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Should a weighted vest should be your new workout buddy?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s a fairly simple concept on its face. Weighted vests serve as a kind of force multiplier, making workouts more challenging and effective the moment you put them on.

But there’s more to the weighted vest than meets the eye, and they may not be for everyone. Are they a fit for your workout style? Are there any safety concerns to be aware of? What are the exercises that bring the most out of the weighted vest and your fitness routine?

This is what you need to know about weighted vests, and how or whether to incorporate them into your routine.

What exactly is a weighted vest?

Think of a life jacket — only exactly the opposite. Both are sleeveless vests that fasten up the middle with adjustable clips, zippers, or Velcro. But instead of flotation, the weighted vest is designed to make you heavier, adding extra weight to your torso, which in turn demands more output from your muscles.

The amount of weight in each vest is typically customizable, with pockets where you can add weighted plates or similar objects, so the vest can get heavier as your strength level progresses. They tend to range in weight from a few pounds to more than 150 pounds and are a great fit for both men and women — provided you follow a few common-sense guidelines.

Is a weighted vest right for me?

Although it’s flexible enough to add to just about any exercise, there are a few where extra care is required.

One of these is running, as a heavier weighted vest has the potential to substantially alter your running form.

Similarly, if you’re new to fitness in general or weighted vests in particular, be sure to start slow. A 100-pound weighted vest may look cool, and the strength or speed gains can be tantalizing, but it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew.

Although it’s a fairly simple piece of equipment, weighted vests come in a surprising range of styles. Some are designed more for hardcore workouts and mimic the design of the heavy protective vests used by the military or law enforcement. Others emphasize breathability and convenience, with mesh pockets to store your stuff. Still others have special designs that are meant to minimize “bounce,” reducing irritation and chafing.

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Good exercises for weighted vests

While a weighted vest can up the degree of difficulty on just about any activity (if done safely), there are a few exercises that benefit the most from the addition of a weighted vest.

Some of these exercises include:

  • Box jumps: Set up a box around knee or thigh height (or any height that’s comfortable) and with two feet on the floor jump up onto the box. Step down then repeat for four to five reps.
  • Planks: Similar to push-up position, except you are resting your upper body on your forearms instead of your palms. See how long you can hold the position, then rest and repeat.
  • Skater jumps: Extend your right leg behind your left leg, then lower your left leg into a half-squat position. Return to standing and repeat on the other leg, doing three reps on each side.
  • Cycling: Alternate sitting and standing positions for about three minutes each, resting for a couple of minutes in between.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Looking to design your perfect weighted vest workout? Conduct your own research and see what you come up with. There is a slew of weighted vest workouts available across the internet. Some are designed primarily for strength, while others have cardio in mind. Beginners and experts alike are sure to find regimens that are well-suited to their needs.

Once you become more informed, the intimidation factor of the weighted vest tends to melt away. Choose the right vest and the right workout, and this flexible workout accessory can be your newest exercise ally.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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Scott Harris

Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health, wellness, and nature, among other topics. His work has appeared on, Vice, Bleacher Report, MedPage Today, and Healthline, to name a few. In his spare time Scott enjoys writing fiction, playing with his kids, and searching for the perfect vegan brownie.

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