5 Ways to Use a Weighted Vest

Have you heard about weighted vests? If you haven't, this is the time to try adding one to your workout for an additional fat burning edge. Get-Fit Guy explains how.

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #214
Man training with weighted vest

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Two days ago, taking a friend up on a challenge, I raced a Spartan obstacle race wearing a weighted vest. It made an already intense race into a very, very hard challenge.

I literally felt like I was dragging an entire extra body around the race course. My heart rate shot up, my lungs and muscles were burning, my body temperature went through the roof, and the next day I was way more sore and fatigued than usual.

See also: 4 Metabolism-Boosting Workouts You Must Try.


And although you don’t need to do a race in a weighted vest, this piece of fitness gear can come in quite handy as a potent tool for enhancing calorie burn, building strength and muscle faster, and increasing fat loss.

What Is a Weighted Vest?

A weighted vest is simply a vest that is either made from a heavy material, or equipped with small pockets that can be filled with tiny sand bags, small steel bars, or other weighted objects. The general purpose of a weighted vest is to add extra weight for body-weight exercises, walking, distance running or speed, agility and quickness drills.

When it comes to performance, research has shown that using this type of extra load during sprinting or speedwork requires your lower-body muscles to generate more force against the ground, and can lead to improvements in strength, power, and acceleration during running, as well as increased strength and efficiency during speed, power, and agility drills.

See also: 3 Body Weight Exercises You Must Learn


But even if you’re not a professional athlete, you can still benefit from using a weighted vest. In fact, simply doing your daily activities with a bit of extra weight can significantly increase the metabolic cost (aka, your calorie burn). It can also increase intensity of an activity or exercise that would normally be easy and even help with bone density by loading the skeletal system.

Whether you decide to get a light 10-pound vest, an intermediate 20-30-pound vest, or a serious 40-50-pound vest, here are 5 Quick and Dirty Tips for using a weighted vest:

Tip #1: Do Body Weight Exercises with a Weighted Vest

It’s very simple to turn a body weight workout into a difficult routine by simply putting on a weighted vest. For example, here’s one routine that you I do while wearing my weighted vest a few times a month, next to my treadmill:

  • 2 minute treadmill run 
  • 20 weighted vest push-ups
  • 20 weighted vest squats
  • 20 weighted vest “get-ups” (simply lie on your back on the ground, then do a sit-up motion and stand up to your feet)
  • 20 weighted vest reverse lunges

Simply repeat these 5 moves as a circuit 4-6 times through. This routine works best with a 10-20-pound vest, and if you want an even more advanced version, throw in a round of pull-ups too.

Tip #2: Go on Weighted Vest Walks and Hikes

When I hit the forest trail with my kids, we have a great time in nature, but it’s often not that difficult for me. Sometimes, I want that easy nature hike to be a more intense workout. To do that I simply put a weighted vest over my shirt and underneath my coat. For hiking and walking, look for a heavier 30-50-pound vest if possible.

Of course, you don’t have to simply wear a weighted vest during a hike. You can also wear it for walks around the neighborhood, at the park, or even doing stair repeats in a stadium or at a hotel. The sky’s the limit (I’ve even worn my vest through airport security and walked around airports with it on!). The useful part about a weighted vest is that no matter where or how you move, it’s going to make any aspect of getting from point A to point B just a little bit more difficult.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.

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