Weight vests have become popular recently as a resistance training tool. These vests seem to be everywhere and can be purchased at sporting goods stores and online. Running with a weight vest is used in some forms of armed forces combat training, so it’s sometimes referred to as “military-style” training. It makes sense for men and women in boot camp to practice running with heavy equipment on to rapidly simulate intense workout conditions.
Running with a weight vest can improve your running posture. It might also help you increase your speed. One small study of 11 long-distance runners showed a peak speak increase of 2.9 percent after weight vest training.
Weight vests work by training your body to exert more force to run during training sessions. When you run without the vest after you’ve gotten used to training with it, your body continues to exert the force it would need for you to run at your normal pace with the added weight. Some runners say that this is a very effective way to cut down your pace quickly.
But what we know about the benefits of weight vests for runners is limited. There’s enough clinical evidence to suggest that this method of training has a lot of potential. More research is needed to understand how they work and the ideal ways to train with them.
Anecdotally, people feel that running with a weight vest can spike your heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. It makes sense, since your body must work harder to propel your weight forward when extra pounds are added. Your heart works just a bit harder to pump blood through your veins when you’ve got the vest on.
One very small study showed significant increase in exercise intensity and heart and lung efficiency when subjects ran with the vests on. For people who have been approved for regular cardio exercise, a weight vest might be a great tool for cardiovascular conditioning.
Running with a weight vest might increase your bone density. In one study of post-menopausal women, regular exercise with a weight vest may have prevented hip bone loss. And weight-bearing exercise is known to be the best kind of exercise to prevent osteoporosis.
Since you must be more mindful of posture and form when running with a weight vest, it may improve your balance as you run. One study showed that regular resistance training with weight vests decreased the risk of falling for women who had reached menopause.