Maximize Your Run: The Ultimate Guide to Weighted Vest Training For Runners

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

Are you curious about giving a weighted vest a try during your runs?  You’re in the right place!

Weighted vests have been gaining popularity recently as an effective resistance training tool. Strapping one on can instantly elevate your workout intensity, whether you’re into sprints or bodyweight exercises. And hey, they’re not just for soldiers – you can find them in sports stores or order online.

But, before you dive into the world of weighted vests, there are a few things to consider, like features, benefits, and safety. No worries, though. In this guide, we’ll help you find the perfect weighted vest for running and training, and you’ll learn all about:

  • The perks of using weighted vests
  • Different types of weighted vests
  • How to make the most of your weighted vest
  • Choosing the right weighted vest for you
  • Tips for starting your training

Ready to get started? Let’s go

What is A Weighted Vest For Running?

Imagine strapping on a vest-like garment over your workout attire during training. Well, that’s a weighted vest for you. But what’s the deal with it?

As the name suggests, it’s all about adding extra resistance and intensity to your workouts. You see, this vest is designed to make your workouts tougher, pushing your cardio and resistance conditioning to the next level.

It’s a bit like ankle weights, but instead of your legs, the extra load is centered on your core. When you put it on, it drapes over your shoulders, back, chest, and core, just like any other vest you’d wear. And here’s the beauty of it – it stays snug and secure, with no bouncing around or shifting while you’re working out. Whether you’re running, doing intense bodyweight exercises, or whatever – it’s right there with you.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting – you can adjust the weight. The more weight you add, the more resistance you’ll feel. So, if you’re wondering how much weight to use, most experts suggest starting with a vest that’s about 5 percent of your body weight and then working your way up from there. But we’ll dive into this a bit more later.

And the big question – what does a weighted vest actually do for you? Well, it’s a versatile beast. It can help you build strength, shed those extra pounds, and boost your endurance. But the real magic happens in how you choose to use it, and we’ll get into that soon.

Let’s unpack this first.

The Benefits of Weighted Vest Workouts

Here are a few things you stand to gain when running with a weighted vest.

Increased Intensity

First and foremost, this piece of gear is all about cranking up the intensity of your workouts. It’s like a friendly (or not-so-friendly) reminder to your body that it’s time to step up the game. So, whether you’re into running, bodyweight exercises, or any other form of physical activity, that weighted vest will make sure you’re giving it your all. You’ll be pushing your limits, and that’s where the magic happens.

Improved Cardiovascular Function

Now, let’s talk cardiovascular function – VO2max, to be precise. This fancy term stands for the maximum amount of oxygen your cardiovascular system can gobble up during your workout. The harder you work, the more oxygen you need to keep going, right?

Well, that’s where the weighted vest comes in. It cranks up the difficulty level, making your muscles work even harder. And guess what? That extra workload means your body needs more oxygen to keep up. So, using a weighted vest isn’t just about pushing your muscles – it’s also a fantastic workout for your cardiovascular system.

Improved Speed

Now, let’s talk about speed – the need for speed, that is. If you’ve got a need for speed or want to enhance your overall athletic explosiveness, a weighted vest can be your trusty sidekick.

I’m not just making this up – there’s scientific research to back it up. Imagine long-distance runners donning weighted vests during their training sessions. What did the studies show? Well, they were able to boost their speed by approximately three percent after incorporating weighted vest training into their routines.

Here’s how it works: when you slap on that weighted vest, you’re essentially telling your body to kick it up a notch. You’re adding an extra challenge to your workouts, pushing your muscles to generate more force. And guess what happens when you shed that extra weight? You’ll feel lighter, more powerful, and, ultimately, faster. It’s like a secret weapon for improving your speed and agility.

Additional resource  – Your guide to running belts

Burn More Calories

Let’s dive into calorie burn – the part that often gets people excited! Wearing a weighted vest can supercharge your calorie-burning game because of the increased intensity it brings to your workouts.

Imagine this scenario: two runners hitting the pavement. One weighs in at 160 pounds, and the other tips the scales at 180 pounds. Both run at a challenging pace, completing a 30-minute session. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The 160-pound runner will torch about 460 calories during their run, while the 180-pound counterpart will sizzle nearly 500 calories.

What’s the secret sauce behind this calorie-burning difference? Well, it’s simple physics in action.

Moving a heavier object, like a 180-pound runner with a weighted vest, requires more energy. When you’re rocking a weighted vest, you’re essentially making your body heavier, and as a result, your muscles have to work harder. This extra effort translates into burning more calories, and over time, those extra calories can really add up!

Increased Bone Density

Now, let’s talk about bone health – something we all need, especially as we age. Weighted vests aren’t just about cardio and muscle gains; they can also be your secret weapon for boosting bone density.

Here’s the scoop: Resistance exercises are fantastic for improving bone density and strength. And guess what? Wearing a weighted vest is like having a personal bone-boosting coach. It provides that extra resistance your bones need to get stronger.

But don’t just take my word for it – science backs this up! Research has shown that incorporating a weighted vest into your regular exercise routine can help prevent hip bone loss in postmenopausal women. So, not only are you getting those killer workouts, but you’re also giving your bones some much-needed love.

Better Options

Weighted vests are indeed a fantastic choice when it comes to adding resistance to your workouts. They’re far safer and more effective than other options like wrist, ankle, or hand weights.

Let me break it down for you:

  • Safety First: Strapping weights to your wrists or ankles can be risky. It puts direct stress on those areas, increasing the risk of injury. Plus, it can mess with your running form.
  • Balanced Resistance: Weighted vests distribute the load evenly across your body, maintaining proper posture. This means you can focus on your workout without compromising form.

So, if you want a safer and more effective way to amp up your workouts, a weighted vest is the way to go!

The Downsides Of Using A Weighted Vest For Training

Just like any exercise equipment, weighted vests have certain downsides as well, which are key to pay attention to.

All in all, the risk degree depends on how you use the weighted vest.

Bad Form And Injuries

Imagine you’re rocking bad exercise form while donning a weighted vest. It’s like inviting trouble to your workout party. Poor posture, a curved back, or any form of slip-up can spell disaster. Your muscles and joints bear the brunt of it, and injury might just be around the corner. Yikes!

Now, let’s talk about rushing things. Strapping on too much weight too soon is a classic no-no. Your muscles and joints need time to adapt to this new challenge. Otherwise, you’re rolling out the red carpet for injury. Plus, bad form combined with added weight doesn’t do your spine any favors. Your natural spinal curves are meant to handle a specific load but throw bad form into the mix, and those curves start playing hide and seek. Hello, back pain!

Make Injuries Worse

If you’ve got any ongoing issues with your joints and muscles that bear weight, adding a weighted vest to the mix might not be the best idea. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire. The extra load could crank up the pain and discomfort, especially if you’re nursing a back injury, dealing with knee pain, or any other weight-bearing woes.

Now, if you’re still eager to give it a go, here’s the deal. Before strapping on that vest, it’s a good call to check in with your trusty doctor. Get the green light, so you’re not diving headfirst into potential trouble. Or, better yet, start with a lightweight vest and keep a close eye on how your body responds.

At the first sign of pain, turn up the volume, hit the brakes, and reassess. Your well-being should always come first, after all!

Not For Everyone

If you’re just starting out on your fitness journey, a weighted vest might not be the best companion for you. These babies mean business and are best suited for folks who already have a solid fitness foundation and want to kick things up a notch.

Strap on a weighted vest, and your cardiovascular and muscular systems are in for a wild ride. That’s what makes them so effective, but it’s also why they’re not for the faint of heart (or body). If you’ve got a history of injuries in your hips, knees, feet, or ankles, consider this your red flag. Every extra pound piles on the pressure, increasing the risk of injury.

How To Choose The Best Weighted Vest for Running

With so many weighted vest options out there, finding the perfect one for your needs can feel like a daunting task. But fear not! We’ve got some key measures to help you navigate the maze of choices and pick the ideal weighted vest.

Let’s dive in and make your decision a breeze.

How Heavy Should a Weighted Vest Be for Running

If this is your first rodeo with a weighted vest, do yourself a favor and start small. There’s a whole range of weights to choose from, usually between 10 to 80 pounds. But don’t go strapping on a behemoth just yet.

Your weighted vest should be your workout partner, not your wrestling opponent. So, for running and HIIT training, aim for a vest that’s about 5 to 10 pounds. It’s enough to give you a challenge without crushing your spirit.

Need a specific weight?

Here’s a handy trick: Pick a vest that’s about 5% of your body weight. For instance, if you tip the scales at 160 pounds, go for an 8 to 12-pound vest. Makes sense, right?

Once you’re suited up, hop on that treadmill and start with a gentle jog for 15 to 20 minutes. This way, you can ease into it, ensuring that your pace and intensity stay on point. Plus, you’ll get the hang of breathing with the extra load on your chest and core.

Get The Right Fit

Let’s talk about how that weighted vest should snug up to you like a good old friend.

Before you embark on a sprint or dive into those bodyweight exercises with a weighted vest, it’s crucial to get the fit spot on. Imagine your vest as a superhero cape; it should be snug but not so tight that you can’t breathe or move comfortably.

When you’re hustling, that vest should stay put—no wild bouncing or acrobatics here. It should be like your trusty sidekick, sticking by your side throughout your workout.

The weight in your vest should feel like it’s giving you a warm, even hug across your chest and torso. No lopsided surprises or uneven distribution, please!

Opt for an adjustable weighted vest if you can. These gems come with straps that let you fine-tune the fit to match your body’s unique curves and contours. Just like shopping for running shoes, trying on different styles and shapes is the key to finding the perfect fit.

Based on Activity

You can follow these recommendations based on activity type.

For Running

Your weighted vest for running should be like a supportive friend – light on the weight capacity but always there when you need it. Look for one with reflective material to keep you visible, especially during those early morning or late-night runs.

Just like when you’re easing into a new friendship, start your weighted vest journey with one that’s about 5 percent of your total body weight.

Before you dive into adding that extra weight to your runs, take your weighted vest for a leisurely walk. Test the waters and see how your body responds to the added challenge.

Your weighted vest should be like a second skin. Choose one that fits like a glove for walking, jogging, and running. It should be snug but not restrictive, allowing you to move with ease.

For Bodyweight Training

Alright, when it comes to bodyweight training with a weighted vest, think of it like choosing the perfect workout buddy:

Your weighted vest for bodyweight training should be like a personal trainer that grows with you. Look for one that’s adjustable, with plenty of pockets and weights for added resistance. Think of it as a vest that can keep up with your progress.

Just like a workout buddy who doesn’t let you suffocate during exercises, your vest should have a slender design and good ventilation. You don’t want to feel like you’re swimming in your own sweat, right? So, breathable material is a must.

Your workout buddy needs to be strong and reliable. Choose a vest made from durable materials. After all, you want a partner that can withstand the rigors of your training sessions.

When it comes to resistance, aim for a vest that tops out at around 80 pounds. This way, you’ll have plenty of room to challenge yourself and see those gains.

Secure The Weight

Imagine strapping on a weighted vest and then suddenly feeling like you’re on a wobbly tightrope. Not fun, right? Well, that’s what can happen if you don’t properly secure the weight in your vest.

It needs to be snug and evenly spread across your body. Any sudden shifts or wobbles could lead to a less-than-graceful fall, and we definitely don’t want that during your workout. So, check that weight and make sure it’s your trusty workout buddy, not your saboteur!

Consider Your Body Type

We’re all wonderfully unique, and our weighted vests should reflect that. These vests come in different shapes and sizes, just like us. Some are tailored for those with a slimmer build, while others are perfect for the broader, stronger shoulders out there.

Ladies, you’re in luck, too! Some vests are designed with your curves in mind, offering the perfect balance of support and freedom of movement. It’s like a personalized workout gear fitting session.

And remember, comfort is the name of the game here, so don’t let that vest smother your chest or squeeze your armpits. It’s all about finding the perfect fit so you can conquer your workout in style!


Just like choosing the perfect workout outfit, selecting the right material for your weighted vest is crucial. Look for a vest that’s built to withstand your toughest workouts, one that can take a beating without falling apart. It should be sweat-resistant so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a soggy sponge during your workout.

And don’t forget about tear resistance; we want that vest to last, right? If you’re worried about turning into a sweat machine, opt for a vest with extra ventilation and breathability. A thinner vest that doesn’t cover your entire torso can help keep you dry and comfy during your training sessions.

Listen to your body

Here’s a nugget of wisdom for you – always listen to your body. It’s like your personal workout coach. If something feels off, it probably is. Your body knows best. So, if you’re experiencing any unusual discomfort or pain, stop what you’re doing and give it some attention. And if those muscle or joint pains just won’t quit, it’s time to call in the big guns – your doctor. Don’t be shy; it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your body is your most valuable workout tool, after all!

How To Use it

You got many options when it comes to training with a weighted vest—you can walk, run, sprint, or simply do bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, push-ups, etc.

Here are three weighted vest workout routines to try.

The Weighted Vest Sprint Workout

The Weighted Vest Sprint Workout: If you’re ready to kick your running speed up a notch, the weighted vest sprint workout is your secret weapon. Here’s how to do it:

Warm-Up Right: Start with a proper 10-minute dynamic warm-up. Don’t rush this – your muscles need to get ready for action. Take your time if needed.

Unweighted Speed Burst: Before strapping on the vest, do 2-3 sprints at your absolute maximum speed. These should be short and sweet, lasting only 20-30 seconds each.

Add the Vest: Now, it’s time to put on that trusty weighted vest. Get ready to give it your all! Perform 4-5 sprints, running as fast as you possibly can for 20-30 seconds each.

Strip It Off: Feeling the burn? Good! After those weighted sprints, take off the vest and do two more sprints without the added weight. Feel the difference? Your body is getting stronger with each sprint!

Cool Down: Finish the workout with a 5-minute slow jog. This will help bring your heart rate back down to normal and prevent any sudden stops.

The Weighted Vest CrossFit WOD

Get ready to amp up your CrossFit game with the weighted vest. This high-intensity workout will push your limits. Here’s the drill:

Exercise Lineup: Put on your weighted vest and perform the following exercises. You’ve got 30 minutes to conquer as many rounds as possible. Keep track of your reps because you’ll want to beat your own record next time.

  • 200-Meter Run: Start with a quick 200-meter run. Feel the extra resistance with that vest on!
  • 20 Push-Ups: Drop down for 20 push-ups. Keep that core tight and form on point.
  • 30 Squats: Stand back up and knock out 30 squats. Weighted squats for the win!
  • Max Pull-Ups: Hit the pull-up bar and go for max pull-ups. Your back and arms will thank you later.
  • Ten Burpees: Finish it off with ten burpees. Push through the burn!

Weighted Vest Long Walks

If you’re new to weighted vests, walking or hiking with one is a fantastic way to ease into it. You’ll get your body accustomed to the added resistance without sacrificing your form.

Pay close attention to your form. Maintain proper arm motion and stride. Your walking form is your foundation, so keep it strong.

Depending on your fitness level, aim for a 45 to 60-minute walk if you’re just starting out. If you can handle more, go for it, but always prioritize safety.

Engage your core throughout your walk. This not only helps with stability but also reduces strain on your spine.

As you progress, consider adding more weight to your vest or extending your walking time. Your body will thank you for the extra effort.

How To Choose The Best Weighted Vest for Running – The Conclusion

There you have it! Adding weight vest training to your workout routine shouldn’t be that complicated. It’s just a matter of choosing the best weight vest and then following sensible training guidelines with progression. The rest is just details.

Please feel free to leave your comments and questions in the section below.

In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.

Keep training strong.

David D.

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