Tactical Weighted Vest: How to pick the best weight vest for you
Goals. We all have them. The first question to ask is "what are you training for?" A tactical weighted vest can be a style choice alone, but if your motivation is achieving fitness goals you want to pick the right weight vest for the job. A performance design is the best weighted vest for functional fitness training for movement. Tactical weight vests are all designed around holding bullet proof plates on your back and chest. With movement, they are bulky and tend to throw off your balance because they bounce and shift.
If you are not only training, but are military or law enforcement, buy a plate carrier vest that has added features you need to get the job done. Even then consider looking at tactical weighted vests geared towards fitness for your training. Consider models with an option to adjust the weight so you can progressively load. Some new adjustable weight plates for tactical vests use sand and others hold half pound weights. Let's explore what to look at when choosing your best weight vest options.
Training for Movement: Tactical Weighted Vest Design
How you train and how you move is the foundation for choosing a weighted vest. Loaded movement training for the demands of sports like football is more demanding on a vest design than loaded squats, pull-ups, push ups and straight ahead running required when training for the CrossFit Games or MURPH WOD. The fit, center of gravity, shoulder and waist straps, and ease putting your vest on or taking it off are all major differences.
Fit and Sizing
In the tactical weighted vest category, fit and size are simple and limited. Plate carriers do exactly what they say. They primarily exist to hold armor plates that can save your life. Your buying decision is easy. Most tactical weight vests are one size and they hold steel plates front and back. There are medium and large plate standards that drive design decisions on size. Fit is very adjustable with waist straps and shoulder straps that use easy hook and loop fabric for adjustment. Do not be fooled into thinking that tactical weighted vests are easily "adjustable" in their weight load. That requires the expensive purchase of additional pairs of plates. However, they are adjustable for fit.
For the demands of sports performance training, a one-size-fits-all is not the right choice. A performance weight vest has small weights in multiple pockets allowing the load to be held tight to your body. Even better, some are available in sizes and have special fabrics to prevent bouncing weights. This type of weight vest can make the weight a part of your body. Holding the load close to to your center of gravity protects the integrity of your movement. Large flat metal plates have their own inertia that degrades your movement.
Weight Vest Shoulder Pads
Width, spacing, and padding are very important things to evaluate in a tactical vest. The load is mainly going to hang on your shoulders. Avoid plate weight vests that make shoulder pads optional - they are not. Look for thicker padding too.
The same applies if you are evaluating other weight vests. Some exceptional vests, like the top of the line Hyper Vest ELITE performance weighted vest, are based on a patented weight vest with fabric that stretches in only one direction - horizontally. The one way stretch allows it to hug your torso and keep most of the weight off your shoulders. With the stretch you can breath. But with one way stretch the weights will not bounce.
Weight Vest Zippers, Straps and HIIT Training
A great feature to evaluate in any weight vest is the ease of putting it on and removing it. For high intensity training with intervals, it is a plus to be able to do sets with and without the load. Plate carrier vests most often use hook and loop webbing straps that can take a little time to open. The top models designed for the military and police have a quick release feature so you can remove them very fast. Putting it back on requires reassembly and is slow. All are put on over your head. Most cheap training weighted vests also go on and off over your head. Look for a weighted vest with a YKK quality zipper if you want the best for sports training.
Progressive Loading and Strength Training Weighted Vests
Are Tactical Weighted Vests Adjustable?
Search the web for "tactical weight vests" and you will see many say they are adjustable. This bends the truth. The shoulder straps and waist straps are adjustable to allow for a better fit depending on your build. Most weight vests have adjustable weights so that you can change your resistance level. Progressive loading is fundamental when building strength.
Can you change out cast iron weight vest plates? Yes, but you will find your options are limited to large weight increments. Each set of plates is a new cost of around $80-90. And the process of changing plates is slow with many straps needed to secure plates.
Other options are limited. There are sand filled plates. The weight is adjustable, but changing weight is slow, messy and imprecise. Hyperwear introduced an adjustable Flexible Weight™ plate. It holds half pound weights that can be changed quickly. The "plate" also bends for better fit and performance. The 9 lb Weight vest plates are available on Amazon or select weight vest plates from the Hyperwear selection of extra weight vest weights.
The new advanced plate carrier weight vest from Hyperwear is a new option. Using 10lb rectangular Flexible Weight plates, the Hyper Vest TAC tactical weighted vests give you a genuine weight adjustable weight vest in 1/2 lb increments up to 40 lbs.
Plate Compartments and Weight Vest Weights
Investigate how plates are secured inside of any plate vest you think about buying for two reasons. There is nothing more annoying than an iron plate bouncing around front and back when you are moving. If the plate is not secure, you risk it falling onto your foot when you open the compartment to take it out. One innovative model of fitness tactical weighted vest has an opening on the side.
Look and Style: Tactical vs Performance Weight Vests
Tactical plate carrier vests are offered in military colors. Models that are focused on fitness training are available in black and other colors. Since they function as body protection, the style is usually trapezoidal to allow more freedom of movement of the arms and shoulders. Or they are rectangular to maximize areas of protection. Weighted vests for fitness are made in a wide variety of styles.
Buying a Plate Carrier Weight Vest for the MURPH WOD
The MURPH WOD (Workout of the Day) is a challenging endurance workout that consists of a one-mile run, followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats, with another one-mile run to finish. It's named after Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005.
Using a tactical weighted vest to train for the MURPH WOD can provide a number of advantages, including:
Improved strength and endurance: The added weight of the vest can help challenge your muscles and improve your overall strength and endurance.
Enhanced calorie burn: The additional weight can also help you burn more calories during the workout, making it an effective way to increase your fitness and lose weight.
Better muscle activation: The vest can help you engage more muscle fibers during the exercises, leading to improved muscle activation and better muscle development.
Enhanced proprioception: The added weight of the vest can also improve your proprioception, or your awareness of your body in space, helping you to maintain better balance and control during the exercises.
Progressive loading: using the Hyper Vest Tactical weight vest that has adjustable weight allows you to gradually increase the weight of the vest over time, so you can safely and effectively build up your strength and endurance training for the MURPH WOD. It's important to start with a low weight and gradually increase it as your strength and endurance improve, and to listen to your body and stop if you experience any discomfort or pain.
Final Thoughts on Tactical Weighted Vests
We welcome your feedback and questions. Do you have experience using a tactical weight vest? We would love to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to give this article a read, and keep training.
We leave with an important reminder. NEVER USE A TRAINING IRON PLATE AS BODY ARMOR no matter what dumb demo video you find on Youtube.