by Mark Tan

A weight vest is one of the most versatile training aids you can get. You can use them in almost any discipline, and in almost any drill you can think of. Here are four things you should consider when choosing a weight vest.


The 10% rule
Whether or not you're looking to do some serious training with the weight vest, or simply just want to wear it round the house to burn off a few more calories, it's best to start with small weights and work your way up.

The rule of thumb is to start with approximately 10% of your body weight in the weight vest and work it upwards gradually. If you're doing something high impact like running, we'd even go as low as 5%. If your joints aren't conditioned to running with a heavier load, it's best to let them get used to the extra weight gradually.

If you're a beginner to intermediate athlete, we wouldn't suggest you use more than 20% of your own body weight when working out as too much weight on your joints can wear them out fast.

Working out with a weight vest is intense, so if you're not used to it, play it safe and don't risk injury.

So, get a weight vest that you can change the weight of and covers 10%-20% of your body weight. E.g. if you're a 200 pound man, get one that goes from 20 pounds up to 40 pounds. Most modern weight vests allow you to remove weights from them to make them lighter or add more to increase the load.

It's got to fit well
A weight vest should fit well and hold the weights as close to your core as it can. A weight vest that is too loose can allow the weights to swing around. This is going to affect your balance when you're working out, or even if you're just walking.

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At worst it'll swing around and might actually hit you in the face (It's happened to me before with cheap weight vests!).

Equally it's can't be too tight, as it will restrict your breathing. Extra weight on your chest and core is going to make breathing marginally harder anyway, simply because of the extra weight on the ribcage, so you don't want to make it even harder for yourself by adding something that is too tight and stifling.

Plan Out Your Training
Decide what sorts of exercises you're going to use it for. Having an idea of what exercises you're going to do will also help you figure out what sort of weight vest will best suit your needs. You have to make sure that the weight vest is not going to impede the movements of your exercises.

Some weight vests have shoulder straps that are fairly wide, this will limit your range of motion in overhead arm movements, especially if you have heavy weights on. Obviously if you're rock climbing this is bad news, but this is probably ok if you're doing body conditioning drills like situps, pressups, burpees and so on.

Make Sure It's Easy To Clean
A regularly used weight vest is going to get dirty. Sooner or later it's going to start whiffing so make sure that it's one that you can clean. Although it may seem obvious, there are many weight vests out there that aren't easily cleaned, you can't just take the weights out and launder it.

Mark Tan
Taiji and Martial Arts