Sprinting With a Weighted Vest: Help or Hindrance

Sprinting With A Weighted Vest: Help or Hindrance?

Athletes are often asked whether they should use a weighted vest when running. There have been many studies conducted on the subject. Most of them conclude that it is better not to run with one, but instead to wear regular clothes during your runs. However, there are some studies which show that wearing a weighted vest helps runners get faster and improve their performance in other ways too.

The main reason why most experts do not recommend using a weighted vest is because it does not provide any extra protection from injury. Some studies suggest that wearing a weighted vest may cause more muscle damage than normal clothing. Also, the weight of the vest might make it harder for you to breathe if you are exercising at high intensity.

There are no scientific studies which prove that wearing a weighted vest will increase your speed or endurance. However, there are some studies which show that wearing a weighted vest improves your ability to keep balance and control your body position while running.

Weighted vests are used mainly by sprinters and distance runners. They were originally designed for marathon runners, but they have found their way into the training routines of all kinds of athletes. Many sports teams use them to train their players in different sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball and even hockey!

The most popular manufacturers of these vests are Adidas and Running Strong. They both make them from the same materials, such as neoprene, nylon, and mesh. They usually weigh 2-5 pounds (1-2.3 kg), which seems like a lot, but it’s just enough to improve your running without changing it too much.

Using a weighted vest to improve your running technique is a matter of preference. Some people swear by it and others say it takes a lot of energy to wear one.

So, should you use one?

If you’re a serious distance runner or just want to improve your running time, then wearing a vest is an option worth trying out. But, if you’re just starting out and do not wish to spend additional money on equipment, then it’s better to start with something simpler.

How to Use a Weighted Vest Correctly

Using a weighted vest is simple: all you have to do is put it on. However, there are still some rules that you need to follow in order to maximize its benefits and prevent injury:

Always use it properly – make sure that the vest is not too tight or too lose. It should fit you perfectly in order for you to get the most out of your runs. If the vest is too tight, it will restrict your breathing and you might feel pain in your ribcage area. If it’s too lose, then the weights will start to slide around and you’ll have to stop and rearrange them in the middle of your run.

Always warm up before use – never jump straight into a run with a weighted vest on. Warming up prepares your muscles for vigorous activity and reduces your risk of injury. It also increases your range of motion, which allows you to move faster and with more flexibility.

Sprinting With a Weighted Vest: Help or Hindrance - Picture

Don’t overdo it – start with lighter weights and work your way up gradually. If you feel any pain or discomfort while running, then stop immediately and try again another day.

Never wear one overnight – although they don’t cause any damage or injury if worn for a short period of time, weighted vests were not designed to be worn while you sleep. Doing so might interfere with your body’s natural abilities to heal and could cause long-term damage to your internal organs.

Take it off during cooldown – after your run, make sure you take the vest off. If you don’t, you might experience dizziness, nausea, and even fainting as your body tries to readjust to the sudden change in environment.

Wash it regularly – you should wash your vest after every use. Not only will this help to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, but it will also make the material last longer.

How to Make Your Own Weighted Vest

Making a weighted vest requires a little bit of effort and time, but the good thing is that you can choose what weights you want to use and you can make as many or as few as you want.

You will need:

A pair of running shorts that you no longer use or a t-shirt

Sprinting With a Weighted Vest: Help or Hindrance - | Gym Fit Workout

Metal washers that have the same diameter as the width of your running shorts (about 2 inches or 5 cm)

A plastic bag

Rubber bands

Clothes pins

A ruler


Take your t-shirt or shorts and stretch them to their full length.

Add up the total inches of metal washers that will fit into it while maintaining its stretched length.

Cut open the side seams of your t-shirt or shorts 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom, creating a pocket. Try to make sure that the opening is as straight as possible.

Pin the opening together and then wrap the entire garment around a tightly rolled up newspaper or water bottle until it reaches the appropriate diameter. This will help give the weighted vest a more spherical shape.

Place the garment over a newspaper, plastic bag or something that you don’t mind getting dirty and fill the pockets with metal washers. Fill each pocket until they are equally weighted, or until you reach the desired weight. Don’t forget to pin or clip the opening shut after you’re done.

Wear your new weighted vest while running for the same benefits as an off-the-rack weighted vest.

Sprinting With a Weighted Vest: Help or Hindrance - GymFitWorkout

How It Works

A weighted vest replicates the adaptations of the muscles and cardiovascular system that occur naturally in people who engage in regular, prolonged running. While it won’t turn you into an elite runner it will tone your upper body and improve your lung capacity.

Weighted vests are normally made with metal, plastic or ceramic weights, but washers work just as well and are far cheaper. By filling the pockets of your shirt or shorts with these washers you create pressure all along your torso which strengthens your core muscles and improves your posture. The more you run in the vest, the stronger and more efficient your heart and lungs become in pushing blood around your body. This is beneficial in sports and other physical activities as it increases your endurance.

However, using a weighted vest can also cause the development of bad posture if it’s not used properly, potentially causing aches and pains in your back, shoulders and neck. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you don’t increase the weight in your vest by more than 10% each week and take the vest off every hour to rest and re-hydrate yourself.

So there you have it, an introduction to running and how to train properly and safely for it. If you’ve found this tutorial useful, be sure to share it with your friends and family as they might find it helpful too.

Happy running!

Sources & references used in this article:

Coaching sprinting: Expert coaches’ perception of resistance-based training by R Bolger, M Lyons, AJ Harrison… – International Journal of …, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com

High-intensity tasks with external load in military applications: a review by EK O’Neal, JH Hornsby, KJ Kelleran – Military medicine, 2014 – academic.oup.com

Influence of armored vest sizing on markers of sprint performance by LM Whalen – 2014 – scholarworks.montana.edu

Are peak ground reaction forces related to better sprint acceleration performance? by R Nagahara, H Kanehisa, A Matsuo… – Sports …, 2019 – Taylor & Francis

Effects of two different eight-week training programs on military physical performance by EA Harman, DJ Gutekunst, PN Frykman… – The Journal of …, 2008 – journals.lww.com

Limb force and non-sagittal plane joint moments during maximum-effort curve sprint running in humans by G Luo, D Stefanyshyn – Journal of Experimental Biology, 2012 – jeb.biologists.org