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Running in a Vest with Added Weight: Is It Beneficial?

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  • Post last modified:September 26, 2023

Run more swiftly. Go for a greater duration. Take it on the trail. Conquer hills. Give a fartlek a try. Incorporate sprints. There is an unlimited number of ways to add excitement to a run — but have you ever experimented with running while wearing a weighted vest?

This fitness device (previously exclusive to combat training) has gained popularity among runners. Just so you know, weighted vests are exactly what their name implies: “They increase weight, plain and simple,” affirms Vinnie Miliano, a running coach certified by RRCA. “They are a tool to introduce variation to your training. Both sprinters and endurance athletes can reap benefits from their usage,” he adds.

Advantages of Running In a Weighted Vest

The general objective of going for a run with a weighted vest is to add extra weight to your body. Since you are moving more weight with each stride, your body must adapt to this additional weight by becoming stronger, explains Miliano.

“The added resistance implies that your body has to work harder,” remarks Miliano. “Your heart must pump harder to supply more oxygen to the muscles, resulting in a faster increase in your heart rate,” he elaborates. This, in turn, can aid in enhancing your cardiovascular fitness.

Miliano recalls donning a weighted run vest while training for his first Half Ironman triathlon. “It assisted me in developing the leg strength necessary for the running portion and contributed to strengthening my cardio for the bike and swim,” he states. How’s that for a double victory?

Who Should Give Running In a Weighted Vest a Try?

Running with a weighted vest is an advanced maneuver, so if you have recently started running (or exercising in general), it is advisable to refrain from using a weighted vest, advises Miliano. “If your body is not accustomed to the strenuous activity, chances are that wearing a weight vest will do more harm than good,” he points out.

Furthermore, if you have any existing knee, lower back, or ankle injuries, weight vests are likely not suitable for you, according to Tony Carvajal, a certified CrossFit trainer with RSP Nutrition.

Introducing the additional mass to your physique increases the pressure exerted on your feet, ankles, and knees. This burden generates a more powerful effect while walking, thus if you have prior ailments or perceive your ankles or knees as feeble, refraining from utilizing a vest is advisable,” he clarifies.

That being said, if you’re seeking a enjoyable method to increase core, lower body, and cardiovascular strength, a weighted running vest can serve as a beneficial tool. However, refrain from excessive use in the beginning. Instead, gradually incorporate the accessory into your routine to allow your body to adapt and acknowledge the new stimulus, as advised by Carvajal. “Commence by incorporating it into a simple run that covers about a quarter of your usual distance,” he suggests.

Top Weighted Running Vests

A brief note on sizing: No matter which weighted vest you purchase, it should fit snugly to prevent excessive movement with each stride, but not so tight that you feel restricted in breathing. The good news? All of the weighted running vests listed below are adjustable, so the one you choose can be securely adjusted to fit your body.

Adurance Weighted Vest Workout Equipment

Amazon

According to Carvajal, you should start with a vest that is only 5 to 10 percent of your body weight. Therefore, this option, weighing just 6 and 10 pounds, is an excellent choice for beginners. If you have ever run with a vest-style hydration pack, this streamlined weighted running vest will provide a similar experience. Its design and material are highly breathable, making it less cumbersome compared to the vests often worn by CrossFitters during the Murph hero WOD. Furthermore, due to its short length, you need not worry about chafing on your lower back, belly button, or hips, even if you have a short torso.

RUNFast/Max Adjustable Weighted Vest

Amazon

Thanks to its reasonable price, RUNFast/Max is the favorite of runners in search of a durable running weight vest without breaking the bank. It is also a popular piece of CrossFit equipment for home gyms. This vest is the go-to option for Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer at Maple Holistics. “In my opinion, RunFast/Max is more comfortable and offers a better fit than any other weight vests,” he states. It can be loaded with weights ranging from 12 to 140 pounds (with the price increasing as the weight increases). Additionally, it features a phone pocket, water-bottle strap, and a hole to thread your wired headphones through.

Everlast Weighted Vest with Reflective Gray

Target

Infuse a splash of color with this gray and purple running weight vest from Everlast. This vest provides adjustable waistbands to ensure a snug fit, which is crucial since loose vests can lead to injuries, according to Miliano.

If a waistcoat is excessively relaxed, it’s perilous because it can disrupt your equilibrium,” he elucidates. Moreover, this waistcoat provides luminous particulars so you can securely participate in a jog amidst the crack of dawn or twilight when illumination is still insufficient.

Empower Weighted Vest for Women

Amazon

If you possess a larger bosom, this choice is for you. The contoured x-shaped silhouette is specifically designed to accommodate a substantial bosom, so you feel as though you can respire while running in a weight vest. Unlike some other vests, which have removable weights, the sand is stitched directly into this vest. That means the weight (8 pounds total) is perfectly distributed. Bonus: It has a compartment that’s spacious enough to hold an iPhone.

MIR PRO Weighted Vest

Amazon

In one word: Intense. This isn’t for the runner who wants to make running just slightly more difficult. Commencing at 45 pounds, this vest transforms your run into a holistic strength training workout. (This brand also offers vests that weigh up to 140 pounds.) It’s crucial for runners to strike a balance between running and strength training and stability training, but due to its weight, begin by wearing it on a track while becoming familiar with the load.

Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO Weighted Vest

Amazon

In terms of design, this weight vest is unlike any other available. It fastens to your body with a central zipper and two drawstrings, which allow for side ventilation. And the vest itself is very slim, so you won’t feel like a runner in a life vest. Worth mentioning: While the models in the marketing material of this product are shirtless, it’s best to wear a shirt underneath to avoid abrasion. (Don’t worry about getting it sweaty; the material is odor resistant. Bless.)

Cross101 Weighted Vest

Amazon

Let’s be honest, exercising in camo can make you feel incredibly resilient. This piece is suitable for running because it evenly disperses weight in the front and back, and also features adjustable shoulder straps so you can position the weight higher or lower on your bosom. It comes in weights as light as 12 pounds and as heavy as 140 pounds, but the weights come in 3-pound increments and are detachable.

5.11 Tactical TacTec Plate Carrier Weight Vest

5.11 Tactical

5.11 Tactical has established its reputation as the brand for weight vests for CrossFit athletes. For one, they look incredibly awesome — but they’re also constructed to ensure high performance. This vest specifically has cushioned shoulder straps and is extremely secure. (Seriously, I once wore this during a workout with box jumps, a 5K run, and pull-ups, and it stayed in place!)

Just a reminder: The weight plates are available for purchase separately, so you will need to buy them as well. It is the most costly item on the list, but it is a worthwhile investment if you plan on using it.

Rogue Condor Sentry Plate Carrier Weight Vest

Rogue

This Rogue vest is possibly the biggest competitor to the 5.11 Tactical brand due to its brand recognition. Jacqueline Kasen, a certified personal trainer and director of group fitness at Anatomy in Miami, states that this vest is her preferred option because of its highly customizable fit. “There are numerous adjustable straps which allow me to tailor it perfectly to my body. Additionally, there are plenty of buckles, making it easier to put on and take off,” she affirms. Like the previous vest, the weights need to be purchased separately. However, the advantage of this is that as you become stronger, you can buy heavier weight plates to continue pushing your body.