The Benefits Of Running With Weights
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The Benefits Of Running With Weights

The Benefits Of Running With Weights

Running is one of the best ways to obtain cardiovascular exercise.

It helps you build strong leg muscles, boosts heart health, reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, improves your mood, and provides many other health benefits.

There is some evidence to suggest that running can be made even more effective by using weights.

In this post, I’ll take a closer look at running with weights, explaining how it works and seeing if it really can improve the effectiveness of your workouts.

How Do You Run With Weights?

Running while carrying or holding weights adds more weight resistance which increases the difficulty of your workout.

To run with weights, all you need to do is attach weights to a part of your body, using straps or a garment.

How much weight should you add?

Well, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommends that you should only run with less than 3 pounds (1350 g) attached to your body.

They suggest that wearing heavier weights for a long period may place undue stress on muscles and joints.

However, some people do use heavier weights for high-intensity interval training and strength-building exercises.

The most common options for running with weights include:

Ankle weights

Runners simply attach straps to their ankles which contain small weights.

Although many people use this technique, it is the most dangerous, as it places more weight directly on the your ankles.

This is more likely to impact your balance, stride, and running form which potentially leads to injuries or falls.  

Weighted vests

A weighted vest containing small pockets into which you can place weights.

This is the safest way to run with weights as the additional weight is around your core.

This makes the weights less likely to impact your balance or running style.

Weights in a backpack

Another option which keeps the weights close to your core is wearing a backpack.

Many of the people who choose this option have functional goals like preparing for a hike or training for the military.

Using a weighted back pack is less safe than a weighted vest as the weight may shift around in the pack increasing the risk of back injury.

Wrist or hands weights

The final option is to simply carry some weights or attach them to your wrists.

This is less problematic than ankle weights, but may still impact your balance slightly.

Wrist weights are arguably better than handheld weights, which require constant flexing of your hand to hold, potentially causing repetitive strain injuries. 

What Are The Potential Benefits of Running With Weights?

Burn More Calories

The added resistance created by using weights means that your body will have to exert more energy to cover the same distance at the same speed.

This will increase how many calories you burn during the run, which can be useful if you are attempting to lose weight.

Higher Heart Rate

Carrying more weight can also elevate your heart rate by as much as 5 to 10 beats per minute.

This can make your run more effective for improving your cardiovascular fitness as your heart is working harder.

This benefit can be particularly useful for fit runners who have trouble achieving a high-enough heart rate during training runs.

Increased Strength

There is some evidence to suggest that running with weights can lead to minor improvements in muscle strength.

One study found women who regularly ran in weighted vests over a 12-week period experienced a small increase in isokinetic strength.

Another study found that overweight adults who performed targeted resistance training in addition to cardio gained more lean muscle than those performing cardio alone.

Avoiding Injury When Running With Weights

It’s always important to be cautious when increasing the difficulty of an exercise.

When it comes to running with weights, you should start with light weights to assess how much it impacts you.

You might find that it affects your natural running style or that you become exhausted too quickly.

A weighted vest is probably the safest option for running with weights, so give that a go if you have never used running weights before.

Make sure your vest is well fitted and that the weights aren’t moving around as you run.

When you use the vest, start with light weights and do your best to run at a normal pace.

See how you feel after a week of running and make adjustments if necessary.

Be very cautious if using heavy weight as they can place a significant amount of strain on the joints.

Even if you are running short sprints and working on power, it’s usually best to avoid adding more than 10% of your body weight in weights.

I hope you found The Benefits Of Running With Weights informative.

Stay tuned for more health and fitness articles!

Stephen Coleclough
Stephen Coleclough

Stephen Coleclough is a personal trainer and online fitness/nutrition coach from the UK. He loves heavy squats, smashing PRs and bacon sandwiches. You can follow him on Twitter at ColecloughPT.

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