For anyone experienced in fitness and exercise, a weighted vest offers an indispensable exercise tool to take your exercise, body shaping, and overall health to its next level. These vests have become very popular for elevating workouts in and out of the gym. Adding a little extra weight to your body mass, they will turn any exercise into resistance training.
Wearing a vest will make your workout more intense. When you get started training with a weighted vest, you’ll likely run out of breath more quickly, and struggle to finish a usual exercise routine.
Weighted vests also force you to engage your core during certain exercises when you might normally take your posture for granted. Additionally, those five or ten extra pounds will help you to burn more calories, replacing fat with lean muscle.
As you work harder to carry the extra weight, your cardiovascular system will also need to work harder. When done in a controlled way, this means strengthening the heart and lungs for increased cardiovascular endurance and an overall healthier life.
Now that you know the benefits, how do you make the most of your weighted vest?
1. Replace Your Free-Weight Equipment During Exercise
Many of the free weight exercises that are popular for building strength and sculpting the body can be intensified using a weighted vest. In some cases, the weighted best can even replace the free weights that you use, such as dumbbells or kettlebells. This can free up your movement, allowing for more versatility.
While they can certainly help to strengthen your core no matter what you’re doing, the best use of a weighted vest is for activities where you will need to move your body weight, such as weighted lunges or squats.
When replacing your usual free-weights, weighted vests offer a better way to exercise with weighted resistance. They tend to be more effective than using localised weights, such as dumbbells, barbells, and especially a weighted backpack, which can offset one’s balance and cause strain on the back and shoulders.
2. Calisthenics and Bodyweight Exercises
Body-weight exercises for strength refer to no-gym workouts that can greatly increase strength and lean muscle. Add a weighted vest onto it, and you have a portable high-intensity resistance training regimen waiting to go.
The vest will make any exercise more efficient, while also keeping your core engaged and strengthened as you do them. This capability means that the weighted vest offers an ideal at-home strength-building solution.
To get started, pair these popular body-weight exercises with your weighted vest: squats, pushups, lunges, pullups, or situps. These exercises will boost your toning process, by helping to strengthen the entire core, in addition to the targeted muscle groups.
3. Increase Cardio Endurance
Weighted vests can be worn to intensify and train with cardio exercises, such as jogging, climbing, trail running, hiking, or cycling.
Keep in mind that weighted vests are most beneficial when you are moving or carrying your body. In this case, biking with a weighted vest offers great benefits, because the resistance that you push while biking will also include your own augmented weight. However, the vest is less useful for a stationary bike, such as a spinning bike, since these don’t factor bodyweight into their resistance.
When worn for cardio exercise, the vest’s added weight helps to burn calories more quickly. Additionally, the added strain on your breathing will help you to train your heart rate and increase breathing endurance.
Walking with a weighted vest for the first time can be a little challenging. It’s recommended to lean into your stride. This forward-leaning posture will help you to gather momentum.
Be aware that using a weighted vest puts extra strain on the joints. This means that it will cause many cardio exercises to be higher impact, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs when running or jogging, such as pain or extended soreness in the knees.
4. Wear it For Everyday Activities and Active Chores
Turn your everyday chores into exercise by wearing a weighted vest. This works best with chores that force you to move around, such as household cleaning. It can also add a quick metabolism boost when worn to take the pets for a walk.
To start wearing your weighted vest at non-exercise times, it’s important to create a controlled environment. Pick a specific day. Then set a time to start and choose a reasonable amount of time after which you’ll remove the vest.
This kind of scheduling will save you from overexerting yourself, as your endurance for wearing the extra weight increases over time. Wearing the vest past exhaustion can cause damage by encouraging bad posture. It’s best to start gradually, even if you’re in great shape.
Weighted vests force you to use your core, even when it comes to simple walking and standing. As you wear the weighted vest, it’s important to keep your core engaged.
Weighted vests will also not help you if you’re having a primarily sedentary day, so save it for errand days that are more active.
5. Train for Carrying Loads
Even more-so than building strength, weighted vests are capable of helping you build endurance, making them great training for long-distance carrying.
For example, you might wear a weighted vest while training for a long backpacking trip to increase your endurance and stamina. This kind of training will help you to easily cover more ground once you’re out there.
This is also a less destructive approach than carrying a weighted backpack. The vest distributes weight evenly, decreasing the risk of back issues as you build the muscles needed to handle your intended load.
6. Increase Bone Density
Wearing a weighted vest during exercise can help to strengthen bones and increase bone density. This means reduced risk of breakage, as well as stronger long-term bone health.
This is particularly important when it comes to retaining health and reducing the risk of brittle bones among post-menopausal women or those who are prone to osteoporosis. Wearing a weighted vest during walks can help post-menopausal women to maintain a healthy bone density while strengthening the muscles surrounding delicate joints.
7. Weight Lifting
For more intense training sessions, you can increase your endurance1 and lean muscle developed from heavy weight-lifting sessions by wearing a weighted vest.
The vest helps to add variety to a weight-lifting routine that has become repetitive or monotonous. It can also make your lifting routine more mobile, more flexible, or just downright more challenging.
Avoid wearing a weighted vest for exercises or circuits that target the upper body, such as bench presses or bicep curls. These don’t require lifting or moving the body as a whole, and therefore nullify many of the vest’s potential benefits. Additionally, wearing the weighted vest could detract from these exercises and put you at risk of injury from overcompensating or holding unnatural postures.
CrossFit training offers an organised regimen of different workouts every day to promote cardiovascular and respiratory health, physical stamina, strength, power, speed, and balance. On top of that, CrossFit focuses on sculpting and toning both lean and bulky muscles.
For those experienced in CrossFit, wearing a weighted vest can greatly increase one’s physical learning curve and abilities. It allows you to burn more fat and calories during exercise. In fact, some CrossFit programs will require the use of a weighted vest during certain activities to increase workout intensity.
9. HIIT Circuits
HIIT exercises are frequently practiced for weight loss and muscle-toning. They use limited or no equipment, allowing them to be practiced just about anywhere. Instead of using heavy equipment, these workouts focus on high effort circuits.
Using a weighted vest during your HIIT is one way of ensuring that you give it your all. The weighted vest will force you to use more effort throughout the routine. Over time, a weighted vest will boost cardiovascular endurance, stamina, and fat burn to help you get in and stay in shape.
One of the best uses for a weighted vest comes from its portability. Although weight restrictions might be a problem for some modes of transportation, particularly air travel, when well-planned a weighted vest can offer you a full workout experience anywhere you go.
This can be a game-changer if you travel somewhere without access to a gym. The weighted vest offers portable resistance training that means staying in shape during extended travel.
Additionally, for a busy lifestyle, the portability makes it easy to get your workout in anywhere and at any time. It can be kept in a car, work locker, or gym bag, for use during breaks.
Weighted vests offer versatility and efficiency for your workouts. The vest makes it possible to add resistance to all workouts, particularly cardio and bodyweight exercises. It eliminates the need to carry free weights and other weighted equipment for workouts, and it allows better movement and more exercise options. Weighted vests can be added to most forms of exercise to offer an escalated challenge and also increase the benefits derived from regular exercise.
 Rusko, H., & Bosco, C. (1987). Metabolic response of endurance athletes to training with added load. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology, 56(4), 412–418. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00417768
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