I Tried It: Weighted Omorpho G-Vest+

TEnnis player Ajla Tomljanovic hated training in a weighted vest. They were heavy and uncomfortable, and although they added a weight challenge, they prevented him from practicing his tennis moves.

But today, she partly credits training with a sleek new weighted vest from the Nike exec-founded company Omorpho for helping give her the edge she needed to achieve the feat she’s best known for: beating Serena Williams in the final match of her career at the U.S. Open.

The new Omorpho G-vest+ was launched Monday at an event in West Hollywood that featured Tomljanovic and other athletes on a panel, where they shared their experiences. The G-vest+ is designed specifically for women (although there are also men’s styles). It has a zip-up front, adjustable shoulder straps and bungees on the sides so you can make sure it fits and cinchs in at the waist. It also comes with a companion app that lets you workout in the vest—with the app open, you just tap your phone to the vest and your workout will be displayed.

If you haven’t checked out Omorpho Gear, they are a weighted activewear company that actually adds extra pounds to your bottoms and tops to look great. They distribute weight throughout the garment in small beads covered with fabric in a design called “microloading.” Wearing the gear, you sort of look like a dragon. The women’s jacket microloads five pounds of weight, while the men’s adds 10 pounds.

This means when you squat, lunge, push up or walk around the block, you are adding a strength training component to your workout. For athletes, this is important because once they take off the gear, they are able to run faster, or hit harder, because they are no longer carrying extra weight. But for those just looking to get some exercise, it’s a hell of a way to turn up the heat on your workout.

I got to try a 20-minute HIIT class wearing an Omorpho vest. This may sound like a pretty short workout. But with the jacket on, my legs were completely gassed by the end.

I worked with the Omorpho representative to make sure the vest was fitted correctly. As a curvy 5-foot-1 woman, I wore an oversized dress to make room for my chest, while we shortened the shoulder straps and tightened the waist to fit the rest of my small frame. I noticed that my shirt ended up closer to my lower back, while for taller people it came closer to their waist. But it didn’t make it uncomfortable. My only complaint was that my chest was a bit puffy (even after shaping), and I had to make a more conscious effort to stand up straight.

The workout started with some jumping jacks, and right away, I felt a difference. But wearing a weighted vest plays tricks on your mind. You notice the added challenge, but since you’re not actually holding anything (like a dumbbell), you’re moving your body with the same force you would with just body weight. This means you’re doing the same exercise, with more impact.

This dynamic has its advantages and disadvantages. It definitely results in an intense workout. You don’t normally hold weight while jumping, so West added a new dimension to plyometric moves like burpees and jump squats. By the end of my third set of plyometric split squats, I could barely lower myself, and my quads, glutes, and hamstrings were shaking. Push-ups and planks also bring sweat drops.

When I hold something like hand weights or a medicine ball, I usually go slower than body weight movements, taking care to maintain good form. If I don’t keep my abs tight during strength training, I tend to rock my lower back. But adding a weighted vest to a HIIT class—even when it’s only five pounds—kind of makes you lose that need, and I found myself sacrificing speed. After that 20-minute class, I felt a twinge in my lower back that bothered me. That’s on me for not using good form, but that’s because I was less conscious of doing it because the weight was attached to my torso, not something I was holding.

The Omorpho G-Vest+ adds a challenge that is satisfying and efficient. With more practice, I think I’ll adjust to carrying the load so it doesn’t affect my form. Since it’s only five to 10 pounds, it’s not a replacement for strength training. But it’s a fun way to make bodyweight training or cardio extra challenging when you’re feeling up to it. And you will look very beautiful.

Whether you’re adding weight or not, try this HIIT workout to bring on the heat.

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