The weighted vest is a piece of strength-training equipment to be worn over exercise apparel. Generally, it fits over the upper body, and has pockets into which weighted packs, measuring 250 grams each (or more), are inserted. Some vests come with built-in water bottles or phone holders.
The equipment is meant to take your regular workout — whether you are doing a short walk or body-weight exercises like a push-up — to the next level. By adding the load, the vest improves strength of the full body, can have a positive effect on the skeletal structure, improves the cardio vascular system as the heart rate goes up, and provides an interesting challenge and variation to an existing routine.
Most come with padding and are washable. A weighted vest should fit snugly — too tight and it can reduce exercise performance by restricting your breath; too loose and you will be uncomfortable with it moving around. Make sure the one you buy has a Velcro strap to adjust it to your proportions. Some vests are contoured for women.
If you have a medical condition, it is best to avoid using the vest. It is not a good idea to run with it, walk long distances, or wear it for a prolonged period.
If you are new to it, begin at 5 kg; if you are an advanced athlete, use weight as per your fitness level and goals. Ideally, load upto 5% to 10% of your bodyweight into the vest. It is best for body-weight workouts: pull-ups, push-ups, planks, mountain climbers, lunges, squats. It also works for plyometric exercises (aerobic exercises that increase speed-endurance-strength): jumps, skips, box jumps and many more.
A 10-minute warmup should include squats or lunges, easy push-ups, jogging on the spot. Then, wear the vest and perform:
Plank 1 minute
Mountain climbers 1 minute
Assisted pull-ups or regular pull-ups 10 reps
Squats 20 reps
Squat jumps 10 reps
Lunges 20 reps
Plyometric lunges 10 reps
Jogging on the spot or around an area 1 minute
Box jumps 10 reps
Walking or marching on the spot or stationary cycling in an upright position: 1 minute
Rest for two minutes and repeat thrice. Cool down and stretch. The full routine will take 25 to 30 minutes excluding the warmup and cool down.
Since it is a high intensity workout, ensure your form is correct. Practice the routine with the vest only when you are sure your form without it is correct.
Nisha Varma is an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist. This is a monthly column with exercises for a home workout.