19 bodyweight exercises you can do in a weighted vest (plus bonus mobility)

Think weighted vests are just for cardio?

Adding a weighted vest to your fitness wardrobe is an amazing way to burn more calories, boost cardiovascular fitness, and get fit for hiking. But it’s also a really useful tool for levelling up simple bodyweight exercises.

Pop on a weighted vest and you’ll be adding external load without needing to hold a barbell, carry dumbbells, or figure out how to balance a kettlebell as you perform each exercise.

Here are our favourite bodyweight exercises you can do in a weighted vest to add strength and muscle – or just to get a bit of a pump.

8 weighted vest exercises for lower body

  1. Air squat – think 20 air squats can’t possibly feel like a challenge? The simple bodyweight squat takes on new meaning when you’re wearing a weighted vest.
  1. Walking lunges – walking lunges are a killer without any extra weight, but put your weighted vest on and you’ll soon feel the burn. Remember to take the back knee close to the floor on each step.
  1. Forward and reverse lunge – step forward into a lunge, or step your lunging leg backwards. Either way, be sure to bring your feet together after each rep (otherwise it’s a split squat, not a lunge). 
  1. Pistol squat – have you got pistols? Take this tricky calisthenics exercise to the next level by adding a weighted vest. It’s pretty much the only way you can add external load to a pistol squat.
  1. Horse stance – this static hold is a low, wide squat which originates from martial arts. Great as a replacement for wall sits when you’re wearing a weighted vest.
  1. Good mornings – this classic posterior chain exercise can be difficult to do with a barbell on your back, so try it with a weighted vest to fire up those hamstrings.
  1. Sissy squat – classic bodyweight sissy squats (without using a machine) are tricky to master, but once you’ve got the technique try adding a weighted vest for a real vastus medialis burn!
  1. Single leg calf raises – the calf muscles can take a lot of work, so add a weighted vest as one way to switch up the training stimulus so they get stronger. 

6 weighted vest upper body exercises

  1. Pull ups and chin ups – try pull ups (pronated grip) and chin ups (supinated grip) movements with a weighted vest on for a progression that’s much easier than figuring out how to fix weights onto a dipping belt.
  1. Diamond push up – of course you can do regular push ups in a weighted vest, but why not target a different part of the chest by doing diamond push ups with thumb and index finger touching under your chest.
  1. Hindu push up – the Hindu pish up is a flowing movement starting with a down-dog yoga pose, into a plank, then a press up, upwards dog, and back through the poses to the beginning.
  1. Spiderman push up – our final push up suggestion for your weighted vest workouts is the spiderman push up where you take one knee to the elbow on the same side as you do each rep.
  1. Dips – you can do dips at a dipping station, on gymnastics rings, between two boxes or off the side of a bench. However you do them, add a weighted vest to take on a challenge. 
  1. Shoulder taps – shoulder taps in a plank hold might seem simple, but they’re a great way to build shoulder and wrist strength, core stability, and anti-rotational strength.


 5 weighted vest exercises for a stronger core

  1. Plank and side plank – hold your plank and side plank poses with a weighted vest on and you’ll soon feel the muscles of your core, hips, and even quads kick in as your body battles to support the extra weight.
  1. Bridge – lying on your back, push your hips up into a bridge pose with a weighted vest on for a simple exercise that builds amazing strength through the core and lower back.
  1. Plank twists – this active plank movement starts as a side plank and involves moving the top arm underneath and through the supporting arm to twist the torso – try it!
  1. Mountain climbers – in a plank position, bring alternate knees into the chest. The extra weight of your weighted vest will make your core, shoulders and upper back work harder.


Mobility movements with a weighted vest 

Weighted vests are great for cardio, bodyweight movements, and conditioning. But have you ever thought about using them for warming up and mobility work? Wear your weighted vest for down-ups, gorilla crawls, bear crawls, lateral walks, Cossack squats and ankle mobility work. 

Force Fitness weighted vests are slimline vests that won’t add bulk or get in the way. Take a look at our range of weighted vests to add a new level to your bodyweight workouts or calisthenics training.

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