Bodyweight training, also known as calisthenics, is becoming more and more popular. This has largely been driven by the fact that you can do a good calisthenics workout just about anywhere. After all, your own bodyweight is the only weight you really need. Right?
The truth is that dedicated calisthenics training will result in your bodyweight becoming less and less challenging as the sole source of resistance. In order to keep things interesting and stimulate your body to continue adapting (via progressive overload), you need to introduce additional weight into the equation. The absolute best way to do so is to get yourself a weight vest.
Today we’re going to show you our top picks for the best weighted vests for bodyweight training. Not all weighted vests are created equal, and the models we’ve researched and selected for you are optimized to give you the best performance possible as far as calisthenics goes.
You’ll also find that some of these are among the overall best weighted vests (for any and all purposes). After we review each model out in detail, we’ll talk about how weighted vests can benefit your training, how to choose the right one and more.
Best Weighted Vest for Bodyweight Training At a Glance
Best Weighted Vest for Bodyweight Training Overall
BOX’s weighted vest offers all the core features you need to take your bodyweight training to the next level in a very robust package. Made of high-quality ballistic nylon, it will take anything you throw at it and ask for more. Comfortable and compact, this weight vest delivers ultimate quality at a decent price.
Best Value Weighted Vest for Bodyweight Training
Titan Fitness has aimed to outfit cost-oriented users with a good quality, yet affordable adjustable weighted vest. This model offers a great balance of price, performance, comfort and build quality with its 60 lbs. of max weight, quality nylon construction, and more than adequate padding. It’s a good bang-for-buck champion of the list.
The Best Weighted Vests for Bodyweight Training
|BOX Weighted Vest||
|Titan Adjustable Weighted Vest||
|RUNFast/Max Adjustable Weighted Vest||
|MIR Adjustable Weighted Vest||
|CAP Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest||
|BOX Weighted Vest|
|Titan Adjustable Weighted Vest|
|RUNFast/Max Adjustable Weighted Vest|
|MIR Adjustable Weighted Vest|
|CAP Barbell Adjustable Weighted Vest|
At the very top of our list sits a model of weighted training vest that has proven itself to be one of, if not the, premiere option. This vest – designed and produced by BOX – brings all the right features in all the right places.
At its core, this is an adjustable vest that uses 2.5 lbs. iron weights, making it very easy to incrementally add weight as you go through your workouts.
What sets this model apart from most of the market is the build quality. Unlike some of its competitors, this weighted vest was made to be pushed hard. BOX has used high-quality nylon fabric that’s more or less on par with what the military uses in their webbing.
Such strong construction allows this vest to carry up to 45 lbs. of weight without breaking a sweat (though you definitely will). Speaking of sweating, BOX has made this rig moisture resistant.
On top of all that, it’s made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty.
It’s worth mentioning that BOX also offers a version of this weight vest that’s designed specifically for women. If you’re looking for a comfortable, durable and most importantly, functional setup, this vest from BOX is a great choice.
Our only knock on this vest would be that it maxes out at 45 lbs. This may not be sufficient for some particularly dedicated and strong calisthenics afficionados. However, BOX also offer a 100 lbs. straightjacket vest that will provide years of challenge to even the most Herculean users. It’s friggin’ expensive though.
- Made in the USA and comes with a lifetime warranty
- Constructed with high-quality nylon fabric
- Adjustable design with up to 45 lbs. in 2.5 lbs. weights
- Padded in all the right places, ensuring optimal comfort
The Not So Good
- It’s on the expensive side compared to many other models
- Maxes out at 45 lbs. which may not be enough for particularly dedicated users
Titan Fitness offers a very similar rig to the BOX vest, albeit somewhat simpler in nature. Their vest utilizes the same core design as the one above, but it takes it in a slightly different direction.
What you’re getting is a vest that uses solid ingot weights packed into pockets on both the front and the back of the vest. Most of the available versions of this vest are short, keeping the weight up high on your chest.
However, since the vest comes in versions up to 60 lbs. in 10 lbs. increments, the heavier ones have a third row of weights.
That means that the center of mass is no longer up high, but further down the torso. This is important as such weight distribution may restrict your range of motion when performing certain exercises (e.g., any that involve bending at the waist).
As far as build quality goes, it’s more than decent. We’re talking good quality nylon and decent stitching all over, especially around the high-stress points.
The padding is sufficient but it definitely won’t spoil you. Finding the right fit comes down to a simple tightening of the Velcro strap that goes around the abdomen.
We’d like to see a wider strap that locks the vest down a bit better, but this one does a decent job as well. Best of all, Titan Fitness offers their weighted vests at their usual, cheaper-than-the-competition prices.
- Very reasonably priced, especially the 30 lbs. setup
- Built using quality materials and decent stitching
- Max weight of 60 lbs. should provide plenty of room for strength improvements
The Not So Good
- Narrow fit adjustment belt may fail to keep the weight locked in place during dynamic activities
Next up is one of the more common vest designs that works great for bodyweight fitness, albeit with a small caveat. The RUNFast adjustable weighted vest is all about allowing you to harness more weight at an affordable price.
Because of that, it doesn’t necessarily match the comfort levels of models we’ve previously talked about (that’s the caveat). However, you can get aftermarket shoulder pads that help to solve this issue.
Another thing worth mentioning is that this vest is long: It extends almost to the waistline. As such, you might find it slightly harder to perform exercises that require bending at the waist. You should still be able to do most if not all desired bodyweight exercises, but your range of motion may feel hindered to a point.
While we have initially focused on potential flaws, there’s a lot to like about this weight vest too. It’s available in weights ranging from 20 lbs. all the way up to 140 lbs. In other words, you’ll have access to all the weight you could ever need to develop the strength and muscle needed to truly excel in calisthenics.
Also, the adjustment strap is worth the praise on this model. RUNFast went with a wide, overlapping Velcro strap that locks everything tightly into place. This gives it a very secure feel, and reduces the distraction created by a gradually loosening vest.
If you’re looking for a heavy and functional albeit somewhat uncomfortable weighted training vest, this is it.
- Great bang-for-your-buck value
- Good build quality and decent materials all around
- Massive range of weights: 20 lbs. to 140 lbs of solid, ingot steel weights
- Several creature comfort accessories such as a media pouch and a water bottle holder
The Not So Good
- Its design may impede your range of motion around the waistline
- Can be uncomfortable, especially around the shoulders, which necessitates the purchase of additional shoulder pads
Next up is a rock-solid piece of kit from that experienced maker of weight vests, MIR. This brand has made its mark in the industry with robust vests that have repeatedly proven their worth.
The model we’re looking at here is actually an advanced model of their short vest. We say advanced not because it does something particularly better, but rather because it offers better weight capacity.
At its core hides a well familiar structure made of quality, 1200D reinforced nylon fabric. For reference, most military webbing is around 600D.
The vest also features double stitching in all the important places and quality hardware in the form of massive D rings. On top of all that, users can count on double padding that makes using this vest very comfortable.
The weight one of these can pack maxes out at 120 lbs. while the lightest version comes in at 45 lbs. The weight can be increased or decreased in 1.5 lbs. increments, meaning you can really fine-tune your workout. It’s definitely not the cheapest vest you can get, but it’s by far one of the most robust designs on the market today.
- Based on one of the most successful weighted vest models on the market
- Rock-solid build quality and durable materials
- Capable of accepting 140 lbs. of solid metal ingot weights
- Double padding makes the entire rig relatively comfortable
The Not So Good
- It’s an expensive model no matter which weight you go for
The last model on our list comes from CAP Barbell and represents another vest that leans more towards the jack of all trades variety. CAP Barbell focused mainly on two things when they were designing this rig – they wanted something that’s very comfortable, but also capable of sustaining a lot of weight.
As a result, we have this massively padded vest that’s packed with ingots both in the back and front of the vest.
The build quality you’ll get is satisfactory. While it may not be as over-engineered as some of our previous picks, this vest is solid.
CAP Barbell used quality materials and durable stitching all around, ensuring that their product can take a beating on a daily basis. As far as weights go, users can choose anywhere from 40 lbs. to 150 lbs. That’s a massive weight span that’ll be enough for even the strongest and most dedicated users.
One thing to keep in mind is the waist strap. It’s thin in relation to the overall amount of weight it’s tasked with keeping in place. In other words, you could experience a slight center of mass shift. With that said, this is a decent choice for those who want a no-nonsense rig.
- A solid design that’s suitable for all kinds of activities
- Features good build quality and materials all around
- Maxes out at a whopping 150 lbs.
- Plenty of padding in all the right places makes this suitably comfortable
The Not So Good
- Not cheap, especially compared to better models
- The waist strap is thin and doesn’t inspire confidence if you insist on having everything locked down tight
Should You Get a Weighted Vest for Calisthenics?
The short answer is that you should get a weight vest for bodyweight training if you’re planning to dedicate yourself to the practice, and are therefore likely to need to augment the resistance provided by your bodyweight.
Or, get a weighted training vest if you’re already at the point where your bodyweight no longer challenges you (in any particular exercise, like dips for example), and you need to complete a high number of reps before you begin to fatigue.
Here’s a more detailed answer:
And for good reason.
As you can see in the videos above, the human body is capable of physical feats that border on the phenomenal. Dedicated bodyweight training is perhaps unrivalled in its effectiveness for realising your extraordinary potential for physical movement.
However, a major barrier is the fact that your body weighs only so much. In order to progress your calisthenics to elite levels in terms of strength and capability, you must continually increase the demands you place on your muscles (known as progressive overload).
In calisthenics, there are two primary ways to achieve this:
- Change the angle and position of the body to change the load on your muscles.
For example, you might do one-armed or archer push ups instead of regular push ups.
- Increase the weight you’re moving.
This is best achieved through weighted clothing such as a weight vest. Alternatively, you could use ankle weights. These, however, are limited in the amount of additional weight they provide (usually maxing out around 10 – 15 lbs.).
In summary, a weighted vest is an effective means of progressively overloading your muscles during bodyweight training. This will ensure you’re able to move through plateaus and continue building strength and muscle.
Choosing the Right Weighted Vest for Bodyweight Training
So you’ve decided to get a vest and restart your routine, but now what? Which vest should you get? The sheer number of available choices is overwhelming. And, things only get more complicated when you factor in all of the different types of weighted vests.
For example, you’ll find some pretty awesome slim weighted vests among others, but are they the best choice for calisthenics? Spoiler alert: The answer is no.
Let’s find out what you should look for in a good weight vest for calisthenics.
Before we get to the specifics of a weight vest, we need to define the broad type of vest that’ll be most effective. It’s imperative that the vest is adjustable in terms of being able to modify how much weight it can carry.
Fixed weighted vests such as various plate carriers are popular at the moment, and they definitely have their place. However, they’re not the best choice if you want to continually push your body further and further.
Being able to progressively increase the amount of weight you’re wearing is imperative for muscle growth. It’s the same principle as adding more weight to a barbell when weight lifting. Therefore, do yourself a favor and look for adjustable weighted vests like the ones on our list above.
Even though calisthenics doesn’t typically involve running or other high velocity exercises , it’s still important to have the weights nicely distributed and balanced on your body (yes, we know that technically calisthenics is any exercise that involves bodyweight, and therefore running actually is a calisthenics exercise).
Having the weights concentrated around your chest area is ideal, as it makes it easier to bend at the waist, such as when performing sit-ups or similar exercises.
Our list includes a number of vests that have the weights distributed all the way down to the waist. This is mostly seen in particularly heavy weighted vests for the simple reason that more weight needs more room. It’s certainly not a dealbreaker for weighted vests intended for augmenting your calisthenics training, because the extent to which they impeded bodyweight exercises is limited. However, you’ll rarely see this design on the top weighted vests for CrossFit. If you’re planning on using your weighted vest for WODs, then definitely go for one with the weight around the chest.
There are several key elements of build quality that you’ll want to pay attention to:
Durable, high denier nylon fabrics are always the preferred choice. Vests with rugged materials that can take a beating ensure you won’t have to pay too much attention to how hard you’re working out. Definitely avoid soft, thin vests as they won’t last too long.
The only thing that keeps all those cast-iron ingots in place is proper stitching. Without it, even the toughest piece of fabric won’t do you any good. Single stitching isn’t the optimal choice but it can be durable if a thick sewing string was used. Otherwise, dual stitching is the way to go.
The necessary amount of padding is a subjective determination but, in most cases, more is better. Look for good padding especially around the shoulder area as that part of your body will bear the most weight and is therefore most susceptible to discomfort caused by excess pressure, rubbing and chaffing.
- Adjustment Straps
Lastly, it’s imperative to find a vest with an adjustment strap that you can actually lock down tight. In this respect, wider straps work better than narrow ones.
Frequently Asked Questions About Weighted Vests
Now that we know a thing or two about weighted vests and how to choose one, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions regarding this subject.
What size / weight weighted vest should I get?
Finding the right size and weight is a completely subjective thing. The general rule of thumb is to go for vests that will add anywhere from 5-15% of your body weight. Naturally, this is very easy to set up if you get an adjustable weight.
Are weighted vests bad for your spine?
Weighted vests aren’t inherently bad for your spine. As long as you are using reasonable amounts of weight during your training, you should be perfectly fine.
One scenario where you might be risking injury is if you’re wearing more weight than you can handle and decide to bend at the waist, thus putting a lot of strain on your back. Just like it’s the case with most other fitness equipment, you need to employ common sense when using weighted vests.
Are weighted vests good for building muscle?
Remember, muscles needs sufficient stimulus to grow. Such stimuli come through pushing the muscle to failure and making it adapt to the new standards of stress.
Using a weighted vest to introduce additional resistance to your bodyweight workouts is an excellent way to achieve progressive overload and thus to stimulate muscle growth.
Well, there you have it: The Best Weighted Vests for Bodyweight Training
We did our best to bring you the absolute best models you can get on the market right now. Additionally, we’ve tried to add samples from a variety of different designs and price ranges, thus ensuring that everyone will find something that fits their needs.