Weighted Vest Guide

Published: 20-10-2009  | Updated: 03-10-2013


An adjustable weighted vest is an excellent investment if you're serious about your fitness training and want to develop your strength, speed and stamina, whilst maximising fat loss.

Weighted vests are weight adjustable shirts which can vary from 0.5 pound - 30 pounds by adding or removing the attached weighted plates. They are the perfect choice for any bodyweight training regime to help increase intensity and maximise physical development, promoting gains in lean muscle mass.

The principle of the weighted vest is simple - add additional weight to the body to provide an overload, thereby increasing the calories, strength and effort required to perform your workout.

Weighted vests are particularly helpful for people who play sports like football and rugby, where raw power, stamina and explosive movements are essential.

When starting out with weighted vest training be sure to begin with a small amount of weight and gradually increase as you get stronger. This controlled incremental progression will ensure that you train safely, whilst making steady strength gains.

Benefits of weighted vest training

Weighted vests increase training intensity, maximise physical development and promote fat loss and gains in lean lean muscle-mass.

One of the benefits of a weighted vest is that the weight is evenly distributed, acting almost as a part of the body as it fits snug against the torso. This is excellent for allowing the freedom to perform your workout in increased safety, whilst stimulating strength gains and weight loss.

Weight vest training also:

  • develops elite power, strength, stamina and endurance
  • is good for sport specific training to develop explosive movements
  • is perfect for fat loss - just remember to take it off when you get on the scales!
  • promotes elite conditioning and fitness
  • can improve vertical jump
  • has positive effects on bone density

Weight adjustable vests allow you to use a progressive overload program and ensure that you're continually challenged and making gains towards your goal.

What exercises can you use weighted vests for?

Weighted Running

Running in a weighted vest adds another dimension to your training and improves performance. Essentially, wearing a weight vest whilst running means that you're carrying more weight, the additional load making the run more difficult. As your body responds to the increased resistance and you can match the same pace as before you started wearing the weighted vest, the runs on which you are unweighted will be much faster and easier due to the speed, strength and endurance gains in your fitness. Your body more efficient and requiring less energy to produce the same pace.

Bodyweight exercises with weighted vest

Weighted vest are used for increasing intensity of all manner of bodyweight exercises such as weighted dips, pull-ups, push-ups, squats and box jumps. You should only use a weighted vest when you are already proficient in these exercise, but it's an excellent way to overcome a plateau and develop incredible strength.

weighted box jumpWeighted plyometrics

The weight vest lends itself perfectly to plyometrics, in which you try to increase the speed or force of muscular contractions, usually with the goal of increasing jump height.

If you're looking to improve vertical jump we would highly recommend that you invest in a high quality adjustable weighted vest as adding a vest into your training can add inches to your jump height.

Try performing a weighted squat jump with a weighted vest. This exercise increases overall strength and explosiveness. Simply stand, squat down, and explode up as high as you can and repeat for desired number of repetitions.

Acceleration training

Acceleration training is moving the body from rest quickly and efficiently. A weighted vest increases the difficulty of acceleration training because of the increase in bodyweight.

Agility and speed training

All agility and speed drills are enhanced with the use of a weighted vest, since it increases body weight and requires additional effort in maintaining speed and reaction changes.

Weighted walking

If fat loss is your goal and you're walking a lot you can increase the calorie cost of the activity by wearing a weight vest. A vest will not interfere with your normal stride (like ankle weights can) or the way you impact the ground, yet increases activity intensity as the load being carried is increased.

Choosing a weighted vest

If you're looking to buy a weighted vest we've included some pointers below to help you decide - 

Weighted vest fit

Weighted vests typically fit over the shoulders and are secured in place across the body using straps, zips or clips. Make sure you buy a vest that allows for small adjustments in fit, so that you can tighten the vest to your requirements.

Weght vests should be secured tightly but not so as to restrict movment or impare breathing!

Adjustable weight

It's best to buy a vest that allows you to adjust the weight used so that you can make micro-adjustments for training intensity / difficulty.

Most weighted vests come with removable weight plates or blocks to allow you to make adjustments quickly and safely during workouts. 


Many weighted vests go up to 30kg in weight and it's worth investing in a good quality vest as they take some punishment moving one-for-one with your body movements during gruelling workouts. You can end up paying much more in the long run by buying cheaper vests that need to be replaced year-on-year. 

Look for heavy duty vests with good customer reviews and dual fastening mechanisms. 

You can see the Fitstream recommended weighted vests in our Equipment section of the site.


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.