Adding the best weighted vest to your training is a great way to increase workout resistance and therefore gains. You can add serious mass to your training with weighted vests, including weight training, CrossFit routine, and even running.
Moving mass makes muscle, and what better way to bulk up than to have said mass physically strapped to your upper body? A weighted vest will typically feature numerous pockets for individual weight plates or bars to be added, so you can gradually increase the load over the weeks and gently encourage muscle to build.
Weighted vests work particularly well with bodyweight exercises, such as squats, pull-ups, and push-ups. Indeed, professional sports stars often turn to this relatively inexpensive and straightforward kit to improve prowess on the court or field. Because adding weight to a punishing plyometrics routine is a surefire way of increasing explosiveness, while strapping on a vest and going on a trail run will test even the fittest lungs and hearts. Sure it’s not as essential as a pair of the best running shoes, but it’s a significant upgrade for more advanced runners, especially for sprint training.
Planning on building cardio and muscle strength at home? Have a look at our best treadmill, best dumbbell and best pull up bar guides. To doctor your sore shoulders the day after wearing your new weighted vest for the first time, you might need a massage gun: Cristiano Ronaldo uses them, and you should too.
Best weighted vests to buy right now
Decathlon's own brand Domyos is famous for it's great value for money products and the Strength and Cross Training weighted vest is no different. When we say 'value for money', we mean 'cheap', but not in a bad way. On the contrary: for most beginners and intermediate level athletes, this weighted vest offers more than enough versatility to switch up your training.
Without the four extra plates, the vest weighs 6 kilos, plenty heavy enough pull ups, push ups and runs. The chopping board-shaped weight plates weigh 1 kg each and can be inserted either at the front or the back of the vest. The plates do make the vest a bit more stiff, though, so less ideal for running.
The Strength and Cross Training weighted vest has a military style look with its khaky highlights so you'd better off not walking around in shops wearing it, just in case, especially if the weight plates are added (it kind-of looks like a bulletproof vest). At least the vest is pleasant to wear: both the shoulder straps and the inner lining are padded for extra comfort.
the only downside, if we must mention something, are the buckles: they are made of plastic so we can only assume they will break at some point, definitely sooner than if they were made of metal. That said, we tested the vest and it felt rather sturdy, especially for the price.
Available in either 10kg, 20kg or 30kg variants, this beefy vest from Mirafit is one of the most durable units on this list. Yes, it looks like a flak jacket, but the myriad pockets are actually for stashing individual 1kg cast iron blocks that can quickly be removed without taking the vest off.
Plump for the 30kg model and things start to get predictably bulky, with the multiple weight bricks often feeling a little unwieldy when performing more explosive moves. On top of this, the adjustable strap system, which wraps around the entire circumference of the vest and user, can be quite fiddly to operate and adjust without assistance.
That said, it’s a really heavy unit and will sit nicely on anyone carrying some serious mass. Adding 30kg to any bodyweight exercise is punchy, but if piling on the muscle is the main goal, this is a great option.
More suited to running and/or use on the various cardio machines found in commercial gyms, this snug neoprene vest fits around the shoulders and top of the back, reducing the amount of bulk to carry around the upper body.
Filled with iron pellets and sand, this vest is not customisable and is therefore bought in either 2kg, 5kg or 10kg weights. We’d argue the 2.5kg version is best suited to any sort of distance running, although experienced users could arguably creep up the scale without causing injury.
With handy stash pockets at the rear, it makes a neat accompaniment to anyone looking to improve strength over a lengthy trail run, for example, while the heavier vests will make a great partner for punishing TRX training routines and other bodyweight workouts.
Let’s face it, the thought of throwing a massively heavy vest over your head and tackling one of your favoured punishing workouts is probably a little daunting for most, which is why we’ve highlighted arguably the most ‘user-friendly’ vest as our top pick.
Coming in at a very reasonable £39.99, the Men's Health Adjustable Weighted Vest features a padded and tapered design that fits snugly to the user and adjusts around the was it so it remains secure.
It sits at fixed 6kg, so could potentially be a little heavy for some to begin with, but users then have 8 x 0.5kg removable weights to play with, taking the total to a fairly hefty 10kg of additional weight.
Above all else, it is the snug fit that makes it far less intimidating for new users, as you won't have to worry about it riding up during the more energetic cardio workouts, while the 6-10kg weight is about the sweet spot for most, offering plenty of extra resistance to really work the muscles, heart and lungs.
Based in the heart of Kent, this homegrown company first researched and then created the perfect weighted vest for more intense, CrossFit-style workouts, based on years of personal experience smashing PBs. The product range is simple, with your main choice being colour, but the military-inspired vests use large, laser cut weight plates that slide into a pocket located at the front and rear of the vest.
Unlike rivals that use lots of small but bulky weight bricks, the UK-RX design helps keep things slimline and prevents gravity from bouncing the front and rear of the vest around when performing more explosive moves.
Better still, additional weight plates can be purchased, ranging from 2.5kg to 4kg in weight, meaning it is possible to take things up to around the 24kg mark and beyond. Fashioned from durable 600D Oxford polyester, they are built to withstand the rigours of intense exercise and therefore make a great addition to armoury of anyone looking to build serious size.
Here’s a thought, if you’re going to don a weighted vest, why not attach weights to other parts of your body while you’re at it? That’s the thinking behind this total body system from ProForm, which includes a 3.5kg vest, a weighted belt and additional weights for ankles and wrists.
It’s highly likely you’ll only ever use the top half of this contraption, but that’s cool, because the modular design means those ankle and wrist units simply get stashed in the weighted belt anyway.
Constructed from comfortable fabrics and designed to fit snugly against many frame sizes, it’s another brilliant addition for lower weight cardio exercises, making things like bodyweight squats, lunges and push-up variants a lot harder.
Perhaps the only downside is that there have been a few grumblings that both the ankle and wrist straps are fairly large, particularly for those lucky naturally skinny folk.
How to buy the best weighted vests
A weighted vest is a fairly simple contraption, chiefly consisting of some hardy fabric that goes over your head and some pockets to stash the weight. But they do come in various shapes and sizes, all of which can have a major impact on how comfortable the vest is to use and what sort of exercises and workouts they are suitable for.
A running vest, for example, will be deliberately designed for a more comfortable fit around the shoulders and back, while typically featuring more robust straps across the chest to secure it in place and ensure it isn’t bouncing up and down during running strides. That will likely lead to some nasty chafing or, at worst, the weights smacking you in the jaw.
On the other hand, tactical-style weight vests not only come in heavier iterations, they are also designed to assist with bodyweight exercises, so eschew some of the comfort features that a cardio or running version might posses.
Above all else, build quality is paramount, because the last thing you want is ripping or tearing and a great big weight brick dropping onto your toes mid-exercise. Any weight vest worth its salt will be constructed from strong polyester webbing, preferable 600D or above.