As a physical therapist, hiker, CrossFit coach, and yoga teacher, I have seen firsthand the benefits of incorporating a weighted vest into my workouts. Whether you’re looking to increase your strength, improve your endurance, or challenge your balance and stability, a weighted vest can be a valuable tool.
In this science-based post, I’ll be sharing some of the top benefits of using a weighted vest during exercise, as well as some tips for incorporating this versatile piece of equipment into your routine.
So, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting out on your fitness journey, read on to learn more about the benefits of wearable resistance training.
What Are the Weighted Vest Exercise Benefits?
If you’re looking for a way to increase the intensity of your workouts and build more muscle, wearing a weighted vest may be the answer. We’ll explore the many benefits of wearing a weighted vest for hiking and exercise, including improved bone health, healthier lungs and cardiovascular system, and enhanced function of the autonomic nervous system.
We’ll also discuss how wearing a weighted vest can prevent exercise plateaus, aid in weight loss, and improve your psychological well-being.
- It’s a fantastic alternative to gym-based resistance training, especially for those that want an Outdoor or alternative workout.
- Wearing a weighted vest can improve bone health, lung function, and cardiovascular health.
- It can also prevent exercise plateaus, aid in weight loss, and improve psychological well-being.
- Wearing a weighted vest can help increase anaerobic metabolism, build a stronger core, and improve running performance.
Key Dosage of Exercise with Weighted Vest
It appears that a proper volume and intensity of hypergravity (weighted) could be in the order of 5-10% body weight vest worn during up to 50% of the training sessions for a period of 3-4 weeks.
Top 11 Benefits of Weighted Vest Exercise
1. Supports Bone Health
Wearing a weighted vest can support the health of your entire skeletal frame. Load-bearing exercises put stress on your bones that nudge bone-forming cells called osteocytes into action.
As a result, you can expect stronger, denser bones that are more resilient against breaking and chronic bone diseases like osteoporosis and sarcopenia.
While one workout in a weight vest is inadequate to experience bone health benefits, just 15 to 20 minutes of resistance training three days per week can help. According to the Journal of Gerontology, weighted vest training doesn’t just make your muscles stronger, it makes women’s bones stronger too.
Weighted vests are an excellent tool for resistance training, offering a range of benefits for individuals seeking to enhance their workouts.
By incorporating a weighted vest into your routine, you can increase the intensity of your workout, build more muscle, and burn more calories.
Additionally, using a weighted vest can help improve your bone health and reduce your risk of chronic bone diseases. This benefit is particularly relevant for individuals over the age of 50, as bone density tends to decrease with age.
By utilizing a weighted vest, you can provide your bones with the additional support they need while still pushing yourself to achieve your fitness goals.
2. Healthier Lungs
Incorporating a weighted vest into your workout routine can provide numerous benefits, including improved lung function. By wearing a weighted vest, you are increasing the demand on your lungs, which can lead to improved exercise performance and reduced fatigue.
The lungs play a crucial role in absorbing oxygen from the air, and the more intense the workout, the more oxygen the body requires. By utilizing the lungs more during exercise, you can improve their function and capacity, which can be particularly beneficial for individuals with weak respiratory systems.
3. Invigorated Cardiovascular System
Wearing a weighted vest while exercising can improve your cardiovascular health. The cardiovascular system is crucial for overall health, and a weak system can put you at risk for heart attacks and other deadly issues.
General recommendations for improving cardiovascular health include running or walking more, but you can increase the effectiveness of these activities by simply adding a weighted workout vest.
By wearing a weighted vest, your heart works harder, leading to better results for your health. Your strength and endurance will improve, along with your heart health and capacity.
The vest’s design and placement over the body can allow for better breathing and posture while still placing demand on the user. The increased demand and strain on the body will help your heart work harder, leading to better results for your health.
4. Prevent Training Plateau’s
Preventing exercise plateaus is essential for continued progress in your fitness journey. When the body becomes accustomed to performing the same exercises repeatedly, it burns fewer calories and uses fewer muscles.
Changing your workout routine and incorporating a weighted vest can help you break through plateaus and continue making progress towards your fitness goals. Additionally, using a heavier weighted vest can increase resistance, which is equivalent to lifting heavier weights in the gym.
Enjoy a workout in Nature with this Adjustable Weighted Vest. Walk safely and with less bounce than normal weighted vests to build strength!
5. Muscle Gains
Another way workouts help you lose weight is by increasing your muscle mass, which in turn helps with burning more energy with everything you do. A weighted vest helps increase muscle mass too. A weighted vest will likely not make or break your weight loss journey, but even a small improvement will make a big difference over time.
By adding more weight to your workout, you are increasing the resistance and making your muscles work harder. This leads to more muscle gains and higher rates of metabolism, which can help with weight loss.
A weighted vest can help increase your endurance and strength, which can carry over into other aspects of your training.
Using a weighted vest is equivalent to lifting heavier weights in the gym, and it can help you lose more weight by requiring more energy during your workout.
6. Weight Loss
If you’re looking to take your weight loss journey to the next level, a weighted vest might just be the secret weapon you need. When you exercise with a weighted vest, you’re putting your body through a more intense workout, requiring more energy to move around. And we all know that more energy burned equals more calories burned!
Your weight plays a big role in how many calories you burn during exercise. The more weight you carry, the more energy you need to fuel your movements.
For example, running for 30 minutes at 5.2 miles per hour burns around 330 calories for a 155-pound person, but a 185-pound person burns around 393 calories.
When you add a weighted vest to the mix, you’re increasing the amount of weight your body has to move, which means you’ll burn even more calories.
And don’t worry, research from 2018 shows that using a weighted vest for weight loss is not only feasible but also safe, even for older adults. So, if you’re ready to take your workouts to the next level and see some serious results, grab a weighted vest and get moving!
7. Increase Your Chill Mode
Enhancing the function of the autonomic nervous system is another benefit of wearing a weighted vest during exercise. When you wear a weighted vest, it puts significant tension on your respiratory muscles, which raises your heart rate and makes it more difficult to breathe.
However, by training with a weighted vest, you can learn how to better cope with this tension and remain calm despite the increased stress on the body.
The aim of wearing a weighted vest during exercise is to stay centered and relaxed amid this tension, thus activating the parasympathetic nervous system rather than the sympathetic nervous system fight or flight response. Therefore, training with a weighted vest helps you manage stress better, which improves the autonomic nervous system function.
By enhancing the function of your autonomic nervous system, you can improve your overall health and well-being by:
- Reducing anxiety
- Reducing depression
- Reducing negative mood
- Improving your self-esteem
- Improving cognitive function
- Additionally, the personal satisfaction and pride you feel when you have a particularly great workout and achieve goals you never thought possible before can also contribute to your overall mental health and well-being.
8. Builds a Stronger Core
|Your Weight in lbs||Ideal Vest Weight|
|125||5 – 12.5|
|150||6 – 15|
|175||7 – 17.5|
|200||8 – 20|
Wearing a weighted vest during your workout routine can be a great way to build full-body strength, but its most notable impact is how it can strengthen your midline or core.
The weight of the vest forces you to focus on your posture, and failure to do so can quickly lead to pain in your lower back. Maintaining correct posture requires extra recruitment from your mid-body muscles, which leads to greater strength gains.
The way weight vests are structured means that the weight typically sits above the midline, forcing your body to learn to balance a heavier weight.
This added challenge helps to improve your core strength, making it easier to maintain proper posture and reducing the likelihood of lower back pain.
9. Improve Running and Hiking Performance
Improving running performance is one of the many benefits of wearing a weighted vest while working out. 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 study found that wearing lighter weights led to more improvements in longer distances, while heavier weights were associated with better sprint performance.
10. Increases Anaerobic Metabolism
When it comes to workouts, anaerobic exercise is a quick and immediate form of activity such as high-intensity interval training, circuit training, Pilates, yoga, and weight lifting.
By adding more weight and resistance to your workout, you are increasing your anaerobic metabolism, which is a TP production without oxygen. This leads to greater muscle gains and higher rates of metabolism.
A study by the European Journal of Strength and Conditioning showed that athletes wearing weighted vests at 9 to 10 percent of their body weight were able to build a tolerance to lactic acid.
As such, this helped the athletes reduce fatigue and improve muscle endurance by creating more energy in the absence of oxygen.
Training with a weight vest can be very beneficial to a workout routine, especially if you want to increase your anaerobic metabolism. By adding weight to your exercises, you are forcing your body to work harder and adapt to the increased resistance.
This leads to greater muscle gains and higher rates of metabolism, which can help you achieve your fitness goals faster.
11. psychological well-being
Improving your psychological well-being is another benefit of using a weighted vest during your workouts. Exercise has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood while improving self-esteem and cognitive function.
By using a weighted vest during exercise, you can take your workout to the next level and challenge yourself physically, which can lead to a sense of accomplishment and pride.
Using a weighted vest during exercise can improve your psychological well-being by boosting self-esteem, reducing anxiety and depression, and releasing mood-boosting endorphins.
It can also help you develop mental toughness and resilience, leading to increased confidence and control over your life.
And especially for women, walking can be a catalyst for social and emotional growth and change. Read the excellent book by Annabel Abbs called “Windswept: Why Women Walk” to learn more.
You don’t need to purchase a specialized device for hiking or walking with a weighted vest. One of my preferred methods to intensify my hiking workout is by wearing a hydration bladder filled with water weight, which becomes easier as I drink more water – a win-win situation!
And most hydration bladders come with small pockets where you can store some essentials, such as cornhole bags, which will add some weight to your walk.
In addition to improving physical performance, exercise has positive effects on your mental health. Like most exercise and sauna use, it can reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood while also improving your self-esteem and cognitive function.
With a weighted vest as your companion throughout your workout, you can push yourself to your limit physically, helping you to feel your best mentally too.
Enjoy a workout in Nature with this Adjustable Weighted Vest. Walk safely and with less bounce than normal weighted vests to build strength!
FAQ Weighted Vests for Hiking
What muscles does hiking with a weighted vest work?
The primary muscles worked during hiking with a weighted vest are the lower body muscles, including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, which are responsible for propulsion and stability.
The core muscles, such as the abs and lower back, are also engaged to maintain balance and stability.
Additionally, the upper body muscles, including the shoulders, back, and arms, are used to maintain posture and balance while carrying the weight.
Overall, hiking with a weighted vest can provide a full-body workout, improving strength, endurance, and balance.
Is it good to hike with weights?
Yes, a weighted vest can be a useful tool for those looking to enhance their hiking experience and improve their physical health.
However, it’s important to use caution and follow safety guidelines when using a weighted vest, and to speak with a doctor or fitness professional before starting any new exercise program.
Does hiking with a weighted vest burn more calories?
One study showed that people wearing a vest that added 10% of their body weight burned significantly more calories than those not wearing any weight or those carrying only 5% of their body weight.
Are Weighted Vests Worth it?
It depends. It is especially useful for people that don’t want to perform strength training in the home or gym with traditional weights.
The resistance of the vest can improve your strength, balance and proprioception to reduce risk of injury and increase your hiking capacity.
Should I hike with a weighted vest?
Yes but consider these factors:
Proper Fit: Wearing a weighted vest that is too loose can lead to discomfort and even injury, as it may shift during movements, causing strain on the back, neck, and shoulders.
Weight Distribution: A vest that is not evenly weighted can cause imbalances and increase the risk of injury, particularly to the lower back.
Overloading: Wearing a vest that is too heavy can put unnecessary strain on the body, especially if you are new to using a weighted vest or have pre-existing health conditions like plantar fasciitis. Overloading can also increase the risk of falls and other accidents. It’s important to start with a lighter weight and gradually increase it over time to avoid overloading and injury.
Like it? Share it to promote sustainable tourism.
Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a physical therapist 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.
I hope you enjoyed this article on the weighted vest exercise benefits.