Weighted vests, and weighted walking (rucking), have become increasingly popular in recent years, from loaded up hikers on Wildwood to training sessions here in the studio, people are adding weight to their “normal” activities. What’s the benefits, reasoning, and the science, behind this? Let’s dig in…

When to wear a weighted vest?

Simply put, a weighted vest is a form of progressive overload. In our continuing discussion of building lean muscle, progressive overload is key. So finding ways to create harder workouts while maintaining a safe exercise environment is critical. Basically, any body weight exercise can be made more difficult with a weight vest and eliminate the need for you to have to carry extra weight in your hands while doing it. Think lunges, push ups, pull ups, squats, TRX Rows. If gravity is involved, a weight vest can be a useful tool in creating extra work.

The other time to wear a vest or weighted pack would be for walking / hiking. For strong cardiovascular fitness you want to exercise at slightly elevated heart rates and oftentimes walking alone can’t get us here. Walking is great, for lots of reasons, but it generally can’t be your only cardio – unless you add load. Using a pack (usually somewhere from 15-30 pounds) that sits comfortably on hips and shoulders can be a great way to get some extra work in while walking, hiking, etc.

Why add weight?

Using external weight, in a vest or a pack, can take an exercise you’ve become comfortable with and make it a little more uncomfortable. And challenging the system is how we make adaptations and get stronger. Holding weights in your hands while lunging works, but wearing a vest lets you move more naturally. Balancing a med ball on your feet during pull ups? A weighted vest can let you gradually add load and not have to dangle things from your feet. Love going for walks in the woods on the weekends? Try adding a pack to get more muscle, joint and cardiovascular benefits.

Sample Workouts

Here are a few suggestions for how to use a pack or weight vest in your workouts.

Omorpho Vest Circuit

  • ¼ mile walk / jog
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 squats
  • 5 pull ups or 10 TRX Rows
  • 1 Lap of Lunges
  • 4 circuits for 1 mile of walking / jogging total

Weighted Pack
Use a backpack with good hip belt and add ~10-15% of your body weight (sand, water, books, anything that will create a stable and uniform load for most comfort. Perform same walks as normal, you can start a little lighter and gradually add weight as your body adjusts. Know that with weighted walks, the real impact will be two-fold. Uphills will be much harder cardiovascularly and downhills will be much harder on joints (low back, knees, feet/ankles) so gradually build weight and distance.

Putting it all together

Weight vests add load and variety to training, period. They are a safe and effective way to create more stimulus, and thereby get more benefit, from your training plan. And they have the flexibility to be utilized in a multitude of settings making them a great investment in your long-term strength and wellness programs.

Use code HyattVIP to get 10% your own Omorpho vest. Omorpho is founded and headquartered here in Portland, and we have a men’s and women’s vest in size small/medium for you to try out during your studio workouts. Omorpho makes 5 and 10 pound vests that are incredibly comfortable and form fitting.

You can also experiment with building your own pack to try out around the neighborhood.


Hyatt Training Portland personal trainer Jeremy HyattAuthor Jeremy Hyatt, MS, CSCS is a personal trainer and co-owner of Hyatt Strength + Wellness. He believes it’s important to start with the basics and move from there. Too often, people get into complicated movements and goals before they have the proper fundamentals, which can lead to negative results. Jeremy has been working in the fitness industry since 1995 and co-founded Hyatt Training in 2011.

Learn more about Jeremy, or get in touch with him by emailing us at Go@HyattTraining.com.


Hyatt Strength + Wellness is a team of certified, enthusiastic and innovative personal trainers in Portland, Oregon. Get in touch with us by emailing Go@HyattGym.com.


Sources

Alvar, B. A., Sell, K., & Deuster, P. A. (2017). NSCA’s Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning. Human Kinetics.

Grobler, L., & Feser, E. (2021, March). Changes in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Measures During a Moderate-Intensity, Aerobic Exercise Session With an Omorpho G-Vest.

Ohlsson, C., Gidestrand, E., Bellman, J., Larsson, C., Palsdottir, V., Hägg, D., Jansson, P. A., & Jansson, J. O. (2020). Increased weight loading reduces body weight and body fat in obese subjects – A proof of concept randomized clinical trial. EClinicalMedicine, 22, 100338. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100338

Haff, G. G., &; Triplett, N. T. (2016). Essentials of strength training and conditioning. Human Kinetics.

Marriner, C. R., Cronin, J. B., Macadam, P., & Storey, A. (2017). Redistributing load using wearable resistance during power clean training improves athletic performance. European journal of sport science, 17(9), 1101–1109. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2017.1360396

Normandin, E., Yow, D., Crotts, C., Kiel, J., Beavers, K. M., & Nicklas, B. J. (2018). Feasibility of Weighted Vest Use during a Dietary Weight Loss Intervention and Effects on Body Composition and Physical Function in Older Adults. The Journal of frailty & aging, 7(3), 198–203. https://doi.org/10.14283/jfa.2018.17

Rantalainen, T., Ruotsalainen, I., & Virmavirta, M. (2012). Effect of weighted vest suit worn during daily activities on running speed, jumping power, and agility in young men. Journal of strength and conditioning research, 26(11), 3030–3035. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e318245c4c6

Roghani, T., Torkaman, G., Movasseghe, S., Hedayati, M., Goosheh, B., & Bayat, N. (2013). Effects of short-term aerobic exercise with and without external loading on bone metabolism and balance in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. Rheumatology international, 33(2), 291–298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00296-012-2388-2