A couple of months ago I was chasing my son and I fell down in our back yard. I had my eyes on the horizon and stepped off of a stair without noticing, landing with a locked knee and giving myself a tender tailbone for a while. For the next couple of weeks, I didn’t do any workouts under load. Well, not under traditional loads like I wanted to–heavy barbells and kettlebells. So I turned to bodyweight exercise. I could still gain strength, but could lesson the load on my spine while I recovered. At the gym where I train, they have some weighted vests. I immediately fell in love with weight vest workouts. Weight vests are a pretty cool tool that have as many uses as you’re willing to come up with.
In this article, I’d like to give you a snapshot of my favorite things to do with weighted vest training.
Sounds simple, right? Of course it is. Walking is one of the most fundamental movements a human does, and I believe that we do not do enough of it. When I have clients who have aches from a sedentary lifestyle, they are always astonished at how good they feel if we simply go walk for a mile at a pace that lets them move without pain.
Weighted vest walking is simply adding a bit of resistance. The gym where I train has a couple of Gold’s Gym vests that can only be loaded to 20 lbs–they have pockets that can be loaded–but there are vests like the Vmax that can be loaded well above that. They’re also more expensive, of course.
If walking does not do it for you, or the weather will not permit you to get out and walk with a weight lifting vest for very long, there are many variations you can do indoors to keep it challenging and interesting. Try walking on the balls of your feet, or doing walking lunges while wearing a vest. Walk with your arms overhead holding kettlebells, weight plates, or dumbbells. Experiment. Have fun.
Can you run in a vest? Sure, if you’re able to run without pain.
Pullups and chinups
Doing a vest workout on a pullup bar is an easy, convenient way to increase your vertical pulling strength. It’s much easier than hanging a Russian kettlebell on your foot, or snapping a dip belt on every time you want to do a pullup if you’re moving in any sort of circuit.
Throw a cheap weight vest on and start pulling.
There is a pushup challenging enough for any man out there if you play around with disadvantageous leverage, but adding a loaded vest makes it just a little more so.
If you’re strong, handstand pushups in a vest should also be practiced if you can do them without pain and vertical pressing strength is one of your goals.
These are just a few examples. If you start to think about your routines, anything you do while standing can be augmented with weighted vest training. I wouldn’t put one on and then start doing bench press–you’d look silly and not any added benefit–but if you’re a bodyweight training enthusiast, a vest can add an element of novelty to your training or help you bridge the gaps between steps in a strength training progression.
You are only limited by the amount of questions you’re willing to ask, and the amount of experimenting you’re willing to do! Get a weighed workout vest and get after it.