How To Use Weighted Vest For Weight Loss (Easy guide)


After wearing a weighted vest for a couple of months, I am finally ready to write a completely unbiased guide on how effective are weighted vests for weight loss. Plus, I wanna also give you all the tips that helped me to lose almost 20 lbs in just under 60 days.

In a nutshell, weighted vests are good for weight loss becasue they help to increase heart rate and burn extra calories by elevating metabolic rate. Plus, wearing a weighted vest all day helps also to combat food cravings and lowers the appetite, which can significantly lower the amount of food that you eat during the day.

Here you have my overall answer but if you wanna know more details on how much weight can you lose walking with a weighted vest and what are the best exercises to do, I will answer these questions below.

Start slowly by wearing a vest for a couple of hours

If you’re a beginner that wants to lose weight and you’ve never worn a weighted vest before, be careful to not overdo it. In my early days, I was feeling exhausted after wearing a 20lbs weighted vest for only a couple of hours per day.

That was more than enough to be dripping sweat.

I was wearing it mainly for the gym where I did a bunch of bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, pushups, and box jumps.

  • Start slowly by wearing the vest for 1-2 hours per day. You can increase the duration by adding an hour or two each week (progressive overload).
  • Monitor how you feel (I recommend using something like a journal to write down how you feel every day using a simple scale of one to ten).
  • Take a day off where you don’t wear the vest and use that day for recovery (this means you want to stay hydrated, have enough speed, and ensure all other aspects of health are under control).

My point is that if you’re a beginner, I recommend starting low a couple of hours per day, and progressively adding more time. No joke.

Is wearing a weighted vest all day hard?

Wearing a weighted vest all day is extremely hard, especially for beginners and untrained people. The body needs time to adjust to the new stimulus and if you start immediately by wearing your vest all day, chances are you will feel tired and lethargic.

Even if you’re a gym badass that’s been lifting weights for years, I still recommend taking it easy. Doing a 225-pound bench for reps is NOT the same as wearing a 20lbs vest all day.

Just becasue you can maintain your energy levels for two hours weighted vest workout, chances are you won’t be able to carry it all day (slow and steady wins the race).

How long should you wear a weighted vest for weight loss

In the table below, you can find an example of how long should you wear a weighted vest for weight loss (in minutes).

TierNumber of weeksMinutes
11-260-120 minutes
23-4180 – 240 minutes
35-6300 – 360 minutes
47-8480 – 540 minutes
How long should you wear a weighted vest for the weight loss chart
  • In the first two weeks, I recommend starting slow from the first tier, regardless if you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced (you can always increase the duration).
  • Once you get used to the weight, feel free to jump to the next tier (although I don’t recommend going for the next tier sooner than 2 weeks later).

Going too fast too soon will likely cause muscle pain, and tiredness and can backfire in the long run. Yes, this is a very aggressive progression (I still think it’s too tough for some people). That’s why I recommend you monitor your energy levels using a journal.

Do weighted vest bodyweight exercises

You can lose weight by wearing a weighted vest and doing simple bodyweight exercises like squats, pull-ups, lunges, pushups, and burpees at home, as well as in the gym. You don’t need to do fancy gym workouts with leg extensions, triceps extensions, or cable machines.

Of course, you should be doing weights in the gym. Heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench are great full-body moves that build muscle and have a positive effect on your anabolic hormonal levels.

However, if you don’t have access to a gym, and all you have is your body weight, I recommend doing circuit training style workouts that will burn tons of calories.

Best bodyweight workouts for weight loss while wearing a weighted vest

Here are some of the good examples of weighted vest workouts for fat loss, without any other equipment.

Workout 1

  • One pushup, walk 100 meters
  • Two pushups, walk 100 meters
  • Three pushups, walk 100 meters
  • Keep going nonstop until you reach 20 pushups

Workout 2

  • One squat, one pushup, one lunge on each leg
  • Two squats, two pushups, and two lunges on each leg
  • Three squats, three pushups, and three lunges on each leg
  • Keep going nonstop until you reach 20 reps

Workout 3

  • 3 pull-ups, 3 pushups, 3 box jumps, rest 1-2 minutes
  • Keep going for as many sets as possible

As you can see, the name of the game here is repetition. Moving from one exercise to another wearing a weighted vest puts a lot of stress on your cardiorespiratory system, therefore, you burn significantly more calories.

Watch your food intake and appetite

I started using a weighted vest on and off a couple of years ago (just before the pandemic started). I was doing pulls up and pushups every other day, but I never wear the vest as a way to lose weight.

After listening to a podcast with Eric Lee Salazar, the IFBB PRO who lost 19 lbs over the course of 15 weeks using a weighted vest (without calorie deficit), I immediately went to my garage and dusted off my rusty weighed clothing.

My plan was to mimic the Erics results by wearing a weighted vest all day (at least for most of the day) and keeping my daily calorie intake around maintenance.

Weighted vests lowered my appetite and hunger

One thing that I noticed straight away after wearing a weighted vest all day is that my hunger and appetite significantly dropped.

In the past, every time when I did a calorie deficit for weight loss, I started to experience food cravings. I was craving chocolate, sweets, and cookies, and the longer I dieted, the more temptations I had. Basically, I was thinking about food all day long.

Here was different.

On the days when I wore a weighted vest, I was eating only 2 meals a day and didn’t experience any food cravings. I didn’t feel lethargic and I wasn’t thinking about food all day. The cravings went away.

What does the research say about weighted vests and weight loss?

After I noticed that my appetite and hunger went down, I immediately started to look up this information on PubMed. I found a fascinating study from John-Olov Jansson, MD, Ph.D. about gravitostat, a novel system regulating body fat homeostasis.

(Keep in mind that this study was made on rodents).

Here are the key takeaways from this study:

  • Added external weight (by wearing weighted clothing) sends a signal to the bones to activate osteocytes, which in response suppresses the appetite.
  • Increased loading leads to weight loss not becasue of increased energy expenditure, but rather by decreased food intake, said Dr. Jansson.

In other words, wearing weighted clothing helps with weight loss by lowering your hunger thanks to the homeostatic regulation of body weight and fat mass.

Wear a weighted vest and walk everywhere you can

I was wearing a weighted vest all day doing all sorts of stuff like walking up the stairs, carrying grocery bags, playing with kids, gardening, pulling the trolley, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, and so on.

I was wearing weighted vests in the mall, downtown, and at the football match. I was wearing the vest on my way to the gym, as well as on my way back (yes, it looked ridiculous and many people looked at me like I’m crazy).

If you’re concerned about what other people may think, I recommend using a more discrete vest that can fit under your clothes. My weighted vest over my clothes (yes, it looked weird).

But it worked. It worked really well.

According to my Fitbit which measures calorie expenditure based on my heart rate, I was burning an additional 300 to 500 calories, just by wearing a weighted vest.

I wasn’t doing any type of cardio in the gym like treadmills or ellipticals. I was just busy at home doing stuff that increases my movement and elevates my NEAT.

Will wearing a weighted vest all day help you lose weight?

Wearing a weighted vest all day helps to lose weight not only by lowering your food intake but also by increasing your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis). This means you burn more calories during the day, without having to spend more time doing exercise.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is everything that you do throughout the day that is not considered purposeful exercise.

Painting a house, doing laundry, or shoveling the snow all requires energy and burn a significant amount of calories. If you’re a busy person, you may not need to do additional cardio to burn fat. You may have better results by wearing a weighted vest all day and doing all those daily tasks with the vest.

Do less running and more walking

Another way you can use a weighted vest for weight loss is by running. Running is a great cardio exercise that not only helps to burn calories but also to sharpen the brain and makes you more productive (this is a big one for me).

However, it wasn’t my primary form of cardio. I find that I feel more tired if I run every day with a weighted vest. I much prefer wearing my weighted vest all day, but when running, either run with 10 lbs more weight or without.

I prefer to use a weighted vest for warm-up before my runs, not for the actual run. This helps to improve my running performance and economy. I know few people who like running with ridiculously heavy weighted vests.

However, most of these guys are fit and do not need to lose weight. If your main goal is to burn fat, I recommend using a weighted vest together with low-impact exercises like walking.

Walking with a weighted vest for weight loss

In the past, I was doing a lot of low-impact and low-intensity cardio (e.g. walking) to burn more calories. I’ve written an extensive article about how “walking 10km a day” helped me to lose weight, which I recommend you read.

Today, I don’t have time to walk 10km every day. However, when I do, I make sure I put on my weighted vest becasue it helps me to burn an additional 100 to 150 calories, depending on the duration and terrain.

I own a Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO, a weighted vest that allows you to adjust the weight. During normal walking on the flat road, I like to add more weight (up to 40 lbs). However, when I’m hiking or walking on the hills, I usually lower the weight down to 10-15 lbs.

If you’re not sure about how to choose the right weight for your weighted vest, you can learn more about “how heavy should weighted vests be” in my article here.

How many extra calories do you burn with a weighted vest?

I did an experiment where I measured my calorie expenditure to calculate how many calories I burned with and without a weighted vest while doing certain activities.

For this experiment, I used a Fitbit Versa 3 smartwatch. I know this device is not the most accurate, but the overall results have shown that there is a huge difference in my heart rate and calorie burn with versus without a weighted vest.

For the record, at the time of that experiment, my body weight was 187 pounds, and I was wearing 20 lbs weighted vest.

In the table below, you can see how many extra calories I managed to burn with and without a weighted vest (per minute).

Physical activityWith weighted vestWithout weighted vest
Walking a dog5 kcal/min4 kcal/min
Jumping rope21 kcal/min18 kcal/min
Backpacking12 kcal/min10 kcal/min
Basketball game13 kcal/min10 kcal/min
Boxing bag14 kcal/min11 kcal/min
Carrying groceries (upstairs)12 kcal/min11 kcal/min
Kettlebell swings20 kcal/min18 kcal/min
Jumping rope21 kcal/min18 kcal/min
Mopping floor4 kcal/min4 kcal/min
Shopping3 kcal/min3 kcal/min
Washing dishes3 kcal/min3 kcal/min
How many extra calories do you burn with a weighted vest?
  • Activities that require more effort like boxing or kettlebell swings burn significantly more calories per minute while wearing a weighted vest, compared to without.
  • Activities that do not require less physical effort like washing dishes or shopping burn the same amount of calories, whether you wear a weighted vest or not.

How much weight can you lose walking with a weighted vest?

Overall, you can lose 1-2 pounds of excess weight by wearing a weighted vest, assuming that you move a lot and you won’t change your calorie intake. People who manage to wear a weighted vest all day and stay in a calorie deficit can lose anything between 2 to 4 pounds per week.

I was able to lose almost 20 lbs in just under 60 days but I know some great stories of people who lost up to 15 lbs in the first 30 days. However, keep in mind that most of the initial weight loss is usually water weight, depending on your carbohydrate intake.

At the end of the day, it’s more about the food intake and diet, and less about calorie expenditure. That’s why I recommend using a weighted vest as a tool to lower hunger and appetite, rather than to burn twice as many calories as you can.

Conclusion

In general, wearing weighted vests is an effective way to lose weight becasue it helps to increase your daily calorie expenditure, without doing additional exercises. It also helps to control appetite and hunger.

Keep in mind that I wasn’t changing my diet. I was eating slightly less but not because I was counting calories or measuring food portions. I was eating less becasue wearing a weighted vest made me less hungry.

Michal Sieroslawski

Michal is an exercise physiologist (MSc), nutrition coach, Ashtanga teacher, and fitness blogger. He shares his successes and failures to help busy men and women squash down 20, 50, or even 100 pounds of fat without leaving their home.

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