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Walking With Weighted Vest – Benefits and How it Can Improve Your Health

weighted vest for walking benefits

I've worked out with a weighted vest since 2019 and added it to my walking routine by the end of 2023.

The reason I didn't write this article earlier was because I wanted to conduct proper research before I covered the topic in an article. And boy did walking with a weighted vest make some difference. My quads are stronger than before, I improved my posture and burn way more calories according to my Apple watch (17%-25% more to be precise).

Today, I will cover all the benefits of weight vest walking, how it can improve your health, and touch on running with a weighted vest that legends such as David Goggins advocate.

PS: I already covered all weighted vest benefits that include gym workouts with it. You might want to save it for later reading.

Top Benefits Of Weight Vest Walking:

1. Build More Muscles and Strenght

Can resistance training with weights build more muscles? Of course, it can!

Walking with a weight vest can be an effective strategy for building muscle mass and strength in several key areas of your body. When you add resistance to your walks, your muscles are forced to work harder, which can lead to increased muscle growth over time.

One of the primary benefits of walking with a weight vest is that it engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously. As you walk, the added weight creates resistance that your muscles must overcome with each step. This resistance stimulates muscle fibres, encouraging them to adapt and grow stronger.

The muscles most prominently engaged during weighted walking include those in your lower body, such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. These muscles propel you forward and support your body weight as you move.

But, walking with a weight vest can also engage muscles in your upper body and core. The weight of the vest places increased demand on your shoulders, arms, and upper back, as they work to stabilize the added load while you walk. Your core muscles, including your abdominals and obliques, are also activated to help maintain proper posture and balance throughout the exercise.

2. Burn More Calories

Walking with a weight vest isn't just about building muscles; it's also a great way to burn calories and enhance your overall fitness level.

When you walk with a weight vest, your body has to work harder to move against the added resistance. This increased effort leads to a higher calorie expenditure compared to regular walking. As you stride along, the weight vest challenges your muscles and elevates your heart rate, which in turn boosts your calorie burn.

The intensity of your walk with the weight vest depends on factors like the amount of weight you carry and the pace at which you walk. Walking briskly or incorporating intervals of faster walking can further elevate your heart rate and calorie burn. I noticed the maximum calorie burn (25% increase) when power walking with my 20kg vest on.

The calorie-burning benefits of walking with a weight vest extend beyond the workout itself. Since it's a low-impact activity, you can incorporate it into your daily routine without putting excessive stress on your joints. Why not bring your heightened vest on when walking your dog for instance?

Don't trust me on this? Then, you better trust this recent study from 2020 on reduced obesity among weighted vest users.

3. Better Posture & Bone Density

Again, talking from personal experience here.

Walking with a weight vest can also be beneficial for improving posture by encouraging proper alignment and engaging key muscle groups that support your spine and upper body.

As you walk with a weight vest, your body naturally works to counterbalance the additional weight, which can help strengthen the muscles responsible for maintaining good posture. The muscles in your back, shoulders, and core are particularly engaged during weighted walking as they work to stabilize your spine and keep you upright.

By wearing a weight vest during your walks, you become more mindful of your posture, focusing on keeping your shoulders back, chest lifted, and spine neutral. The added resistance prompts you to engage your core muscles, which play a crucial role in stabilizing your spine and preventing slouching or rounding of the shoulders.

Not to mention, the weight vest encourages proper alignment of the pelvis and hips, which can help alleviate strain on the lower back and promote better posture throughout your walk.

4. Improved Balance

Suddenly, your body is met with a new challenge—a subtle resistance that beckons your muscles and mind to engage in a delicate dance of balance and strength.

That's the beauty of improving balance by walking with a weighted vest. As you stroll or even engage in exercises, the added weight prompts your body to adapt, requiring your muscles to work harder to maintain stability. It's like a gentle nudge, encouraging your core, hips, ankles, and feet to synchronize in harmony.

With each stride, your muscles become more attuned to the subtle shifts in weight, honing your proprioception—the body's innate sense of spatial awareness. It's as if you're forging a deeper connection with your body, learning to navigate through the world with grace and precision.

weighted vest walking gains
Gains when I started exercising with weighted vest

Maximize Calorie Burn During Your Walks

Walking has by itself plenty of great benefits. But if you want to take your walks to the next level and burn even more calories, here is how you do it using a weighted vest.

  1. Choose the Right Weight: Start by selecting a weighted vest that's comfortable yet challenging. You want enough weight to increase the intensity of your walk without feeling overly strained.
  2. Gradually Increase Intensity: Begin your weighted walks at a moderate pace, allowing your body to adjust to the added resistance. As you become more comfortable, gradually pick up the pace or increase the duration of your walks to intensify the calorie-burning effect.
  3. Incorporate Intervals: Spice up your walks by incorporating intervals of higher intensity. Alternate between periods of brisk walking and slower recovery periods to keep your heart rate elevated and maximize calorie burn.
  4. Focus on Form: Pay attention to your posture and form while walking with the weighted vest. Keep your shoulders relaxed, chest lifted, and core engaged throughout the walk to optimize muscle engagement and calorie expenditure.
  5. Vary Your Terrain: Mix up your walking route by incorporating hills, stairs, or varied terrain. Walking uphill or on uneven surfaces engages additional muscles and ramps up the calorie burn, giving you an extra challenge.
  6. Stay Hydrated: Don't forget to hydrate before, during, and after your weighted walks, especially if you're walking for an extended period or in hot weather. Proper hydration supports optimal performance and helps prevent fatigue.
  7. Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to the added weight and adjust accordingly. If you experience discomfort or fatigue, scale back the intensity or duration of your walks until you feel more comfortable.
  8. Make It Enjoyable: Turn your weighted walks into an enjoyable experience by listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, or by walking with a friend or furry companion. Having something to look forward to can make your walks feel less like a workout and more like a fun activity.

Walking with a weighted vest is a convenient way to boost calorie burn and enhance the effectiveness of your walking routine.

Just remember to start gradually, stay consistent, and most importantly, have fun with it! Before you know it, you'll be reaping the rewards of your efforts with improved fitness and increased calorie burn.

How Do I Choose The Right Weight Vest For My Walks?

The rule of thumb is to pick a weighted vest that ranges between 4-10% of your body weight and depending on your fitness level, according to The American Bone Health Foundation. I suggest you consider starting with a lighter weight if you're new to weighted walking or have physical limitations.

Assess your fitness level and goals, opting for a weight that challenges you without causing strain. Gradually increase the weight as your strength and endurance improve, ensuring that your walks remain effective and enjoyable.

Your Weight in lbsIdeal Vest Weight
1305.2 – 12.5
1506 – 15
1757 – 17.5
2008 – 20

Is It Good To Walk With A Weighted Vest Every Day?

You can walk with a weighted vest every day if you want, but I would not recommend it unless it's for shorter walks.

While walking with a weighted vest can offer benefits, doing it every day may not be advisable for most individuals. Here's why:

  1. Risk of Overuse Injuries: Walking with a weighted vest places additional stress on your joints, muscles, and ligaments, increasing the risk of overuse injuries over time, such as strains, sprains, and joint pain.
  2. Muscle Fatigue and Imbalance: Using a weighted vest daily can lead to muscle fatigue and imbalance, as certain muscle groups may become overworked while others are underutilized. This imbalance could potentially lead to postural issues and decreased mobility.
  3. Lack of Rest and Recovery: Rest and recovery are crucial components of any exercise routine. Walking with a weighted vest every day may not allow your body enough time to recover fully, leading to decreased performance, increased risk of injury, and burnout.

Let's Wrap it Up

If you didn't know, now you do. There are more benefits than just burning calories with a weighted vest.

Start with a lighter weight and work your way up gradually. My final tip before I leave you to read more awesome content such as ankle weight benefits is that you go for an adjustable weighted vest so that the vest doesn't bounce around while you walk.

Have you ever used a weighted vest and want to add something? Hit me up in the comments!


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