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Does a Weighted Vest Make You Faster?

does a weighted vest make you faster

Resistance training with weight vests has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is common to see these vests everywhere, and you can purchase them at sporting goods stores and online. Runners who run with weight vests are sometimes termed, military runners.

But does a weighted vest make you faster? Well it depends on the distance you are running with a weighted vest.

Weighted vests are just fitted vests packed with appropriate amounts of weight, so when you put one on, you immediately feel the weight added to your shoulders. Using a weighted vest, you can target specific body parts for calorie-burning workouts. By wearing a weighted vest, you can increase the work your muscles do during running, lunging, and squatting.

Does a Weighted Vest Make You Faster?

What is a Weighted Vest?

running with the GORUCK plate carrier weighted vest

In essence, a weighted vest is simply a vest that is either made of heavy materials or equipped with small pockets where sandbags, steel bars, or other weighted objects can be placed. Weighted vests are typically used for bodyweight exercises, walking, distance running, and speed, agility, and quickness drills.

Studies have shown that using this extra load during sprinting or speed work causes your lower-body muscles to generate more force. As a result, runners can improve their strength, power, and acceleration and their speed, power, and agility.

Does a Weighted Vest Make You Faster? – Here’s What Studies Say

Using lightweight weighted vests for cardio exercise has enhanced strength, endurance, and stamina. However, you don’t need to wear the vest throughout your workout to see results. Using weighted vests during running warm-ups increases peak runner speed and reduces leg stiffness.

This study aimed to determine if weighted vest strides could improve endurance performance and to identify possible neuromuscular and metabolic mediators. Over 5-7 days, 11 well-trained distance runners crossed from an experimental to a controlled trial. 

Before each trial, athletes warm up with 10 minutes of self-paced jogging, 5 minutes of submaximal running, and six 10-second strides with or without a weighted vest. To determine leg stiffness and other neuromuscular characteristics, runners performed jumps after a 10-minute recovery period. After a five-minute submaximal run, an incremental treadmill test was conducted to determine peak running speed.

In the weighted-vest condition, there was a very large increase in peak running speed. During the trial, leg stiffness increased moderately, and the running economy improved significantly; a small-moderate amount also reduced cardiorespiratory measures.

Therefore, weighted vests prime leg stiffness and run more efficiently. As a result of the associated major effect on treadmill running speed, competitive endurance will also be enhanced. 

Based on these studies, you can say that weighted vests speed you up. However, starting light and running a shorter distance is important if you are running or walking for the first time with added weight. You should take more time to gradually adjust to the extra weight and prevent injuries.

Are Weighted Vests Effective at Improving Balance when Running?

Weighted vests can improve posture whether you run with them or work out with them. As your upper body becomes heavier, your stabilizing muscles will be forced to engage to keep you upright. Having a weighted vest on makes your body utilize proprioceptors to counterbalance the extra weight. 

Specifically, proprioceptors are sensory receptors that receive information about position and movement within the body. When you wear a weighted vest, your proprioceptors have to work overtime to prevent you from falling. When you remove the weighted vest, your body will be more capable of balancing. As you age, this improved balance becomes increasingly valuable in everyday life tasks.

Why You Should Run in a Weighted Vest

Running with more weight makes you work harder, forcing you to exert more effort. As a result of exercising, your muscles, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems work harder. The stimulus will cause your body to burn more calories and force a greater adaptation.

Weighted vests can also improve your running posture, muscular endurance, and running speed. Putting on a weighted vest can also provide health benefits. Your running workouts will be more comfortable and convenient with this method. Is there any other way to add 7kg-40kg to your body without keeping your arm free? There is nothing better than a weighted vest.

Tips for Running with a Weighted Vest

Decide what weight is appropriate for you. Different weights are available in weighted vests for a good reason. Weight is not the same for everyone, especially when it comes to running. Make sure you choose a weight that challenges you but still allows you to complete your work. Remember that this is a training tool, not for torture!

Ensure a proper fit. Check the fit of your weighted vest before heading out on a 5K run or attempting an endurance event. Ideally, your weighted vest should fit snugly around your body without being too tight.

Make sure the vest you choose is comfortable. While running, ensure your weighted vest does not bounce about on your chest or move from side to side.

Mindset is everything. Wearing a weighted vest will change the way you run. You’ll have to work hard. Start thinking like a winner. Be focused, think like an athlete, and don’t give up. Take on the challenge with enthusiasm!

Pocket vests are a good choice. There are weighted vests with large pockets that you can choose from. Your keys, phone, and other essentials can be stored in this pocket, so you can run hands-free.

Make it a strength training workout. Adding a weighted vest to your resistance training can make it more effective. Whether you do push-ups, lunges, planks, squats, or jump rope, it goes perfectly with the exercises. Additionally, weighted vests are useful for working out with free weights and dumbbells.

This isn’t just for workouts. Are you too busy to go to the gym? Nothing to worry about! Whether you’re cleaning the house or cooking, wear your weighted vest!

Use it for cardio. When it comes to walking or running, a weighted vest is a perfect addition. Take your vest with you on your next bike ride or indoor cycling session.

Bigger isn’t always better. Weighted vests over 50 pounds can increase your risk of injury, especially if you are new to the sport. Heavy vests can also fatigue you more quickly, leading to sloppy form. Initially, wear a vest of about 5 percent of your body weight.

FAQs about Running with a Weighted Vest

What is the best way to use a weighted vest while running?

If you want to increase your running speed, try running sprints while wearing the vest with no weight added. Watch how it affects your form and ensure it doesn’t shift around. Once your training sessions are complete, slowly add weight, no more than three pounds at a time. Keep your sprinting speed and repetitions the same as before.

Do you think anyone should run with a weighted vest?

Running with a weighted vest is probably not recommended if you recently had spine or heart surgery. Furthermore, if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or any other condition that makes breathing difficult without additional weight, you’ll probably want to eliminate the extra weight.

Are weighted vests beneficial to athletes?

Wearing a weighted vest can increase balance, coordination, and explosive power for agility exercises. Cardio, breathing, and muscle hypertrophy are all increased when exercising with simulated higher body weight. By doing this, you develop your endurance while burning more calories. After training with the vest for a while, the movements become easier without the vest because it puts more stress on the entire body. For athletes to improve their performance during competition, this is especially beneficial.

Are weighted vests effective for losing weight?

Running with a weighted vest burns calories just like other forms of exercise like walking, running, cycling, weightlifting, and others. 

The diet and lifestyle you lead are important to long-term weight loss, and they are more complex than simply focusing on calories in versus calories out. The amount of weight and stress you add to your runs will help you burn more calories, but other factors, such as your body composition, will affect how fast you lose weight.

Does a Weighted Vest make You Faster? – Conclusion

Working out and running in a weighted vest increases your workload by requiring you to move more weight. Rather than just moving your own body around, you’re moving your own body plus 5-10%. Your lungs benefit from that boost first, then your heart, sweat, and endorphins, and your recovery after your workout. 

Weight vests may enhance your workout efficiency when running and working out. Studies consistently demonstrate that weight vest workouts benefit bone density and balance. Some runners report increasing speed with weight vests, while others don’t. Adjusting your running form might impact your speed more than other factors like changing your diet.

Mike Horton (head of Weighted Living)

by Mike Horton

Mike is one of the lead editors at Weighted Living and the author of this article. He's become fascinated with weighted products (a bit too much we think) and loves to see all the different ways they can improve our loves. He's written quite a few weighted product guides as well.

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