We’re betting you’re pretty familiar with most of the equipment around the gym by now. Cable machine? Check. Swiss ball? Done. TRX? No problem. But some workout gear (especially the gear that’s a little harder to find in most gyms) can present a challenge to the average dude looking to change up his workout. Even if a guy can get his hands on a quality brand of equipment, how can he put it into use without looking like an idiot—or worse, hurting himself? Case in point: The weight vest.
We’ve all seen those commercials for sports gear where some chiseled athlete (inevitably an NFL player, or Hugh Jackman) sweats through some sadistic-looking workout wearing one. The implication is clear: Whoa, a weight vest, we’re supposed to think. Dude is intense.
But here’s the dirty secret: You don’t need to be an all-universe running back (or Hugh Jackman) to use a weight vest in your workouts. If anything, it’s a remarkably accessible training tool, simply because it can safely add weight to your standard bodyweight exercises.
“If used properly, weight vests can have extensive benefits in training the cardiovascular system and increasing VO2 max,” says Brock Christopher, CPT, a strength coach at Atlanta's Porsche Human Performance powered by EXOS.
Another plus: The greater total-body load from a weight vest encourages a stronger musculoskeletal system, as your bones become stronger and denser to handle the added weight, says Christopher.