A Newbie's Guide to Using Weighted Vest

Health & FitnessExercise & Meditation

  • Author David Leafer
  • Published June 14, 2012
  • Word count 626

Weighted Vest Guide

If you want to get serious about fitness training, consider an adjustable weighted vest. This article gives you an idea of what a weighted vest is, what they can do for you, what exercises are improved by wearing one and what to consider when choosing one.

What are weighted vests?

They're like sleeveless shirts with pockets into which you can place heavy plates, making the vest steadily heavier with each extra plate. Typically the weight added ranges from 5 to 30 pounds and is increased in increments between these.

These vests are the best, (and often inevitable) choice for anyone involved in a training regime based on their bodyweight - they help to increase the intensity of exercises like dips and chin-ups, and build more muscle than workouts based on dozens of reps.

Start out with a small set of plates in the vest and gradually increase as you get stronger. You'll see controlled gains coming in increments that you couldn't achieve with just bodyweight.

Benefits of weighted vest training

In addition to allowing you to increase the resistance of bodyweight training quickly and easily, a vest distributes the extra resistance evenly along your torso, making it safer and more efficient for strength gains.

Other benefits include:

Strength and endurance development

Promotes greater bone density

helps you train in specific ways for specific sports; for instance, it's a proven way of developing your vertical jumping abilities.

promotes greater fat loss

There's also the mental benefit of knowing you can consistently and conveniently challenge yourself as you add weight to your exercises.

What exercises can a weighted vest supplement?


Running in a heavy vest requires your body to build the power and stamina to reach the same speed and distance you had without the weight. Run with the vest until you can match your unweighted run, then take the it off; you'll find yourself faster and more efficient.

Bodyweight exercises with weighted vest

Practically essential to maintain a consistent progression of intensity with these exercises, be they dips, pull-ups, push ups, chins, squats, you'll find a use for these. A vest will help you scale your exercise and beat training plateaus in a steady fashion.

Weighted walking

Extremely popular among walkers aiming to burn fat; they aren't restrictive to your movement, but make the exercise more difficult and more of a fat burner.

Using Weighted Plyometrics to Jump Higher

The extra heaviness of a vest lends itself perfectly to plyometrics, in which you try to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions with the goal of increasing jump height.Try improving your explosive strength with a squat to jump exercise whilst wearing a weighted vest. Squat downward, then leap upwards as high as you can and repeat for desired number of repetitions.

Acceleration training

Acceleration training is moving the body from rest quickly and efficiently. Using a weighted vest adds intensity to the exercise and improves its results.

Agility and speed training

All agility and speed drills are enhanced with the use of a weighted vest, since it increases body weight and requires additional effort in maintaining speed and reaction changes.

Buying a weighted vest- what to look for

How does it fit?

Make sure you pick up a weight vest that can be tightened with straps or similar, to ensure a good fit and even body distribution, some are simply worn like a regular vest.

Is it adjustable?

Get a weight vest that you can slowly add extra weight tom rather than plumping for a generally heavy one.

Is it durable?

Buy quality; a weighted vest can be holding a third of a man's weight in plate weights; they need to be able to withstand carrying a heavy weight on a regular basis.


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