How to use a plate carrier in your workout?

Men wearing Plate Carrier in Gym
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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Even during training, most military and law enforcement units wear body armor and plate carriers, even though there is no threat. Well, it is important because wearing it, especially plate carriers with heavy tactical gear can significantly affect their movement, and they need to be prepared to carry out their duties efficiently while wearing armor.

Now, if you are a civilian, training with a plate carrier can have many advantages. Firstly, it improves your physical preparation in case of a self-defense situation, and secondly, it can help you take your workouts to the next level. So, today we are going to tell you all you need to know about using plate carriers for your workouts.

What makes for an ideal workout tactical vest?

Though using tactical vests in your workouts can be beneficial, if you don’t have the right tactical vest, it can also increase the chances of injuries. Here are some features you should look for in a plate carrier, both for workouts and general use.

Firstly, your tactical vest should have an even weight distribution, which can be achieved through padded back yoke shoulder pads. You should also make sure to add the same kind of plates to the front and back of your carrier.

Moreover, a workout tactical vest should be made from durable materials like nylon. They should have plate sleeves both in the front and the back and should be able to carry different kinds of equipment, pouches, and accessories. many popular brands make high-level plate carriers that you can buy. Your tactical vest should also have an adjustable waistband, and shoulder bands, with strong fasteners so that the vest does not come off while training. Padding is another important feature for a weighted vest so that the wearer can stay comfortable.

Lastly, the plate carrier should also be easy to take off. So, try to choose one that has a one-handed quick release system.

Exercises to do with tactical vests:

Tactical vests with heavy body armor plates are an incredible alternative to weighted vests, and there are loads of fun exercises that you can do while wearing them. For the most part, you should stick to simple bodyweight exercises which will help you build up your endurance, and make it more comfortable for you to wear body armour, with all kinds of tactical gear.

Here are some exercises you should do with tactical vests.

person working out

Push-ups and pull-ups

Both push-ups and pull-ups involve using your arms to lift up your own weight. So, tactical vests, with heavy plates and tactical gear mounted on them can help you take these simple exercises up a notch.

Push-ups engage your pectoral muscles, deltoids, triceps, and wings. They are great for building upper body strength, and endurance, while toning your chest and arms as well. Pull-ups engage your lats, biceps, back muscles, and core. So, when both these exercises are done with a weighted plate carrier, they make for an awesome and comprehensive upper body workout.

Lunges and squats

Lunges and squats are excellent exercises that engage a wide range of muscles, particularly your legs. They are great for building strength, power, endurance, and explosive agility in your legs. If you have a job, as a law enforcement officer, or security guard, where you have to stand and walk a lot while wearing your heavy body armor, with loads of tactical gear, equipment pouches, and accessories, these exercises are great for you.

Lunges engage your abdominal muscles, back muscles, gluteal muscles, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves, and when done with the weight of tactical vests, with armor plates they make for an awesome workout for your lower body.


Having a strong core is also very important for your fitness, and planks are one of the best exercises to engage your core without too much movement. Doing a simple plank can be challenging, however when done with the added weight of tactical vests, it becomes a nightmare. However, planks are great for building endurance and developing your core muscles, which can help you in the field as well.


Burpees are great for improving speed and explosive power, and they work a wide range of muscles. They are a great exercise to prepare you for wearing armor and moving around quickly in the field. 

Normal burpees are good, but weighted burpees are even better for your athletic performance, they work your legs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, arms, chest, and shoulders, so they are kind of a full-body workout.

What kind of armor plates to use in a plate carrier workout?

Now, there are many different kinds of plates that you can put on your plate carrier. You can use ceramic, and lightweight PE plates for workouts too. The size of the plates also makes a significant difference, normally medium-sized plates are ideal, however, you can also opt for extra-large armor plates, which are going to be a lot heavier. As far as the weight is concerned, the higher the level of the plate the heavier it is going to be.

Ceramic places are 6-7 lbs each. Level IV plates that are not made from ceramics or a combination of ceramic and PE usually weigh about 8-10 lbs. So, if you are looking for a lightweight workout, a couple of PE level III plates should do the trick, however, if you want to take things to the next level, use level IV plates, and add some pouches, accessories, and equipment to the front and back.

Can other kinds of tactical gear also be used for workouts?

Yeah, plate carriers aren’t the only kind of gear you can use for workouts. In fact, the military trains its officials with their full kit, which means wearing armor, ballistic helmets, aid kits heavy backpacks, boots, and other tactical equipment from various popular brands.

Such workouts help you build your stamina and endurance for the field, and are especially beneficial for people who work in the military, in special police units, or as security guards.

So, armor plates do keep you safe from bullets, but they can also be used for weighted workouts, which also improves your ability to navigate through stressful and demanding situations while wearing armor for protection. So, here was a quick guide to using armor plates with a plate carrier for workouts, and we hope that it helped you out. You need one? Shop one of the most popular brands here now!

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