We asked six United States military veterans-turned-Spartan SGX coaches to share their favorite weighted vest workouts.
Why You Should Work Out in a Weighted Vest
In 2018, the United States Army issued Modular Scalable Vests (a.k.a. MSVs), a new type of body armor, to soldiers. Weighing in at around 25 pounds, the bulletproof vests require soldiers to be fit and strong if they want to tackle whatever challenges they may face while suited up.
Given that, it’s no wonder weighted vests and plate carriers (like 5.11 Tactical’s TacTec™ Plate Carrier) have become a go-to training tool in the military community. After all, they’re about as functional as it gets.
Plus, since exercising in a weighted vest boosts calorie burning and strength and power development, the heavy wearables have also taken off in the broader fitness community. If you haven’t trained in one yet, military or not, you’re missing out.
6 Weighted Vest Workouts To Try
Check out these weighted vest workouts, straight from SGX coaches who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces, to test your true grit.
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Beast day 2, grinding. At this point I already know the course and appreciate the next set of climbs and the sandbag coming so getting this one done was easy. Having spent considerable time developing my carriers I was able to push through this much quicker than day 1. How do you prepare for heavy carry’s? Aroo. #spartanrace #spartanrace2018 #spartan #spartans #spartantristatenj #spartanbeast #spartantrifecta #spartantraining #spartansgx #medaladdict #mudrunguide #spartan40 #neverquit #grind
1. Robert Shimonski, SGX Coach and Former United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant
Shimonski served in the United States Marine Corps from 1992 through 2000. During that time, he was deployed many times and lived in several locations. Shimonski became a combat veteran after participating in Operation Restore/Continue Hope in Somalia, Africa in 1993.
Follow Shimonski on Instagram at @rshimonski.
Shimonski’s Weighted Vest Workout
With a 30-pound weighted vest, complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) of the following exercises in 30 minutes:
- 500-meter incline hike on a treadmill or local hill, carrying a 25-pound Spartan bucket
- 40 sit-ups
- 10 push-ups
- 100 air squats
Shimonski utilizes this particular workout to build strength and endurance for heavy carrying during mountain races — with lots of elevation — or Stadion races with lots of steps.
2. Adam Redmond, Spartan SGX Coach and United States Navy Hospital Corpsman
In his 22 years serving in the United States Navy, Redmond has worked alongside the men and women of the United States Marine Corps as a Hospital Corpsman. He’s also traveled the world and had the opportunity to meet with countless people of different cultures and backgrounds.
Follow Redmond on Instagram at @sgx_coach_adam.
Redmond’s Weighted Vest Workout
Redmond picked up the following workout, known as the "Shrek WOD," from an SGX coach in Singapore. The goal: Complete all of the work for time (a.k.a. as quickly as possible). It's one of our go-to weighted vest workouts for testing our cardio and sweating buckets.
- 400-meter run
- 5 rounds: 5 pull-ups, 10 chest-to-ground push-ups, 15 air squats
- 800-meter run
- 4 rounds: 5 pull-ups, 10 chest-to-ground push-ups, 15 air squats
- 1,200-meter run
- 3 rounds: 5 pull-ups, 10 chest-to-ground push-ups, 15 air squats
- 1,600-meter run
- 2 rounds: 5 pull-ups, 10 chest-to-ground push-ups, 15 air squats
- 2,000-meter run
- 1 round: 5 pull-ups, 10 chest-to-ground push-ups, 15 air squats
Redmond does this workout once per month to check in on his baseline fitness and mental resolve. Since the workout covers slightly more distance than that in a Spartan Sprint, it’s also a great workout to use to prep for a race.
3. Rene Acuna: Spartan SGX Coach and Former United States Navy Radioman Third Class
Acuna served in the United States Navy from 1989 to 1991. In that time, he was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan on the USS Hewitt and on an island in the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. He served as both a radioman and search-and-rescue swimmer during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
Follow Acuna on Instagram at @sprysocietysgx.
Acuna’s Weighted Vest Workout
With a 25-pound weighted vest, complete three rounds of the following exercises for time (a.k.a. as quickly as possible).- 15-minute aerobic run (easy pace; at about 65% your max heart rate)
- 1 minute of dive bomber push-ups
- 30 seconds of toes-to-bar
- chin-ups to failure
- 1 minute of air squats
While this workout does have an element of cardiovascular conditioning, Acuna’s primary goal is to develop total-body (especially core) strength and conditioning.
4. Quentin “Q” Pullen, Spartan SGX Coach and Former United States Marine Corps Sergeant
Quentin Pullen, a.k.a. “Coach Q,” served in the United States Marine Corps from 1988 to 1993, during which time he deployed for Operation Desert Storm. After his time with the USMC, Pullen continued his military service as a Petty Officer First Class with the United States Navy Reserve from 1998 to 2002.
Follow Pullen on Instagram at @q_the_coach.
Pullen’s Weighted Vest Workout
With a 44-pound weighted vest and altitude training mask, set a timer for 45 minutes and alternate between the following exercises.- 400-meter wheelbarrow carry, loaded with your bodyweight (mask on)
- 400-meter farmer’s carry with two 24-kilogram kettlebells (mask off)
Pullen calls this a “GRIT session,” and rightly so; it might just be one of the most exhausting of these weighted vest workouts. The goal: Develop total-body strength and mental toughness. It takes a strong mind to stay in the fight for 45 minutes — especially when your forearms, traps, glutes, core, and lunges are consistently on fire.
5. Dustin Webb, Spartan SGX Coach and Former United States Army Reserve Combat Engineer Specialist
Webb served in the United States Army Reserve, based out of Brookville, Pennsylvania, from 1995 to 1998. Throughout his service, Webb spent a great deal of time assisting communities across the country during and after natural disasters.
Follow Webb on Instagram at @dust2glory_fitness.
Webb’s Weighted Vest Workout
With a 20-pound weighted vest, complete five rounds of the following for time (a.k.a. as quickly as possible).- 400-meter run
- 20 burpees
- 20 plank punches
- 20 kettlebell swings (20-kilogram kettlebell for men, 14-kilogram kettlebell for women)
Webb uses this threshold and conditioning workout at his gym (Dust 2 Glory Fitness) every Wednesday to test gym-goers’ fitness benchmarks. He loves that it builds camaraderie among participants.
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🇺🇸 Honoring those who have fallen is a reminder of why our Nation is strong, built by the foundation of courageous men and women that have served before us. Let us remember they lived and died to protect the freedom we enjoy, the prosperity we share, and our future way of life. ------ #killianit #memorialday #rltw #dol #warriorethos #suasponte #nationalguard #thecalguard #usarmy #armedforces #salute #neverforget #respect ------ *Note - As of November 2008 - Veterans and active-duty service-members not in uniform are authorized to render the hand salute during the playing of our national anthem. Passed into federal law under the Defense Authorization Act of 2009. ------ 📸 @natephotographer
6. Robert Killian, Spartan SGX Coach and Former United States Army Special Forces Captain
During his tenure with the United States Army, Robert Killian earned the title of Green Beret and was involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, he is an active member of the Colorado National Guard and is a Spartan Race World Championship winner. If there's a veteran and coach whose weighted vest workouts are guaranteed to floor you, it's Killian.
Follow Killian on Instagram at @robert_killian.
Killian’s Weighted Vest Workout
With a 22-pound weighted vest, complete two rounds of the following exercises for time (a.k.a. as quickly as possible).- 200-meter run
- 22 burpees
- 22 air squats
- 200-meter run
- 22 hand-release push-ups
- 2-minute plank hold
- 200-minute run
- 22 lunges (each lunge is one rep)
- 22 pull-ups (kipping, if needed)
- 200-meter run
- 22 alligator-walk push-ups
- 22 plank + reverse leg lifts (11 each leg)
- 200-meter run
Killian refers to this workout as the "22 Too Many" workout, designed to raise awareness for service-member suicide prevention. (In 2012, the VA reported that up to 22 service members on average commit suicide every day.)