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10 Benefits Of Squats With A Weighted Vest

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There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about doing squats with a weighted vest, what benefits can you expect?

A weighted vest is simply a vest with some weight, often sand, added to it. You can wear a weighted vest to make your current workout routine harder.

For squats specifically, you likely need a relatively heavy weighted vest to make the exercise challenging enough for strong muscles like your glutes and quadriceps.

You do have to keep in mind that wearing a weighted while doing squats slightly increases your injury risk. Make sure your squat technique is good before adding a weighted vest.

Some people question how useful this equipment can be but wearing a weighted vest while doing squats can offer you some amazing benefits.

1. Can help you lose more weight

Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.

One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Squats with a weighted vest can help with weight loss since using it generally requires more energy compared to doing squats without one.

A big factor in how many calories you burn during a workout is your weight. To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more weight you carry, the more energy you need to fuel movement.

For example a 155-pound (70 kg) person doing squats for 15 minutes burns around 110 calories.

On the other hand, a 185-pound (83 kg) person doing squats for 15 minutes burns around 131 calories.

There will likely be a difference in how much a weighted vest increases calorie-burning vs the same weight in body fat but that just shows how doing squats with a weighted vest can benefit weight loss.

Another way workouts help you lose weight is by increasing your muscle mass which in turn helps with burning more energy with everything you do. Squats with a weighted vest help increase muscle mass too.

A weighted vest will likely not make or break your weight loss journey but even a small improvement in a workout you do often will make a big difference over time.

Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.

2. Helps you build more muscle

Squats are mainly a strength training exercise, which means they are mostly for improving muscle strength and endurance. Extra muscle is not only beneficial for your health in many ways but it is also considered to be visually appealing.

Some of the muscles you work out with squats include:

  • Quadriceps
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Hip adductors
  • Hip abductors
  • Core

Generally the more weight you have to move, the more muscle you will build with an exercise. That’s one of the reasons why people go to a gym instead of doing bodyweight exercises at home.

As a strength training beginner regular squats are a great bodyweight exercise choice to build muscle mass. To build the most muscle mass you want to do about 4 sets of 10-40 squats depending on how advanced you are.

That being said, at some point your body weight may stop being enough resistance to build extra muscle mass with squats. When this is the case you can start doing squats with a weighted vest to be able to build extra muscle mass.

To train the strong muscles involved in the squat exercise you typically want to choose one of the best heavy weighted vests. These will allow you to train your muscles faster and to a larger extent.

3. Improved cardiovascular health

Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.

When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.

Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. Doing squats with a weighted vest makes your heart beat faster and thus helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system more compared to squats without one. This in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements without a weighted vest and build up from there.

4. Can improve athletic performance

Getting better at a certain sport or exercise isn’t necessarily done by doing these activities more. Cross-training which is training in a different sport can be useful.

A training exercise like squats can help you increase your jump height by strengthening your leg muscles (7, 8). Squats done with a weighted vest instead of body weight even more so.

One study suggests that jump height in turn is related to sprint performance (9). This means that adding squats with a weighted vest to your routine can improve your performance in basically any sport that involves fast running.

5. Helps you build fast muscle

Not all muscle is the same, it can be made of different types of muscle fibers. These different types have different properties with accompanying advantages and disadvantages.

A common categorization of these muscle fibers is “type 1, slow-twitch muscle” and “type 2, fast-twitch muscle”. Your muscle groups are not made of one or the other, they are made of a certain ratio of type 1 vs type 2 fibers. The way you train can influence this ratio (10).

The type 1, slow-twitch muscle fibers are generally more useful for longer duration workouts like jogging, swimming at a low tempo, cycling at a low tempo,… Basically activities at intensities you can do for an extended period of time.

The type 2, fast-twitch muscle fibers are generally more useful for short duration, fast body movement workouts like sprints, powerlifting, javelin throwing,…Basically activities at intensities you can only do for a short period of time.

As a strength training beginner squats will initially help you build type 2 muscle fibers. Once you get to a point where squats start being a less intensive exercise they will help you build more type 1 muscle fibers. If you add a weighted vest at this point you can continue building more fast type 2 muscle fibers.

6. Improved bone density

Exercise can help improve, and prevent degeneration of, your bone density, basically the strength of your bones (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).

This is helpful for avoiding broken bones. Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.

The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts. The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long term.

Squats with a weighted vest put more pressure on your bones than doing squats without one. This in turn will benefit your bone density in the long term.

Generally, workouts on land with a lot of jumping and strength training exercises are the best for improving bone density. Next, you have exercises that put less pressure on your bones like walking. Lastly, you have exercise in the water like swimming which will still benefit bone density but likely not as much as the other categories.

7. Makes your squats more time-efficient

Another benefit of doing squats with a weighted vest is that it can help you decrease the time it takes to get in a good workout. A good workout session isn’t necessarily about duration.

For example to build muscle you basically want to put enough strain on your muscles so muscle growth processes start. This doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time out of your day.

A more intense cardio workout can train your cardiovascular system in a shorter amount of time than one at a lower intensity.

Wearing a weighted vest while doing squats can help with both of these things. This benefit of squats with a weighted vest is especially useful if you have trouble finding enough time throughout your day to fit in a workout.

8. Healthier lungs

To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.

By using your lungs more you can improve how well they work (17, 18, 19, 20, 21). Squats with a weighted vest engage your lungs more than squats without one.

Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and getting tired slower.

9. Improves coordination and balance

While the technique of squats is not that complicated, you do need to use some coordination and balance. By doing this frequently you get better at it like with most skills. Many people forget to implement balance training into their workout routine but it is a helpful fitness component.

Stronger leg muscles also generally reduce fall risk. Since squats with a weighted vest can improve leg muscle mass it can be helpful for reducing fall risk.

The benefits of improved coordination and balance don’t just show up in other technical sports. Daily activities as simple as walking the stairs require coordination.

10. Improves posture

When doing squats, even more with squats with a weighted vest, with the right technique you train muscles that are important for a good posture.

Improving your posture will help you avoid related injuries. One small study even suggests that open non-verbal displays, which a good posture helps with, are attractive (22).

Conclusion

All in all, it is amazing that you can get so many important benefits from adding one piece of equipment to your squat routine.

One thing you need to remember is that even though there are benefits to wearing a weighted vest, your injury risk is generally also slightly higher. Make sure your squat technique is good before adding a weighted vest and pay extra attention to your technique when using one.

Many weighted vests allow you to change up the weight. When you feel you are ready to do squats with a weighted vest you can start with a low weight and build up from there.

If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that doing squats with a weighted vest is not for you.

Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor in a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently.

If you like doing squats with a weighted vest, great. If not, regular squats, alternatives to squats, or weighted vest alternatives can also offer a lot of benefits.

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Matt Claes

Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.