A weighted vest can be a super versatile and hella effective piece of workout equipment. But before you pack on the pounds, let’s weigh the benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about weighted vests.

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Yakov Knyazev/Stocksy United

Studies suggest that weighted vests boast a wide range of impressive perks. Here’s a deep dive into the biggest benefits.

1. Build strength

Weighted vests might help you get more gains. The extra weight forces your muscles to work harder, which can increase strength and build muscle mass.

A 2017 study also found that wearing a weighted vest helped older adults maintain muscle mass while losing weight.

2. Improve running performance

According to a small 2015 study, running with a weighted vest may help improve overall performance and stamina.

Additionally, researchers in a 2019 review looked at the effects of weighted vests on sprint-running performance. Participants were loaded with weights equal to 5 to 40 percent of their body weight.

The peeps who wore lighter weights had more improvements in longer distances, while heavier weights were associated with better sprint performance.

3. Burn more calories

Adding extra weight to your body can help you burn more calories. According to research from the American Council on Exercise, a weighted vest that weighs 10 to 15 percent of your body weight could help you burn up to 13 percent more calories. Woot!

Wearing a weighted vest might also boost your metabolism. A small 2020 study found that wearing extra weight can help the body metabolize fat better. But that was just one small clinical trial, and we need more research to find out if this effect is legit.

4. Strengthen bones

Weighted vests boast beacoup benefits for your bones 🦴. Weight-bearing exercises (like workouts while wearing a weighted vest) can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. How does it help? Exercise challenges your bone tissue, encouraging improvement in bone strength and density.

One 2017 study also found that light-load power training with a weight vest improved pelvis bone mass density and knee extensor strength in postmenopausal women who were losing muscle mass as a result of getting older.

5. Better balance

A weighted vest might make you more mindful of your posture when you work out, which could improve your overall balance and stability.

A 2017 study found that weighted vests might improve balance in folks who have lower-body paralysis.

And in a 2019 study, participants had improvements in muscular strength, power, and functional abilities after completing a 6-week step exercise training program while wearing a weighted vest.

But we need more research to confirm these effects.

Here are some top tips to help you make the most of a weighted vest:

  • Use it for cardio. Weighted vests are the perfect addition to your walking or running routine. You can also take your vest for a spin on your next bike ride or indoor cycling sesh.
  • Try it with strength training. A weighted vest can take your regular resistance training to the next level. It’ll pair perfectly with push-ups, lunges, planks, pull-ups, squats, or jump rope. You can also wear a weighted vest during free weight and dumbbell workouts.
  • It’s not just for workouts. Don’t have time to hit the gym? No worries! Wear your weighted vest while you clean your house or even while you cook!
  • Bigger doesn’t mean better. Overloading with a 50-pound weighted vest could increase your risk of injury, especially if you’re new to the game. Heavier vests can also tire you out faster, which can lead to sloppy form. Start with a vest that weighs about 5 percent of your body weight and go from there.

Weighted vests are generally safe when used correctly. Just keep these notes in mind before you slip one on:

  • Make sure the fit is on point. A loose vest can mess with your balance, which could lead to injury.
  • Keep it light at first. You can work your way up to heavier loads as you build stamina and endurance.
  • It’s a good idea to talk with your doc before using a weighted vest if you’re recovering from an injury or if you have a condition that affects your bone density.
  • You prob shouldn’t wear a weighted vest if you have knee or back pain. It could put extra pressure on your muscles and joints.

A weighted vest can be a great addition to almost any workout, whether cardio or strength training. It can help you burn extra calories, increase muscle mass, and strengthen your bones.

Just make sure to keep things safe by starting with a lighter vest and working your weigh up to heavier loads over time.