Do Weighted Vests Work?

What are weighted vests used for and do weighted vests work?

Do Weighted Vests Work?

Weighted vests have just started to gain popularity as the new must-have workout tool for runners, athletes, calisthenics athletes, gymnasts, and anyone who does bodyweight exercises at home.

They are versatile, simple to use, and great for building strength!

If you are thinking about buying a weighted vest or just want to know more about them, you have come to the right place.

Below, this guide explains what weighted vests are for, the types of weighted vests, weighted vest exercises and, lastly, the pros and cons of weighted vests so you can decide whether a weighted vest is for you.

What Are Weighted Vests For?

Weighted vests are exactly what they are called: vests, with weights, that are worn over the shoulders and around the waist.

When worn, they make exercises more difficult to help build strength and muscle.

Weighted vests have a variety of applications, from adding weight when jogging or running to increasing the weight of bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, dips, squats, and more.

Think of weighted vests as ankle weights for the upper body, with the same purpose as weighted rucksacks used in rucking.

The difference between a weighted rucksack and a weighted vest, however, is that a weighted vest evenly distributes the weight on the front and back of the torso.

Types Of Weighted Vest

Do Weighted Vests Work?

Weighted vests come in different sizes and designs. The weight load of a weighted vest can be fixed (a set weight) or adjustable.

Lighter weighted vests are better suited for walking or jogging, while heavier – and more rugged – weighted vests are more ideal for strength training exercises.

Weighted vests can have sand bags or blocks that provide the weight. On adjustable weighted vests, these will be secured in pockets that can be removed or added to decrease or increase the total weight in increments.

All weighted vests are padded for comfort and feature adjustable Velcro straps that are fastened around the waist area to keep them in place.

Weighted Vest Cardio

Weighted vests are popular in cardiovascular training, such as running/jogging and sprinting. If you have ever seen a runner wearing a padded vest, it was probably a weighted vest!

The point of wearing a weighted vest while jogging is to increase the runner’s overall weight and, as a result, the difficulty of the training.

With more weight, running becomes more difficult and the whole body has to work harder.

This can provide a number of benefits for people training for marathons and ultramarathons, such as increasing strength, stamina, and endurance.

Weighted vests also provide mental benefits as, when the weighted vest is taken off after training, the athlete will feel lighter and faster.

Weighted Vest HIIT

Weighted vests can also be used for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and basic bodyweight exercises.

Similar to their purpose when used in jogging, weighted vests increase overall weight load to build strength and endurance.

Weighted vest HIIT exercises can include jumping jacks, burpees, high knee taps, jump squats, and more. 

Weighted vests can also be used for developing abs and core strength.

When worn with exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, and Russian twists, the weighted vest provides a convenient, hands-free method for increasing the difficulty without the need to hold a weight plate or dumbbell.

Weighted Vest Exercises

Last but not least, weighted vests are also beneficial for adding weight to everyday bodyweight exercises.

This makes them especially popular in the calisthenics community, with athletes using them to increase the difficulty of exercises that are typically inconvenient to add weight to.

These exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, and dips, but also leg exercises such as squats, lunges, wall sits, and more.

In calisthenics in particular, weighted vests are used in advanced bodyweight exercises such as handstand push-ups, one-arm pull-ups, front levers, pistol squats, and the planche.

Weighted pull-ups and weighted chest dips are usually performed with a dip belt and weight plate, however a weighted vest can be more comfortable and convenient.

Push-ups, on the other hand, are not easy to add weight to, although a weighted vest provides the best solution.

And for people who do not go to the gym, weighted vests can add weight to squats and lunges without the need for a barbell, barbell rack, and weight plates, which can be both costly and space-consuming.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of A Weighted Vest?

Do Weighted Vests Work?

Wrapping up, what are the pros and cons of weighted vests?

If you are still on the fence as to whether you should buy a weighted vest or will benefit from using a weighted vest, the following pros and cons should help you decide.

Weighted Vest Pros

  • weighted vests increase the difficulty of cardio exercises, HIIT, and bodyweight/calisthenics exercises to improve strength and endurance
  • weighted vests can be more comfortable and convenient than using dip belts, dumbbells, and weight plates (hands-free)
  • most weighted vests are durable and long-lasting
  • weighted vests can be portable, despite being heavy
  • weighted vests can be adjustable in terms of weight
  • weighted vests are more versatile than dip belts

Weighted Vest Cons

  • weighted vests can be expensive
  • weighted vests typically have a maximum weight load of around 20 kg (44 lbs)
  • weighted vests typically come in one size, which might not fit everyone

Ultimately, a weighted vest can benefit you if you want to increase the difficulty when running and/or you strictly perform bodyweight exercises at home.

Weighted vests are long-lasting, portable, and adjustable, offering a convenient hands-free method for adding weight to endurance and strength training exercises.


So, do weighted vests work? Yes!

Weighted vests are one of the best ways to increase weight load when running or performing bodyweight exercises at home.

For ab exercises, squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and dips, weighted vests also comfortably add weight without having to hold or balance a dumbbell or weight plate.

Overall, weighted vests are versatile, portable, and durable, providing a convenient solution to building strength, endurance, and muscle with minimal equipment.

Megan Rinzel
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