A man wearing a weight vest while using a TRX machine in the gym

Why use a Weight Vest: 6 Things you Need to Know


Written by fitness expert Chris. Last updated:

Weight vests, as the name suggests, are vests made of heavy metal material with pockets to add extra weight. They’re similar to old-fashioned chainmail with a modern twist. Weight vests are an incredibly diverse tool to add to your training kit.

Suitable for use during weight training, a weight vest is also incredibly diverse and can be used during a whole range of activities to boost health and fitness. A weight vest, when used correctly, can turn a wide range of activities into an opportunity to improve strength and endurance. It will also help you burn a bit of extra fat. Here are a few points to consider before you invest in that vest:

Reasons to Use a Weight Vest

Close up of a man wearing a black weighted vest

Weighted Vests are an Incredibly Diverse Training Tool

In a gym environment, a weight vest can be used during standard weight training workouts to increase intensity. It can also be worn during cardiovascular exercises and bodyweight exercises such as rope climbs, pull-ups, and burpees.

The added weight will increase the intensity and load across your workout and build on your current performance levels. It doesn’t stop there, either. Outside of the gym, your weight vest can become your best fitness buddy. Wear it on long walks, jogs, hikes, bike rides, or even just around the house while you’re doing your chores.

Weight Vests Can Increase Fat Burn Over a Standard Workout

Research now indicates that high-intensity resistance training is the most effective way to burn fat. The extra weight of the vest will force your body to work harder and burn more energy to perform regular tasks. One study has suggested that you can increase your fat burn by up to 12 percent in a workout just by wearing a weighted vest.

A Weight Vest Can Increase Strength and Endurance

A man lifting weights while wearing a weighted vest

The human body adapts to increases in demands. The added weight of a vest will trigger your body to adapt by incorporating additional muscle groups. Over time muscle fibers will increase to add enough strength to meet the demands of the extra weight. The result is that any exercise performed without wearing the weight vest will be well within your body’s newly increased limits.

Wearing a Weighted Vest Can Improve Cardiovascular Health

Improvements in cardiovascular health can be felt as a result of wearing a weight vest while running, cycling, or performing any cardiovascular activity. Like the musculoskeletal system, the body’s cardiovascular system is designed to adapt to meet any extra demands put on it. The extra weight will stress the muscles and increase the need for oxygen to the skeletal muscle, the breathing muscles of the diaphragm, and the deep intercostal muscles. This increased need for oxygen will result in improvements in overall lung capacity, heart rate, and recovery rates.

Increases in Bone Density May Occur with Extended Use of a Weight Vest

Extensive research now confirms that bone density or bone mass can be increased through resistance training. As the bone cells adapt to meet the demands of the extra weight, bone mass will increase in response to the strain. The ability to wear a weight vest over an extended period exposes the bones to increased demands for longer, thus increasing the need to adapt. High bone density can help reduce the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, and brittle bones.

Weighted Vests Improve Core Strength

We use our core muscles to perform pretty much every activity, from lifting and bending to rotation and flexion. Even just standing in one spot requires the use of our core muscles. Core activation, therefore, can be triggered simply by just wearing a weight belt. The muscles of the core will need to react under the added strain to stabilize and maintain balance. If you choose to go one step further and incorporate a weight vest into your core workout, over repeated use, you will see huge improvements in core strength and stability as you target these muscles with added weight.

If you’re looking for either a women’s or men’s weighted vest, you’ll find a wide variety of styles, weight additions, and extra features that can accommodate your specific needs.

It’s important to note, however, as with all training programs, weighted vest use is not right for everyone. Always consult a professional before adapting your fitness program to include the use of a weight vest.

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