vertical jump training

Weight Vest Training

Written by Jack Woodrup for

Weight vest training is a terrific way to enhance your vertical jump workouts. The extra weight on your torso can have a profound impact on your results. Don't just take our word for it though. Have a look around and you will find they are used extensively at the professional and collegiate level across a variety of sports. Why? Because they work!

how to jump higher and increase your vertical jump

Benefits of Using a Weight Vest

By forcing your body to moveexplosively at a higher weight than it has been accustomed to (i.e. by adding a weighted vest to artificially simulate an increase in your bodyweight), you will find that your strength, power, and quickness will all improvequite rapidly.

The reason for this is that your central nervous system (CNS) and muscles start to believe that you have gained extra weight, and will start adapting accordingly. When the weight vest is removed, your body will react as if the weight is still there. The result is faster gains and higher jumps

adjustable weight vest

An Adjustable Weight Vest: A very versatile vertical jump training tool

Some other benefits to training with a weighted vest include increased calorie burn per workout, and an increase in core strength. This really is a major benefit that vests have over belts. A weight vest forces your core muscles to work extra hard to maintain your posture. Try doing push ups, chin ups, dips, regular old crunches, leg raises or sit ups in a weighted vest and your mid-section will soon know about it.

How To Incorporate A Weight Vest Into Your Training

To incorporate a weight vest into your vertical jump training simply wear the vest as you perform your plyometric and jumping based drills. Be careful when using it for high depth jumps or altitude jumps. Either use a low weight or take it off completely for those exercises as they have a high impact already without adding the extra weight of the vest.

Another technique you might apply to your jump training is to use a weighted vest for one half of your workout and one half without it. It is also a good idea to use some form of periodization where for example you might wear a weight vest for 6 weeks, and then train without it for another 6 weeks. This allows your body to take a break from the extra landing forces and also allows it to iron out any movement inefficiencies that may have appeared from too much vest use.

Perhaps our favorite time to use a weight vest is when doing concentric work such as stair bounding or on-to box jumps. You get a double benefit as the concentric jumping minimizes landing forces, and the weight vest increases the power you need to produce in order to make the jump.

When it comes to using a weight vest it is a good idea to start with a total of no more than 10% of your body weight. So if you weigh 180 pounds, don't add more than 18 pounds to your vest. A weighted vest isn't supposed to turn your jump training into a gym session. It is supposed to add a small amount of resistance to make it just that much harder to get up, without compromising speed, form or safety.

The 10% of your body weight rule is just a starting point however. The stronger you are the more weight you will be able to handle. If for example you weight 165 pounds and can squat 400 pounds you might for instance want to add more than someone who weighs 165 pounds but can only squat 165 pounds. Another factor to consider when choosing an appropriate weight is the nature of the exercise being performed. High impact exercises would naturally call for lower loads than low impact exercises.

One final and rather interesting way to use it is to wear it passively (i.e. whilst not exercising). The more you wear it the more your body soon starts to think it has put on a few extra pounds and adapts accordingly. A study was done on elite level volleyballers who did just that and the results showed marked increases in their vertical jump. Nice.

A weight vest is a very flexible piece of training equipment. It can be easily used to add resistance and increase power development to virtually all of your explosive movement work including sprints, plyometrics, and regular jump training. On top of that it is also a great way to spice up your Olympic lifting (this is not a typo, try it and you will see what I mean), regular weighted exercises, and nearly all upper body movements (they are awesome for pull ups, push ups, chins and dips).

Bizarre Criticisms

An interesting, and somewhat strange criticism we have heard is that weight vests are inferior to weighted belts because they can confuse and alter an athletes centre of gravity. This cracks me up. Do you think that all those professional teams who use weight vests who are involved in multi-billion dollar competitions, whose sports implicitly require great balance, would be using weighted vests if they negatively affected their athlete's centre of gravity? Not a chance.

Having used a weight vest extensively in our own training it is something we have never experienced. To suggest that a weight vest will alter an athletes centre of gravity is as ridiculous as saying you shouldn't do squats because the bar rests on your upper back.

Another rather odd criticism directed at weighted vests we have heard is that it can get hot whilst wearing one. Seriously people, you are exercising at a high intensity. You are supposed to get hot and sweaty. If you can't handle working up a sweat than perhaps having a huge vertical jump isn't for you.


Weight vest training is used extensively at the professional levels due to how effective it is for developing an athletes power and explosiveness. There is no reason why you can't add one to your own training to see the same sorts of benefits that professional athletes are getting. If you do start training hard with one I am sure it will provide a noticeable positive effect on your jumping ability.

Related Articles

X-Vest Review - Our review of the X-Vest weighted vest.

Heavy Versus Light Jump Squat Analysis - When performing jump squats is it better to use a heavy load or a light load. Well, lets look at the science.

Ground Contact Time - An analysis of the role ground contact time has in plyometrics.

Fat Burning - Carrying around some extra weight sure won't help you jump higher. If some fat burning is required to help you achieve your goals we have just the thing.

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