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How long should you wear a weight vest safely? [Full Guide]

If you already have a weighted vest you might be having a lot of questions in your mind.

The simple answer is that it really depends on your goal and reason why you want to wear it in the first place but there are some very important guidelines you can follow to find out what is the best duration to wear your weight vest. More on that later.

Before we continue further I want you to answer this simple question:

What is the main purpose for you wearing a weighted vest?

I know everybody will most likely have a different answer to this question so I have given my best to answer the most common answers people may give. 

Try finding your answer as one of the options below. I want to apologize in advance if you couldn’t find your individual situation. In that case, I would really appreciate a quick comment below letting me know what I have missed so I can add it here.

Quick Tip: Even if you don’t find your direct answer it can be still quite useful for you to read every scenario because if you already have a weighted vest laying around you can use it for many different useful things.

If you don’t have a weighted vest yet but are quite interested in owning one feel free to check out our article about the top 5 weighted vests in 2019. Inside you will find all sorts of quality vests depending on your type of training. 

But before we start and check them out I want to explain to you why wearing a weighted vest for too much time can have negative consequences.

Why you should not wear it for too long?

Wearing a weight vest in order to improve your health, cardiovascular system or simply lose weight or build muscle can be quite a good decision to make. But like many other things in life if you overdo it could have negative impacts on your body. 

I believe you’ve heard the saying The dose makes the poison, right?

Wearing a heavy weighted vest isn’t so much different than wearing a simple heavy backpack and can have similar negative effects. With the only difference being that the vest distributes the weight more evenly because of the oval design.

I would not recommend you to wear it for more than a few hours at a time because of these things.

Firstly wearing it for way too long can cause you developing upper and lower back pain with additional straining for your neck and shoulders.

If you have picked a low-quality model whose shoulders aren’t padded or wide enough can cause the vest to “dig” deep into your shoulders which can have negative influence over your blood circulation, caused bruises and wounds or even pinch a nerve.

All those things can have a pretty nasty impact on your arms and hands resulting in numbness and weakness.

Finally, this is quite related to lifting heavyweights. If you are using a weighted vest for far too long very often that might have a bad impact on your joints and lower back.

It’s not quite different than lifting heavy weights but in a matter of fact, it can be even worse on some occasions because in there you lift them usually for a few seconds, not many hours or even a whole day. 

Note: If your weighted vest is pretty light (only a few pounds for example) and you have a decent amount of body strength and are in a good shape and condition you might not have any of these unwanted consequences.

Now you know why you shouldn’t overdo wearing a vest and what can happen if you do.

Now let’s go back to the reasons why you are really wearing a weight vest.

Here are the 4 most common answers:

Do you wear a weight vest for weight loss/jogging (cardio)?

If this is your answer then I guess you are going to wear it only during your workouts.

A most common and effective way to lose extra weight is some sort of cardio – fitness walking, jogging, HIIT, sprinting, etc.

If you are using it for running or jogging then you should aim for a period of 30 mins to 1 hour, 1 hour 30 mins. 

I might also suggest making sure you have some sort of padded shoulders on the model you have picked because when you are running from the bouncing movement you can really hurt your shoulders and back because of the total time you are wearing it.

I would also recommend you to wear a weight vest only if you really need one. By that, I mean that you are not a total beginner.

If you are I would suggest you to start jogging or doing HIIT without any additional weight and only after you get some useful experience only then to go after adding additional resistance via a weight vest.

Do you wear it as extra weight for bodyweight exercises (calisthenics)?

If this is the main purpose of your weight vest that means you will most likely going to use it only for 20 mins to maximum an hour. That amount of time of you carrying a heavy weighted vest won’t have any negative impact on your body so you won’t have to worry about it.

Important Tip:

If you are really into bodyweight exercises I would recommend you to start using additional weight only when you really have to.

Try to get the max out of your natural body power using different techniques and tricks. Target uniquely your upper body, lower body and core muscles using only your bodyweight.

If you can easily do more than 20 reps of every exercise you are going to do then go for a decently weighted vest.

Do you want to simply wear it in your everyday life to improve your health and condition?

I know that for some of you this might be the main reason that drives you to invest in this type of equipment. As I have mentioned in the beginning wearing a heavy weighted vest for more than a few hours at a time regularly can be quite bad for you. 

There are some exceptions if we are talking about quite lightweight design that can be easily hidden under a set of clothes and worn all day long.

There are many more effective and less damaging to your joints and lower back ways. For beginners, I would recommend you to get into fitness walking.

You can also do a lot of home HIIT workouts you can find on Youtube or by a simple google search. Another useful and very common way is to simply go out for a quick jog. 

If there is a way you can improve your health and condition without the need to carry around a very heavy weight on your shoulders on a daily basis I would recommend you to go for it!

Using it as a simple extra resistance for some sort of training

A very famous alpinist from my home country used to carry a very heavy weighted vest and an extra amount of water bottles in order for him to hike out the nearest peak for him to train for endurance and strength. 

If you are using a weight vest in order for you to add some extra resistance for your training than I should recommend you not to overdo it. You must take proper rests so the body can recover and make sure not to carry it around for too long very often.

Is there an optimal amount of time for wearing a weighted vest?

As I have previously mentioned a few times there isn’t a magic number I can tell you and be over in one short sentence. The reason behind this is because it really depends on the type of training you do and many more individual factors.

If you wear a weighted vest for a good period of time it could be very helpful and help you boost your results.

If you want to learn more about this topic Click Here to check out our article on how often should you wear a weighted vest.

Final Words

As you have already learned from this article everything can have negative results if overused and wearing additional weight on your shoulders for a very long period of time can have its consequences.

Be very conscious and train smartly so you can have the best results possible without experiencing bad outcomes during your training.

If you don’t have a good weighted vest I would suggest you Click Here to check out our recent blog post and see the top 5 list.

I really hope you have found this article useful and we managed to answer your question the best way possible.

If you liked this post please share it with your friends – it would really mean a lot! And don’t forget to comment below your thoughts.

See you again!

– Bozhidar


Hey there, my name is Bozhidar and I'm a certified online personal trainer with University Degree in Sports and Nutrition.

With the help of my knowledge and over 8 years of workout experience, I can help you get on the next level. I own a home gym, do calisthenics, little gymnastics, and love to ride a bike.

About me