Reviews Gym Equipment Weighted Vests

10 Best Weighted Vests in 2024

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy (21 years of Oly Lifting experience)

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If you’re looking for the best weighted vest, then chances are that you’re in the realm of intensified workouts. And also, you’ve come to the right place to meet your needs.

A weighted workout vest isn’t just some random piece of fitness gear, oh no. It is a lifestyle. And out of all the many vests out there on the market, you’re here because you are looking for the best one.

So, what makes the best weight vest the ‘best’? Well, you’re about to find out!

In this article, we’ll cover all the crucial aspects of what types of weight vests are out there, how to choose one, and how to pick the perfect fitness weight vest that’ll fit your body like a glove (but to be honest, wearing a massive glove around your torso would be kind of cool; Anyway!).

For this article, our team of certified personal trainers and professional athletes has meticulously reviewed 33 products, and has spent a total of 396 hours testing most of them. The products were tested based on 5 key parameters and in addition to this, we’ve also examined hundreds of online user reviews. Our list is updated frequently, so feel free to share your experience in the comments section.

Let’s dive into the world of weighted vests!

Best Weighted Vests

Top 10 Best Weighted Vests Reviewed

  1. Condor Sentry Plate Carrier – Top Pick
  2. ROGUE PLATE CARRIER – Runner-up
  3. 5.11 Tactec Plate Carrier – Premium Pick
  4. BOX WEIGHTED VEST – Best with Small Increments
  5. Cap Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest – Budget Pick
  6. Kensui EZ-VEST – Best with Plate Load
  7. WOLF TACTICAL Vest
  8. Aduro Sport Weighted Vest – Best for Running
  9. Hyper Vest – Best for General Fitness
  10. ZFOsports Weighted Vest
ProductTotalPrice/QualityDesignDurabilityComfortMaterial
Condor49.59.510101010
ROGUE4891091010
5.11 Tactical47.599.591010
BOX47999.59.510
Cap Barbell46999109
Kensui45.58.5999.59.5
WOLF TACTICAL4599999
Aduro Sport458.5999.59
Hyper Vest448.58.5999
ZFOsports43.58.58.598.59
TOP PICK

1. Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

condor plate carrier
  • Color: Black, Tan, Olive, or Multicam Black 
  • Weight: 5 to 20 pounds
  • Width: 9.25″
  • Material: Nylon and Mesh
  • Closure Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight Type: Plate Loaded

This weight vest reviews will start with The Condor Sentry plate carrier which combines comfort and resistance. It is a plate carrier weight vest that can hold medium and large ESAPI plates within a weight range of 5 to 20 pounds.

While the comfort features include adjustable shoulder straps to reduce pressure, padded mesh lining for more breathability, removable shoulder pads, and a hook-and-loop system to reduce the weight that sits on your shoulders.

The various material used to construct the vest aid the durability of the product, along with making it lightweight. The lightweight nature is further enhanced by the minimalist look of the product as it doesn’t come with any extra or unnecessary bulk.

The high-quality vest is reflected in the price of the product, but you’re also getting some custom features like several different color options along with modular attachment options.

49.5 EXPERT SCORE

The high-quality vest is reflected in the price of the product, but you’re also getting some custom features like several different color options along with modular attachment options.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Comfort enhances through adjustable shoulder straps and mesh padding
  • The minimalistic design makes it lightweight and breathable
  • Made of high-quality nylon material

Could be better:

  • Weight plates can be awkward to carry if it isn’t ESAPI standard
Runner-up

2. ROGUE FITNESS Rogue Plate Carrier

 ROGUE FITNESS Rogue Plate Carrier
  • Color: Black, Coyote Brown, Ranger Green, Gray
  • Weight: 5 to 20 pounds (x2)
  • Width: Plate Pocket: 10.25" (outside width)
  • Height: Plate Pocket: 12.25" (outside height)
  • Material: 1000D and 500D Cordura
  • Closure Type: USA Velcro fasteners and front/back loops for patches
  • Weight Type: Cast weight plates

The runner-up is not only a great vest but also benefits the Operator Foundation. Rogue donates a portion of the proceeds to this charitable organization that’s dedicated to providing funds (educational and other special funding assistance) to the most elite US special operations members and their families. You don’t see this every day, right?

This is a heavy-duty vest that’s built to last. The no-nonsense design is probably the best thing about it; no distracting features, just a plain, quality vest that focuses on comfort and good fit.

The vest is made of 1000D and 500D Cordura fabric. This type of fabric ensures the vest lasts for a long time. The stitching is reinforced and neat, which means Rogue really took their time with this and didn’t rush the process.

Always look at the stitching – if it’s messy and all over the place, it most likely means the manufacturer focused primarily on the manufacturing speed rather than quality.

Aside from the 1000D Cordura lining, there’s a generous amount of foam padding and the fabric is quite stretchy. You’ll notice there are not as many seams here, and this was done intentionally to prevent chafing. The back strap has elastic that keeps the fit nice and snug.

The vest weighs a bit over 1 pound unloaded. It’s extremely comfortable. However, some shoulder pads would make it better because, as soon as you add plates, you’ll notice discomfort on the shoulders because of the weight distribution.

But if you’re looking for a straightforward vest that gets the job done and will last a long time, give this one a chance.

48 EXPERT SCORE

This is a heavy-duty vest that’s built to last. The no-nonsense design is probably the best thing about it; no distracting features, just a plain, quality vest that focuses on comfort and good fit.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Design focused on quality and durability
  • Back strap has elastic for a tight fit
  • Neat and reinforced stitching
  • Good amount of foam padding

Could be better:

  • Plates need to be bought separately
  • No shoulder pads
premium PICK

3. 5.11 Tactec Plate Carrier

5.11 Tactec Plate Carrier
  • Color: Various
  • Weight: 5 to 20 pounds 
  • Width: 9.25"
  • Material: Abrasion-resistant 500D nylon
  • Closure Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight Type: Plate Loaded

The 5.11 Tactec Plate Carrier is a premium product, so the price of it is on the expensive side. However, the higher price tag is valid because it’s made of the best quality material. The 500D nylon also allows for more flexibility and breathability.

On top of that, the vest has special shoulder pads to minimize friction, tensional bands that can be adjusted for more stability, and a mesh interior to allow for more breathability and comfort.

So, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. However, the vest doesn’t come with any weights. So, you have to order specific plates that fit naturally with the vest otherwise you might find your normal weight plates are too unstable. Another thing is that limited weight options. For a premium product, the weight only goes up to 20 pounds, which can feel too low.  

5.11 Tactec Plate Carrier instagram
Photo by @pele_nguyen

However, with a premium product, it’s always good to have more color options, so you can customize your look and the 5.11 Tactec plate carrier provides you with 6 different options. Along with which, you have space for personalized patches and other tags.

47.5 EXPERT SCORE

The vest has special shoulder pads to minimize friction, tensional bands that can be adjusted for more stability, and a mesh interior to allow for more breathability and comfort.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • High-quality nylon that helps the flexibility and breathability of the vest
  • Specialized features to decrease friction and increase comfort
  • The coating is water resistant

Could be better:

  • Doesn’t come with any weights
  • Limited weight options
Best with Small Increments

4. Box Weighted Vest

Box Weighted Vest
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 2.5 to 45 pounds
  • Width: 10.5"
  • Material: Military-Grade Construction
  • Closure Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight Type: Weighted Vest

What makes the Box Weighted Vest so unique is that its weight increase in increments of 2.5 pounds. So, you have the option of picking a weight between 2.5 to 45 pounds. These 2.5 pound increments make this a great weight vest for pull ups as the small jumps are perfect for progressive overload.

Along with pull ups, the vest would be a great option for bodyweight workouts as those are typically hardest to progressive overload.

The vest is also made of military-grade materials, which come with a lifetime warranty in case anything rips or breaks off.

This definitely adds to the price and quality of the product as you can safely purchase the vest knowining that any malfunctions or stitching errors will be dealt with free of charge. Plus, military-grade materials are some of the more durable and long lasting materials.

To minimize the bulk of the vest, the shoulder straps are narrower so you have more range of motion. However, this could put more pressure on your shoulders. So, that is a trade off to keep in mind. You’ll be getting more range of motion but there is less protection for your shoulders. This could be important if you’re planning on going heavy with the weight vest.

Also, there might be some comfort issues because it is one size fits all with only a single waist strap to adjust the tightness. So, the vest could be too tight or too loose. Either way, there would be issues with your workout.

47 EXPERT SCORE

The vest is also made of military-grade materials, which come with a lifetime warranty in case anything rips or breaks off. Plus, military-grade materials are some of the more durable and long lasting materials.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Versatile weight options
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Weights are easily adjustable through the velcro straps

Could be better:

  • The fit of the vest is harder to adjust
  • High price tag which further increases the heavier weight you pick
Budget PICK

5. Cap Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest

 Cap Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 20 to 150 pounds
  • Width: 13.78"
  • Material: Polyester and Nylon
  • Closure Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight Type: Weight Packets

One of the best qualities of the Cap Barbell weight vest is that it’s made of two of the most durable materials, nylon and polyester. So, right away you can be confident in paying the price because you’ll have a long-lasting piece of workout equipment.

While comfort is also kept in mind through padded shoulder straps and an adjustable waist belt to take pressure off of your shoulders.

This weighted chest vest is also very versatile as you can perform your typical bodyweight exercises and use the anchor hook which allows you to attach a running parachute for resistance training. So, if you enjoy the more athletic type of training, this weight vest could be what you’re looking for.

CAP Barbell instagram
Photo by @josephjreid

The weights are added through weight packets in several pockets on the vest. The pockets are evenly distributed around the vest, reducing any instability issues. Each packet is 2.5 pounds and you can go as high as 150 pounds of resistance making it one of the more heavy weighted vests on the market.

However, the weight is only adjusted down. For example, if you purchase a 40-pound weight vest, that will be the maximum capacity and you can remove weights to lower the resistance. So, you have to clarify what limit of the weight vest you’d like and then remove the weight to adjust accordingly during your workout.

46 EXPERT SCORE

This weighted chest vest is also very versatile as you can perform your typical bodyweight exercises and use the anchor hook which allows you to attach a running parachute for resistance training.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Attachments allow for versatile training
  • Weighted resistance goes as heavy as 150 pounds
  • Made of two of the most durable vest materials

Could be better:

  • Weight can only be adjusted downward
  • The stitching isn’t reinforced and can come undone
Best With Plate Load

6. Kensui EZ-VEST

Kensui EZ-VEST
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 2.5-55lbs weight plates (limited by the length of the sleeve – 2.8/2.8/3.7’’)
  • Material: Zinc Alloy, Nylon, Nylon Fiberglass, Aluminum Alloy, Polyurethane Leather
  • Closure Type: Velcro
  • Weight Type: 2’’ diameter barbell weight plates (Olympic)

This innovative vest is not only compact but surprisingly functional. You have three models to choose from: LITE V2, PRO V2, and MAX V2. Let’s take a closer look!

The maximum carrying capacity will vary depending on which model you pick (80/150/300 lbs), which is perfect for a plethora of workouts – if you can get it to fit you.

Since there is only one size available, if you’re really muscular, there’s a good chance this will be too small on you. You can adjust it to a certain point, but even with the adjustments, the size could still be an issue.

If it fits you, then you’re in for a treat. The vest is compatible with holding 2-inch Olympic weight plates, one in front, and one in the back. If you have 1-inch plates, there is a 1-inch adapter that can be purchased separately.

The Kenzui EZ-Vest is made from a combination of nylon, nylon fiberglass, aluminum alloy (on the MAX V2 model), zinc alloy, and polyurethane leather. Basically… this stuff is heavy-duty, and it looks that way as well.

The leather padding lining is removable and machine washable, which means that you’ll be able to get this a lot cleaner than some of the other vests that need to be hand-washed. The padding is available only on the PRO and MAX models and is 6/8mm thick respectively.

The Velcro closure makes this easily adjustable, although Velcro can raise some concerns as far as durability goes. There are only so many times you can open and close the vest before the Velcro starts to fray. Luckily, the MAX V2 model has an SRB buckle, to help deal with that issue.

Still, it’s great to be able to use plates you already have in your gym with the vest and not have the added expense of buying the plates separately.

You can’t argue with the fact that this is very durable (other than the Velcro potentially falling apart after some time), and it’s so refreshing to see a truly innovative piece of equipment in an industry that’s pretty much overrun with copycats.

45.5 EXPERT SCORE

The maximum carrying capacity will vary depending on which model you pick (80/150/300 lbs), which is perfect for a plethora of workouts – if you can get it to fit you.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Innovative designs
  • Compact
  • Machine-washable, removable padding

Could be better:

  • Only one size available
  • Can hold 2’’ plates only (unless you purchase a 1’’ add-on)
  • Velcro closure is not very durable

7. Wolf Tactical Adjustable Weight Vest

 Wolf Tactical Adjustable Weight Vest
  • Color: Various
  • Weight: 5.75 to 42 pounds
  • Width: 14"
  • Material: Nylon
  • Closure Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight Type: Weighted Pockets

The Wolf Tactical adjustable weight vest comes with airflow panels for better breathability. This can be much needed for HIIT type workouts or if you’re planning on going for a long hike.

The vest also comes with padded and adjustable shoulder straps for a comfortable fit. Another special perk of the Wolf Tactical vest is that it has molle panels, which allow for more gear attachments making it a very versatile vest.

However, it is one size fits all, so there are some fit concerns as it could be too tight or too loose depending on your body. But it does come with an adjustable waist strap and tension bands to try and make it a comfortable fit. But those adjustments are unlikely to fit every one equally. So, keep that in mind before making a purchase.

Wolf tactical instagram
Photo by @angmyo33

Additionally, the weights are sold separately, which is another thing you have to calculate for your budget. Typically, not all plates work for a weight vest either. These type of weight vests need specialized plates otherwise you can have stability issues. So, you would need to purchase these plates if you want to use the vest properly.

45 EXPERT SCORE

The Wolf Tactical adjustable weight vest comes with airflow panels for better breathability. This can be much needed for HIIT type workouts or if you’re planning on going for a long hike.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0
Best For Running

8. Aduro Sport Weighted Vest

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest
  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 4 to 30 pounds
  • Width: 4.5 inches
  • Material: Neoprene
  • Closure Type: Hook
  • Weight Type: Weighted Vest

The Aduro Sports vest is a great option for running because the weight inside is evenly distributed. So, once you catch your running rhythm, you should feel stable and secure. Breathability is also important during running that’s why the vest is made of lightweight neoprene material. You shouldn’t feel like the vest is too restrictive across your chest.

The design of it is very minimalist, which is what you’re looking for if you’re on a run. Anything bulkier would likely interfere with your workout. The minimalist look does limit the amount of weight you can use, but it should be plenty for a cardio session.

It is also an easily adjustable weight vest that can fit kids, women, and men. So, you’re getting a versatile workout equipment that can be used by your whole family. Typically, adjustability is a drawback for weight vests as it’s unlikely to fit other individuals if it is bought with your own dimensions in mind. So, this is a big perk.

Aduro Sport Weighted Vest instagram
Photo by @drpaul

The vest also has a mesh pocket for you to store your belongings like your phone during your run. The vest can be further adjusted from the buckles to increase comfort. However, the vest isn’t machine washable.

45 EXPERT SCORE

The design of it is very minimalist, which is what you’re looking for if you’re on a run. Anything bulkier would likely interfere with your workout.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Weight is evenly distributed for better stability
  • Lightweight feel to it due to the neoprene material
  • Has a mesh pocket to store your belongings

Could be better:

  • Weight isn’t adjustable
  • Not machine washable
Best For General Fitness

9. Hyper Vest Weighted Vest

Hyper Vest Weighted Vest
  • Color: Metallic Black
  • Weight: 5 to 10 pounds
  • Width: Adjustable
  • Material: Polyester and Cordura
  • Closure Type: Zipper
  • Weight Type: Steel Weights

The Hyper Vest weighted vest is for your everyday gym goer who is trying to burn some extra calories during their walks or light jogs. It is also an ideal weighted pushup vest as the smaller weight range can be challenging enough for an exercise like pushups. The vest is made of a specialized cordura material, which is odour resistant.

On top of that, the vest is machine washable which isn’t always true for weighted vests. So, this perk is great for hygiene purposes.

The vest also has specialized side panels for better airflow and breathability. The vest is loaded with steel weights, which you place in the front pockets. However, you’re limited to just 10 pounds of extra weight.

Even though the product is supposed to be unisex, its design matches a women’s physique more naturally. This could be a drawback depending on your body structure.

However, one thing that is hard to justify is the high price tag. Typically, expensive weight vests are either made of better material or provide you with more versatility and a higher weight range. All of those things are largely missing with the Hyper Vest.

44 EXPERT SCORE

The vest is made of a specialized cordura material, which is odour resistant. On top of that, the vest is machine washable which isn’t always true for weighted vests. So, this perk is great for hygiene purposes.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Odour resistant material
  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Made for low intensity activity

Could be better:

  • Narrow design
  • High price tag

10. ZFOsports Weighted Vest

  • Color: Black
  • Weight: 40 to 80 pounds
  • Width: 14"
  • Material: Nylon
  • Closure Type: Hook and Loop
  • Weight Type: Weight Pockets

The one size fits all ZFOsports vest has several unique perks. One of them is that it comes with a pocket for your phone or music player. So, if you’re on a run or a hike, you can be hands free. Another is a water bottle holder that can carry up to 16oz. This will come handy for your cardio sessions.

While the material of the vest is supposed to enhance durability, there are several velcro straps that can wear down depending on how often you use the vest.

So, even though the vest material itself might last a long time, if the velcro wears off, it will be difficult to keep using the vest properly. This will largely depend on your workload and what kind of workouts you wish to perform with the vest.

ZFOsports Weighted Vest instagram
Photo by @hillismax84

Also, the design isn’t very aesthetically pleasing as it has a bulky look. Bulkiness can interfer with your workout, especially if you’re doing a cardio session.

There is also no shoulder padding to decrease friction and strain. So, you might experience some chaffing or discomfort, especially because the vest is on the heavier side so much of that load will rest on your shoulders.

Another thing, the vest itself can take a little while to understand despite it coming with a user manual.

43.5 EXPERT SCORE

The one size fits all ZFOsports vest has several unique perks. One of them is that it comes with a pocket for your phone or music player. So, if you’re on a run or a hike, you can be hands free.


Price/Quality:0
Design:0
Durability:0
Comfort:0
Material:0

Positives:

  • Pockets which can hold your belongings
  • Specialized water bottle holder
  • Heavy weight range

Could be better:

  • Bulky design
  • Can put a strain on your shoulders

Experts Who Contributed To This Article

Sergii Putsov

Sergii Putsov

20 years of Oly Lifting & Training experience

Torokhtiy Logo

What Are The Benefits Of Wearing Weighted Vests?

✅ Burns More Calories

One of the best benefits of wearing a weight vest is that it can help burn more calories. The reason is simple. You’re exerting more energy when you’re performing your typical workout with an addition of a weight vest.

The more energy you expend, the more calories you burn. That’s why doing cardio with a weight vest can be great for you as you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time compared to doing cardio without a vest.

✅ Versatility 

Lastly, a weighted vest is simply a great tool to add more versatility to your workout program. Whether you’re trying to improve your cardio, increase your strength, or build muscle, progressive overload seems to work best.

Meaning that on a weekly or bi-weekly basis you’re either increasing your sets, reps, or weight and maybe even a combination of two or all three of them. So, a weighted vest can be seen as an additional tool for progressive overload.

For example, maybe you’re plateauing with your cardio gains, you can try throwing on a weighted vest for the next block of your cardio session and see if it helps you improve. The same goes for strength or muscle gains. 

Vests also come with attachment options such as a place to attach a parachute for sprinting. These types attachments can further enhance your workout and provide you with more versatile options.

✅ Increases Strength

A weight vest is also great for increasing strength. In particular muscle and bone strength. When you wear a vest, you’re essentially adding weight resistance to all of your body.

By just wearing it, you’ll be engaging your core, your lower body will have to walk around with a larger weight than it’s previously used to, and your upper body will have to adapt to the new resistance as well. All of this can result in muscular gains, an increase in bone density, and overall strength.

✅ Time Efficient 

Another benefit of a weight vest is that it can make your workouts time efficient. Instead of doing an hour-long cardio session, you could get away with just half the time with a weight vest because your body will be expending more energy.

Or, instead of having to do a ton of sets and reps for your bodyweight exercises to get the maximum amount of gains, you can do much less and increase the intensity of your workout with a weight vest and get similar benefits.

Benefits Of Weighted Vests

When Do You Need A Weighted Vest?

1. For Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight workouts like dips, push-ups, and pull-ups, are very popular and effective. However, one drawback they can have is that it’s difficult to progress in them over time. Eventually, doing 100s of push-ups for your workout is not time efficient. It is also difficult to properly add weight to these bodyweight exercises.

That’s why a weighted vest can be very useful because it naturally fits over your shoulders and chest and feels like a part of your body. This can allow you to keep progressing in these types of workouts.

2. Low-Impact Cardio

Low-impact cardio like a long hike or a walk or a light jog is perfect for a weighted vest. Not only do you add resistance that forced your body to adapt and adjust thus increasing your muscular and bone strength, but you can also burn more calories in a shorter period of time. So, you get the best of both worlds.

Also, as mentioned above, a weighted vest can be the perfect tool to keep your progression going without increasing the time you spend doing the activity. So, instead of a 3-hour hike, you can perhaps to a 2 or 2-and-a-half-hour one with a weighted vest and get the same benefits.

When Do You Need A Weighted Vest

3. Unilateral or Agility Exercises

Unilateral work can be incredibly important for addressing muscular imbalances and targeting specific muscles.

But when it comes to your lower body, it can be difficult to properly do unilateral work because you have to focus so much energy on balancing on one leg while holding a weight in your hands.

For example, an exercise like Bulgarian split squats can be awkward for many as they find themselves tilting forward due to the weight in their hands. Instead, you can simply use a weight vest and take out the balance part, so you can fully focus on your muscle. 

Agility exercises have a similar issue as well. Doing material drills or jumping exercises with weights like dumbbells can be difficult and could lead to injuries if you land improperly. But with a weight vest, the drills can be performed smoothly while minimizing the risk portion.

Our expert Sergii Putsov shares:

“No! Weighted vests are not just adding extra resistance. Absolutely not! There’s much more to it than just that. You see, when I strap on my vest, it’s not just for the extra muscle burn while running, push-ups, or pull-ups. What the weight vest does is, it fires up my cardiovascular system.

If you’re looking to increase how much calories you’re burning, then I’ve got two words for you: Weighted vest. But don’t forget that you can’t overdo with the added weight. Listen to your body and keep your posture rock-solid. Safety first, after all!”

4. Physical Limitation

One of the best benefits of a weight vest is that it can be used by a wide variety of individuals. If you have an injured wrist or forearm or have hurt any muscle in your arms, it could be difficult to workout properly. But you can still wear a weighted vest and stay healthy as you recover.

In the same vein, if you have a physical disability that prevents you from holding weights, you can use a weight vest instead to keep challenging yourself and making strengthen and cardio gains.

Performing Weighted Vest

5. Grip Limitations

Grip strength can be a weak point for a lot of people. This can lead them to pick weight that matches their grip strength rather than their overall strength. For example, with an exercise like farmers' walk, you might be able to handle more weight, but can be limited to the amount your grip can carry.

In such cases, having a weight vest can be a great option as your body can carry much more weight than your grip. 

This also is true for exercises like lunges, which not only are limited to your grip strength but also your coordination and balance. But both coordination and balance are easier to achieve when the weight is spread equally over your torso, as it is with a weighted vest.

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6. Unleashing the Power of Plyometrics with Weighted Vests

If you include a weighted vest in plyometric training, it can take your workout to a whole new level. Plyometrics focuses on explosive movements, so when you add a weighted vest to it, the workout becomes so much more effective.

A weighted vest will make the workout more challenging because of the added resistance and will engage more muscle fibers. Say you’re doing box jumps or burpees – with the added weight, your body will need to produce more energy to complete them. The resistance from the vest can improve your overall fitness, and it’s especially beneficial for sprinting speed.

Of course, you need to start slow, with lighter weights, because the extra load will place pressure on connective tissue and joints. Before you decide to add a vest, make sure you have a solid foundation in plyometrics.

athletes wearing weighted vests

4 Types of Weight Vests

1. Metal Plate Loaded

These types of vests are designed to be loaded with specially designed metal plates (usually in a rectangular shape with the top side being curved).

They have dedicated secure fitting for the plates (usually one in the front and one in the back), which in turn allows the user to easily add/remove the weight plates, which typically weigh 2.5, 5, and 10 lbs (although different weights aren’t uncommon).

Metal Plate Loaded Vest

2. Weight Packet Loaded

These weighted vests have a number of small pockets that are designed to be filled with small weights (e.g., small metal bars, sandbags, iron sandbags). This way, the user has much better control over the total weight that will be used. The weight is added/removed in small increments.

The weight of the metal bars, sandbags, and iron sandbags is typically in the range of 0.5-2 lbs. While gaining control, users of these types of vests usually lose in terms of stability, as these many weight-filled pockets increase the wobbling and movement of the vest itself (this is not always the case though).

Weight Packet Loaded Vest

3. Barbell Plate Loaded

The barbell plate loaded vests are designed to do as the name suggests – to be loaded with barbell weight plates. They usually have a peg/sleeve (one in front and one in the back) onto which you’ll load a barbell plate (or plates), and screw them securely in place with a collar/clamp or screw-on cap.

The amount of weight plates that you can attach depends on the lengths of the sleeve, which is usually between 4-8 inches long, and the width of the weight plates.

Most of these types of weighted vests can be used with any type of plate (standard 1’’, or Olympic 2’’), even though they might require a specialized add-on in order to be used with both. Some barbell-loaded vests require specially designed plates.

athlete competes wearing a vest

4. Fixed

Fixed weighted vests come with the amount of weight already determined and it’s sewn into the vest itself. If you don’t want to deal with adjusting the weight and already know how much resistance you want, these are a good choice. Overall, they’re ideal for cardio and bodyweight workouts. 

competition in the weighted vests

What To Look For In Weighted Vests?

1. Price/quality

The price and quality of a weight vest vary greatly. You can purchase one for as low as $30 or as high as $300. This price range depends on various factors like quality, versatility, plate-loaded or not, and design just to name a few. 

If you’re not sure that you need a weight vest, you could try using weighted backpacks for hikes and walks and see how you feel. If you find them to be beneficial, then making an investment into a weight vest can be worth the price.

2. Design

Weight vest designs can also vary a lot. You will be able to pull over most weight vests like a t-shirt. This way the vest rests on your shoulders and chest. Otherwise, weight vests can have a belt strap that you tighten around your torso after putting on the vest. 

The design also dictates how you load your weight vest. Certain vests come with numerous small pockets in which you can place weights to increase the overall resistance. While others are designed to carry full Olympic-sized metal plates.

There are also weight vests that are filled with substances like sand and come with a fixed weight. So, in order to increase or decrease weight, you have to change the vest itself.

workout with barbells in a weighted vest

3. Durability

The durability of the weight vest will largely depend on two factors. First and foremost, the material quality of the vest along with any special perks like reinforced stitching. The second factor is how long and how often you wear the vest. Naturally, the more you use something, the sooner it will break down.

Typically, vests are either worn for a short, intense workout, or a long casual cardio session. But if you’re doing several of these sessions a week, you could find yourself needing a new vest sooner than you had hoped.

4. Comfort

Comfort is a big factor when it comes to picking the right workout tool. The last thing you want is something that causes discomfort and distracts you from your actual workout session. Two factors to keep in mind when it comes to comfort are shoulder straps and chest mobility.

A weighted vest will put pressure on your shoulders as you are carrying the weight around. Think of a school backpack with a ton of textbooks inside. So, having some padding on the shoulder strap or a waist buckle to relieve pressure from your shoulders can be great. 

While chest mobility is important too so you can breathe properly. You don’t want a vest that is very tight around your chest. This can be dangerous and interfere with your workout.

5. Material

A vest can be made of many different materials. Some of the common ones are nylon and polyester. But it’s also common for a vest to be made of a combination of different materials like mesh, velcro, and soft padding. Material is especially important as it will largely determine the durability of the product.

You want to ensure if there is a lot of stitching on the product that it is reinforced or has double stitching to enhance longevity. Especially if you’re planning on going heavy with your weighted vest as more weight will put more strain on the stitching.

You also would want to avoid too much velcro if you’re planning on using the vest regularly as velcro can wear out quicker.

excercises in the weighted vest in the gym

6. Customizable 

Lastly, it’s always good to have a customizable product. This can mean choosing between various different color options and settling on the one you prefer. Or it also has to do with personalized attachments to the weight vest in terms of dog tags or patches. Some vests come with these types of options, but that usually means a higher price tag. 

Weighted Vest Evaluation Criteria

CategoryDescriptionWhy Is It Important?
Price/QualityShows you how much value you get for the money spent.Indicates the overall value of the product (money and product longevity), and tells you whether the vest is a good investment.
DesignShow you how complicated the vest is to use, put on and take of yourself, and how well it snugs against your body.Ensures ease of use and aesthetic appeal.
DurabilityShows you product longevity. It is determined by the materials used, stitching, quality of craftsmanship, etc.Longevity and resistance to wear and tear.
ComfortA high comfort level is usually achieved by placing extra padding between your skin and the weighted vest. The higher this number is, the better experience you’ll have during a long exercise.Critical for prolonged use and reduces the risk of injury.

Finding Your Ideal Weighted Vest Load

Weighted vests can transform your workouts and add a lot in terms of results. They’re ideal for breaking plateaus and boredom. That is, if you choose the correct one, with the right amount of weight. You may be tempted to add more weight than you can handle, but gradual progression is very important, and too much weight will do more harm than good.

If you’re a man and you’re just starting out with weighted vests, a good place to start is 5-10% of your body weight. So, let’s say you weigh 160 pounds. That means that the sweet spot is anywhere between 8 and 16 pounds of added weight.

If you’re a woman, you can also start with a weight that’s anywhere between 5% and 10% of what you weigh. That may not sound like a lot, but you’ll see that even this amount of resistance can pack a punch. As you get stronger and more used to wearing a weighted vest, you can increase the amount of weight.

Weighted Vest Recommendations Based on Body Weight

AthleteStarting Weight (percentage of your total body weight)Cardio (percentage of your total body weight)Strength exercises (percentage of your total body weight)
Men5-10%5-8%8-12%
Women5-10%4-6%6-10%

Adjustable weighted vests are best for beginners because you can easily adjust the amount of resistance.

As far as workouts go, you’ll need different weights for different workouts.

When it comes to cardio, it’s important to start with a lighter load. Men can begin with 5-8% of their body weight, while women should start with anywhere between 4% and 6%.

Push-ups, pull-ups, and squats can take slightly heavier loads, so if you’re a man, add about 8-12% of your body weight, or 6-10% if you’re a woman.

Strength training is what can take the most weight, anywhere from 10-15% of their body weight for men, and 8-12% for women. With strength training, it’s good to wear the vest even during warm-up.

Again, these amounts may not sound like a lot, but you need to remember that a weighted vest that compromises your form or causes any kind of discomfort is counterproductive. Although it may not sound sensical, slow progression is what’s going to give you the quickest results.

weighted Vest Workout

4 Types of Training with Weighted Vests

Weighted vests are a versatile tool that can be added to any training. It doesn’t matter whether you’re pursuing increased agility, or wish to increase the limits of high-intensity intervals. The added challenge often brings rewards. Here are a few training methodologies where using a weighted vest will only upgrade the overall experience.

1. HIIT

HIIT is a super effective workout methodology, and adding a weighted vest to your sessions can only improve it. Combine burpees, sprints, or squat jumps with brief periods of rest, and don’t forget to wear your vest while doing so!

2. Cross Training

This is a methodology that incorporates and blends exercises from a number of different disciplines (e.g., cycling, plyometric drills, strength exercises, etc.). This helps with enhancing overall fitness and helps prevent muscle imbalances. Adding a weighted vest into the mix into this intense routine can only help boost the overall results.

3. Agility Drills

Another workout methodology is Agility Shifts. Lateral shuffles, cone drills, and ladder runs will become even more effective if you add a weighted vest to them. If you add more resistance to these workouts, it will challenge your speed and coordination. 

4. Bodyweight Circuit

The last workout methodology that we’ll mention is the Bodyweight Circuit. Combine a few bodyweight workouts into a circuit and wear a vest while working out. For example, you can do push-ups, planks, squats, and lunges (all of which can be done without any additional equipment).

Also, very popular are pull-ups and dips, but these require equipment support in order to be executed. Set a number of reps and do each of the workouts without any rest in between them. This, with the added weight, is going to make your muscles work even harder.

athlete training in the gym with weighted vest

Types of Exercises with Weighted Vests

Introducing a weighted vest into exercises (upper body and lower body) intensifies the challenges, but also amplifies the results. In a way – you are getting more results, faster. This is because your targeted muscles need to work harder to compensate for the added strain that the weighted vests bring.

We can’t list all of the exercises that exist, but we'll provide a few upper and lower-body exercises for you to see the effects of wearing a weighted vest.

Upper Body Exercises

1. Pull-Ups

Weighted vests have a great synergy with pull-ups as they increase the total weight that you have to lift otherwise. By wearing a weighted vest, you’re adding to the workout intensity and will increase the work your lats/biceps/core have to do. This is great for increasing endurance over time and building muscle mass.

2. Push-Ups

While doing a push-up, as you lower and raise your body, the additional weight from the weighted vest will place more stress onto your chest muscles, shoulders, and triceps. This promotes muscle growth and increased strength in your upper-body region.

Lower Body Exercises

1. Running

If you’re looking to a weighted vest might be a great option. The added weight from a weighted vest increases the forces that are being placed on the leg muscles with each passing stride. This is amazing for your overall cardio fitness, stamina, and leg strength.

2. Air Squats

Regular air squats predominantly focus on your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Adding a weighted vest to the mix will place additional resistance that these muscles have to overcome. 

3. Jumps

Weighted vests also increase the difficulty rating of simple exercises such as vertical jumps or broad jumps. The added weight from the vest forces your leg muscles to exert more force than usual, thus leading to increased explosiveness and overall lower body strength.

4. Stair Climbing

This one is super simple because all you need to do is find a set of stairs and go up and down while wearing a weighted vest. Your cardiovascular system will greatly benefit from this added resistance.

5. Box Jumps

Weighted vests can increase the amount of energy your body produces, so if you want to build exploding power in your legs, just add a weighted vest to box jumps. It will add resistance as you jump onto the box, and your muscles will have to work harder to lift your body weight.

Types of Workouts with Weighted Vests

Seamlessly adding a weighted vest to a workout routine can be beneficial in a great many ways. There is a myriad of workout routines available, and we won’t cover them all, but we will give you some classic three, starting off with the most popular one – Murph.

1. Murph

For time

  • 1 mile run
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 200 Push-Ups
  • 300 Air Squats
  • 1 mile Run

Wear a weighted vest with 20/14 lbs.

2. René

7 Rounds for time

  • ¼ mile run
  • 21 Walking Lunges
  • 15 Pull-Ups
  • 9 Burpees

Wear a weighted vest with 20/14 lbs.

3. Chad

For time

  • 1000 Box Step-Ups

Use a 20-inch box.

Wear a weighted vest with 45/35 lbs.

Cardio

Enhance your cardio routine by incorporating a weighted vest. It’ll add a new dimension to your workout. Running, jogging, hiking… Adding a weighted vest to any of these will up your heart rate, improve performance, and burn even more calories.

Complete Workout Plan Examples

If you are looking for a complete workout plan, here are two examples:

1. Cardio Weight Vest Challenge

Duration: 20 minutes

Instructions: This is an interval workout. Do your warm-up first, then start the challenge. Perform each exercise in the workout at high intensity for 30 seconds, followed by a 30-second rest. Do 4 rounds of the complete challenge. During the workout, keep your core tight and remember to breathe.

  • High Knees: Run in place, raising your knees as high as possible.
  • Mountain Climbers: Start in a plank position. Drive your knees, one at a time, towards your chest (as if you were climbing).
  • Jumping Jacks: Start in a standing position, with your feet together and hands by your side. Jump your feet out while raising your arms, then jump back to the starting position.
  • Box Jumps: Using a sturdy platform (box, steps, elevated flat surface), jump up onto it with both feet, then jump back down.
  •  Sprint: Find a flat distance with no obstructions where you can run a short distance uninterrupted. Sprint back and forth.

After you complete this workout, remember to cool down. Also, keep in mind to adjust the intensity and the total weight of the weighted vest based on your fitness level.

2. Full-Body Weight Vest Circuit

Duration: 18 minutes

Instructions: Do your warm-up first, then start the circuit. Perform each exercise in the workout at high intensity for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second rest period. Do 3 rounds of the complete circuit. Allow your body to recover for 1 minute in between each completion of the full circuit. During the workout, keep your core tight and remember to breathe.

  • Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. By bending the knees, go down as if trying to sit on a chair. Ensure your knees don’t go over your toes. Go back up.
  • Push-ups: Start in a plank position. Lower your body towards the ground by bending the elbows, then push yourself back up into the starting position. Keep your body straight at all times.
  • Lunges: Stand in an upright position. Take a step forward (with one foot) and lower your body until both knees are at 90 degrees. Push back to the starting position and then do the same with the other leg. That’s one rep.
  • Burpees: Start standing. Drop into a squat position, then extend your hands in front of you, to the ground, and proceed to kick your legs back so that you end up in a plank position. Then jump your feet back into a squat, stand up, and jump with your arms overhead.
  • Plank: While keeping your body straight (from head to heels), use your forearms and toes as support to keep your body overground. Keep your core tight, and keep this position without letting your hips sag or rise.

After you complete this workout, remember to cool down. Also, adjust the intensity and the total weight of the weighted vest based on your fitness level.

FAQ

Are weighted vests good for training?

It mainly depends on your training goals. If you’re concerned about maximizing hypertrophy and strength, then vests are not ideal. However, for functional strength and progressively overloading certain exercises or your cardio workout, a vest can be a great option. 

Also, a vest can be great if you have trouble with coordination and balance as the weight of the vest is more stable and evenly distributed compared to holding dumbbells in each hand.

What is the best weight for a weighted vest?

This will entirely depend on the exercise or workout. Generally, you want to keep the weight lighter for longer cardio sessions. However, if you’re training your lower body in the gym, you could handle heavier weights. You should start off with about 10% of your bodyweight and go from there.

Is wearing a weighted vest worth it?

A weight vest has many benefits which include strengthening your muscles and increasing bone density, to burning more calories and fat during your workout, to adding versatility to your workout program. So, a vest is definitely worth it.

Can wearing a weight vest cause problems?

Like all fitness tools, you do have to be cautious with them. If you wear a vest that is too heavy for you, you could hurt yourself. Or if the vest is too tight and restricts your breathing or puts too much pressure on your shoulders. So, it’s best to get your measurements and picking a vest that meets your dimensions.

Conclusion

The best workout weight vest can help improve your cardio while building muscle and strength in your entire body. These vests should have a stable weight distribution to minimize the risk of injury while being made of high-quality material that can be further reinforced with stitching for a more long-lasting vest.

The vest that best fits this general description is the Condor Sentry Plate Carrier

What’s your favorite workout to do with a weight vest? What type of weight vest do you prefer? Plate-loaded or pocket weights? What additional attachments do you like on a weight vest? 

Let’s discuss all of this and any other questions you might have in the comment section below!

Also Read:

References:

  1. Anthony O'Reilly, "4 BENEFITS OF WORKING OUT WITH A WEIGHTED VEST", Muscle and Fitness, https://www.muscleandfitness.com/fitness-essentials/4-benefits-of-working-out-with-a-weighted-vest/
  2. WESLEY DOYLE, "The 10 Best Weighted Vest Exercises for Building Muscle", Mens Health, https://www.menshealth.com/uk/workouts/g37892000/best-weighted-vest-exercises/ (UPDATED: 08 OCTOBER 2021)
  3.  Michael L Puthoff, "The effect of weighted vest walking on metabolic responses and ground reaction forces", NCBI, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16679992/ (Accessed 2006 Apr)
  4.  Olfa Turki, "Dynamic Warm-Up With a Weighted Vest", NCBI, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31094248/ (Accessed 2020 Feb 1)
  5.  K R Barnes, "Warm-up with a weighted vest improves running performance via leg stiffness and running economy", https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24462560/ (Accessed 2015 Jan)
  6.  Timo Rantalainen, "Effect of weighted vest suit worn during daily activities on running speed, jumping power, and agility in young men", NCBI, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22266642/ (Accessed 2012 Nov)
  7.  "Reduced obesity for weighted-vest wearers", Sciencedaily, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200430091301.htm (Accessed April 30, 2020)
  8.  Andrea J Fradkin, "Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis", NCBI, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19996770/ (Accessed 2010 Jan)
  9. Photos by Torokhtiy Media Team; photo by Mikhail Nilov, Canva; photo by Valerii Honcharuk, Canva; photo by Jun, Canva; photo by Bojan89, Canva.

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Olympic Weightlifting Champion

Experience: 21 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 200 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Oleksiy Torokhtiy is a professional athlete boasting 20 years of experience in Olympic weightlifting. With multiple European and World titles under his belt, he has showcased his prowess in two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008 and London 2012). Upon concluding his illustrious career, Oleksiy dedicated himself to coaching. By 2022, he had conducted over 200 weightlifting seminars worldwide. He is the visionary behind an international sportswear and accessories brand known for its motto, “Warm Body Cold Mind.” Additionally, he is an esteemed author and the creator of a series of training programs and eBooks.

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3 Comments

  1. As an avid Crossfitter, I’ve tried out my fair share of weighted vests, and I have to say, this plate carrier is one of the best out there. The adjustable shoulder straps are a game-changer, as they take a lot of pressure off your shoulders, which is a huge relief during those long, grueling workouts. The padded mesh lining also helps keep you cool and comfortable, even during the toughest WODs.

    What really sets this vest apart is its durability. The nylon and mesh materials are top-notch, and I’ve put this thing through the wringer without any issues. Plus, the minimalist design means there’s no extra bulk to get in the way during movements like pull-ups or burpees.

    Sure, the price is a bit steep, but when it comes to CrossFit weighted vests, you really do get what you pay for. You’re getting a high-quality, customizable piece of gear that will last you for years to come. Highly recommend!

    1. Hello @Luca!

      When it comes to selecting the right weight for a weighted vest, there are a few factors to consider.

      First, it’s essential to determine your fitness level and training goals. If you’re new to weighted vest workouts, it’s recommended to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase as you build strength and endurance.

      Typically, weighted vests range from 4-60 pounds, so choose a weight that feels challenging but not overwhelming.

      Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the vest fits snugly and comfortably around your torso, without restricting your movement or causing discomfort.

      Finally, make sure to consult with a fitness professional or medical expert before incorporating a weighted vest into your exercise routine.

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