Should You Run with Weights? Running With Weights in Backpack
Whether you are running for fitness or to get in shape, everyone is looking to gain an added edge. This is where the notion of running with weights started.
Runners thought by adding weights to their ankles or even running with weights in their backpack could help them get faster. But is this truly the case?
In this article, we discuss whether running with weights in your backpack or on your arms or legs is a good idea. We also answer the question – does running with weights build muscle? And if you want to run with weights, what is the best method to do this.
Running With Weights – Benefits
Running is a simple way to get your daily amount of cardio exercise in. It is also a way to lose weight and improve overall fitness. But by adding weight to your run, will it help improve strength, speed, and cardiovascular fitness? The results are mixed. However, there is a small amount of evidence that adding weights to the body can help increase:
– Calorie burn
– Top-end speed
– Bone and ligament health
Unfortunately, running with weights is not an effective way to increase muscle mass. Even though most people think so, it still helps improve speed and strengthen joints if used correctly.
That means staying away from long distances with dumbells in the hands or weights on the back, ankle, or arms. Doing so increases the impact on the joints, tendons, and muscles. Instead, try to focus on doing specific workouts with weights, rather than long-distance running.
Workouts with weights can include:
– Interval training
– Hill repeats
– Tempo runs
– Stride outs
– 200-400m repeats
Next comes the placement of the weights. Where is the best place to for weights on the body? Well, this depends on the workout and the goal of using weights.
If you are trying to improve upper body power and core strength, try running with dumbbells or hand weights during stride outs, tempo runs, or 200-400m repeats. Although be careful not to carry too much weight. Often 500-1kg is enough for the harder workouts.
If you are looking to develop glute, hip, and quadricep strength, adding weight to the ankles is the best solution. These can easily be strapped on with minimal discomfort. But remember not to add too much weight in the beginning. Try to slowly increase the overall weight each workout.
Remember placement of weights is crucial and the amount is even more important. So ease into using weights just like you would slowly increase your long run.
Running with Weights in Backpack
Made famous by boxers and military personal, running with weights in a backpack was once thought to be a great way to improve stamina, strength, and speed. However, unless you are training to carry a heavy backpack over multiple days, running with weights in a backpack will most likely cause more trouble than it’s worth.
By adding weights to a backpack you place added stress on your running technique thus increasing impact and running mechanics negatively. This type of training should ultimately be for people with functional goals, like tamper’s or military personal.
So if you are looking to add weight to the body, do so by using arm, leg, or ankle weights.
Should You Run With Weights? – What Do the Studies Say?
If we look at the current research there are both positive and negative studies on running with weights. One study focusing on weighted vests (5-10% of their body weight), found that exercising with weights helped to improve speed and agility. However, strength and power weren’t improved.
Another study found an improvement in postmenopausal women’s isokinetic strength. This was over a period of 12 weeks running with weighted vests.
Although these are just a few small studies, it just shows that more research in this field is needed. Saying that different kinds of training will recruit and improve different types of muscle fibers. Also, easy aerobic training with no or low added weights may have a small effect on slow-twitch muscle fibers but don’t expect to see massive gains from using weights on your next runs.
Does Running With Weights Build Muscle?
As we talked about in this article, running with weights will help improve aerobic endurance, burn more calories and increase speed. However, one thing it won’t do is build muscle mass. If you are looking to build muscle, you should consider a regular strength training program that can help strengthen your body alongside your running training.
Methods of Running With Weights
You may have seen people running with weights before. Some have them strapped to their ankles, while others run with weights in a backpack. But what are the other options do you have?
The five most common ways to run with weights are:
– Ankle weights
– Hand/wrist weights
– Weight Vest
– Running with dumbbells
– Weight in pack ie: Sand, free weights
While running with ankle or hand/wrist weights seems like the ideal solution to carrying weights. Other methods like adding weight to a backpack are popular with people, especially in the army and air force. While running with dumbbells is not recommended for the discomfort factor. It is another method of adding weight to any walking or running workout.