How to Choose a Weighted Vest [by a Physical Therapist]

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As a physical therapist and avid hiker, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to improve my fitness and overall health and provide recommendations for people that don’t want to follow the traditional “gym-path”.

how to choose a weighted vest by a physical therapist
It’s really hard to do pushups with a weighted vest. This bench makes a great chair for my dog Ruby, but also a perfect platform to build upper body strength with an “elevated pushup”.

That’s why I was intrigued when I heard about the science-based benefits of using a weighted vest during exercise, the boost it gives walking, weight loss, and as a way to combat osteoporosis.

So I cancelled my crossfit membership and decided to do a month of weighted vest strength training (other than Murph) and am very pleased with the results.

It’s a great mode for strength and agility training for all ages and ability levels. From hardcore to really gentle, it’s very versatile and especially great for women who want to strength traing but prefer the outdoors and not a smelly gym.


  • A good weighted vest should be form-fitting and have small weight increments for versatility.
  • Progress slowly and integrate the vest into your exercise routine gradually.
  • Trekking poles are a great addition to a weighted vest workout for added stability and posture support.

Choosing the Right Weighted Vest

When it comes to choosing the right weighted vest, there are a few things you need to consider.

First and foremost, you want to make sure the vest is form-fitting to your body. This will ensure that the weights are distributed evenly and won’t move around as you exercise.

Additionally, you’ll want to look for a vest that allows you to make small changes in the weights.

This is especially important as you get older, as smaller increments will be easier to handle than larger ones.

While wearing a weighted vest all day may seem like a good idea, it’s not recommended.

Your body needs time to adapt to the added weight, and wearing it for extended periods of time can lead to injury.

Instead, use the weighted vest during exercises that require your entire body, such as squats and lunges.

If you’re looking for a more advanced routine, plyometrics can be a great way to integrate your weighted vest.

When deciding on a weighted vest, consider the Hypervest or Hypervest Elite. Remember, investing in a weighted vest is only beneficial if you use it consistently and correctly.

Hyper Vest FIT Review

Hyper Vest FIT women weighted vest walking bone density adjustable up to 10 lbs S,M,L (8 lbs LARGE)

One great option for a weighted vest is the Hyper Vest. This vest is form-fitting and allows for small changes in weight increments. It’s a bit pricey, with a cost of around $100 to $200, but it’s worth the investment if you’re serious about incorporating a weighted vest into your exercise routine.

Hyper Vest Elite Review

Hyperwear Hyper Vest ELITE Fully Adjustable Weight Vest - Stretch CORDURA® Fabric YKK Zipper Thin Steel Weights - Weighted Vests for Running, Strength, Endurance, Walking (10 lbs LARGE)

Another option to consider is the Hyper Vest Elite. This vest is similar to the Hyper Vest, but has a few additional features and you can add more weight. It’s also form-fitting and allows for small changes in weight increments, but it also has a sister vest that can be worn on top for additional weight.

Run Max

RUNmax rf20nop Run Fast 12lb-140lb Weighted Vest (without Shoulder Pads, 20lb),Black

This vest has some serious weight capacity for those that want a really heavy wegihted vest. It goes from 12 – 140 lbs of weight.

Buying Guide Weighted Vest

If you’re considering purchasing a weighted vest, it’s important to invest in a good one. Here are some benefits of a good weighted vest:

Form-Fitting and Versatile

A good weighted vest should be form-fitting to your body, allowing for small changes in the weights. This versatility is important, especially as you get older. It’s also important to choose a vest with smaller increments in weight, as larger increments can lead to injury.

Integrating a Weighted Vest into Your Exercise Routine

If you have recently purchased a weighted vest, you may be wondering how to integrate it into your exercise routine. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Progression is Key

When you first start using a weighted vest, it’s important to start with a small amount of weight and progress slowly. Adding too much weight too quickly can lead to injury, such as plantar fasciitis.

Trekking poles are also a great way to integrate a weighted vest, as they help with posture and stability.

Progression should be done weekly, with only a half to a pound increase in weight if you’re responding well to it. This slow and steady progression will allow your body to adapt to the added weight and prevent injury.

Exercises to Incorporate

When using a weighted vest, it’s important to start with exercises that require you to use your entire body. Squats, forward lunges, and reverse lunges are all great exercises to incorporate into your routine. For the upper body you can find a bench and do pushups, planks, shoulder taps or dips on the bench.

Once you have your form down and you are feeling comfortable with these exercises, you can start adding weight to your vest.

In addition to these exercises, heel raises and step-ups are also great options. By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can gradually increase the amount of weight you are using and continue to challenge your body.

You can read my post here on how to clean a weighted vest when it gets grungy.

Advanced Exercise Routine

If you are looking for a more advanced exercise routine, plyometrics are a great option. Plyometric exercises involve explosive movements that can help improve your speed and power. Some examples of plyometric exercises include jump squats, box jumps, and burpees.

When incorporating plyometrics into your routine, it’s important to start with low-impact exercises and gradually work your way up to more advanced movements. This will help prevent injury and ensure that you are challenging your body in a safe and effective way.

Using Trekking Poles

Another great way to incorporate your weighted vest into your routine is by using Nordic poles. Nordic poles are a type of walking stick that can help improve your posture and provide additional points of contact for balance and stability.

By wearing your weighted vest and using Nordic poles, you can challenge your body in new ways and improve your overall fitness level. Additionally, Nordic poles are a low-impact exercise option that can be a great alternative to high-impact exercises like running or jumping.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does walking with a weighted vest burn more calories?

Yes, walking with a weighted vest can burn more calories than walking without one. According to a study published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, wearing a weighted vest during exercise can increase energy expenditure, resulting in higher calorie burn. However, it’s important to note that the amount of calories burned will depend on factors such as the weight of the vest and the intensity of the exercise.

What is the best weighted vest for walking?

The best weighted vest for walking is one that fits comfortably and is adjustable to your body size. Look for a vest that is made of breathable material and has evenly distributed weight. The weight of the vest should not exceed 10% of your body weight, and it should be easy to put on and take off.

Can weighted vest walking help with fat loss?

Yes, weighted vest walking can help with fat loss. By increasing the intensity of your workout, you can burn more calories and lose fat. However, it’s important to combine weighted vest walking with a healthy diet and other forms of exercise to see the best results.

How heavy should a weighted vest be for walking?

The weight of a weighted vest for walking should not exceed 10% of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your vest should not weigh more than 15 pounds. Starting with a lighter weight and gradually increasing the weight as you become more comfortable is recommended.

Are weighted vests good for walking?

Yes, weighted vests are good for walking. They can help increase the intensity of your workout, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and increase bone density. However, it’s important to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable. It’s also important to use proper form and not overload your body.

Should you walk with a weighted vest every day?

No, you should not walk with a weighted vest every day. It’s important to give your body time to rest and recover between workouts. Two to three times a week is a good starting point, and you can gradually increase the frequency and duration of your workouts as you become more comfortable. It’s also important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.