So you’ve probably heard about weighted vests and how they can improve your fitness and help you burn more calories whilst exercising.
What you might not know is that wearing one can also increase your leg strength, preserve your muscle mass whilst losing weight and improve your running and sprint speed.
Later in this post, I describe the full benefits of weighted training vests backed up by scientific references, so make sure you continue reading to get a clearer understanding.
If you want to know what the best weighted training vests are, read on so that you can make an informed buying decision.
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Best Weighted Training Vest – Overall
This RUNfast weighted vest is the #1 best seller on Amazon for good reason. If you want one of the most popular weighted vests around, then this is what you’re after.
It’s incredibly versatile, with a pocket big enough to fit your phone and a strap to carry your water bottle around.
One awesome feature is that the weights are removable which means if you bought one of the heavier models then you’d be able to take weights out if you were feeling like you only needed to carry around a lesser amount for the day.
There are five different weight options (12-60lbs) and the vest comes in a ‘one size fits most’ sizing. The double velcro strap means you can tighten or loosen the vest to your personal preference.
You can choose whether you want to get shoulder pads or go without. They’re included by default, so you’d need to opt out if you don’t want them. If you plan to use the vest for running or hiking then I’d advise you get them.
If you’re not a fan of the camo colors that some weighted clothing can come in then you’ll appreciate the subtle black of the RUNfast.
You’ll have no issues running, doing pushups, etc. but if you plan to do situps or crunches it may be a little difficult as the vest can be somewhat constricting when you bend over.
Overall, this vest is well priced, versatile and having the ability to take weights out of it means that you could even share it with a family member.
Best Weighted Vest for Running
When it comes to getting a weighted vest for running, you’re after two features; the vest has to be comfortable and it has to be stable and not slip or ride up your torso.
That’s exactly why the Aduro has won our award in this category. The vest is made from soft Neoprene which you’re going to be very thankful for when you’re 6 miles into your run. Additionally, there is an adjustable front strap to suit all shapes and sizes.
The weights in the Aduro are evenly distributed to preventing slipping and sliding whilst you’re getting lost on a trail or clocking up miles on your home treadmill.
Whilst this vest lacks a front pocket, it comes with a mesh pocket on the back which can fit a phone or music player. You’re out of luck if you want to take a water bottle with you unless it’s small.
There are 4 sizes (4-25lbs) and a single black color to choose from. If you plan to get dirty with the vest then you can hand wash it with no issues.
For peace of mind, there’s Aduro’s Lifetime Limited Warranty so that you can buy with confidence.
Best Weighted Vest for Crossfit
If you’ve come to this option then you’ve most probably heard of the CrossFit WoD called Murph. The CROSS101 vest has everything you need to take on Murph and come out on top.
Whether you’re a CrossFit newbie or a veteran, you’ll appreciate that the CROSS101 comes in a wide range of models, starting at 20lbs and going all the way up to 140lbs.
The weights are completely removable so that you can adjust the vest per workout. At the front is a velcro strap which can be adjusted for each individuals size. You can attach a drink bottle to the front also.
For those who are getting a vest up to 80lbs, the weights are filled with sand but if you get a heavier one 100lbs + then you’ll have solid iron weights inside which should theoretically last longer.
You’ll need to add shoulder pads specifically if you want the extra comfort. It might be fine to go without shoulder pads for a WoD, but if you plan on doing additional running or hiking then the shoulder pads are highly recommended.
The fit is nice and you won’t find it slipping and sliding whilst running. You can throw it in the washing machine but to extend the longevity of the vest, hand washing is advisable.
Comes in a desert camouflage color so you can look like a badass whilst doing your workout.
Best Weighted Vest for Calisthenics
The Mir is a short vest and perfect for calisthenics. Given most exercises you perform require you to have agility in the abs area, you’ll find the 11″ length of the Mir far more comfortable than full-size weight vests.
Solid iron weights line the inside of the vest and they’re fully removable which gives you some flexibility in modifying the weight of the vest per exercise.
This vest is one of the most durable around, made from heavy-duty 1200D reinforced nylon, double padded shoulders for those long sessions and vented mesh for breathability. Two adjustable straps help you easily adjust the vest for your torso size.
Other nice features include front and back pockets for storage of your phone during a workout, 5 different sizes to choose from and the ability to machine wash the vest.
Mir is so confident in their weighted vest quality that they offer a lifetime warranty so you can have complete peace of mind when purchasing.
Best Weighted Vest for Women
This is the first weighted vest on our list made specifically for women. The key reason we love it is that it has a contoured X-shape which is specifically designed to fit a woman’s curves without causing any discomfort.
Most of the other weighted vests around are bulkier and designed to carry serious weight. The Empower vest is able to provide extra comfort and a better fit than most because of its unique shape and the fact that it only goes up to 16lbs.
Made from soft and stretchy Lycra spandex, this comfortable vest is perfect for a long walk or hike. The weight in this vest comes from pockets of sand which are evenly distributed so you stay comfortable during use.
The evenly distributed weight comes at the cost of not being able to remove weights, so ensure you buy the correct size.
There’s one pocket that can fit keys or money, but it’s not big enough to fit a phone. If you want to take a music player with you on your walk then you’d need an iPod shuffle or similar size.
Reflective accents on the front and back are perfect for night time fitness activities and the vest stays in place perfectly without slipping up and down.
Best Weighted Vest for Kids with Sensory Issues
Kids with sensory issues can be a handful to deal with if you don’t have a plan in place to deal with their frustrations when things don’t go their way.
One way to help them feel better is by putting a weighted compression vest on them. There is much research praising the benefits of compression vests for kids and any little thing you can do to assist them can make a massive difference.
A compression vest can provide them with constant pressure, almost like a constant hug which can be calming and soothing.
Having that constant pressure has also been known to help kids focus better on tasks at hand without being distracted and to comfort them when distressed.
Fun and Function’s weighted compression vest is made from comfortable neoprene with a mix of mesh for breathability.
The vest can be worn above or below clothes and can be easily wiped down due to the neoprene material.
There are 6 sizes, even including adult sizes, and the weights are fully adjustable so that you can tailor the vest perfectly to your child.
If you have a child with sensory issues and you feel like you’ve exhausted all your options, then you need to try out a weighted compression vest!
Different types of Weighted Training Vests
Adjustable weight training vests
Adjustable weight vests are, as the name suggests, adjustable. Their key advantage is their flexibility; weights can be put into and taken out of the vests depending on how you feel.
The more expensive vests will have solid iron bars, whereas the budget models will have sand filled pockets.
A key thing to consider with adjustable training vests is that if you’re moving the weights around, you have to keep them evenly distributed to make sure you aren’t going to injure yourself.
Fixed weight training vests
Fixed weight vests are the opposite of the adjustable ones and you won’t be able to add or remove weights from these.
They come shipped from the factory with the weight already perfectly distributed but lack the flexibility of the adjustable vests.
Depending on your intended exercises with the vest, the fixed weight vests are often made from softer material and are therefore preferred by runners as they’re softer.
Full-size weight training vests
Full-size refers to the vest covering the length of the torso and back. You will have an impeded range of motion with the full-size vests and bending over can be difficult.
The weight is more distributed across your body so it will feel more even than a short stack vest.
Short stack weight training vests
Short stack vests are shorter than the full vests and give you some additional range of motion in the abs area.
If you plan to do lots of situps then you’re going to want to go with the short stack option.
With the weight concentrated to the top of the body, you may feel like you want to naturally lean forward more.
Commonly Asked Weighted Training Vest Questions
What are the benefits of wearing a Weighted Vest?
A study conducted by the Gerontological Society of America found that leg extensor strength, power, and muscle quality were preserved when wearing a weighted vest whilst losing weight.
Wearing a weighted vest whilst doing a dynamic warmup can increase your vertical jump, with participants in this study experiencing an overall performance of 12.5% and vertical jump improvement of 13.5%.
In great news for women, participants training with a weighted vest experienced significant improvements in quadriceps strength and dynamic balance.
Elderly people have plenty to gain by wearing a weighted vest, with UCLA finding that elderly patients had improved bone density and physical strength if they do regular exercise with a vest on.
Researchers in Korea found that patients with paraplegia who do exercises with a weighted vest are more likely to regain their balance faster than those who don’t wear one.
Finally, but not exhaustively, a paper out of the University of Reading in the UK found that deep pressure (i.e. a compression vest) on young people with Autism and severe intellectual disabilities has improved their calmness, responsiveness, engagement factor, and communication skills.
Does running with a Weighted Vest improve running performance?
In 2014, researchers from Auckland did a study and concluded that a group who did a 10-minute warmup wearing a weighted vest had a 2.9% increase in peak running speed and a 6% increase in running economy over a group that didn’t wear the vest.
Based on the above, I believe we can conclusively say that wearing a weighted vest does improve running performance although it does seem to be a small benefit. Every second counts when trying to smash a PB though!
Can you substitute Weighted Vests for a dip belt?
You absolutely can, it just depends what your goal is, what exercises you plan to do and which muscle groups you’re trying to target.
As the weighted vest is evenly distributed, it’s excellent for dynamic body movements like box jumps, push ups, squats and anything else that requires your body to work hard.
For more targeted exercises like tricep dips and pull ups then the dipping belt is the better option as you can continue to add weight without any restraint and you don’t have the upper body restriction.
Doing tricep dips with a weighted vest can be a little awkward at certain angles!
You also have to take into account the ease-of-use factor. If you already have the vest on because you’re at the gym doing other exercises, it’s probably easier just to tailor your exercises around the vest instead of also taking a dip belt as an additional accessory.
What are the best exercises with a Weighted Vest?
Any exercises that provide maximum exertion on your body and aren’t restricted by your weight vest are ideal.
If you find yourself restricted whilst exercising then you can always try and switch up the style of vest that you wear.
Great exercises for weighted vests include but are not limited to:
- Pull Ups
- Box Jumps
- Push Ups
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Side Plank Hold
- Step Ups
What is the best Weighted Vest for the CrossFit Murph workout?
If you’re doing the Murph WoD then you know you’re in for a fair few pushups, pullups, squats and running.
You want a vest that is going to be comfortable whilst running and allows you enough mobility to properly do the above exercises.
With that in mind, your first port of call should be the weighted vest we reviewed above as the best weighted vest for CrossFit. It ticks all the boxes and it’s got a killer camo color!
Now that you know weighted vests can improve your performance and strength, preserve muscle mass whilst you lose weight and improve your bone density, there’s no reason not to get one of our recommended weighted vests!
Our top pick was the RunFAST Max Pro for its versatility, removable weights, comfortable shoulder pads, and attractive price point.
Do you have a favorite product?
Leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite weighted vests are and why.