There are many benefits of using a weighted vest. If you’ve never used a weighted vest or even heard of one, then now is a good time to learn how they can be extremely beneficial as a workout device but also as a tool to help you reach new heights and break new records quickly.
The advantages are plenty, and the rewards are quick and satisfying, to say the least. If you’re ready to explore how weighted vests can help you, then keep reading and be enlightened.
What is a Weighted Vest?
The weighted vest is a wearable device that you can fit over your shoulders and is worn like a vest but with additional weights. This enables you to perform exercise routines with added resistance while keeping your hands and arms free to use for many different physical activities, sports, and training events.
With most weighted vests, you have the option to add or subtract weights to and from the vest. Some use metal plates, while others use sandbags that can fit into pockets or sleeves in the vest.
The main purpose of a weighted vest is to make your workout harder by adding weight or extra resistance. The advantage of using a weighted vest over most other fitness equipment is that it can be worn on the body, like an extra skin while keeping your legs, arms, and hands-free to perform your usual fitness activity.
Use it with your CrossFit training to get stronger and increase your performance levels. It is also great to use when running to increase your leg and calf strength and improve your running distance and speed.
Use the vest to increase your performance while training for basketball, tennis, baseball, football, volleyball, or any other sport you can think of.
Weight vests are also ideal for performing exercises such as air squats, lunges, calf raises, jumping jacks, push-ups, pull-ups, or even use on a treadmill, vertical climber, stair climber or other fitness equipment.
Many Variations and Weight Options
Before purchasing a training vest, it is important to know how much weight you will require for your particular workout routine. For some, an 8 to 10-pound vest is sufficient without ever changing the weight. While for others it may be more important to have the option to add and subtract more weights. This could be anywhere from a 10 to 50 lb weighted vest, to as much as 80 or even 100 lb weight vest.
Quickly accelerate your gains by adding a weight vest to your workout routine!
Some of the best weight vests for both men and vests for women come with multiple straps and adjustments to better fit various body types, sizes, and genders. The women’s weighted vest, for instance, is designed to conform better to the female physique while making it much more comfortable to wear.
When fitted snuggly around your core and upper body, the weight vest can be used during most CrossFit exercises and is also great for walking and running. In most cases, the weight vest will not hinder your movements and thus performing exercises such as running, push-ups, pull-ups, or jumping to name a few can be done freely and without restricting movement.
Whether your goal is to increase your strength and endurance or maybe shed some extra pounds, the weight vest is the perfect device to add the right amount of resistance to just about any exercise you can think of.
Top 10 Benefits of Using a Weighted Vest
Weight vests have many benefits and advantages most other fitness devices cannot compete with. To see exactly how beneficial weighted vests can be in your training routines, let’s take a closer look at our top 10 list below.
#1 Hands-Free – Ease of Use
Unlike most exercise equipment, weight vests do not require you to hold or operate any type of equipment while exercising. The vest basically conforms to your upper body and adds resistance to just about any exercise or training regimen you can think of. This makes it ideal for adding resistance while keeping your arms and hands-free to perform your normal routine.
#2 Reach New Heights – Quickly!
This is my #1 weighted vest benefit which pretty much encompasses all benefits. There’s no easier way to increase your performance levels and reach new heights than by using a weighted vest.
No matter what activity, this is the easiest and quickest way to achieve new goals and set new records. It would amaze you to see what adding only a few pounds of resistance can do to quickly improve your skill levels.
#3 Increase Strength
Weight training vests are perfect for adding resistance to workouts that strengthen the core area of your body but also help with compound exercises such as pull-ups, squats, lunges, jumping and more.
#4 Improve Cardiovascular Health
Adding extra weight to your body while running, walking, using a treadmill, or performing any type of cardio exercise will increase the intensity and thus your heart rate while working out. This will result in a stronger and healthier heart going forward.
#5 Improve Endurance
Another weighted vest benefit is improving your endurance. The added resistance a weighted vest provides will strengthen your heart and with time will result in easier and longer workout sessions.
#6 Increase Speed for Runners
Weight vests are a great way to quickly improve your speed by adding extra resistance while training, but removing that resistance for actual events. Your mind will adapt to the added body weight and your muscles and joints will become stronger over time. This is perfect for CrossFit training, runners, sports training for basketball or football, and even military exercises, and firefighter training.
#7 Weight Loss
Adding weights to your body is pretty much the same as increasing the elevation on a treadmill. When increasing the resistance level by adding weights you are also increasing the amount of energy your body requires to execute any given activity. This, in turn, equates to you burning more calories and thus more weight loss.
#8 Adjustable Weights
Gradually increasing resistance by adding more weight is the quickest way to improve your performance. Setting new goals and reaching them is almost effortless when using adjustable weighted vests. Weights come in iron plates or iron ore sandbags that you can easily remove or added as needed to adjust your workout to the specific exercise and intensity you require.
#9 Portable – Use Anywhere!
You can comfortably take these weight training vests on the go as they easily fit into most gym bags. Take your weight vest to the gym, to the park, or on a vacation or business trip. The only restriction you may have when traveling would depend on the weight of your vest. As you will see, some vests can weigh as much as 150lbs.
This may not seem like your typical benefit, but I have added this to my top 10 list simply because of the sheer versatility of these vests and quickly you can achieve results using them. That said, I consider these a huge value, and a tremendous bang for your buck.
In most cases, prices are set by the weight of the vest. Vests start at around 8 to 12lbs and can go up to as much as 150lbs. For most, a 40lb to 60lb vest is more than enough to satisfy your training needs and is still very affordable. Moving up to 100lbs and more may be a bit more costly. But that is to cover for the added weights and stronger and larger vests to support the added weight.
5 Most Common Uses for Weighted Vests & Which Vest to Use
The biggest advantage of weight vests is its versatility and how it can be used for various sports training and physical activities. Let’s find which type of weighted vest is most suitable for your activities.
Many athletes use weighted vests during training sessions to increase endurance and maximize strength. If you’re looking to up your game in basketball, football, hockey, baseball, or track to name a few, then using a vest can help you tremendously.
Try training with a bodyweight of 220 pounds by wearing a 20lb vest and then dropping back to 200 pounds for the real game. After dropping that amount of weight, imagine how much lighter you will feel on your feet and how much faster you will be.
For this type of activity, it would be wise to find a weighted vest that fits snuggly, and a lighter 8lb or up to 20lb vest. A softer fixed weight sand-filled vest may be a good option. Otherwise, you may consider an adjustable weighted vest so you can adjust the intensity by adding or subtracting weights. What’s most important is that you find a vest that gives you a free range of motion, is not bulky and fits close to the body.
Hard Core & Heavy Duty Weight Training
Basically, any type of heavy resistance training will require heavy weights. For this type of activity, you will be setting your priority on weight and less on the range of motion. These vests may be somewhat bulky, but they offer a weight range that is more suitable for heavy training. I would suggest a weight training vest that has a weight range of 20lbs up to 100lbs or more.
Running, Hiking & Walking
An effective way to burn more calories or even increase your endurance is by wearing a weighted vest while running, hiking, or just walking. For runners, this is a great way to increase your speed or increase your running distance.
The best weighted vest for running is one that fits closely and snuggly to the body. Most will be content with just an 8lb to 12lb weight vest. The softer vests are sand filled and usually fixed weight, but much more comfortable than lead vests.
Weighted vests are very popular in the CrossFit community. These vests help add resistance to your workout routine without limiting your arm or leg movements. This free range of motion makes it possible to participate in many different exercises while keeping your hands, arms, and legs free to move naturally.
The best weight vest for CrossFit should have adjustable weights up to 60lbs or more, but also be snug and fit high on the body to keep your core area free. Also, look for even weight distribution on the front and back for better balance.
Bodyweight Exercise (Gravity Training)
Bodyweight training, similar to CrossFit, may include such exercises as lunges, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and jumping. Or maybe even just something as simple as walking your dog, mowing the lawn, or cleaning your house. Gravity training is a great way to tone and strengthen muscles, but also shed some extra fat. I would suggest any of the sand-filled fixed-weight vests, but also the heavier vests up to 60lbs depending on your workout activity and fitness goals.
We can all appreciate a good workout and the satisfaction we get when achieving new goals or setting new records. But at some point, we all seem to hit a wall, where no matter how hard we try it seems impossible to achieve new progress.
I have found that incorporating a weighted vest into your training can make all the difference.
The beauty of this device is who easy it is to wear and use with just about any exercise routine or training event. And most importantly, how quickly you will see results.
If you have a story or would like to share your thoughts on the advantages and benefits of using a weighted vest, then feel free to leave us a comment below.
With over 30 years of experience in strength training and fitness, Mark LaRue is the founder of Fitness Mastered, a blog to help educate fitness enthusiasts of all fitness levels, age, and gender. We write topics that range from weight training tips and exercise routines to home workout machine and fitness related product reviews, to name a few.