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Military-Style Training: Is Running With a Weight Vest Effective?

One way to change up your cardio training is by taking a note from the military and adding weight to your locomotion. Using weighted vests or backpacks to increase intensity to a standard flat or uphill walk can add a twist to your training. The performance effects of loaded walks were examined in a recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

The participants in the study were either college or military students. They first performed a timed run of about three miles. The treadmill test included back-to-back three-minute sessions with gradually increasing speeds or grades. The tests were completed in a random order over a few weeks and under the following conditions:

  • Unloaded
  • 22-lb vest
  • 22-lb vest with another 22-lb backpack on top of it
  • 22-lb vest with an additional 44-lb backpack

First is the obvious result: performance running outside correlated positively to performance on the treadmill. In other words, if you’re in shape outdoors, you’re probably in shape indoors as well. However, the treadmill test was measured to exhaustion, and so the varying loads affected this correlation. This means that the factors influencing performance were somewhat different (albeit related) in the heavier load treadmill tests.

Body mass did not correlate with performance on the treadmill with one exception: when donning the 66-lb vest and backpack combo, bigger participants performed better. This fact reflects the increased degree of strength and body mass required to haul that much weight around. It was especially true for the female participants, whose lighter bodyweight created a larger drop in performance as weight was added.

The researchers noted that this particular sample didn’t have a large range of body sizes, and thus there wasn’t a big difference in aerobic performance between participants, even on the unloaded tests when controlled for bodyweight. However, speculatively, the larger a person is, the better they will tolerate larger loads, but the slower they will perform unloaded, and vice versa.

The increasing weight also reduced pulmonary (lung) performance, which paralleled the reduction in aerobic performance. This probably occurred for a few reasons. The increasing load primarily affected aerobic performance, but it did increase the anaerobic demand of the exercise while reducing the time it took to reach exhaustion. This combination meant lower pulmonary function was required. Another point not to overlook, was that lung function could have been repressed by the actual load creating pressure on the upper body.

This study may lend some new ideas for training. The smaller an individual is, the lower the range of loads they should use for various running, walking, hiking, and similar tests. The larger a person is, the greater the range they can work with, but the slower they are likely to perform with no load at all. For military personnel, the three-mile run is a good test for overall performance, and will even give information relevant to loaded marches. However, keep in mind that it accounts for only about 42% of the variance in performance on the heaviest loads for men, and thirty percent for women. No matter who you are, give this training a shot and see how you stack up to a soldier’s fitness.

1. Rachel Walker, et. al., “Effect of added mass on treadmill performance and pulmonary function,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000408

Photo courtesy of CrossFit Impulse.

‘Body Armor’ is the original name for the now famous Memorial Day WOD, ‘MURPH’. The workout is named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, was killed June 28, 2005 after exposing himself to enemy fire and knowingly leaving his position of cover to get a clear signal in order to communicate with his headquarters. He provided his unit’s location and requested immediate support for his element and then returned to his position to continue fighting until he died from his wounds. In truth, I could write an entire article on the heroism of Lt. Murphy and how his courage (and the courage of all service personnel) continues to inspire the CrossFit community—but that’s for another time. The reason I bring up ‘Body Armor’ is because it was designed by Lt. Murphy, and he preferred to perform the one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats (oh, and another mile run) while wearing a 25-pound flak jacket. When CrossFit affiliates perform MURPH on Memorial Day, they have the option to wear a weight vest as well—though 20lbs is usually the recommended weight.

You may have glanced at the black vest hanging off the equipment rack and thought to yourself, “Damn, that looks pretty cool. But I know working out with that thing on is going to be intense. Am I ready for it? What will I get from wearing it?”

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Are you ready for a weight vest?
Just in case you weren’t aware, weight vests are exactly as they sound: heavy vests. These vests are worn over the torso and provide varying amounts of resistance, thanks to the fact that a lot of them are designed to add or remove weighted bars as needed. With their high versatility, weight vests allow for a broad range of exercises, such as jogging, rope climbing, pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, burpees (shudder) and many more.

So, if you’re interested in strapping one of these bad boys on to do a WOD, there are a few things you need to consider first.

1. Your fitness level.
Before you decide to go all Rambo, you need to ask yourself a serious question about your current level of fitness as it pertains to the WODS you do in CrossFit. Do you struggle with most of the movements and often scale? Do you have to rest the following day? Do you struggle to finish within the time cap?Do you only workout once or twice a week? If this is the case, you should look to build up your general level of fitness before adding any extra resistance. As you do so, you can test out wearing a light vest for some metcons that feature a lot of running or other cardio work and go from there.

2. The design of the specific WOD.
The intensity, duration and movements of each workout vary, and do play a role in whether you should wear a weight vest or not. For example, if you are doing a heavy EMOM (every minute on the minute) of cleans, I really don’t think you need to make your job any harder by adding extra resistance. Besides, you want to focus on your technique, body position and bar path and wearing a vest is only going to throw you off. On the other hand, if you want to honor the memory of a loved one or a fallen member of the armed forces or a first responder, I feel that wearing one would be a fine way to do it. Most of us can only imagine the burden these men and women have to bear as part of their jobs—wearing a weight vest should remind us of that fact pretty quickly, if only in some small way. In addition, you may find that you are flying through some WODS that are in your wheelhouse with great ease, getting faster and faster as you get fitter and fitter. Perhaps it’s time to step it up a notch and see what you can do with your body when you’ve strapped 20 extra lbs. to yourself. Just make sure you check with your coach first before you bring the pain.

3. How much weight you’re going to put in the vest.
This is important. In the case of wanting to vary your metcons, 5lbs may be enough to give you that extra element of difficulty you’ve been looking for. But you have to bear in mind that even 5lbs can make a huge change to the make-up for the workout, and your body may not be used to it—especially if it’s your first time wearing a vest. If you decide to wear one for MURPH, your footfalls are going to be that much heavier during your run, which may cause added strain to your knees and joints.

What are the advantages to wearing a weight vest?

Advantage 1: Increases strength and endurance
Benefits from wearing weight vests are seen in both strength training and aerobic activities. Carrying extra weight during exercise requires added strength and oxygen, all the while sapping your energy stores. With any exercise the more weight used, the more the muscles have to adapt to the higher weight—which builds strength and muscular endurance. A Texas Tech University study tracked a group of collegiate football players performing traditional resistance training combined with plyometrics and a second group performing resistance training and plyometrics in addition to weight vest training. After six weeks, both groups were found to have improved in the 40-yard dash, broad jump, and vertical jump, though the group supplementing their resistance training with weight vests produced substantially better results.

Advantage 2: Serves as a tool for variation
Constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. I’m sure you’ve heard that more than once, seeing as it is the definition of CrossFit. Human bodies adapt to specific movements over a period of time, whether positive or negative. A halted progress in exercise is usually the result of this adaptation. Weight vests provide a great tool for variation that our bodies aren’t prepared for. This unconventional exercise method allows us to throw our systems off whenever necessary.

Advantage 3: Huge cardiovascular benefits
Similar to the effects one can have in muscular strength and endurance, running or rowing with a weight vest poses a serious challenge, as you might imagine. The cardiovascular system has to go into overdrive as a result of the added resistance, strengthening the lungs and an athlete’s VO2 Max (a measure of the body’s ability to consume oxygen) and their lactate threshold (the exercise intensity at which lactate begins to accumulate in the blood). This is exactly what happened in a study published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology. A group of endurance athletes were separated into experimental (wearing the vest) and control groups to investigate the effects of extra-load training on energy metabolism during exercise. The study found that “those experimental subjects who used the added load during every training session had a lower 2 mmol lactate threshold, improved running time to exhaustion, improved vertical velocity when running up stairs and an increased VO2 during submaximal running after the added load period.”

Advantage 4: Musculoskeletal Benefits
As well as making your muscles stronger, wearing a weighted vest when running will increase the load transmitted through your bones. The extra loading can result in increased bone mass by stimulating cells called osteoblasts to lay down new bone material in response to the demands being placed on your skeleton. To simplify, bones become stronger and denser to handle the extra weight.

Considerations to using a weight vest
A weight vest is not a cheap item, and unless your box has enough to go around, be prepared to fork over $100 for one—not to mention the cost of extra weight plates if you feel desired to invest in them. You also have to watch out for the amount of weight you use as too great a load can have an adverse effect on your running style. If the vest is too heavy, you may find that you run using a lower, shorter stride pattern, which subsequently alters technique when you return to running without a vest—it may mean that you may not be able to run faster or farther. On top of that, wearing a vest that is too heavy increases the impact and forces that are transmitted through your legs, which can lead to injury. Make sure you start with a light load (5% of your body weight or lower) to minimize the risk of injury and work your way up from there.

Running With a Weight Vest (or Body Armor)

As many of you know, carrying around a heavy load is pretty much a required aspect of many jobs in the military or tactical community. PPE alone can weigh upward of 8-10kg (17-22lbs) and that is not considering all of the other shit you hang from the MOLLE like ammo, food, water, etc.

In fact, studies looking at load carriage in the military show a range of 13kg (Roman Legionnaires) to upwards of 60kg (modern airborne infantry) along with a number of weights in between depending on the mission.

So naturally, a question I receive on a regular basis is: “Should I train with a vest (body armor or otherwise) and if so, how is it going to benefit my training?”

And that is the question I want to explore here today.

As I’ve mentioned before my training philosophy revolves around getting the maximal amount of benefit from the minimal amount of training so I’d like to see some evidence that wearing around additional weight is actually worth more than just the increase in suck factor before I go about recommending you do it on a regular basis.

With that said, despite the title of the article, we are going to look at two different aspects of training with a weight vest including how it affects lower body power as well as how it affects running performance.

Improving Power

Some research has shown that just wearing the vest around (not necessarily while training) can be beneficial to improving agility in a population of otherwise healthy men. There is also a bunch of research on hyper-gravity (i.e. Adding weight to yourself) and its benefits on bone density, balance, and agility in elderly populations.

But how does that help you?

Well, it probably doesn’t.

However, the research does show that wearing a weight vest during training has been shown to improve power in athletes by upwards of 10% in as little as 3 weeks. The majority of these studies showed this result in trained populations (i.e. Those who are harder to get training adaptations out of) which means the benefits could be even higher for new(er) athletes.

To put that into a bit of perspective this 10% improvement was being compared to a resistance training only group where an 8% improvement was seen, however, it took upwards of 3-months to get that 8%.

Other studies have shown that loaded jump training (i.e. plyometrics with a weight vest) has been demonstrated to improve jump performance without an increase in injury risk. This obviously assumes proper jumping and landing mechanics as loading a dysfunctional movement pattern is typically a recipe for injury (eventually).

So it looks like adding some loaded power specific training can help improve power at a quicker rate, which isn’t all that shocking.

What is interesting is that Verkhoshansky (basically the father of plyometrics) found in his research that increasing load did not typically produce great effects.

Verkhoshansky experimented with adding load to the depth jump and found that increasing the load does not increase the working effect of the movement. He also noted that an increase in load will also lead to an increase in coupling time (time spent on the ground) mitigating the positive effects of the stretch-shorten cycle to some degree.

My interpretation here is that adding load (small at first and very gradually increasing) may, in fact, improve your plyometric ability BUT you have to move incredibly fast. As Verkhoshansky noted, spending more time on the ground (“coupling effect”) will lead to sub-par jumps. However, I’d hypothesize that if you can spend the time to learn how to move FAST by training the neurological system, then you might see some added benefits.

Conclusion

Adding a weight vest to your plyometric training may improve power to some degree but also comes with an increase in injury risk UNLESS you have great movement mechanics. Overall, I’d recommend you find something else to do (i.e. Just spend some time working in various (and progressive) plyometric movements unloaded as the research supports these!).

While loaded power training with a weight vest or your body armor is something to experiment with, it shouldn’t be a staple of your program. Although spending a bit of time learning how your body reacts to jumping and landing in your kit is probably a good thing, you will probably get an appreciation for that in your regular (non-gym) training.

Running

Now here is where the research is pretty much all over the place.

Some folks say that running with a weight vest will improve your sprinting performance while others say the exact opposite.

Let’s review some of the research (there isn’t a ton)…

Weight vest training with loads similar to body armor (8-10kg) was shown to improve VO2max and treadmill time to exhaustion more so than unweighted training but not significantly.

This was after a 6-week training program similar to what is seen at Marine Recruit Training. Although an increase in VO2max was seen, it wasn’t significant. Meaning, training without the vest will get you a pretty similar result. However, this study did find that treadmill time to exhaustion also increased, which (in my experience) can likely be attributed to the fact that walking on a steep treadmill without a vest is mentally easier than training with the vest so the effort seemed easier, leading to a slightly better result.

Not many other benefits were seen in this study. The authors noted, and I agree, that the loads used (8-10kg) were not sufficient for eliciting adaptations of the lower body musculature. Which basically means, when considering appropriate training loads you must consider how much weight is enough to overload the system.

While adding a 10kg weight vest will significantly reduce the number of pull-ups or push-ups the average person can do it will not slow them down much on lower body focused tasks like climbing a hill, walking of a steeply inclined treadmill, or performing squats and/or lunges.

There will be some effect but the loads will likely need to be increased and the adaptation will likely take much longer to be realized.

With that said, the optimal load for sprinting (or running in general) is likely loads that minimally affect running mechanics while still providing an overload stimulus to promote adaptations (Which might mean no additional load at all!).

In a study comparing two different weight vests (9kg & 18kg) it was found that the lighter vest resulted in much better kinematics and kinetics (i.e. more efficient movement).

This is important to note as one of the common things you hear out there on the internets about this topic is ”You should never run with a ruck or weight vest, it is terrible for your joints!”

However, this study noted that this may only be the case at higher loads (18kg+).

I would say that even then, it has to do with your ability to maintain efficient movement mechanics.

As a very well known strength coach named Dan John once said:
“It is not the squat that hurts your knees, it’s the way YOU squat that hurts your knees!”

While this study did mention that during the 18kg vest sprint significantly higher peak ground reaction forces were noted they also noted an increase in torso angle (a major fault in efficient running). So, we really can’t conclude that the load was the problem… The athlete was probably just too weak to handle it!

Being too weak was a theme of another study that looked at leg stiffness during loaded running.

According to the authors running with load increased leg stiffness which leads to an increase in peak vertical ground reaction force (force of your impact on the ground and the grounds equal and opposite reaction back into your foot).

This was caused by an increase in ground contact times which means that the athlete’s foot was on the ground longer and the force was being absorbed and eventually redirected into the next step. Much like adding load to your plyometrics, the longer you’re on the ground, the less benefit and more you have to work to stabilize the system.

Loaded running also showed greater hip, knee, and ankle flexion during the stance phase which was a cause of the body absorbing the force like a big spring.

Additionally, this study also noted that in general, the individuals observed ran in a more crouched position (i.e. poor posture) when they ran with a load.

Lastly, it was noted that carrying the additional load and increasing lower extremity joint flexion requires an increase in muscle activity and has a higher metabolic cost.

So what does this all mean?

Basically, this is all saying that running with a weight vest is hard.

And if you want to do it effectively then you need to make sure you are strong enough and conditioned enough to handle it. Because if you aren’t, it’s going to punish your mechanics and your body.

While the research is all over the map it seems as though spending some time running with a weight vest could be beneficial. However, as with anything else, when you increase the intensity of a movement mechanics are going to take a hit if you aren’t careful.

As one study mentioned above noted athletes running with a load showed a greater increase in torso angle (i.e. bending over at the waist) which we know is a major fault in the POSE methodology and typically caused by a weak midline. This creates all kinds of disadvantageous leverage and ultimately leads to inefficient running and lots of low back pain (a common complaint of many long-term military folks and LEOs wearing body armor all day long).

So, just like with all of your other aerobic training you should probably add in weighted training slowly and only occasionally while prioritizing strength development and mobility work (Especially if you have tight hips, a weak core/midline or both!).

So how should I work my weight vest or body armor into my training?

Slowly.

As we just examined, loaded running (or loaded training in general) can have some positive benefits.

However, as with any movement that we apply intensity to, mechanics will begin to break down faster leading to an increase in injury risk but also sub-par training adaptations. Which basically means you’ll be training, but won’t be getting much out of it.

Strength and conditioning must be the priority.

Once your running mechanics are dialed in and you are strong and able to handle the increase in load and/or intensity then adding in a weighted run every other week or so will be fine.

Just be sure to be constantly running through your technique checklist in your head as you go… When things start to break down or that weird ache or pain pops back up, then stop, recover for a minute, reset your mechanics and get back after it (Or end the session altogether!).

Here is a quick 2-week snap shot of what it could look like:

Week 1:

Monday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Tuesday: Short Interval Run (10 x 100m, :30s rest)
Wednesday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Thursday: Long Interval Run (5 x 800m, 3:00 rest)
Friday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Saturday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Sunday: 3M Tempo Run

Week 2:

Monday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Tuesday: Long Interval Run (3 x 1M, 4:00 rest)
Wednesday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Thursday: Short Interval Run (4 x 400m, 2:00 rest w/ 20# vest or body armor)
Friday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Saturday: Strength & Conditioning Training
Sunday: 5M Time Trial Run

Basically, if you are running 3 times per week (like above) you can add the weight vest or body armor in every couple of weeks on a different day (i.e. 1st time during the short interval, the 2nd time during the Tempo run, a 3rd time during the long interval). Just keep the rotation going and you should be good to go as long as your mechanics and your required/desired paces don’t take a major hit.

If your running technique sucks or you don’t know where to get started with a training plan I’ve got a few different options available to you:

  1. Sign up for the Free Strategic Endurance Mini-Course
  2. Grab the Strategic Athlete 5k Training Program (for improving your running abilities for any distance up to about 3-miles)
  3. Check out the 16-week Strategic Endurance Membership (Broken up into 4-week cycles designed to help you conquer different distances (5k, 10k, half-marathon, etc)

You can also shoot me an email with any questions you have about this stuff at any time. If you’d like me to review your running technique (FREE) again, just shoot me an email pj strategicathlete com and I’d be glad to help!

Happy Training

Silder, A., Besier, T., & Delp, S. (2015). Running with a load increases leg stiffness. Journal of Biomechanics, 48, 1003-1008.

Lifting Ladies: Think Twice Before Putting On The Belt!

Think about the last time you ran or jumped, pulled a heavy weight off the floor, or powered through a squat. Now think about everything that helped to support you during these movements. A tight core and strong legs were definitely major players. But what else helped? Maybe you chalked up before heavy lifts, or used raised-heel squat shoes. How about this: Did you wear a belt?

In CrossFit boxes and many commercial gyms, weightlifting belts have become very popular among women. It’s not just during, say, heavy max-effort squat or deadlift attempts, you’ll also see them during things like these:

  • Overhead press or push-press work
  • Olympic lifts, both heavy and light
  • Barbell or dumbbell rows
  • Metcon workouts

The reason why is no surprise: Belts make you able to lift more weight! But, by trying to protect your lower back through the hardest reps, you could inadvertently be wrecking your pelvic floor, which can have far-reaching consequences that you’d definitely rather avoid.

Men have pelvic floors, too, but I’m writing this piece to address us ladies. If you take your lifting seriously, you need to know this!

What is the Pelvic Floor?

Rather than a single muscle, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles at the bottom of your pelvis. In women, these sit much like a hammock—or a trampoline—and support your pelvic organs, including the bowel, bladder, and uterus. They play a major role in controlling your bladder and bowel, preventing you from leaking and tooting at inopportune moments—like during heavy squats, box jumps, or even jumping rope. I’m sure a few fit girls out there know exactly what I’m talking about.

Pelvic floor muscles that are neither too tight nor weak are also important for enjoying pain-free sex, in providing support for a baby during pregnancy, and in working with the other muscles of your core to support your spine. Doctors are always telling us to strengthen these muscles, especially after childbirth and as we creep toward middle age.

As someone who lifts, you may think your pelvic floor is, by extension, as strong as your legs, back, or core. But you might be wrong.

The Role of a Weightlifting Belt

Working in the physical therapy and fitness world, I’m often asked by aspiring lifters whether they should train with a belt. When I ask questions about why they think they should, I find that most people don’t have any idea what a belt does. They just feel like they should wear one. Why? Well, monkey see, monkey do.

Strapping on a belt isn’t just about meeting the gym fashion quota or looking tough under the bar. Saying “it protects your back” also doesn’t quite tell the whole story. The stiff fabric or leather of a belt allows you to brace against it, which in turn allows you to generate more of what is called “intra-abdominal pressure.” The more pressure present, the more supported the spine is, and the heavier the weight you can lift.

While there are clearly performance-related pros to wearing a belt—increased stability throughout your core, reduced lower-back stress, and tactile feedback to press against—there are also some cons. For one, lifting belts can give you a false sense of security, leading you to potentially lift more weight than you can handle. They can also keep you from doing the hard work to build a truly strong core, making you reliant on the tool rather your own muscular strength and motor control.

How Training With a Belt Affects Your Pelvic Floor

Strapping on a weightlifting belt before going heavy on your lifts could be leading to or exacerbating an already weakened pelvic floor. Belts can be problematic precisely because of their greatest benefit: the increased amount of intra-abdominal pressure they allow you to generate. However, that pressure must go somewhere, and certainly isn’t going through the stiff synthetic or leather material of a belt.

Unfortunately, the pelvic floor is exactly what bears the brunt. Over time, being exposed to all that force can actually make it weaker, and this can be even worse if, like one out of four women, you already suffer some type of dysfunction there. For this reason, I encourage women not to wear belts for most of their training.

Going for a new squat or deadlift PR? Fine, wear it. The rest of the time, consider leaving it in the bag and focusing on learning how to better brace and generate some intra-abdominal pressure while limiting the downward force onto the pelvic floor. Yes, you’ll probably have to lighten the weight you’re lifting some of the time, but considering that also means your form will improve, I think it’s worth the payoff.

What I want you to take away is this: The pelvic floor is a muscle group like any other. You can train it to be stronger, or you can unintentionally train it in such a way that can lead to dysfunction or injury. And if the constant use of a lifting belt could lead to symptoms like incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or pelvic pain, then it might not be worth the few extra pounds it gives you on that single lift.

How to Truly Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

If using a belt, childbirth, or anything else has weakened your pelvic floor, all hope isn’t lost. There are specific movements you can use to make these muscles stronger and improve their endurance, power, and functionality.

Specifically training the pelvic floor can be slightly complicated. If you have real problems with yours, it’s worth working with a trained professional to ensure that you’re preforming strengthening exercises correctly. In fact, strengthening these muscles incorrectly can make things worse!

Sorry ladies, but it isn’t as easy as just performing Kegels. In fact, Kegels can actually aggravate, not relieve, a chronically tight pelvic floor.

While there’s no substitute for a personal assessment, there are a pair of drills I can unequivocally recommend to all women with concerns about their pelvic floor. Both work to tie the core and hip stabilizer muscles together, because these two types of strength are integral to how the pelvic floor functions. Variations of glute bridges and planks are ideal here.

My two favorite variations are the glute bridge with march, and the exercise ball “stir the pot”. Try to include the glute bridge with march most days of the week, and implement the exercise ball stir the pot into your training 2-3 times a week.

Glute Bridge with March

Directions:

  1. Lay on your back with your knees bent, and lift your hips off the ground. Maintain this position while squeezing your glutes and keeping your core engaged.
  2. Lift your left foot a few inches off the ground without allowing any movement or shifting to occur at the hips. Hold for a few seconds. Place it back on the ground and then lift your right foot off the ground, again maintaining a good position throughout the movement.
  3. Repeat this exercise for 10 reps on each side.

Exercise Ball Stir the Pot

Directions:

  1. Assume a plank position with your forearms on an exercise ball, your knees slightly bent, and your back maintaining its natural arch.
  2. Keeping this position, make a circle with your upper body while keeping your lower body stable.
  3. Go one way, and then the other way, again keeping everything else stable with only your arms moving. Try to go for 30 seconds!

Please note that if you are post-partum it is important to check with your physical therapist before jumping back in to core-specific work as you may not be ready for them and could suffer an injury.

Reference

Weighted vests can be highly beneficial to those who enlist their use in their workout routine. By adding extra weight to your body weight, the user can improve speed and agility, tone muscles through body weight exercises, and increase running or walking distance via improved stamina. There are many weighted vests on the market, but there are some made especially for women that stand above the rest and are easily available through Amazon.

Best Weighted Vests for Women Reviewed

Empower Women’s Weighted Fitness Vest

The Empower Women’s Weighted Fitness Vest is an eight-pound vest available on Amazon.com. Wearing this vest allows for the eight pounds to be evenly distributed across the wearer’s torso while working out. This vest is made of neoprene with adds to the items comfort, style, and breathability. It includes easy to close clips and straps which make adjusting it easy, even while wearing it. Its design includes x-straps which make the vest, available in only one size, suitable for most body types while also not adding unnecessary weight to the wearer’s chest.

The vest cannot be machine washed, but it can be spot cleaned as necessary. The Empower Women’s Weighted Fitness Vest even includes a convenient cell phone pocket. The weight of this vest is in the sewn on sand pockets, which means, that weight can neither be added nor subtracted. It is a perfect vest for a woman looking for a beginning weighted vest or a woman looking for less weight in their vest.

MIR® – 30LBS Women’s Adjustable Weighted Vest

The MIR Adjustable Weighted Vest for Women typically runs a little bit more expensive from its competition, but it can be worth the difference due to its unique features. The vest has a maximum weight of thirty pounds, but this weight is adjustable. The weight can be added or removed from the vest in three-pound increments, and the thirty pounds of weights are included in the purchase. This vest is meant to fit anyone with a frame of five feet to seven feet and includes and adjustable Velcro straps.

It is made of nylon and has elastic side straps which contribute to the breathability of the piece. Many enjoy this vest because it does not contain sand and instead only has the weights. For women looking for adjustable weights up to thirty pounds and a comfortable fit, this vest is just right.

Hyperwear Hyper Vest SXY Women’s 5-Pound Adjustable Weighted Vest

The most noticeable feature about the Hyperwear Hyper Vest is that it features a zipper front design rather than the traditional straps. The vest instead features adjustable lacing on each side to allow it to fit multiple body types and frames. It is made of spandex and is machine washable for the convenience of the wearer. The Hyperwear Hyper Vest comes with five pounds of plastic coated weights, and depending on the size of the vest, has some capacity for additional weights to be added.

This vest also has a scoop neckline to add to the stylish feature of the zipper. For those looking for a stylish vest that can be worn with minimal clothing underneath and doesn’t need to be hidden under clothing, this lightweight vest is the perfect option.

Zeyu Sports Weighted Vest 10lbs

The reflective safety stripes on the Zeyu Sports Weighted Vest makes it stand out on the street and on this list. The vest goes beyond safety and is environmentally friendly. Made from sustainable synthetic rubber, the vest features quick release clips on each side. Along with the eco-friendly rubber, the vest has patches of breathable material to increase comfort while working out.

The ten-pound vest has a non-slip material on the inside which helps the vest grip whatever surface it comes in contact with on the inside and stays in place through strenuous activity. Weight cannot be added or subtracted from the vest, but for those looking for a ten-pound vest complete with safety stripes, it is a great fit.

CFF Women’s Pink Weight Vest – 22 Pound

This CFF Women’s Pink Weight Vest is perfect for the pink lovers out there. The vest is made of heavy duty pink nylon and is double stitched for durability. This ultra-feminine vest is complete with ten two-pound iron blocks, and each vest can hold up to twenty-two pounds. Each block is housed in a snug pocket which reduces motion while working out. The vest has large buckles and can be adjusted quickly even while wearing it. It includes wide shoulder straps that do not hinder range of motion and provide comfort while reducing pressure on the chest.

The thick belt at the bottom of the chest removes the weight from the chest while still evenly distributing the weight on the vest. The lack of sand, color, and comfort of the CFF Women’s Pink Weight Vest make it highly desirable for the woman looking for adjustable weights and attractive color.

HumanX Weight Vest

The HumanX Weight Vest is available in three different weight types: a 10 pound vest with adjustable weights in half pound increments and a 20 pound vest with adjustable weight in one pound increments, and a forty pound vest with adjustable weights in two pound increments. Their custom designed weights hug the wearer and stay in place during activity. The HumanX vest focuses on the comfort of the wearer with its fully adjustable shoulder straps and belt to fit most body types. The straps and the belt combine to hold the vest in place and reduce abrasion during workouts.

The outside of the vest is strengthened to resist scuffing or tearing and includes pads on both the shoulders and chest. The design of the vest allows for full range of motion and keeps it above the hips without crushing the wearer’s chest or shoulders. It is a great vest for those looking for durability and variable weight sizes.

Women’s VestTM (Adjustable Height) Contoured 1 to 21 Lb. Weighted Vest

The Women’s VestTM is perfect for the active woman looking for added weight to increase her workout. It comes with twenty-one pounds of weight which can be added or subtracted from both the front and the back of the vest. The vest is specifically designed with a woman’s shape in mind. No weight is placed on the chest, nor does the vest pull down on the chest. It has adjustable straps to fit any shape and can also be adjusted for height.

The VestTM can be washed in the washing machine without its weights in its pouches or it can be hand washed with the weights still inside. It is a great vest for someone looking for up to twenty-one pounds of weight, height adjustability, and ability to machine wash.

RUNmax Run Fast 12lb-140lb Weighted Vest

The RUNmax Run Fast Weighted Vest is a great option for those looking to add high volumes of weight. This model has shoulder pads included, but it can be purchased without them. The vest has adjustable straps and is a one size fits most style. The weights are stored securely on the front of the vest toward the abdomen. It comes with twenty pounds of weight in two and a half pounds bags and more can be purchased to add to the weight of the vest.

All weights can be removed from the vest, which makes washing it a breeze. A great vest for those looking for a wider range of weight and the option to continue to build up weight over time.

lb V-Max 4 Women

The twenty-five pound V-Max 4 Women is a great weighted vest for those seeking durability and additional padding in the design. The vest comes with a lifetime warranty and their guarantee to outlast any of its competition. It is designed in the shape of a Y to cater to a woman’s shape. While weight cannot be added, the placement of the weight and the Y shape across the chest does minimize any pressure to the chest. It can be spot cleaned and comes in a variety of colors.

The combination of straps and pads on the V-Max 4 Women makes the vest comfortable while keeping it securely in place during exercises. This vest is a perfect choice for anyone looking for twenty-five pounds of additional weight and the added bonus of extra cushioning.

Gold’s Gym 20-Pound Adjustable Weighted Vest

The Gold’s Gym Adjustable Weighted Vest is built of mesh with reflective additions which make it both breathable and visible. With multiple weight pockets, the adjustable weight up to twenty pounds is evenly distributed across the wearer. The vest is designed as unisex, but similar to the women’s vests, it keeps weight off of the chest even when fully weighted down.

The vest includes an electronics pocket which is easily accessible while wearing it. Each weight pocket is secured with Velcro to limit movement while exercising. The combined adjustability of the weights and the reflective safety features make this vest a great choice for those who particularly enjoy taking their exercises outside.

Home Gym Series:

The Best Cardio Machines:

The Best Recumbent Bike
The Best Spin Bikes
The Best Exercise Bikes For All Budgets
The Best Elliptical Trainers Under $1000
The Best Rowing Machine

The Best Home Gym Accessories:

The Best Boxing Gloves
The Best Weightlifting Shoes
The Best Weighted Vests For Women
The Best Foam Rollers
The Best Pull Up Bars

Strength & Conditioning

The Best Kettle Bells

The Best Weight Benches

The Best Home Gyms

Best Weighted Vests For Women [2020 Update]

By Sarah J

Today, there is more choice than ever when it comes to exercise and workout equipment.

One of the more modern ways to exercise is with a weighted vest. These weight vests are designed to be worn over the torso. They add extra weight onto the body to provide resistance when working out.

They are an aid to resistance training and improve the wearer’s power by building mass and strength thus enhancing their performance potential.

If you are a lady, you may have found it difficult to find one designed to fit a female. While there are versions aimed at men, it makes sense to choose one that has been specifically made for women, since the weight distribution will have been designed to suit the female form.

Wearing a female weight vest also helps to avoid the problem of the body adapting to particular movements over time, offering a variation tool which enables the body to benefit from an unconventional method of exercise for an additional boost. They not only help with resistance training but they can also help with cardiovascular workouts too.

In this article, we have created a number of weighted vest reviews and discuss what look for when choosing a women’s weight vest and we cover some of the best weighted vests on the market today.

Our Top Weight Vests For 2020

Weight Vest Review Summary
#1 Hyper wear Unisex Vest Best overall. Extremely comfortable to wear and looks great too.
#2 MiR Womens Vest Designed exclusively for ladies. Has a very secure fit and plenty of storage.
#3 ZFO Sports Vest Easily adjustable weights and a snug fit.
#4 Tone Fitness Female Vest Created for females with sand weights and reflective strips.
#5 RUNFast Vest Very adjustable for a wide range of body types.

#1 – Hyperwear Unisex Adjustable Weighted Vest

In our opininion, Hyperwear Hyper Vest PRO is the best weighted vest for women at the moment. It’s a unisex weight vest which is suited to a range of shapes and sizes due to its highly adjustable laced side panels. Although it comes complete with 10lb of mass, this vest is capable of adding extra capacity, and the weights can also be adjusted to different configurations for better comfort.

With a comfortable and unrestrictive fit, this vest is suited to a wide range of workout activities such as walking, running, basketball or plyometrics.

Key Features

This female weighted vest has been created from a patented design and uses a patented fabric for a professional grade performance. It comes supplied with ten pounds of steel high-density weights and also allows for adjustments with enough capacity to take extra load should you wish to add to the challenge.

This vest boasts a slim profile to allow for a complete range of motion, thus facilitating any workout routine, freeing up the arms.

The stretch fabric of the Hyperwear Hyper Vest is comfortable to wear while also being cool thanks to its moisture wicking properties and material, compared to other vests. The material is also resistant to odors so it can be worn without any concerns about sweat and bacteria, while its open sides ensure excellent airflow and ventilation to guard against the chafing and rubbing which can occur due to moisture.

The adjustable side lacing of the Hyper Vest allows the fit to be changed easily to accommodate different body shapes, making this vest an excellent choice for a broad spectrum of users. Its thin profile allows wears to use a full range of motion in their arms and is great for working on core strength.

Pros

  • Can be worn under clothing
  • Side lacing for ease of adjustment
  • Moisture wicking fabric
  • Odour resistant
  • Capacity for weight adjustment and increase
  • Slim profile for better range of movement

Cons

  • Not as heavy-duty as some other vests
  • The high neckline could cause rubbing for some wearers

#2 – MiR Adjustable Womens Weighted Vest

A quality weighted vest which is suitable for ladies and comes complete with a large set of weights which can be adjusted up to 60 pounds for an effective workout.

With its durable construction and heavy-duty fabric, this strong vest is comfortable to wear while also being breathable for reduced sweating. It can also be adjusted for better comfort for the wearer. This product is also covered by a manufacturer’s warranty for the buyer’s peace of mind.

Measuring just 11 inches in length, the compact size of this vest ensures a snug and comfortable fit, without pressing against the stomach during workouts. It comes complete with 2 different weight options for variety in exercises.

Option one is up to 60 pounds while option two is up to 90 pounds for the most effective resistance workout.

This vest is of the one size fits all type. However, it has been designed to fit the majority of wearers, featuring adjustable straps which are able to be adjusted underneath to alter the vest’s body length to accommodate both shorter and taller wearers. These adjustments are made quickly and easily by simply sliding the straps through the attached D rings.

The weights are designed to be removable and can be adjusted in increments of 3 pounds to make it easier than ever to either increase or reduce the resistance of your workout.

As an added bonus, the weights have been designed to be higher on the torso in order to improve comfort for the lower body while running.

The fabric of the vest is 1200D heavy duty reinforced nylon which is strong and durable, and the shoulders have been double padded and contoured to the shoulder in order to improve comfort. There is also a mesh vented interior for optimal breathability and moisture wicking to reduce the discomfort experienced due to sweating.

Pros

  • Load is located high on the body for better comfort
  • Heavy duty durable reinforced nylon fabric for a long lifespan
  • Mesh vented interior for better breathability and moisture wicking
  • Easily adjustable weights in small increments
  • Easily adjustable straps to accommodate tall and short wearers

Cons

  • The padded shoulders make it harder to reach over the head while exercising
  • This vest comes with no care instructions supplied

#3 – ZFOsports Adjustable Weight Vest

The ZFOsports weighted vest comes with a 40lb load for an excellent resistance workout, whatever your exercise type. Designed to fit snugly to the body and for men and women, it is fully adjustable and is a good choice for people who are just starting out with resistance training.

Although only available in one size, it has been designed to fit the majority of wearers thanks to its Velcro belt fastening, and it comes with some excellent premium features which offer impressive value for money.

The ZFOsports vest has been designed with a contoured fit with should padding that stays snug to the body even when performing rigorous workouts, making it a great vest for CrossFit. Designed to be completely adjustable, it has a unisex design and represents an excellent choice for anyone who is a newcomer to weighted vests and who are looking for an affordable and reliable product.

The tight-fitting shape fastens tightly to the torso in order to eliminate any shifting of the weights while undertaking activities.

This shape makes it the perfect weighted vest for running, power walking, vertical jumps or lateral drills. It is quick and easy to adjust the weights by simply removing or adding the individual weighted bags until you have reached your desired weight. The Velcro belt which is attached to the vest makes it easy to obtain the perfect fit for the individual wearer while ensuring that it remains secure throughout the workout.

The additional premium features include a water bottle holder suitable for containers sized at 16 ounces or smaller and a pocket that is perfect for holding a smartphone or music player.

Pros

  • Ideal pocket for holding a music player, smartphone or other small accessories
  • Water bottle holder
  • Snug fit to eliminate weight shifting during rigorous exercise
  • Velcro belt allows for easy and secure adjustments to suit the wearer’s physique
  • Weights can be added or removed to increase or reduce the intensity of the workout

Cons

  • Replacement weights are not available for this vest
  • The process of adding to or removing the load is somewhat time-consuming

#4 – Tone Fitness Female Weighted Vest, 12lbs

Anyone who is looking for a weight vest to add a little extra resistance to a workout without risking going over the top with heavy weights which could cause a potential injury from overstressing the joints, the Tone Fitness weighted vest is the ideal choice.

Designed to add additional strength training to any type of workout such as running, yoga, kick-boxing, walking or any cardio activity. This vest comes complete with some excellent features to improve functionality and safety. Although it comes in just one size, it has been designed so that it can accommodate most physiques and features a strong and durable construction for a long lifespan.

This strong and durable weight vest for women has been made from a soft neoprene fabric and well-padded shoulder straps to add additional comfort to your workout. Its single-size design is capable of accommodating a broad range of heights and body shapes due to its adjustable fastening, while the weights are made from sand which will never rust or deteriorate over time.

This vest comes with a fixed amount of weight (12 lbs) already installed inside the vest, and the weights cannot be added, removed or adjusted, which is the main downside to this product.

However 12 pounds is a good volume of weight for many users, and its design means that the weight is evenly distributed and is worn on the back rather than the front, eliminating any potential issues with additional weight around the stomach or chest area.

There is also a convenient pocket attached to the straps which can hold a smartphone or MP3 player while working out as an additional bonus, although this pocket can be removed to suit the wearer’s preference. This vest also features reflective strips to improve the wearer’s safety when running or walking in poor lighting conditions.

Pros

  • Accommodates a wide range of heights and body types
  • Comes complete with a pocket to hold a smartphone or MP3 player
  • Features reflective strips to improve safety in the dark
  • Weights are made from sand so will never rust

Cons

  • The weights are not adjustable and cannot be added or removed
  • The maximum weight capacity of this vest is 12 lbs which may not be high enough for some users

#5 – RUNFast Adjustable Weighted Vest

The RUNFast Max adjustable weighted vest is available in two versions, one which has a maximum weight capacity of 80 lbs and one which holds a maximum of 140 lbs of weight. It is also possible to purchase further weights at a later date to continue to enhance your exercise regime as you become fitter.

This versatile, good value for money weight vest is ideal for use while cross training, strength training or weighted training and comes in a one size design that can accommodate most shapes and sizes of the wearer. This product is protected by a manufacturer’s warranty for the buyer’s peace of mind.

This well designed, versatile weight vest can be easily adjusted to accommodate a range of weights in order to improve your resistance and strength training exercise regime. The pockets can either be left empty or filled with weights to add or reduce the weight in the vest, with the minimum amount of weight being 12 lbs.

As the weights can be removed from the pockets, it is possible to reposition them for better weight distribution.

and to improve comfort for the wearer depending on their needs and the type of exercise that they are doing. There is also a version of this product available which features shoulder pads for additional comfort.

The durable straps have been designed to withstand even heavy duty use outdoors or in a home gym. This vest fits better on users who are of average height or above, since the torso may be too long and the fit may be too separated for anyone with a smaller frame.

Pros

  • The load can be removed or added to suit the needs of the wearer
  • The load can be re-positioned for better comfort or weight distribution
  • Optional shoulder pads can improve comfort of wear
  • Durable straps for a long lifespan

Cons

  • Not ideal for anyone who is shorter than average due to the length of the torso
  • Quite a bulky design which cannot be worn under clothing discreetly

If you make the right choice of weight vest to suit your individual needs, you can add an extra dimension to your workout and improve your fitness level exponentially. Whether you are new to resistance training or whether you are looking to take your existing regime to the next level, you are sure to feel the benefit of using this useful piece of exercise equipment.

What To Look For In A Weight Vest

When trying to find the best weighted vest, there are several factors that you need to keep in mind in order to make the right choice to suit you. And just like weightlifting shoes designed for women, there are many benefits in selecting a vest created for females. Here are some of the key points to consider:

Quality

The quality of your weight vest is probably the most important factor to bear in mind when choosing a product. You don’t want to choose a vest that will break before you’ve got plenty of use out of it, so you should always ensure that the vest you’re choosing is capable of standing up to the rigors of a serious workout. Check which material has been used to make the outside of the vest and that it is both tear and sweat resistant. This is because sweat causes bacterial build up on the fabric which is then transferred back to the skin, getting into the open pores and causing irritation. You should also check that the weights have been made from either neoprene or a coated metal to protect them from rust.

Adjustability

If you want to get the best benefit from your ladies weighted vest, you need it to be adjustable. If you can add or reduce the weights in it, that can be very beneficial for your workout regime. You may want to reduce the load for one form of exercise, but then add extra for another. Being able to accomplish this will make your vest better value for money. Also, consider how quickly and easily weights can be added or removed as this can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of your workout.

Accessories

What kind of accessories can you add to your chosen vest? Is there a pouch to hold your music player, phone or gloves? Does it have a sweat-resistant sleeve to fit under it? Does it have a reflective strip for better safety if running at night? Is it available in a choice of colors? These features can add to the versatility of your weight vest.

Comfort And Fit

You should always consider how well the vest fits you and whether it feels comfortable when worn. While you may not place a high value on the comfort of your work out gear, a proper fit is essential to allow you to focus on the workout.

Weight

You must check how much your chosen vest weighs on its own and the amount of weight which is supplied with it. Take care that you don’t overestimate the amount of weight you can handle and make the mistake of purchasing a vest which is too heavy for you. You should also ensure that the weights are distributed evenly or can be repositioned in order to adjust for balance and comfort. You should also make sure you are choosing a vest which suits your fitness level – choose one that is too light, and your workout will be of no benefit, but choose one which is too heavy, and you might injure yourself.

Summary Reviewer Sarah JonesReview Date 2017-09-19 Reviewed Item Weighted Vests For Women Author Rating 4

The Ultimate Sandbag Training Routine for Runners

Sandbag training is the exact thing you need if you are looking to increase your strength, power and stability for faster and injury free running.

I love SANDBAGS!

I have been training with sandbags for around 2 years now.

I decided to add them to my training arsenal because I was looking for cheaper ways to spice up my cross-training workouts and add variety to my conditioning routines, and truth be told, sandbag training is an excellent way to do just that.

After 2 years of training with them, I’m really pleased about the range of benefits that sandbag training has to offer. And now I cannot image not having a sandbag in my training program. They are a part of my training program just like my running shoes (I’m, first of all, a runner, duh!), dumbbells, bars, medicine balls, kettlebells, ropes, sliders and my Yoga mat.

Nowadays, I typically use two sandbags that I usually alternate with, one 30 pounds (a home-made bag), and one 60 pounds ( a sport-specific bag I got from Amazon).

The 30-pound bag allows me to do endurance and conditioning exercise with higher reps work, while the heavier bag makes me push harder on the lower rep side, so it’s ideal for building strength.

Benefits of Sandbag Training

Here is a list of the benefits you can reap by doing sandbag training on a regular basis:

Strength & explosive power. The bag is an excellent tool for developing strength and explosive power, both vital for better athletic performance and injury free running. The sandbag can also help you develop core strength in ways that other fitness tools don’t.

A stronger body can better withstand the high impact nature of running, helping you run more efficiently—keys for preventing injury and improving your running performance.

More challenge. The sandbag is the ideal tool to add more variety to your training program, and can make basic movements, like squats and sit-ups, more challenging. It can help you get in a creative and challenging total body workout, at the gym, at home or wherever you have enough space.

No need for a gym. This is why I started sandbag training in the first place. The sandbag is an ideal alternative for helping you get in a high intensity full body workout without running to a gym or paying for hefty fees.

Functional fitness. The type of workouts you can do with a sandbag targets the moves and the muscles you use on a daily basis, helping you do everything in your life with more efficiency. Imagine a workout routine where you can do presses, squats, slams, throws and swings. That’s what sandbag training is all about.

Stabilization. Bags are hard to control since the sand tends to shift around, which is key for learning how to stabilize yourself the entire time. That’s why sandbag training is being used to build strength and joint stability in elite athletes, like fighters, wrestlers and other athletes.

Come in all shapes and sizes. The sandbags come in all shapes, weights, styles, and sizes, and require no advanced technical knowledge on how to use them.

Burns mad calories. Most sandbag training exercises are full body exercises and will push your body to the max. So expect to shed a lot of calories, and sweat like a madman.

Takes minimum time. Sandbag training exercises are quick and effective. All you need is a good bag, 30 minutes of your time to build up a sweat and provide you with a killer workout.

As a result, whether you are a recreational runner, cyclist, CrossFitter, or an elite marathoner, adding the sandbag to your training arsenal will get you stronger, boost your aerobic and anaerobic power, and help you prevent injury—these, after all, are building blocks of a well-rounded training program

How to Get Started with Sandbag Training

Obviously to get started with sandbag training, you will, first of all, need a bag.

You don’t actually need to invest huge sums of money to start sandbag training. I believe that with a minimum investment, almost any one can get their hands on a sandbag and start training with them right away.

When I originally started training with sandbags, I made my own bag that cost me no more than $4. I just took a 60lb bag of builders sand, then I put it inside of an old but sturdy duffel bag, and I was set to go.

How to Make your Own Sandbag

If you are looking to make your own mid-weight, low-cost sandbag, then here are the three steps you need to take:

  1. First of all: gather your materials. To make a sandbag you will need: a duffle bag (make sure it’s resilient and can withstand abuse), a builder’s sand bag, sand (duh!), duct tape, and zip ties.
  2. Next, fill the builder’s bag with sand, wrap the top tightly then seal it tight with duct tape, and zip ties
  3. Finally, add the builder’s bag of sand directly in the duffel bag, then zip it shut. Make sure to leave enough wiggle room inside of the bag for the sand to splatter around.

Now put the bag to work, and do this powerful bag training routine to help you become the best runner (and athlete) you can be.

For more tips on how to make your own bag, watch the following video:

The Commercial Options

If you don’t want to make your own sandbag, then there are plenty of awesome commercial specialty sandbags designed with hardcore training in mind. I currently use the Ultimate Sandbag ($110– Get it Here). This one is a bit expensive but it can help you do a lot of heavy training.

But if you are looking to something cheaper, then I recommend the SKLZ Super Sandbag ($45 – Get it Here). With a maximum weight of 40 pounds, this one will allow you to do a lot of endurance and power training.

Here is a powerful routine that can help you take your athletic performance and running power to the next level.

Perform the following workout as a circuit, and do the exercises in the order shown, performing as many reps as you can with good form. Shoot for at least three complete sets of the circuit.

1. Sandbag Deadlift

Benefits

Deadlifts are some of the best strength building exercises there is. So push your hardest on this one and lift as much weight as you can with good form.

Proper Form

Begin by standing with your feet right next to the bag, then grip the parallel handles or the material of the bag. Next, tuck your toes under the bag, keep a neutral spine, with knees slightly bent, then take the slack out of the bag, and stand up straight, pulling the sandbag up as you lift your back.

Make sure to keep the sandbag close to your legs throughout the lifting motion. Your back should be straight the entire time—never round your lower back when you pick up or lower the bag.

Last up, push your hips back and slowly return to starting position. That’s one rep.

2. Sandbag Power Clean

Benefits

This is a key move for targeting your hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps and shoulders.

Proper Form

Begin by standing behind the bag, feet parallel and at hip width.

Next, while keeping the sandbag closer to your shins, and knee slightly bent, bend over and pick up the bag by the side hands, lift it from the ground, and then explosively pull it upward by extending your knees and hips. Next, and in one fluid movement, descend into a squat, then uncurl the sandbag and take it down to the floor returning to starting position.

That’s one rep.

3. Sandbag Rotational Lunge

Benefits

This is another powerful exercise for the quads, hamstrings, and the entire core.

Proper Form

Begin by grabbing the handles of the sandbag in each hand so that your palms are facing each other.

Next, while standing tall with feet together and sandbag to knee height, step your right leg forward, lunge, then bring the sandbag over your front leg’s knee and rotate through your waist.

Make sure to keep your back flat and core engaged the entire time – allow for no rounding forward, especially as you rotate with the sandbag.

Last up, while keeping your balance, push back to starting position, and switch sides to complete one rep.

4. Sandbag Front Squat

Benefits

This is, by far, one of my favorite squat variations. The sandbag front squat can help you build strong legs, increase core power, improve mobility and flexibility in your lower body

Proper Form

Start with feet shoulder width apart, with toes slightly turned out, then clean the bag to the front position.

Next, push your hips back and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive the hips back upwards and press back to standing.

Squat in a slow and controlled manner and work your hamstrings and glutes as hard as you can.

Make sure to keep your knees tracking over your toes, knees in line with the feet, your elbows tight and body upright the entire time.

5. Thrusters

Benefits

This is the one of the hardest and most challenging full body exercises you can ever do, period.

Thrusters are a mix front squat and overhead press in one explosive mesh. This one works every muscle group from head to toe. It’s also ideal for working both your lungs and muscular system.

So be careful here and do as many reps as you can with good form. Keep in mind that using sandbag makes the exercise much more challenging.

Proper Form

To begin, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, back straight and knees slightly bent, then grab a hold of the bag, pick it up and hold it at shoulder height.

Next, while keeping the weight at chest heights the entire time, squat down, pause for a moment, then stand back up and push press the sandbag overhead until your arms are almost locked out.

Last up, return the weight to the chest and repeat the movement to complete one rep.

6. Around the World

Benefits

This is an excellent move to work on your shoulder, core and grip strength.

Proper Form

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and hold a sandbag in front of you.

Next, pivot to your right and use your whole body to swing the bag quickly over and in a circle over your head to the left side. Make sure to generate enough momentum and to keep your elbows in tight to prevent shoulder injury.

Instead of slowing down use your arms, legs and core to swing the sandbag back to its original position, and complete one rep.

Repeat for 8 reps to complete one set.

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Conclusion

The above sandbag training workout can help you run your best and build an injury-proof body. But you have to take action on it and start doing the sandbag exercises ASAP. Otherwise, you have just wasted your time reading this.

Therefore, take action NOW.

In the meantime thank you for reading my post.

Feel free to leave your comments and questions below.

Cheers

David D.

Note:This post contains affiliate links. For more check my privacy policy.

6 Rules to Follow When Running with a Pack

For many of us, running is hard enough. Add a backpack, and things get tricky, fast. While there’s a pack that fits most every body, it’s still extra weight on your frame. The silver lining is that running with a pack strengthens your core and shoulders in a way that will only benefit your running when you drop the weight (literally).

Here’s what you need to know about choosing a pack and running with it:

1. CHOOSE THE RIGHT PACK

“Depending on the distance, you will first figure out what size you need,” says Jax Mariash, the first woman to complete the Four Deserts Grand Slam Plus, which required carrying all her gear over multiple marathons. This can be tricky, since bag sizes are measured in liters, and we don’t always have a sense for the volume gear takes up. That means when you head to the store to choose your pack, consider bringing the gear you want to stuff in it. You want it to be as close to full as possible, so your gear isn’t bouncing around.

“From there, it is critical to figure out fit,” Mariash adds. “For women, it is a bit more difficult. It needs to fit really snug but not cause chafing. We struggle with our little backs to fit into some of the packs, so you really have to take the time to try them on and test them out.” (Her personal favorite is the OMM Classic Marathon 25L pack.) Most stores — if you ask nice and leave your license or credit card with the cashier — will let you take a pack out of the store and do a quick jog around the parking lot. Do that before committing: Often, a pack feels great inside but out in the wild, it bounces or chafes.

2. FOCUS ON FIT

Every time you head out to run with your pack, take an extra 10 seconds to perfect your fit. “I focus on how it it sits on my back first and then also that it is snug around my waist and fits snug everywhere. I don’t do well if a pack is sloshing around and isn’t fitted enough,” Mariash says. There are often a few straps that need to be fastened and adjusted, so make sure each is in the right place.

READ MORE > FIND YOUR BEST RUNNING SHOES EVER WITH THESE TIPS

3. START LIGHT AND SHORT

Don’t try to do a grocery run right off the bat, or bring your whole workspace to and from the office. Rather, start with a few test runs where you grab an item or two at the store, or leave your laptop at work and just bring a change of clothes in with you. Gradually, you can add more weight, but you might end up with odd muscle soreness if you go all-in on your first runs.

4. TRAIN YOUR BACK

If you have a long run coming up, or you’re trying to get used to a run pack and you’re having trouble, take a page from Mariash’s book and wear your pack while working at a standing desk, or while you’re strength training. “You have to train with the pack to alleviate this stress and do strength training,” she says. “This is why it is so critical: If you don’t, your body is so sore on Day 1 that you really suffer all week. I recommend running two days a week with the pack on and doing a lot of work and errands in it in addition.”

5. RECOVER RIGHT

Don’t neglect your upper back and shoulders when you’re hitting the foam roller pre- and post-run. Take a few extra minutes to release some of the pressure that may have built up from hauling your gear around all day — and revel in the smugness of those bonus calories burned from carting your library books back to the book drop.

6. … AND NEVER RACE WITH A NEW PACK

To add to this last rule, Mariash says she runs with a new pack for weeks in advance of an ultra. “The pack is actually totally packed three weeks out and I work with it and then also do two runs a week with it packed,” she explains. “It is important when choosing one to spend time running in it and also full of gear.”

When it comes to choosing a backpack for running, the options are endless, depending on your need. If it’s a ultramarathon, you’ll want a minimalist vest to carry gels, fluids and snacks. If you’re planning on adding a run commute or two to your weekly mileage, you’ll probably want something more substantial to carry all the essentials.

How to choose the best running backpack:

For more information on choosing the right running bag for you, read our comprehensive guide here. In a nutshell, you’ll want to look at the straps of the bag – you’ll need one with shoulder, chest and waist straps in order to run comfortably. The shoulder straps should be padded and wide enough to distribute weight evenly (thin straps often dig in and rub), the chest strap should be able to be moved up and down (especially important for female runners) and all the straps need to be adjustable.

Secondly, take a look at the capacity of the bag. For commuting 8-12L is normally more than enough room for all your belongings and a good starting point – don’t over pack your bag, the lighter the better.

What are the best running backpacks on the market?

Here are our tried and tested favourites:

Patagonia Nine Trails Pack 18L

Best for: Women

The breathable mesh back panel and harness straps on this backpack are narrower than normal, which makes for a supremely secure fit, and there is considerable padding on the shoulders and waist, where it is needed most. The adjustable sternum straps are fiddly but great for securing comfortably across the chest. Capacity is ample (we even managed to fit in a coat) but the compression straps need to be pulled tight to stop the load shifting around. There are zipped waistband pockets, though the pack would benefit from one on the harness, for a phone.

RW test score: 7/10

Shop now, £109.95, alpinetrek.co.uk

Salomon Out Peak 20

Best for: Long trail runs/ultras

This is outstanding for comfort on longer runs – it’s light (484g) and the design is a cross between a race vest and a backpack, with wide shoulders and a mesh back panel separate from the main compartment, meaning breathability is excellent. The load sits high and securely on your back. This, coupled with elastic front straps, means that once you’ve got it on, it almost feels like a second skin. There’s space for a water bladder and more pockets than you will need, including for front water bottles (the bottles are sold separately). The strap hooks are a bit fiddly to attach – but overall, this is a first-class piece of kit.

RW test score: 9/10

Shop now, £119.45, trekkinn.com

Gregory Maya 10L

Best for: Short commutes

This is a quality product at an affordable price. The Maya is designed for those of a slim frame. It provides a snug fit and surprising amount of room, given its relatively small dimensions. There’s space for a hydration bladder, too, and trekking poles will fit into its side pockets, should you be looking to take it on longer, more adventurous excursions. One caveat: on quicker runs, when the shoulder straps were pulled extra tight to aid stability, our tester experienced a little rubbing around the neck, but nothing major. Apart from that, this is a definitely leader of the pack.

RW test score: 8/10

Shop now, £52, blacks.co.uk

Kalenji Trail Running Bag 10L

Best for: Those on a budget

A clever little operator, this. It features a whopping 10 pockets, but such great generosity does mean that, while you get excellent storage, it can be tricky to remember where the deuce you’ve packed everything – a small complaint. When you’re dodging around on tricky trails you need a pack that sticks to your back like glue so it does not unbalance you,
and this scores high in that area, with five adjustable straps to ensure you get the right fit for your torso. It comes with a 1L bladder on the back and there are front pockets for two 500ml bottles, which are sold separately.

RW test score: 8/10

Shop now, £29.99, decathlon.co.uk

Columbia Caldorado 7L

Best for: Backpack newbies

While this is designed as a bells-and-whistles pack for trail running – with securing hooks for poles, space for a 3L bladder and plenty of pockets – it’s not really robust enough for that. Where it excels is on comfort: the shoulder straps are soft, strong and didn’t dig in at all, and the pack can be adjusted to sit high on the back, offering a rock-solid fit. The small capacity forces you to keep your paraphernalia to a minimum, too. Women runners who are size XS will have to pull the straps painfully tight to secure the pack, so they’re better off looking elsewhere.

Shop now, £41.99, trekkinn.com
Inov-8 All Terrain 35L

Best for: Multi-day events

This one is for runners who like to pack the kitchen sink to cover every eventuality. It’s a monster of a bag, with two entry points, which means that, with careful organisation, you can get to all your stuff with relative ease. The fabric is exceptionally durable, and after a couple of encounters with bushes and branches (we got lost and had to improvise, OK?), it remained free from scratches. The stability is surprisingly good for such a big pack, but small irritations were the lack of anti-odour weave – the scent of pongy kit sticks around in the bag – and breathability against the back was only average.

RW test score: 7/10

Shop now, £59.99, sportsshoes.com

Proviz Reflect 360 Pack 10L

Best for: Night-time running

The Proviz Reflect is good backpack that, with some work, could be an excellent one. The pluses are the weatherproofing (it’s completely waterproof, down to the zips), the reflectivity – like all Proviz kit it’s exceptionally visible in the dark, which makes it perfect for gloomy winter commutes – the durability and the very acceptable price. It is also hydration pack-compatible. On the minus side, the poor breathability leads to a sweaty back, which means it’s not great for very long runs; and the straps tended to pinch a little when they were pulled tight for a snug fit.

RW test score: 7/10

Shop now, £44.99, provizsports.com

Ultimate Performance Aire 2 18L

Best running backpack for: Long training runs

This is more of a hydration pack with spare storage than a backpack. It’s comfortable and fully adjustable, and performs its main function – providing you with fluid – very well. The bladder has a 2L capacity, with a large opening for easy filling, and the bite valve works a treat. It’s a shame, though, that we found heavy sweating caused the fabric dye from the pack to leak a little onto the bladder, discolouring it – although our clothes weren’t affected. In terms of storage, it’s smaller than the sum of its parts, but we crammed in a hat, gloves, keys, gels, an extra 500ml bottle and a small jacket.

RW test score: 7/10

Shop now, £44.99, amazon.co.uk

Inov-8 Race Elite 4L vest

Best for: marathon training

With a harness-style fastening for a close-body fit, lightweight shoulder straps and two large pockets for water bottles, this is a great buy for those marathon training. The 4L storage on the back is big enough for an extra layer, gels and walking poles. There’s also two pockets on the shoulder straps for your keys, cards and even sunglasses. We found the bottles moved around a little when not secured with the elasticated loops, but aside from that, this gets top marks.

RW test score: 9/10

Shop now, £55.99, sportsshoes.com

Osprey Daylite Plus 20L

Best for: walking commutes

A sturdy pack with plenty of space for daily commute needs: the tablet sleeve was perfect for keeping work documents un-crumpled. However, you need to keep weight to a minimum for on-the-run comfort since the unpadded waist/hip and chest straps are narrow and dig in if you pull them tight to minimise bounce.

Shop now, £30, evanscycles.com

OMM Ultra Eight

Best for: smaller runners

This one focuses on fit and comfort rather than features. It’s a minimal 8L pack with few flashy attributes but the weight-to-durability ratio is impressive, and our tester found it an extremely comfortable ride with the (moderate) load locked tight against the body. The straps are adjustable, but we reckon this is best suited to those with a slender frame.

Shop now, £45, runnersneed.com

Best for: race day

The is stylish, sleek and good for going fast for short distances, but not much else. The idea here is to keep the weight and dimensions down, and help you to carry essentials without compromising your run. Our tester packed in a spare top, 1L bladder, phone, keys, wallet and a couple of gels. It was so light he forgot he was wearing it. The only gripe was a fiddly chest strap.

Shop now, £41.99, wiggle.co.uk

Karrimor X Lite 15L

Best for: those on a budget

It probably won’t last as long as some of the other backpacks on the list, but it’s a good place to start if you’re thinking of trying run commuting for the first time. With reflective details to increase your visibility in low light, this 15L backpack is big enough to carry most of your essentials. Featuring one large main compartment and an open mesh pocket on either side, there’s a chest strap and a waist strap to minimise movement on your run.

Shop now, £19.99, sportsdirect.com

Camelbak Ultra 10 Vest

This is almost a very good pack. It’s well designed and there is room to fit in all you need for a long training run alongside the included 1.5L bladder (with its new no-drip, nozzle). But runners who don’t like a high-sitting pack should look elsewhere, and it may take some strap adjustment to ensure a stable fit.

Shop now, £83.99, trekkinn.com

Ronhill Commuter Xero 10L

Best for: a secure fit

Despite the name we don’t think this 10L pack is ideally suited for commuting, largely because it won’t fit enough stuff in unless you pack light, owing to the inflexibility of the material used for the main compartment. But that same inflexibility keeps things in place, while the adjustable fit is excellent and the pack clings tightly to your back.

Shop now, £45, runnersneed.com

Keep shopping

Running with weight vest

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