DIY Muscle Vests – The Garment of Champions

Reading Time: 6 minutes

When people think of me they can’t help but draw comparisons to Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

This is The Rock, not me.

Whether it’s the drive, the talent, the relentless hard work, the rags to riches success story, or the insane god-like physique, the similarities are undeniable.

But of all The Rock’s and my many, many similarities, perhaps the most obvious is our love for cut-off muscle vests.

There are a plethora of reasons why the cut-off muscle vest is perhaps the perfect apparel. Here are mine –

1. Freedom of Movement

We have discussed at length the need for appropriate clothes to move in. Well the cut-off muscle vest ticks all the movement boxes for me. Being sleeveless I can raise my arms into any position without restriction. There is nothing to get caught on, nothing that flaps about, it’s like a medieval tabard for the knights of the Iron Temple.

2. Temperature Control

I am a right sweaty blighter. Training in an underground basement gym in Iceland would be my ideal indoor training setting.

I love training outside in the breeze, or even the rain. I hate getting too hot. It leaves me panicky.

And while I love the idea of training shirtless, I still lack the confidence to parade myself around in public looking like a budget Tarzan. And other people don’t always appreciate the unencumbered sweat spray from a topless gym bro as they enjoy an afternoon stroll.

The muscle vest is the sweet spot. Enough coverage to not upset the Victorian-minded in the gym, but super ventilation to keep one cool.

3. It Promotes ‘Nipple Confidence’

In an age when the nipple (mainly for the ladies) has become somehow taboo, the cut-off muscle vest helps to readdress the balance.

You see, due to the cut those little puppies will be popping out willy-nilly.

This is a feature, not a bug, in my humble opinion.

Celebrate those bad boys. In general, we all have them, and for some of us they are our best feature.

Despite my reticence to go shirtless, I am blessed with nipple confidence.

“Some are born with nipple confidence, some achieve nipple confidence, and others have nipple confidence thrust upon them”

The Book of Nipples

I was firmly in the third camp.

I went to college with a number of Japanese students. One of the names they called me (the least offensive) was 乳首 (Chikubi), meaning nipple.

You see, it doesn’t matter what I wear my nipples are always obvious. Perky would be an understatement, you could cut glass with these things.

So I wear my nipples like a badge of honour.

If you lack the aforementioned ‘nipple confidence’ then the the muscle could be the perfect vehicle for gaining it. If you are a lady suffering the indignation of nipple demonisation all is not lost. The cut-off muscle vest look great even with a crop top on underneath.

4. They Make Me Look Musclier Than I Really Am

Yes this is vanity. So what?

If aesthetics are a driver to make one healthier and stronger, then that is a good thing. We’ll have no fit-shaming here.

I don’t know what it is, maybe the cut, maybe the sense of putting on my armour for battle, but the cut-off muscle vest makes me look like I have more muscle than I do. This in itself give me more incentive to work harder.

When I don the vest I feel like a super hero ‘suiting up’. It shifts my mindset and gets me ready to face some really hard shit.

Capes are a hazard in a gym environment, the muscle vest fits in everywhere. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

This is me, not The Rock.

5. They are Cheap and Eco

You can of course buy a cut-off muscle vest in the shops. The Rock has some lovely ones. But the beauty of them is that they are free and easy to make at home.

What’s more, it’s a great way to re-use old t-shirts.

Holes under the arms? No problem. Stretched and misshapen? Perfect.

It’s my favourite way to utilise old clothes.

Hell, there are people who buy new t-shirts only to cut them up.

With the massive 80s revival occurring at the moment, Kate Bush in the charts, Top Gun in the cinema, I thought it would be apt to show you how to make the most 80s of outfits.

What follows is my ridiculously easy way of turning an tired old t-shirt into the regalia of heroes.

First off, you need to accept that the first time you do this it may not the perfect cut for you. This is all dependent on the size of the shirt, your own build, and the degree of nipple confidence you have.

This is why we are using old shirts. Don’t use that new designer top just yet. I’m using some old branded shirts.

I lay my shirt on to a table and with a pencil or piece of chalk I mark where I want to cut.

My preference is about 3 inches from the collar, and about 4 inches from the armpit.

I like to cut this with a sweeping curve from the shoulder to the side.

Again this is all down to personal preference, so experiment and remember, it’s always easier to take more off than add it back on.

To make this symmetrical you could try folding the shirt straight down the middle and cutting both arms off in one go. I am not that fussy and just go with it. Can you now see how nipple confidence starts to permeate though all aspects of life?

If you are really wanting repeatable perfection – once you have found the cut you like you could make a card pattern/template to use on other shirts.

That’s it. Finished.

You now have two new oil rags/dusters/hankies/etc, and one vest of total awesomeness.

And you don’t have to stop at t-shirts. Hoodies work well too. Damn, if it has sleeves that can be cut off it can be a muscle vest. Button up shirt – check. Towelling dressing gown – check. Dinner jacket – check.

A recent study from Stanford University showed that wearing the cut-off muscle vest instantly added 5-10kg to every major lift, and made the participants appear much more attractive. Further studies have shown direct correlations between the muscle vest and financial, relationship, and career success.*

Shaving your head and growing a beard were shown to increase all these factors exponentially.

*I may have made this study up.

Now I know that the muscle vest is not for everyone. In fact, this was my recent conversation with my mother-in-law:

MIL: Why are you wearing that shirt?

Me: Don’t you like it?

MIL: No I do not!

Me: What’s wrong with it?

MIL: I can see your boobs

Me: Well I don’t really have boobs per se, it’s just my nipples.

MIL: Why are they poking out like that?

Me: They’re just perking and I’m blessed with ‘Nipple Confidence’.

MIL: Hmm. Well I still don’t like it!

Needless to say I wore that shirt all day without a care in the world. Thank you Nipple Confidence, you’ve made me a more forthright and outgoing person.

So for the sake of about 3 minutes of work, give it a go. Even if you think it’s not your thing I know you will look mighty, heroic and so damn sexy you’ll need a health warning.

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