Training and running with a weighted vest offers many benefits. Here’s what to consider before working out with one.
There’s a variety of benefits that come along with a weighted vest, such as increasing your running time, losing weight, and building muscle, among others. The key to running with a weighted vest is to take your time and not jump into heavy workouts too soon.
Practice without the weight vest and then gradually incorporate it, so your body has time to adjust. Let's cover the benefits of running with a weighted vest.
Increases Aerobic Capacity
A weight vest provides a measure of your aerobic capacity by gauging your VO2 max level.
This describes the maximum volume of oxygen your body can process while exercising. As your VO2 max level increases, you can perform better in cardiovascular activity and gain more stamina and endurance.
Additional weight to cardio can help improve it and increase your stamina and running times.
In short: the biggest benefit of a bodyweight workout is that it forces your body to perform under pressure. Without the weight, you should be able to run faster with much less effort.
Promotes Weight Loss
Working out with a weighted vest helps you lose weight by putting your cardiovascular system under more stress. Research suggests that weight vests help get your heart-rate up and burn more calories, which contribute to overall wellness and weight loss (when coupled with a healthy diet, of course).
It also helps improve bone density to help prevent osteoporosis and osteopenia.
A weight vest helps reduce body fat, but intensity factors in, as well. A leisurely walk with a weighted vest won’t do much to aid weight loss; it needs to an intense workout.
You’ll lose more weight if you push yourself to run faster, but beware that overexertion and sprinting when your body’s giving signs to stop puts you at risk of injury. Don’t push yourself too hard and listen to your body.
Don’t get discouraged if your workout is shorter than usual while you adjust to the extra weight; I usually hit four or five miles, but I was lucky to run just over three in my first weighted vest workout.
What Is a Vest Workout Like?
A cardiovascular weighted vest workout adds additional weight, but your body still has to do all the heavy lifting to see any results. Sprinting is a great way to get the most benefits out of this workout, but you have to listen to your body above all else.
Additionally, weight vests help improve overall balance as you train your body to compensate for additional weight. Make sure you’re not limiting yourself just to running and incorporate other forms of cardio, such as climbing a StairMaster or using your weight vest for weight training.
Sprinting and running with a weight vest raises your heart-rate and forces your heart to increase the amount of blood pumping through your veins. Combining vest workouts with cross-training (which we’ll talk about in a minute) produces multiple health benefits.
What About Bodyweight Training?
Bodyweight exercises are useful strength-building, but you can always add a weighted vest for a harder workout.
It pairs nicely with popular bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, and lunges, to name a few. CrossFit athletes regularly incorporate these vests in their workouts of the day, for example, Murph.
Running with a vest will slow your pace down and change the workout drastically. So, it comes down to what’s best for you and your preferred training style.
Considerations for Buying a Weighted Vest
Pick a weighted vest appropriate for you by choosing the amount of weight you want. Too much extra weight puts you at risk of injury, but too little weight won’t help you increase your muscular endurance or running time.
Weighted vests work best for resistance training, so you want to make sure the vest is light enough so you can function during your vest workout. It’s best to choose a vest that has an adjustable weight capacity so you can easily add additional weight as your body adapts.
A weighted vest acts as a personal trainer by helping customize your cardiovascular activities to whatever routine suits you best. With various options available on Amazon and sporting goods stores, runners have plenty of weight vest options.
The Final Word on Running with a Weighted Vest
When used correctly, there’s a variety of health and wellness benefits that come along with weighted vest workouts, such as increasing bone density, aiding in weight loss, and increasing your body’s VO2max capability, among others.
While training your body to adapt to a weighted vest workout takes time and care, it’s ultimately a great tool to improve your activities. Adding too much too soon will put you at risk of injury, but not adding enough additional weight can result in a workout that doesn’t push you to your limits.
It’s all about seeing what your body’s capable of during vest workouts, so you’re better suited for workouts without a weighted vest. Using extra weight is basically a form of strength training that enables you to increase speed, keep you healthier, and experience a different type of workout.
Whether you purchase a weight vest at your local sporting goods store or on Amazon, you’re contributing to your overall wellness.