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Fact checked by Tyler DiGiovanni, BSBMFACT CHECKED
February 02, 2023
Calisthenics, or bodyweight workouts, have seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years. However, while this form of working out provides many advantages, it does have one limiting factor: resistance.
Because your body provides the weight resistance you're working against, it won't take long until your strength level can meet the resistance. So, what do you then do to progress your training?
The solution is to wear a weighted vest. Doing so is akin to adding an extra plate to each end of a barbell or picking up a heavier pair of dumbbells. The advantage of a weighted vest is that you're not holding that extra resistance, making it ideal for every type of calisthenic exercise and running and plyo exercises.
But buying any old weighted vest won't cut it. Unless you invest in a quality, functional product that matches your training needs, you will be disappointed.
In this article, we'll identify and review the nine best weighted vests on the current market, separated by category. We'll also examine the benefits of using a weighted vest and provide a weighted vest buyer's guide to help simplify your buying decision.
**There may be affiliate links in this post where we might receive a small commission on purchases you make. We only recommend products we think you will find valuable.**
The TRX® XD™ Kevlar® Weight Vest is our pick for the best adjustable weighted vest due to the flexibility and comfort of its fit. That is due to a combination of multi-functional and extremely durable kevlar material and the even weight distribution of the adjustable weights.
This vest comes in a 10 lb, 20 lb, or 40 lb option. You can add or subtract weights in one-pound increments if you buy the lighter versions. The 40-pound vest has two-pound weight increments. That is still very good, allowing for small adjustments in weight as you progressively get stronger.
The TRX XD Kevlar Weighted Vest is fitted with fully adjustable straps for both shoulder and waist, enabling you to customize your fit. This makes sure that it won't slip or bounce around when you're going for a run or doing a plyo workout. The cross-strap design also helps keep the vest in place when running and jumping.
The wide choice of poundage options is from the 20 individual slots on the front and back of this weighted vest to slide the weights into. This can take quite some time if you're loading multiple weights.
The TRX XD Kevlar Weighted Vest is sold with a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 3-year warranty.
The Titan Fitness 60lb Adjustable Weighted Vest covers your entire torso with a heavy-duty resilient Cordura fabric. Inside the vest, you will find 24 pouches to slip weights into. You also get thirty solid ingot cast-steel weights, each weighing 2.5 pounds. As well as this heavy-duty vest, Titan sells 20, 30, 40, and 50 lb versions.
Adjustable velcro fasteners allow you to get the right fit for you in a one size fits all model. The dimensions of the vest are 12 inches x 12 inches. The edges of the 24 weight plates are rounded to prevent ripping when sitting in their pouches.
The Titan Fitness 60 lb Adjustable Weighted vest comes with a 12-month warranty.
The Fringe Sport WODmaster weighted vest has an open front design for enhanced movement and breathability. It has been made for such CrossFit workouts as Murph and Fran. In addition, this 20 lb adjustable weight vest features front and rear reflective stripes so you can be seen when training in low light conditions.
This body-hugging vest will not move around as you're working out. It has no less than six points of adjustment to ensure you get the right fit for your body. The vest is made from neoprene, nylon straps, and velcro. It is available in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. It also boasts padded shoulder straps to maximize comfort.
Fringe Sport provides fast and free shipping and covers your purchase with a 12-month warranty. It can be purchased for under a hundred dollars, representing very good value for a 20-lb vest.
The Hyper Vest FIT is an updated version of the popular Hyper Vest Pro. A unique feature of this vest is the full-length zip down the front, making it easy to take on and off. It is constructed from heavy-duty Cordura fabric that is noted for its breathability and odor-resistant and sweat-wicking properties. In addition, an open-side panel design enhances the airiness of the vest.
The Hyper Vest FIT allows full maneuverability thanks to its thin profile and minimalist design. It also features reflective side lacing for a highly adjustable fit. The vest is shipped with 10 pounds of weight, consisting of 2.25-oz iron ore bars. Each weight plate is just a quarter of an inch thick, so you will hardly notice the extra bulk.
The patented female oriented design of this vest ensures a superior fit and optimized comfort. The vest has been specially built to flex more in the horizontal plane and less in the vertical plane. This allows for complete chest expansion while ensuring that the weight stays evenly distributed.
The 5.11 TacTec Trainer has been a favorite of the military for many years. It features a minimalist design and is built to last a lifetime. The adjustable shoulder straps help you get just the right fit, and the inclusion of mesh pods enhances breathability.
This vest fits extremely snugly and securely against your body, making it a good option for the vigorous, unpredictable movements involved in a CrossFit workout. This vest also has more storage capacity than most competitors. As well as a velcro admin pocket on the front to store your phone and keys, there are also MOLLE panels on both sides for extra storage capacity.
This is one of the best-built, most durable weighted vests you will likely encounter. However, it is also one of the most expensive. The vest itself is about the same price as many competitors, but the difference is that your purchase price does not include the weights. These have to be purchased separately so that the end price may actually double.
The ZFOsport Weighted Vest is one of the heavier-weighted options we came across. It is available in the following resistances:
This vest comes in a one size fits all design that covers the entire torso. It's made of a nylon weave fabric and features a weight belt fastening system to provide a secure hold. The long two-piece velcro belt will accommodate people with larger bellies.
There's a decent-sized pocket on the chest to hold your phone and car keys, as well as a water bottle holder on the side. The adjustable weights are made of a blend of sand and small iron particles. The 80-pound vest can take twenty weight bags.
The ZFOsport Weighted Vest is a very popular choice for men who do bodyweight workouts. It has more than 2000 ratings on Amazon, with an average of 4.5 stars.
The MT Military Alice weighted vest is in the design of an army rucksack. Rather than an exercise-style weighted vest, this is actually a pack army survival backpack. It has a main compartment that measures 22.5" H x 14.5" L x 10" W. Then there are three front pockets that measure 9" H x 5" L and two side pockets that are 12" H x 3.5" L.
The total storage area of this backpack is 5o liters and 3000 cubic inches. With a weight capacity of 50 lbs, the MT Military Alice provides ample resistance while rucking. The pack is made from waterproof, and PU-coated treated Oxford fabric with UTX buckles. It comes in a variety of colors.
When the field pack is used with the field pack frame (sold separately), the field pack frame is fitted into an envelope pocket that is padded with spacer material and situated at the top of the rear of the Alice Pack. The Field Pack is fastened to the Field Pack Frame using buckles and straps at the bottom of each side. Shoulder strap connection points include two rectangular wire loops at the upper back of the field pack and D rings on either side of the field pack's bottom.
The Aduro Sport Weighted Vest is a minimalist vest that has the weight spread throughout the back and shoulder straps that connect via a velcro buckle. It is available in six weight options from 4 lbs to 30 lbs. It's made from a Neoprene fabric that feels great against the skin and provides a firm, flexible fit. You won't have to worry about this vest slipping around when you are on the move. That makes it an ideal choice for hikers and runners.
The weights consist of durable iron pellets (versus sand that is commonly used) that are evenly distributed across the shoulder straps and back of the vest. There is a mesh pocket on the back so you can store your phone or even add extra weight pockets if desired.
This is a well-priced vest, starting at $30. Better still, your purchase is protected by a lifetime warranty.
Polyester and nylon are used to create the CAP Barbell Weighted Vest. It is equipped with 2.5-pound iron ore fine weights that are simple to remove for individualized resistance. A customizable fit and increased user comfort are provided by the padded shoulders and adjustable waist belt. You can work out securely after dark, thanks to reflective stripes. Anchor hooks are added to accommodate training exercises like parachute runs.
A full range of weights, from 20 to 80 pounds, are offered by CAP Barbell. That makes CAP the place to go for your super heavy-weight vests. This company has built a reputation for selling high-quality home fitness equipment at an affordable price point, and this is no exception.
The design of the CAP Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest, which is completely adjustable, is one size fits all. Rather than iron ore fines, the heavier-weighted vests are filled with sand. The weight increments are 2.5 lbs. The vest itself is made from reinforced polyester and nylon.
This is a short-style vest that covers the chest, leaving the core free. This allows for a greater range of movement and agility through the midsection.
A weighted vest is a vest-like garment that is designed to be worn while exercising. It contains added weight to allow you to progress the resistance of the exercise you will be performing while wearing it.
Weighted vests often resemble bulletproof vests in appearance. They typically take the shape of a flak jacket and have soft, detachable weight pouches filled with sand, iron pellets, or steel bars. The goal is to increase your body's natural resistance, especially while performing bodyweight workouts like push-ups and pull-ups. However, you will burn more calories when performing any type of exercise with the extra poundage of a bodyweight vest. Wearing a weight vest while running or doing other cardio exercises will also make your heart and lungs work harder, improving your cardiovascular fitness.
There are three main types of weighted vests:
Shoulder holster style - the weight is distributed evenly throughout the front along the straps and upper back on shoulder holster-style vests, which typically fit like hydration packs with a buckle in the front.
Tactical -the fit of tactical vests is similar to that of body armor. Steel plates that fit into the front and back slots of the vest are frequently used by them.
Torso covering - Torso-covering vests, or those that simply cover your chest, often fasten with velcro straps.
While many weight vests are designed to be unisex, you can buy models that are specifically designed for men or women.
A weighted vest can be used by people who are doing forms of exercise that do not allow them to add resistance through other means. The most common use of a weighted vest is by people who do mainly bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and bodyweight squats. People who are doing plyometric workouts and HIIT can up the intensity by wearing a weighted vest.
Runners may also increase the intensity of their workout by wearing a workout vest.
Weighted vests allow you to overcome a major limitation of bodyweight training to enable you to benefit from a fundamental principle of exercise; progressive resistance. This allows for the following benefits.
Something as simple as wearing a weighted vest about the house without engaging in any exercise will help you lose weight. That is because your body needs to burn more calories to support heavier body weight.
Naturally, vests are meant to be worn while exercising, and doing so can increase calorie burn by as much as 10%.¹
You can increase your calorie burn during any physical activity by donning a heavier weight vest. In order to move more weight, your body must exert more effort. You can potentially burn 8% more calories by wearing a weighted vest that is just 10% of your body weight.
More calories burned leads to more fat loss.
Numerous studies have revealed that wearing a weighted vest while running greatly increases running endurance. In one study, it was found that the vest group had a 25% greater gain in sprinting endurance and a 3% better increase in stair running ability when compared to a control group of 12 athletes.
The same study discovered that a weighted vest could boost peak running speed by up to 3%. Wearing a weighted vest has been demonstrated to help increase bone density, according to additional studies. Because of this, doctors advise those who are at risk for bone loss to wear weighted vests.²
Stamina is the ability to prolong an activity or form of exercise. It is the result of a combination of areas of fitness including muscular and cardiovascular endurance, strength, and aerobic fitness. Studies have shown that people who exercise or hike while wearing a weighted vest are able to significantly improve their endurance.³
A weighted vest allows you to train with progressive resistance. You'll appreciate how much more convenient it will be to wear a weighted vest if you've ever tried to perform push-ups with a weight on your back. If you've ever attempted to perform pull-ups while holding a weighted dumbbell between your feet, you'll also understand how much more convenient a weighted vest is.
The ability to increase your training resistance is the key to strength gains. If you stay at the same resistance level, your muscles will get used to the resistance and have no need to get stronger. It is only when you challenge them with a slightly heavier weight that you are able to place extra stress on the muscle, activating the stress response where the muscle gets a little bigger and stronger through rest and nutrition.⁴
Using a weighted vest can increase not only muscle strength but also bone strength. A number of studies have shown that wearing a vest can help reduce the effects of arthritis and osteoporosis by strengthening bones and improving bone mineral density. As a result of such studies, weighted vests have been recommended as a training tool for people with osteopenia.⁵
The added bulk of a weight vest will force your heart to pump harder in order to supply the oxygen and nutrients that are carried around the body by your blood. This extra demand on your cardiovascular system will result in a stronger heart, meaning that your ability to push more blood with each pump will be greater. As a result, your resting heart rate will go down, and your overall cardiovascular fitness will improve.
Wearing a weighted vest will also improve the efficiency of your respiratory system. In addition, some research has shown that running with a weighted vest will boost blood lactate threshold levels. This allows the runner to keep going for longer at high speed before becoming fatigued. In one study, the best results were seen when heavier weight vest resistances (between 10-40% of the runner's body weight) were used for sprint workouts, and lighter weights (10% of body weight) were used for long-distance runs.⁶
In order to get the best performance from this training aid, you need to be a discerning weighted vest buyer. Here are ten things to take into consideration.
You should match your weighted vest to the type of activity that you will be mostly doing while wearing it. If you're going to be mainly running in the vest, you will want a garment that is going to fit securely without slipping while also not chafing or feeling too tight on your skin.
A vest that is going to be used for bodyweight exercises like push-ups or pull-ups should have the capacity to add more weight to it so that you can continually make progressive resistance advancements.
Of course, you can buy a jack-of-all-trades weighted vest for both running and doing bodyweight exercises. However, these will invariably be lacking in some areas.
You want your weighted vest to provide a good balance between comfortable fit and secure hold. It should fit snugly without feeling too tight or constrictive. If it has shoulder straps, they should be easily adjustable so as not to rub on your skin.
The vest also needs to be movement friendly so that it does not restrict your range of motion when working out.
Decide whether you want to own a weighted vest with a fixed resistance or one that allows you to adjust the resistance. Adjustable weight vests are best for bodyweight exercises, while fixed weight vests are usually adequate for runners and hikers.
The usual weighted vest range is between 10 and 40 pounds. You can, however, buy heavy-duty vests that weigh more than 40 pounds. The weights should be divided into smaller removable weights so that you can quickly and safely add and remove resistance. Look for a vest with small weight increments of 2.5 pounds.
Before buying a vest, know how much weight you are getting with the vest and what the cost of additional resistance is. Some vests, like the 5.11 TacTec Trainer, do not come with any resistance. When you buy the weight pockets, you nearly double the initial price.
The weight resistance used in a weighted vest may be provided by sand contained in durable bags, iron bars, steel plates, or steel shot. No one type of weight is better than the others, though there is the possibility that a sandbag could leak.
A weighted vest needs to be well constructed in order to hold up workout after workout. It should feature double-stitching for enhanced durability, military-grade materials, and strapping and commercial-grade buckling, strapping, or velcro closures.
The ideal weighted vest material is a heavy-duty nylon blend like Cordura. If you're going to be wearing your vest for outdoor activities like running and hiking, it should have a waterproof coating.
A quality weighted vest will have a built-in breathability system to prevent sweat and heat buildup. The materials that touch your skin should be sweat and odor-wicking. Ideally, your weighted vest should also be machine washable.
Some weight vests place the extra weights over your chest area, while others are loaded on the back of the vest. If you are mainly doing exercises like push up when you are moving your body down to the floor, you will be better off with back-loaded weights.
However, for exercises like pull-ups, you will be better off with a front-loaded vest. A front-loaded vest will also make it easier to add or subtract weight without having to remove the vest. At the end of the day, it depends on personal preference.
Naturally, you want your weighted vest to look, as well as feel, good. Consider the design of the vest in line with your preferences. As mentioned earlier in the article, there are three main weighted vest designs: shoulder holster, full torso vest, and a tactical/plate vest to consider. Finding a vest that is visually pleasing and meets your workout criteria will only increase your likelihood of getting as much use out of it as possible.
Weight vest prices vary quite markedly. You can get a good quality vest for under a hundred dollars or pay more than double that for a vest with greater weight increments and other extra features.
By checking online reviews from verified customers, you can get some insight into the fit, comfort, and functionality of the vest. You'll also be able to get feedback on how durable it is and on the level of customer service coming from the manufacturer.
If you are doing bodyweight exercises and are able to do high reps (more than 50 push-ups and 15 pull-ups in a row), it is worth buying a weighted vest. A vest will allow you to continue adding progressive resistance, especially if you are training for strength and hypertrophy. Using a weighted vest can also improve your cardio fitness, improve your endurance and boost stamina.
A weighted vest adds extra resistance to your workout. It is ideal for people who do bodyweight training and can do high reps with their body weight on exercises like pull-ups and push-ups. A weighted vest can also benefit runners and hikers as it will improve their cardiovascular fitness and stamina.
Yes, it is healthy to walk with a weighted vest. Doing so will make your heart work a little harder to pump blood around your body. It will also make the body work harder, increasing your calorie burn.
We recommend using a weighted vest that weighs 10 percent of your body weight as a starting point. You can then add weight at a rate of 2.5 pounds each time as you get stronger.
On the pro side, a weighted vest allows for progressive resistance on bodyweight exercises, increases strength, endurance, cardio fitness, and stamina, and is helpful for weight loss. Potential cons are that it may increase spinal loading and adversely affect the body's balance.
A weighted vest is a very handy training tool for people who do bodyweight training, as well as for runners and hikers who want to dial up the intensity. The overall best weighted vest on the current market is the TRX® XD™ Kevlar® Weight Vest, featuring a durable kevlar exterior, a unique cross strapping design for a secure, comfortable fit, and high density to maintain its shape.
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