Skip to Content

Running with a weight vest: 11 benefits + do’s and don’ts

Share

If you’re ready to take your training to the next level then running with a weight vest may just be for you.

There are many benefits to running with a weight vest. Not only does it make your muscles stronger, it improves your form and posture and improves your running speed and performance.

But where do you begin when it comes to running with a weighted vest? What are the benefits and do’s and don’ts?

In this guide we’ll explore:

  • What is a weight vest?
  • Are you ready to run with a weight vest?
  • 11 benefits of running with a weight vest
  • How to run with a weight vest safely
  • Where to buy a weight vest
  • Running with a weight vest Q&A

Ready?

Let’s get started!

running with a weighted vest

What is a weight vest?

A weighted vest is a specially created workout vest that includes weights in order to increase the overall weight of the vest.

Weighted vests are typically used for activities such as walking, hiking, running, exercise, fitness drills and more.

They come in a variety of different weights depending your abilities and fitness goals.

Wearing a weighted vest is considered a low impact option if you’re wanting to improve your fitness levels.

Related: How to run faster for longer: 8 ways to pick up your speed

Are you ready to run with a weight vest?

Before you consider running with a weight vest, you’ll need to assess whether you’re ready to run with one.

If you’re new to running, have never trained with weights before, or have an injury, then running with a weighted vest is not recommended for you.

A weighted vest essentially makes the activity you perform more difficult, so make sure you’re comfortable with the basics before deciding to run with a weighted vest. 

In order to run safely, it is advised you start running without a weighted vest first and build up your strength that way until you’re ready to run with one.

Related: Strength training for runners: A complete guide

running with a weighted vest

11 benefits of running with a weight vest

There are many benefits of running with a weight vest, and by doing so you may see improvements to your overall fitness and running performance. 

Here are 11 benefits of running with a weight vest:

#1 Builds strength and muscular endurance

When you increase the load put on your muscles, they are forced to work harder which builds strength and muscular endurance.

Your muscles will adapt to the higher weight and will soon get stronger which will benefit your running endurance and performance.

#2 Builds muscle

Running with a weight vest is seen as a form of resistance training, and resistance training has many well-known benefits, particularly for its ability to build muscle.

By wearing a weight vest on your morning or afternoon run, your workout will become more difficult and intense, and will help to build muscle faster.

#3 Burns fat

Wearing a weighted vest is a great way to burn calories and torch the fat.

Even carrying out daily activities such as walking with a weighted vest will help you lose fat faster.

According to a 2020 study on 69 participants, wearing a weighted vest resulted in a compensatory body weight decrease and helped people lose weight.

#4 Strengthens bones

Bone strength is important when it comes to warding off diseases such as osteoarthritis, and wearing a weighted vest has been shown to increase the strength and density of your bones.

Studies have also shown that wearing a weighted vest speeds up bone growth and formulation. 

#5 Builds endurance

By wearing a weighted vest, your muscles will compensate for the added weight and will soon become accustomed to the extra load.

Over time this will improve your endurance and you will soon be able to run further through regular training with your weighted vest.

#6 Improves balance

By adding extra weight on your upper body, the force of gravity pushes down on your body and your body has to work harder to balance.

This in turn has positive effects on your balance, and over time through regular training you will see improvements to your balance. 

#7 Improves posture

Your core muscles are integral to running form and posture as they help you to keep a strong and stable position for longer. 

The additional weight from the weighted vest on your upper body will make your core muscles stronger, therefore benefitting your posture.

#8 Improves speed

According to a 2014 study, wearing a weighted vest helps to improve speed and running performance by up to 9%. 

When you perform speed and agility drills with a weighted vest, this can have significant positive effects on your performance.

#9 Improves lung capacity and V02 Max

Running is a cardiovascular exercise and by wearing a weighted vest you will see even more improvements to your lung capacity and V02 Max – that is how much oxygen your body can consume. 

The additional resistance from the weighted vest will cause physiological changes, strengthening your lungs and heart muscles as a result.

#10 Adds variety

Like speed training and hill repeats, training with a weighted vest adds variety into your training plan, and more importantly varies the intensity level of your training.

Variety and intensity are keys to success when it comes to becoming a stronger and faster runner. 

#11 Boosts your confidence

Exercise has many benefits for your physical and mental health, especially your confidence and self-esteem. 

When you run with a weighted vest, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’ve had a great workout. 

running with a weighted vest

How to run with a weight vest safely

Safety is paramount when running with a weight vest. If not used correctly, the additional weight could cause serious damage and harm to your body.

Here are the do’s and don’ts when it comes to running with a weight vest:

Do:

  • Test drive a weight vest before running with one. 
  • Tailor the weight of the vest with your running ability and goals.
  • Run with a weight vest over shorter distances at an easy pace. 

Don’t:

  • Run with a weight vest if you’ve never run before or never lifted weights before.
  • Run with a weight vest if you have a serious injury.
  • Wear a weight vest all day.
  • Run with a weight vest over long distances.
  • Wear a weight vest that is too heavy for you. 

Related: Running 2 miles a day: Benefits + how to do it

Where to buy a weight vest

There are many different weighted vests on the market, ranging in size, shape, colour and weight.

Depending on your ability and fitness goals, you may choose to go with a lightweight vest (between 7-10kg), a midweight vest (between 10-20kg) or a heavyweight vest (20kg plus). 

The key is to find a weight range that you will feel comfortable wearing, not just walking in but running in also.

Here is our selection of the best weighted vests:

Related: 7 of the best websites to buy affordable running clothes

Running with a weight vest Q&A

Q: Does running with a weight vest make you faster?

A: Yes! Regular training with a weighted vest can have benefits on your speed and running performance. 

In fact, one study showed that running with a weight vest can improve speed by up to 9%. 

Q: Does running with a weight vest build muscle?

A: Yes! Running with a weight vest is seen as a form of resistance training, and resistance training has many well-known benefits, particularly for its ability to build muscle.

By wearing a weight vest on your daily run, your workout will become more difficult and intense, and will encourage muscle growth at a faster level. 

Q: Does running with a weight vest help you to lose weight?

A: Yes! Wearing a weighted vest is a great way to burn calories and torch the fat. 

Even carrying out daily activities such as walking with a weighted vest will help you lose fat faster.

Related: Running in the rain: What to wear + 10 actionable tips

Share