Weekly Workout: How Weight Vests Can Add a Degree of Difficulty to Your Workout

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Weighted vests and sandbags line the walls at a gym at Camp Lejeune.
Weighted vests and sandbags line the walls at the High Intensity Tactical Training Gym aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Lance Cpl. Victor Barrera/U.S. Marine Corps photo)

If you are used to doing mostly calisthenics and looking to transition into a phase of weight training during the fall and winter, here is a good way to make the change from high reps and miles to building stronger muscles with weights and fewer repetitions:

Weight Vest Wednesday

Reverse pyramid (w/weight vest 20-30 pounds)

Sets and reps: 20, 19, 18, 17, 16 reps with short 30-meter run* between each set of the following exercises:

Push-ups, plank pose (1 second = 1 rep)

Sets and reps: 15, 14, 13, 12, 11 reps with short 30-meter run between sets

Push-ups, abs of choice, dips

Sets and reps: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 reps (no run)

Pull-ups, TRX push-ups or elevated, TRX rollouts or ab wheel

Remove the vest for remainder of pyramid

Sets and reps: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 (no run)

Bench press, heavy rows, plank pose 1 minute, heavy pulldowns

Run or ruck 30 minutes (ruck with weight vest)

And/or add swimming workout

Swim 500-meter warmup

Repeat five times.

  • 100 meters free (hypox 6-8 strokes per breath)
  • 50 meters CSS

Repeat five times.

  • 100 meters choice -- fast
  • Rest with 50 abs of choice: flutter kicks, leg levers, scissors, etc.

*The 30-meter run can be replaced with jumping jacks or jumping rope if you don't have space. We do these on a basketball court.

Enjoy the training. If you have any questions about changing cycles or focus of training through the year, check out the Periodization Articles on the Military Fitness page.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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