Can I Lose Weight by Wearing a Weighted Vest or Ankle Weights?

Weighted vests and ankle weights are great for burning calories and losing weight. By using these simple pieces of exercise equipment, you're able to combine strength training and cardio into one workout. Always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program.

A man and woman are jogging. (Image: Milenko Bokan/iStock/Getty Images)

Benefits

Weighted vests and ankle weights can increase the intensity of basic exercise routines, which results in more weight loss and toned muscles. Wearing a weighted vest increases metabolic costs, which increases the amount of calories burned during exercise, according to the National Institutes of Health. During a six-week study conducted by Texas Tech University, it was found that participants who wore a weighted vest at 10 to 12 percent of their body weight could jump higher and run faster, so your overall fitness improves while burning extra calories.

Exercises

Walking, jogging, jump roping, pushups and jumping jacks are a few cardiovascular exercises that can have their intensity increased by using a weighted vest. You can even increase the intensity of strength-training exercises, such as lunges, squats and crunches. You cannot perform as many exercises with ankle weights, but they are still appropriate for controlled movements. Ankle weights can make your muscles work harder during walking, hip extensions, leg lifts, abdominal bicycles and some kickboxing moves. By focusing on strength training with weighted vests and ankle weights, you're able to tone your muscles, which burns calories more efficiently.

Considerations

You lose muscle as you age, so if you do not perform strength training to replace muscle loss, you increase your percent of body fat. One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, so you must burn 500 to 1,000 calories per day to lose 1 to 2 lbs. of fat per week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strength training should be completed two to three times per week for 20 to 30 minutes per session, and moderate-intensity aerobics should be completed 150 minutes per week, according to the CDC. If you're performing repetition type exercises, such as lunges or pushups, your muscles should tire after about 12 repetitions. If you are performing exercises at ease, then you need more weight. Start your weighted vest at 2 percent of your body weight and gradually increase it as you get stronger, according to Peak Performance. Most ankle weights are 1 to 2 lbs., but they go up to 20 lbs.

Warning

If you do not exercise regularly, then do not wear a weighted vest or ankle weights until you can comfortably perform an exercise routine without the added resistance. Do not run or perform uncontrolled movements with ankle weights since you increase your risk of injuries, such as sprained ankles or torn ligaments. You may also place too much pressure on your joints, leading to knee or hip problems. Stop your exercise and consult a doctor if you feel pain while exercising.

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