5 of the Best Weighted Vest Workouts

Most of us are comfortable with standard gym equipment like treadmills, Swiss balls and free weights. However, some of the less common workout gear may pose a bit more of a challenge. Weighted vests are great pieces of equipment but because they are not frequently found in gyms, many people struggle to know how to use them safely or effectively. If you need some help on buying this piece of gear, check out Crosstrainingpro.com’s guide on the best weighted vests for men and women.

Best Weighted Vest Workouts

Weighted vests are an accessible training tool for all as they can safely add weight to standard exercises, helping to boost strength, stamina and muscle tone. If used properly, weighted vests can also help to encourage your bones to become stronger and denser in order to handle the extra weight. Ideal if you are looking to prevent injury, and keep healthy into older age.

To help you get the most from a weighted vest, and to ensure you don’t get injury you should first try the exercises out without the vest, just to make sure you have the technique right. Then, when you actually put the vest on, make sure to start out light. 10lbs is a good start. Also, when you choose your weighted vest, make sure it is not too loose so it won’t move around, but also so it is not too tight as you should be able to fit your hand underneath the vest.

No matter what your goals, there are weighted vest workouts for you. To get you started, and to give you some weighted vest workout ideas we have found 5 of the best:

(Always ensure you complete a thorough warm up without the vest, involving dynamic drills and stretches before doing any workout to ensure your body and mind are prepared for the workout session.)


Weighted vest workouts for building mass

If you are serious about adding muscle mass to your frame, then you will likely know that you need to go heavy on your work outs. By adding a weighted vest to your workout you can amplify your sessions, and make your muscles work harder. In addition by wearing the vest you will also ensure that your core, lower back, and breathing muscles have to work harder too. The vest will also help to boost your calorie burn.

A great session to add in to your mass building routine is a 5×5 workout whilst wearing a weighted vest. For this workout complete 5 sets of 5 exercises. Pick exercises like squats, dead lifts, bench presses, barbell rows, split squats and barbell cleans because these exercises will be the ones that will get most amplified by wearing a weighted vest.


Weighted vest workouts for speed

Weighted vests are ideal for helping you to build power, and acceleration. In fact, training with a weighted vest can improve leg speed, and power in less than 4 weeks. However, note that results will likely only occur a couple of weeks after you stop training with a weighted vest as your body will need time to recover for the results to become apparent.

You could wear a weighted vest for hills or stair climbs as both sessions will help you build speed and power. However, if you are after a flat speed workout then why not try this weighted vest two phase speed session if you are serious about getting faster:


Phase 1- stationary

  • 10 x Hip rotations
  • 10 x Wall swings sideways
  • 10 x Wall swings forwards
  • 10 x Pushups
  • 10 x Glute hip bridges
  • 2 x 20 sec Seated sprint arm motion


Phase 2- sprints

  • Run up 10-15 stairs, then run back down the stairs, and then do 10 pushups.
  • Rest: 20-30 sec.
  • Run up the stairs and back down, then do 8 squat jumps.
  • Rest: 20-30 sec.
  • Run up the stairs and back down, then do 10 burpees.
  • Rest: 20-30 sec.
  • Run up the stairs and back down then do 10 split squats on each leg.


Weighted vest workouts for strength

In addition to your usual weight sessions, why not try out using a weighted vest in a strength circuit to help you build strength and tone. This strength circuit can be done with any weight of vest, but start out with a 10lb vest to get your muscles used to the extra stress.

  • Body weight squat (8 reps)
  • Bulgarian split weight squat (8 reps)
  • Inverted Row (can use a TRX or machine) (12 reps)
  • Pushups (12 reps)
  • Prisoner Squats (10 reps)
  • Plank with alternating shoulder taps (20 seconds)

Complete this circuit 3 times. Take 3 minute rest between each circuit, and rest as needed between each exercise.


Weighted vest workouts for vertical jumps

Vertical jumps are all about power and muscular elasticity. Box jumps are a traditional go to exercise to boost both power and elasticity, so why not boost your gains by using a weighted vest?

This workout starts out with 3 sets, of 8 box jumps. As you progress and get stronger, and more powerful, you can add more sets, more reps or more weight to your weighted vest. With weighted vest box jumps complete them as you would normally, but make sure to bend your legs well as you land in order to cushion your joints from the extra weight.


Weighted vest workouts for endurance

Weighted vests should not be used on long runs, but they can help to amp up short cardio routines, to help you get the maximum benefit from a short amount of time. To also help prevent excess strain on your joints and muscles, try using the weighted vest for a cardio session on a bike. A 10lb vest should be enough for this session. Here is an example of a cardio cycling interval session:

  • 3 mins of seated cycling,
  • 4 mins of standing cycling at 90% of max heart rate (you should not be able to talk during this effort)
  • 2 mins of seated cycling for recovery
    • Repeat this two more times
  • Finish with 5 minutes of seated cycling to cool down


Weighted vest workouts for building upper body strength

Push ups are a well known exercise that can promote upper body strength. However, by wearing a weighted vest to complete your push ups you can take them to the next level and really start to see results in your arms, chest and shoulders.

For this workout, complete 3 sets of 10 push ups, with 3x80m sprints, and 1 minute recovery between each set. To do each push up start out by laying flat on the floor, face down, with your hands shoulder width apart, and your palms flat on the floor. Then raise your upper body off the ground so that your arms make 90-degree angle at your elbows. Your feet should be kept together, with your toes on the floor, and your legs should be raised. Ensure that your movements are slow and controlled. From the up position then slowly, lower your body back down to the floor until your chest touches the floor. Then repeat. This workout is not one to be scoffed at. If you need a longer recovery between each set then take it- it is important to keep up good form, and intensity.



Weighted vests can be used for a number of different workouts. In all cases weighted vests can help you to improve your physical performance, fitness and strength. The added weight that the vest puts on your body helps to increase resistance during your cardio and body-weight workouts. What is more, by boosting the intensity, weighted vests can help to make cardio activities harder- boosting your gains, and helping you to achieve your fitness goals faster.