The Things People Get Wrong About Weighted Vests

Training With Weighted Vests - The Lowdown

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A weighted vest is simply a vest that has small weights either sewn into the fabric or carried in pockets. These vests are worn just like a suit vest. They sit over the shoulders and cover the chest and core. 

Weighted vests come in different weights. It is important to choose wisely when buying a weighted vest. You should not wear one that is more than ten percent of your body weight. 

Beginners should start with a vest that is around five to ten pounds until they grow accustomed to the added weight. To save money on upgrades, it is helpful to choose a weighted vest that lets you increase the weight over time. 

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What Are the Benefits of Weighted Vests?

You will experience a range of benefits when wearing a weighted vest. The following are just some of the benefits I experienced as I began to weight vest train. 

Training With Weighted Vests - The Lowdown benefits of weighted vests
  • You will see gains in strength. Carrying around the added weight makes everything you do more difficult, whether it is walking, running, or squatting. This increases your strength over time. 
  • You may also find you burn fat faster. In a study conducted by the United States government, 72 participants were subjected to artificially increased weight loading. In a randomized trial, half were given light weight and the other half heavy weight. The heavy weight group lost more body fat. 
  • Wearing a weighted vest will also help with building endurance. If you walk or run while wearing a weighted vest, you will develop greater endurance because of improved oxygen intake and stressed muscles. 
  • I find weighted vests easier to use than handheld weights and bands with some exercises. You will likely find, as I did, that a weighted vest spices up your workout routine. You can use it with plyometric and bodyweight exercises. 

Are Weighted Vests Good or Bad for You?

Since weighted vests started becoming more and more popular, people have been asking are they good or bad for you. While a weighted vest undoubtedly boosts the health benefits of your workouts, it can also increase your risks of injuries. 

If a weighted vest fits poorly, it could throw off your balance and cause you to fall. Weighted vests can also place additional stress on your joints. 

Those with knee or back problems may want to avoid wearing a weighted vest for long periods of time since it could make these problems worse. Some people have found out weighted vests also cause them to be more prone to overexertion. 

If you are going to wear a weighted vest, first make sure it is the correct weight. Start with five to ten pounds and move up slowly, if you do not experience any problems. Make sure the vest fits correctly and is not too loose or too tight. 

Can Weighted Vests Hurt Your Back?

Weighted vests have been known to cause back pain, especially if you already have a painful back condition or you wear a vest that is too heavy or does not fit correctly. 

Training With Weighted Vests - The Lowdown benefits of weighted vests

These vests can place a lot of pressure on your shoulders and spine. In some cases, compression of your interval discs can occur, which is something you do not want. 

To prevent back pain while wearing a weighted vest, make sure to strap it down appropriately, where it fits snugly, but not too tight. Start with a very small weight of no more than five pounds. 

Walk first and see if you experience any pain. If there is no pain, you can slowly incorporate new exercises and more weight, as long as you continue to practice safety first. 

If at any time, you experience back pain, take the vest off and stop your training. Pain is your body’s way of letting you know something is amiss, so do not ignore these signs. 

How Long Should You Wear a Weighted Vest?

When you first start wearing a weighted vest, it is important to takes things slow. Wear it for about twenty minutes or so and see how you feel. You should not wear a weighted vest for more than an hour at first. 

While some people wear weighted vests all day, this is not recommended. I actually tried it out to see how I would feel afterward. The best way I can explain the feeling is how you feel after swimming a long time in the pool and then trying to pull yourself out of it. 

Training With Weighted Vests - The Lowdown benefits of weighted vests

When you take off the vest after wearing it for hours, your entire body feels sore. You still feel like the weight is pressing on you, long after it is gone. 

If you are going to attempt to wear a weighted vest all day, I highly suggest you start with a very low weight of no more than ten pounds. You might think walking around with ten pounds pressing on your back, shoulders, chest, and core for hours is going to be easy, but it is more difficult than you realize. 

For extended wear, it is important to carefully monitor your body and how you feel. If any pain begins, do not ignore it! Take the vest off and start working your way up to a full day slowly. You may never feel comfortable enough to wear it that long, and that is okay. 

Does Walking with a Weighted Vest Build Muscle?

Walking with a weighted vest can definitely offer muscle gain. Adding that extra mass to your shoulders, back, chest, and core increases muscle strain and stress during a walk. 

While this might seem like a bad thing, it is good for your muscles. Using a weighted vest requires you to exert more energy. A vest can help with gaining muscle and bone mass. 

How to Calculate Calories Burned Wearing a Weighted Vest

To find out how many calories you are burning while wearing a weighted vest, use a calories burned calculator. You will simply need to add your current weight to the weight of the vest. Put the total in as your weight and then choose an activity and put in the time. This will tell you how many calories you have burned during the duration of your workout. 

Training With Weighted Vests - The Lowdown benefits of weighted vests

This type of calculator can give you some basic information on how many calories you are burning. Your actual burn rate will depend on a few factors, including your heart rate. 

You must know a small weighted vest is not going to help you burn tons of calories, but it does add to the burn. For instance, a small study was carried out in 2013 regarding the effects of wearing a weighted vest while walking on a treadmill. Study observers wanted to see if a weighted vest would have an impact o caloric burn. 

The results were not all that promising, but they did equate to more calories burned. Participants wore weighted vests that were around 15% of their body weight. Half of the participants wore no vest. 

Those who wore a vest burned 6.3 calories for every minute on the treadmill. The participants who wore no vest burned 5.7 calories per minute. While it is not a huge difference, many people consider any extra calories being burned to be a good thing. 

Weight Vest Training Pros and Cons

Weighted training has been around for many years. For decades, soldiers have carried heavy weights uphill, as a part of their training. Weighted vests make this training much easier. Weight vest training offers both pros and cons.

After examining both and doing research, you have to decide for yourself if a weighted vest is worth the investment.

Training With Weighted Vests - The Lowdown benefits of weighted vests

The Pros and Cons of Weighted Vests


  • Greater Intensity – Adding weight is going to increase the intensity of any workout. Because the vest adds weight to your core, workouts will be more demanding. 
  • Increased Caloric Burn – While a lighter weighted vest is not going to do much in the way of caloric burn, it does help. The more calories burned, the better!
  • Customization – Weighted vests can be customized with the addition or subtraction of weights, allowing you to get the perfect weight for your body. 
  • Portability – Weighted vests are highly portable and much easier to carry around than other exercise equipment. 
  • Increased Acceleration – The addition of weight increases your body’s ability to create force. Once you remove the weight, acceleration increases. 


  • Injury Risk – Wearing a weighted vest could increase your chances of becoming injured. It can also exacerbate existing injuries. 
  • Joint Stress – Weighted vests can place a lot of pressure on your joints, which can lead to pain.
  • Respiratory Concerns – If you suffer from any heart or lung condition, ask your doctor before doing weight vest training, since the added weight can cause respiratory problems. 


You should now have all the information you need, to decide if a weighted vest is right for your training. If you do decide to wear one, take the necessary precautions and advance slowly. These vests can add a lot to your workouts, but they should be used with caution. 

The Things People Get Wrong About Weighted Vests

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