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05.08.2022

Running with weights – yes or no?

Running with weights – yes or no?

Since you are here, it means that you are wondering how to introduce some sort of weights to our training. No matter what drives you to do it – you want to burn more calories or build strength and endurance – read this article and ask yourself if running with weights makes sense in your case and if it is worth it. 

5 truths about running with weights 

Whether you put weights around your hands, ankles, or waist or you use a backpack filled with water bottles or tie yourself with a rope with a 10-kilogram sack of potatoes, running with extra weight will:

  • Your muscles will tire faster,
  • Without proper training and preparation running with extra weight can easily impair your running technique,
  • The intensity of training will increase – you will run slower or at the same pace but with much more effort,
  • Running with weights for beginners may become an easy path to injury. What is more, may not even produce a fraction of the results it was ultimately intended to produce.
  • After removing the extra weight you will run faster and lighter – when you take off your ski boots after a few hours of skiing, you also suddenly walk extremely lightly and your legs are gagging to run. This is a normal reaction. Since at first, our body had to put a lot more force into one step, after taking off the load, accustomed to the work from the previous hours/minutes it continues to put more force, hence the impression that you suddenly run lightly. 

Running with weights is not a way to lightly run. The way to light running is to learn proper technique with the implementation of all its components and the training that should accompany this process. 

Running weights – methods 

Below you will learn about load running methods that fall off in advance regardless of your running experience, and those that are worth incorporating into your training plan.

Running with weights

When it comes to beginners the most common way to train in such a way is by adding weights around the ankles or wrists. 

You were thinking about this kind of training? If so, what did you want to achieve? Does faster calorie burn? 

Of course, the extra weight during cardio forces you into putting in a lot more energy. It means that you will burn more calories. According to the American Council of Exercises, adding to aerobic training 0,5-1,15 kg of additional weight is possible to increase calorie burn by about 5-15%. Surprising isn’t it? 

However, you should ask yourself a very important question: is this increased caloric burn juxtaposed with the downside of such a solution worth your effort during training?

Running with extra weight around the ankles

When it comes to running professionals are looking for the lightest running shoes. None of them are looking for heavy boots to increase their strength and endurance. No! They increase their strength and endurance thanks to additional general, power, strength training, etc. Moreover running with weights around the ankles leads to a high degree of stress on the knee joint and ankle joint. 

A person who runs from the heel, transfers meaningful weight coming from their own body and impacts momentum precisely to these joints, up to the spine. Adding extra weight impacts negatively on the whole training. Why? Because increasing the interacting forces on the bones and joints and leading to knee and spine pain or even chronic injuries.

What is more, such a run, especially a longer one, does not increase your strength. For this, there are plyometric exercises for runners or training for running strength.

Running weights – exercise with weights around your hands 

In some way, this kind of training can increase your hand strength. Strong arms mean better acceleration, keeping the pace, or helping yourself during the last part of the route when your legs give out. 

On the other hand, placing the weights around your hands can have a negative impact not only on your wrists but also on your knees, torso, and hips. It will impact the work of your hands during running – less work. It is an undesirable phenomenon because it disturbs the technique of your running.

You will find other methods described below. However, it is high time for a summary. 

Run with weights – negative effects on your body

Above we wrote down quite a few downsides when it comes to running with weights. It should be mentioned that most of them will apply to those who are unprepared for it. Most often beginners who want to lose more calories or take shortcuts and with less time strengthen other muscle parts as well. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that running with weights on the legs or arms will not be beneficial for the more experienced either. This type of training can bring more harm than good. 

Running with extra weight for beginners will cause: 

  • excessive stress on the joints, 
  • bigger possibility of injury 
  • impaired running technique through excessive leaning backward or forward, 
  • impaired handwork.

However, some methods will give the desired results to those who run well technically and take care of additional strengthening and strength training, etc. After all, running alone will not result in continuous progression and increased endurance.

Running with a weight vest or belt 

Running with a belt will not have a good effect on your hip joint, which is directly loaded. Additionally, the belt may in some way limit your range of motion.

On the other hand, if you are preparing to take part in long runs, such as ultramarathons or mountain marathons, the vest will prepare you not only in terms of performance. Used during short training sessions will accustom your body to a backpack, in which you will have all necessary things such as water, a jacket, or energy bars. 

Running with a vest will also be a good preparatory aspect for extreme runs, such as the Commando marathon which you complete in heavy commando baggage. 

Running with a parachute or tire

Running with a parachute. Yes, with a parachute that fills with wind and creates a lot of resistance that you have to overcome during running. Such training will prepare you for running in adverse weather conditions – windy weather. Despite that, again we recommend this type of workout for experienced runners preparing for starts on extreme mountain trails, where wing ex. on an exposed ridge, will be one of the obstacles. 

During OCR runs (Obstacle Course Racing) sometimes people use tires. Despite that they look inconspicuous, they do not belong to lightweight at all. Therefore, running with a tire strapped to your waist will prepare you for such an “obstacle”.

How to run with a tire? 

As we mentioned above: you can run with a tire strapped to your waist. An equally common method is to carry it in your hands at hip height, put it on your shoulder, or even around your neck. However, once it’s two tires, run with them attached to both shoulders or hold them in both hands at hip level.

Depending on the weight of the tire, start with shorter distances. Even 30 meters and gradually increase to 100-400 meters and beyond.

Running with weights - parachute
Beach is a perfect place to run with parachute.

Training with speed resistor 

A speed resistor is a long rubber that is attached to a vest or belt. Although this equipment does not allow you to run, it is perfect if you want to do uphill runs with a lot of resistance acting from behind (the same as in the case of the parachute.) It is great training if you want to improve your dynamic, acceleration, and fitness. 

Why do we put in this article a subpoint about training with a speed resistor, which is not a real weight during running? 

It is because running with extra weights is just running with increased resistance. Despite that sometimes it’s better to run uphill or run in the snow (which also provides resistance) and the effects will be very similar, or even better.

So, what is your final answer about running with weights? 

Run with weights – yes or no?

Running with weights is beneficial only when:

  • you do not run with weights around the ankles or on the hands,
  • the load is used by the professional runner, who thanks to the strength and endurance exercises and developed adequate muscle strength and is who has a good running technique
  • the load is to be used for a specific training unit, e.g. to improve speed, running strength, or under long starts, during which one will run with a filled backpack,
  • the load is implemented very gradually (both in terms of kilograms and training length),
  • the task of the load during running is not to compensate for normal strength, endurance, plyometric, and general development training.

First of all, learn how to run properly, and then you can start thinking about additional weight. 

Are you looking for a way to burn more calories or combine running with strength training to save time?

Unfortunately, running with extra weight is not the answer to this question. If you want to burn even more calories or build more endurance and strength, you need to reach for other training units as well, such as:

  • intervals,
  • functional training,
  • strength training, 
  • plyometric training.

Combining the above with running will not only allow you to burn more calories but will also make you more and more durable while running. You’ll run longer, better, and faster – simply you’ll grow. That’s why we want to invite you to our training section, where you will find not only an explanation of why to exercise a particular part in a particular way but also tips on how to exercise and suggestions for better exercises. 

On the other hand, if you’ve been running for a long time and are preparing for extreme runs, you also don’t neglect sessions of other training during the week, you don’t have a problem with your running technique, and you still need to increase the intensity while running, then loads such as a vest, parachute, tire or speed resistor training will be a good solution for you. This will not only allow you to further increase your endurance and prepare you for the load that will be with you when you take off anyway but will also contribute to increased coordination.

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