Recently, the training industry has seen an increase in workouts that include the addition of weight vests to programing. Is it valid? Does running with a weight vest make you faster? You can buy one of the best weight vests for running online or in sporting goods stores, but do they work? There was a time when weight vests were used only by the military or those really hardcore athletes.
We know there is value for military personnel to train with heavy equipment to prepare for what they may face in battle. A similar thought process has transferred into many different training styles.
Some workout methods, like CrossFit, have athletes train with odd objects of varying weights with the intention of varying training to prepare the body for anything. While this is a highly debated topic, we are going to present you with some facts along with running with a weight vest pros and cons.
Does Weight Vest Improve Running?
There have been mixed feelings when discussing the ability of a weight vest to improve running, speed, and power. The reason for the mixed feelings is that there has not been a tremendous amount of research. However, the research does show there is some amount of benefit to running with a weight vest as long as you do not allow it to impact the mechanics of your movement negatively.
As with anything, there are many positives and a few negatives associated with running with a weight vest. When an athlete trains in a weight vest, the body gets used to the load and works harder to accommodate for it. Once they take off the weight vest, the body is still going to push as hard as when wearing the vest, which helps increase speed and power while running.
When reviewing running with weight vest pros and cons, one of the common themes was that a runner may not be strong enough to run with a weight vest.
“Being too weak was a theme of another study that looked at leg stiffness during loaded running.”PJ Newton of strategicathlete.com
Basically, if your legs are not strong enough, a weighted vest may impact the way you run. For example, these athletes increase the angle of their torso, making them inefficient, or their foot takes the brunt of the impact and force while running. The irony is, many people go running with a weight vest to build muscle – so running at a weight you can manage is a great idea.
Can You Build Legs With a Weight Vest?
Wearing a weight vest is one of the most efficient ways to perform movements that are loaded. Most people can handle more weight up top, such as with a weight vest, than they can lower on their body. Wearing a weight vest transforms a bodyweight drill into a strength and leg builder.
A weight vest allows you to keep more weight close to your own natural center of gravity. This training method is excellent for someone who either does not have enough grip strength to hold onto heavy weight, such as a farmer’s carry.
For example, instead of carrying over 100 pounds, the athlete can wear a 50 pound vest and carry the other 50. In addition, it is ideal for someone that may not be able to front or back squat with a loaded bar but can wear a heavy weight vest to enjoy some of the same benefits.
Wearing a vest is not the same as a heavy front squat, but it adds significant weight to squats, lunges, split squats, and split lunges. An athlete can still work all those muscles and build strength in the legs and glutes but not have pain related to improper form or holding onto a barbell. In addition to considering should I run with a weighted vest, an athlete should also consider a round of squats and lunges.
Weighted Vest Sprint Workout
As long as you are a strong runner with good form and proper mechanics, a weighted vest sprint workout may be for you. You want to ensure that your legs are strong enough to handle the extra load without compromising your technique. If you notice your form is breaking down or you have a weird ache or pain, pause to recover and reset yourself.
When thinking about does running with a weight vest build muscle, you can do some tests with your own workouts to see how wearing a vest impacts you. You can add in a weighted run every other week without hurting yourself and negatively impacting your pace.
When you run three times a week, add in a weight vest to see how it impacts you and your run. In the first week, add the weight vest to a short interval run and to a tempo run in the second week. During the third week, add the weight vest to a long interval run. From here, you can see how it impacts the times of your none weight vest runs.
While most of the studies and evidence are inconclusive when answering the question, does running with a weight vest make you faster, each athlete responds a little differently. Ultimately, you may see minor improvements to your pace, overall speed, and power, but you may also negatively impact your technique and mechanics.
Therefore, there is no harm in using a weight vest for some of your runs to see if you can improve as long as you ensure that your technique remains on point and you do not have any weird aches or pains during your run.