By adding additional weight to the body, weighted vests lend themselves to a variety of workouts. For muscle-building body-weight exercises, weighted vests create challenging resistance. This resistance and weight also increase the challenge of some cardiovascular exercises, such as running, helping tone muscles and get the heart pumping. Weight vests are best for intermediate-level exercises; make sure you're comfortable performing the exercise with your own body weight before strapping on a vest.
Weighted vest squats intensively focus on the abs, glutes and – most prominently – the leg muscles, including the calves, shins and thighs. Standing with your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart, position your body at a 20-degree rotation, keeping your hips and knees slightly flexed. Put your hands behind your head and bend your knees to lower your upper body. Squat as low as you can, striving for a 90-degree bend in your knees; if you can't achieve this, squat until you're comfortable and gradually work your way lower each time you work out. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Hold your squatting position for a count, raise to the starting pose and repeat.
Intermediate and experienced runners can try running with a vest that weighs about 10 percent of their total body weight. This encourages the leg muscles to work harder during runs, jogs and even walks. Though weight-vest running may initially strain the muscles, alternating weighted and non-weighted runs may improve endurance, strength, speed and lactate threshold. Don't use the vest every time you run, as the body will eventually adjust to the weight and actually lower your average speed. Middle and short-distance runners find the most benefits from weighted vests. To incorporate the vest into your running workout, start by wearing it around the house and during walks, gradually incorporating it into your exercise routine.
Pushups with a weighted vest serve as a strength- and muscle-building exercise for the arms, chest and shoulders. Lie prone on the floor, stomach down, and place your hands shoulder-width apart with your palms flat and fingers facing forward. Support your upper body, raising it off the ground so your arms form a 90-degree angle at your elbows. Keep your feet together and keep your legs raised off the ground, supporting them with your toes. With a slow and controlled motion, lower your body until the chest portion of your vest contacts the floor. Raise your body to the starting position and repeat.