When runners look to build muscle and strength, they generally turn to interval training and weight training. Now there is a new way to build strength while increasing cardio – weighted vests. Running with a weighted vest is fast becoming ‘the’ way for runners to not only complete their running and resistance training together but improve their performance.
Physiological Benefits of Wearing a Weighted Vest
There are a number of benefits to wearing a weighted vest when running, including increased oxygen uptake and lactate threshold (the intensity level of exercise when lactic acid begins to build up in the blood). This is a great advantage to runners because when the body becomes used to carrying an extra load during exercise (i.e. the weighted vest), then a person’s ability to run well without the additional weight is increased. This means that if you train with a weighted vest, you will run more efficiently without it. Wearing a weighted vest while running also trains the body to work under additional pressure increasing your endurance – you will be able to run for longer without the vest, without having to do endurance training.
Who Should Wear a Weighted Vest?
Weighted vests are not recommended for beginners – they are designed more as a training tool for athletes to improve their strength and endurance. By wearing a weighted vest during training, an athlete is able to improve their strength and endurance without the need for additional resistance training sessions.
How the Vest Works
Wearing a weighted vest during training is similar to carrying a child around all day. If you were to carry a small child with you as you went about your daily tasks, you would find that your strength, endurance and fitness increase making it much easier to do your tasks when not carrying the child. Wearing a weighted vest while running works the same way. Because it is harder to run while wearing the vest, your body begins to adapt to the additional weight, making it easier to run when you are not wearing the vest.
If you are thinking about using a weighted vest to improve your running, there are a number of things you need to consider.
- Carrying an additional weight on your chest, back and torso while running is not easy or comfortable, and it is best to speak to an exercise professional before trying it.
- A vest made from breathable fabric is important as wearing the vest may increase your core temperature during exercise. If you do wear a weighted vest, is it very important that you monitor your fluid intake and are aware of the signs of heat illness.
- It is also important to find a balance between running with a weighted vest and your regular running and resistance training. Many athletes make the mistake of believing the more running they do with the vest the better – this is not true and could lead to over-training and injury.
Wearing a weighted vest while running certainly has many advantages and can help improve the strength, endurance and the fitness of a runner. If you would like to try running with a weighted vest to see if it benefits speak to your trainer/coach and look into the best vest for you. With the right vest and right training program, you could see an improvement in your running.