted Vest All Day
This may sound like a weird question, but I’ve been asked this before and my answer is that I wouldn’t recommend it.
I have never done this, but I can imagine that it would be more detrimental than good.
When you work out a certain muscle group it’s only for a limited amount of time,you don’t do it all day. If you wear a vest all day this is exactly what is going to happen to your shoulder, neck, lower back, and leg muscles.
In the end I think you’re going to end up with very sore, tired muscles and joints, without any real benefit from it.
What To Think About Before Using A Vest
Are you comfortable with your routine
If you’re just starting out in a new fitness routine then you will want to become comfortable with the exercises and different types of technique and form before using a vest.
Using the correct form during your exercises is always your main goal, before increasing the intensity or difficulty of any routine you need to make sure you know how to perform each move perfectly.
If you are not using the correct technique then adding more weight will only make it worse and will end in you being hurt. Be smart.
What shape are you in
When I started to workout I was 305 pounds and would run out of breath walking up the stairs. I had a hard enough time getting through half of a P90X video while wearing a t-shirt and shorts.
My point is that there is a time and place to add a weighted vest to your routine and it’s not when you’re are struggling with your routine.
Once you start to get into better shape and feel like you’re in control of your movements and the exercises are getting easier than this is when you start to think about adding difficulty to them, not anytime before.
What exercises are you doing
A weighted vest only makes sense with certain exercises, if you’re bench pressing than a vest does absolutely nothing to help you target your chest muscles (besides making laying on the bench very uncomfortable),but if you’re doing pull ups, or push ups then this is the perfect time to grab it and throw it on.
Are you injured or overly sore
I know I keep talking about correct form and technique, but it’s very important to take it seriously so that you can diminish the chance of injury and make sure you’re working the exact muscle group that you’re targeting.
The main reasons why I see my clients using bad form is when their sore, hurt, or doing a new move and are getting used to doing it.
If you’re hurt, and depending on how bad, you should either be staying out of the gym and focusing on healing, or you should be modifying your workout to adjust to your injury. The last thing you should be doing is making your workouts even more difficult, and further injuring yourself more.
The same thing goes for when your really sore. It’s hard to do an intense workout when your recovering from a tough workout from a day or two before, there isn’t anything wrong with taking an extra rest day or incorporating a stretch day to wait until you’re back to full strength.
This will allow you to feel better and perform your workout with the highest amount of intensity that you can bring to it, this is how you’ll see the most progression and gains in your results
What Does A Weight Vest Do For You
Using a weighted vest during your workouts will put your muscles under more stress, increasing the amount of strength you develop. During cardiovascular exercises the extra weight will make your movements more strenuous which will put your body into a higher oxygen deficit increasing your aerobic endurance.
Do Weighted Vests Help You Lose Weight
YES. Anytime you make your body work harder to accomplish the task you’re asking of it the end result will be more calories burned to produce the energy you need to finish said task.
The higher the intensity the more oxygen your body needs to keep your muscles working, a weighted vest will create a more challenging experience that will make your heart beat faster to supply oxygenated blood to your fatigued muscles which will burn more calories.
If your goal is to lose weight than wearing a weighted vest while you walk, jog, run, hike, or even while doing chores around the house will dramatically help you reach your goal faster.
Do Weighted Vests Help You Build Muscle
Yes. The same notion that applied to losing weight can be used here, for your body to build muscle it needs to feel threatened. What I mean by this is that your body doesn’t use energy for trivial reasons, so you need to give your body a very good reason to spend vital resources on building muscle.
By creating an intense strength training workout and fatiguing your muscles your body will respond by building your muscles so that you are stronger.
A weighted vest is a great way to increase the difficulty of certain strength training exercises to receive higher gains in muscle mass.
Benefits Of Using Weighted Vests
- Increased strength and endurance – The harder you push yourself the greater the results will be, and this is true for building muscle and aerobic endurance. The whole point of a weighted vest is to give you an exercise routine that kicks your ass, if done enough you’ll eventually start to see the greater strength and endurance.
- Doesn’t allow your muscles to adapt – If you do the same routine over and over again your muscles will adjust and you’ll stop seeing positive results, wearing a weighted vest will force your muscles to respond by making the exercise harder and will keep you from hitting a strength plateau.
- Healthier cardiovascular system helps you lift better – I’ve already explained how wearing a vest during cardio exercises will deplete your muscles of oxygen and force your heart to work harder delivering oxygenated blood to your affected muscle group. Another benefit to this is how it will help you from becoming fatigued while strength training, the heavier you lift the faster your heart rate becomes making you tired. Cardiovascular endurance and muscle endurance go hand in hand.
- Helps burn fat – Creates a higher oxygen deficiency which makes your heart beat faster to supply your muscles and lungs with oxygenated blood. This increases the amount of energy your body needs so it needs to burn more calories to meet these demands. In the end this means more calories and fat burned.
- Increases performance of specialized skills – Weighted vests are exceptional at helping you improve speed, or agility drills. If you run track and want to become quicker, run a couple miles in a weighted vest. If you’re a running back and want to perform the cone drill faster, try running it with a vest on and see how it makes those muscles stronger.
- Musculoskeletal system benefits greatly – To help your body support the extra weight your body will start to focus on growing muscle to make you stronger, but it will also apply resources to developing thicker, stronger bones, and connective tissue. This is great when it comes to avoiding injury and performing strength training routines.
- Strengthen your core – Anytime you add weight above your torso it’s going to help target the abdominal muscles, even wearing a vest around the house while doing chores will help you target your core. So imagine doing crunches or planks while wearing one.
- Better balance and posture – When your body is constantly adjusting to the added weight that it’s not used to it is essentially working the same muscle that are responsible for balancing your body and keeping correct form and posture. Making it easier and habit to do this when you have the vest off.
Exercises To Do With A Weighted Vest
This is where common sense will play a big part, if you’re doing an exercise that involves pushing or pulling your body weight then a vest is perfect for this.
Please don’t be caught doing bicep curls while wearing a vest though, I’ve had clients tell me they like to wear it at the gym because their moving around and bending over, lets be sensible. If you’re already lifting weights and exerting yourself the only thing a vest will do is make you tired sooner taking away from the workout you’re trying to achieve.
- push ups
- pull ups
This is just a couple of exercises that are perfect for a weighted vest, just to give you an idea.
Is Walking With A Weighted Vest Good
Most people that are only doing a walk for an exercise are probably not in the greatest of shape and may have a hard time doing a more intense workout to increase their fitness level.
This is why a weighted vest is perfect for walking, if you’re not feeling very challenged by walking any longer but don’t want to jog or run, then wearing a vest will increase the intensity making your body burn more calories and increasing your aerobic endurance while still allowing you to walk.
Top Rated weighted Vests
- Hyperwear hyper pro vest unisex – Professional grade vest, thin profile allows for full range of motion, fabric stretches, and deters moisture, side lacing for full torso fit.
- Run max pro weighted vest – This vest is comfortable, durable fits both men and women well and the weights can be adjusted to tailor your fitness needs.
- MIR air flow adjustable vest – Adjustable weights, machine washable, with velcro straps for easy application.
- Aduro sport weighted vest – Adjustable buckles, balanced weights, soft neoprene material.
How To Pick A Weighted Vest
- Does it Fit – Most vests are one size fits all and you just adjust the shoulder or waist strap to fit your body style. If you have a bigger or smaller body type than normal you may want to check the manufacturer specs to make sure it will comfortable on you.
- Can you increase the weights – This is important because some vests have built in weights that can’t be removed, meaning if your vest is 30 pounds then it will always be 30 pounds. You want to purchase a vest that allows you to remove and add weights so that you can progress with it as you become stronger instead of having to buy new ones.
- What’s the minimum weight – You want to start off by using about 15 to 20% of your total body weight. If you weigh 200 pounds than you want your starting weight in your vest to be between 30 and 40 pounds. Make sure not to buy a vest that is higher than your starting weight should be.
- Gender specific – Many vests are made for both sexes, but if you happen to be a curvier women you may want to find a vest that is made to help fit and support you as you exercise.
Full Body Weighted Vest workout
10 minutes of dynamic stretching and warm up
Do each workout for 30 seconds or max rep, take as little of a break as possible in between exercises. After completing the entire circuit take a 60 second break and repeat for a total of 2 to 3 times.
- Jumping jacks
- mountain climbers
- push ups – max reps
- jump rope
- pull ups – max reps
Weighted vests are another great tool to use to kick your workout into another gear and reach your maximum potential, just make sure to safely add it into your fitness regimen once you’re ready and strong enough to use it.