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Paige Waehner

In the Forum - Running with Weights

By July 11, 2006

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One forum member asks the burning question: "I was just wondering if using dumbells is a good idea when I jog and also what other advice do you guys have for a new beginner." Running or walking with weights is always a controversial topic in the fitness world. Exercisers want to hold weights to add intensity and burn more calories while experts think you put your joints at risk when you hold weights as you walk or run.

I personally would never recommend holding weights but, instead, either working harder during workouts or, if you must add weights, wear a weighted vest to more evenly distribute the weight. What do you think? Do you think it's okay to hold weights when you walk or run or is it better to add intensity in other ways? Come join the discussion and tell us what you think. Then head over to Wendy's Walking Site to see what she thinks about walking with weights.

July 12, 2006 at 8:48 am
(1) Laura says:

I don’t think it’s a problem. I use velcro weights around my ankles to help get my heart rate up and I haven’t had problems. I have always had problems getting my heart rate up when I work out so the weights really help me. I had to stop doing squats because the stress it put on my knee but the weights don’t bother me.

That’s my personal opinion and I’m not a trainer or anything.

July 12, 2006 at 12:37 pm
(2) Rae says:

Each person needs to decide this issue based on their health, strength, endurance, and individual goals and needs. As with all health and fitness issues, there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.

July 14, 2006 at 2:01 am
(3) Stephan says:

I just bought some light weights for that purpose to strengthen and firm up my core and arms as I jog. I also do variations in my jog, like lunges or mimic telemark skiing, or run backwards. My distance will be less, but my workout in the same time will be more. Then I’m really ready for ski season…the beach or wherever…

July 17, 2006 at 8:59 pm
(4) Robert mccudden says:

I walk outdoors with ankle weights and on a treadmill with hand weights (and have done so for many years, I’m 59). As a results I have developed a good combination of endurance and strength. I can easily tackle the most difficult terrain. The hand weights allow you to perform an interval routine on a treadmill. Over a 40 minute session at 6.8kph I punch the weights, 1.5kg each, overhand grip, for a minute every five minutes. The rest of the time I use a conventional arm movement. I maintain a heart rate of 165+- for the duration of the session.
I recommend hand or ankle weights to add intensity to any walking routine especially if you want to progress.

July 18, 2006 at 12:21 pm
(5) erindreg says:

My aunt is a nurse and would often wear ankle weights on her shifts or while jogging. Now she is 58 and needs a hip replacement. Of course there are a combination of causes, but too much stress on the body is never good and in this case, damaging.

December 14, 2006 at 6:59 am
(6) Dave says:

I’ve progressively worked up to 8lbs per hand without problems. It increases calorie burn per unit time and helps build bone density. No joint problems. Will be 52 in two weeks. Check out the “heavy hands” site

December 27, 2006 at 3:13 pm
(7) Kan says:

Another thing I would suggest is try wearing a hodie and a tracksuit. This way you are carrying more weight and it is distributed uniformly!

February 18, 2007 at 7:15 am
(8) smith says:

i have a weight vest and have been using it for 2 years for running. i have not had any problems.

April 16, 2007 at 5:39 am
(9) Pete says:

I think before deciding to run with weights, you should consider the reasons for doing it. Personally, For example, in my freetime i help run a climbing club near Milan and carrying equipment whilst climbing can be demanding. In order to help this, i run with a small bergen, with 10Kilos of weights in, (just to give an idea). Running as a sport has already a severe impact on the body, and I would however recommend anyone thinking of putting further stress on their body whilst running, should consult their doctor first.

April 30, 2007 at 10:50 pm
(10) Kitaeru says:

A question actually:

Does anyone know the advantages .. or disadvantages, of running, not too fast; to decrease impact, with,say, a tyre at one end of some rope and the other end of the rope tie to belt around one’s waist?

Don’t NFL players train like this?

I am figuring: if I attach the rope to a wide belt around my waist, the ‘pull’ on my waist will be less harmful. plus the weight of the tyre will slow me down and the slower you run the least impact on your body, right? Meanwhile dragging that tyre around should burn more calories.

I hate cardio machines; staying in one position does my head in.

I really would like to hear people’s opinion on this.

Thanks in advance.

May 7, 2007 at 8:21 am
(11) Pete says:

can’t say i’d ever heared of running with a tyre tied to the waist, i guess you got a reason for wanting to train like this ?. Personally i cannot see many advantages other than it being lighter on the knees. You’re talking maybe of the fact that dragging the tyre is simulating being held by someone in a scrum, so therefore to create a similar drag effect. You’d be better i guess running normally for stamina, and if you want to do this kind of activity, i’m sure there are facilities (a gym) that have something similar, being tied to a bungee fixed to a wall and pulling against it, (thought for everday purposes cannot really see an advantage unless for a specific sport). NFL’s not my thing so not so sure how they train.

How is you’re fitness otherwise, i guess you go running anyway ?.

Make sure you get a good health check before undertaking this kind of exercise…


July 9, 2007 at 7:12 pm
(12) Mike says:

I ran with 5 lb. ankle weights on each ankle and 6 lbs. in each hand for two years. The exercise helped me to run a 4.2 40 and I could dunk and I’m only 5’8″ tall (i’m also white.) However, my MCL was torn when someone hit me in the knee. I don’t know if the injury is a result of the ankle weights, but I sure benefitted physically before the injury.

August 28, 2007 at 3:50 pm
(13) Jason says:

Pulling a tire: I played Grade School and High School football (totaling 13 years). In HS – we frequently pulled tires of various sizes/weights – however, the exercise was more to increase the quick burst of strength needed for football. We never pulled more than 40 meters max. I wouldn’t recommend pulling tires for anything more than sports like football or maybe strength training Track workouts. For running or even fat burning – it is more important to maintain proper running technique and Heart Rate.

October 25, 2007 at 12:44 pm
(14) A says:

running with weights is a great bodybuilder i do myself and see great results

October 31, 2007 at 5:43 pm
(15) O says:

I use ankle weights I wear them under my jeans and everywhere I walk/run. It really helps your calfs and tendons. It’s also great for building up your quads. Me being a highschool scouted sprinter I need that extra strength I can come by. It’s also about how your body will react to the weight. Saying all that I still think it’s a good move.

November 12, 2007 at 2:28 pm
(16) Jim says:

The question here is not simply adding weight to a running body – (what is the diffrence between a 160 lb man carrying 20 extra pounds of weight when he runs versus a 180 lb man running without any weight? The real idea to delve into is what is the WHOLE body doing (compared to the common method of strapping it into a device that lets only one muscle exercise at a time. For a strong core, one needs to exercise the core functionally and that can include many different dynamic exercises in which the legs are running and the upper body is doing something else with added weight and resistance – use your imagination!

February 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm
(17) Andrew Poulias says:

ok so i see you are all talking about anke weights and that was not the question at all…….He asked running with dumbells…i think there would be a very big difference….

but i just started running with extra weight today for my indoor track practice….

i thought it would be a good idea cuz it would help me build up more stamina, speed, and strenght…

i might be pushing it cuz i run with 2 20 lbs dumbells…and i only weigh 145, im 6′ ft tall…and my max bench is only 135

i did 20 sets of stairs with this weight and then ran 4×3′s

when i was running i held em both up like 6 in in front of me….

and it is a very good workout using extra weight i had not sweated like today in a very long time….

but so i need to know if you guys dont think this is a good idea…lol
cuz i dont want to end up messn up my joints and stuff for outdoor track and all

February 15, 2008 at 12:53 am
(18) Phillip says:

Yea. I agree with a few people on here saying that it depends on your personal goals and what you want to achieve.
Personally, i am a football player and to help improve my 40 yard dash time from 4.6 seconds to 4.34 seconds, i practice sprinting while pulling large amounts of weights behind me.
I tried the weighted vest, but that didn’t seem to help in my case.

For jogging and to just stay in shape, i would recommend the weighted vest.
I wouldn’t, however, recommend jogging while holding weights or with weights around the ankles. I think it is dangerous and you seriously put yourself in a place for injury.

February 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm
(19) Austin says:

i walked with ankle weights for a while but my knees started hurting after about a week so i stopped and took it easy, but i hear that thigh weights are slightly more beneficial with out the danger of throwing your knee out of there sockets

February 18, 2008 at 12:35 pm
(20) ray Doyle says:

are thee any potential harmful affects to the body if one runs with weighted gloves and a weighted vest as opposed to a vest and dumbbell. currently i am using a vest designed for Reebok iron like material weights with sand weights instead since, i found if used regularly the weights of the metal like material will degrade from sweat , general usage and friction leaving a grayish residue on clothes and may cause headaches if exposed to the smell for too long . Plus , i am currently using Reebok’s 3lb s per glove 1.5kg ironwear flexi-metal containing gloves totaling all together 25 pounds 18 from the sand weights in the vest 1 pound from the empty vest and 6 pounds from the pair of gloves . the activities i am engaging in are running , jogging , power walking , basketball with the vest yet not gloves and pretty much wearing the vest day in and day out except for bed . any suggestions to improve the workout ? I’m currently about 210 around 6ft trying to get back to 160 lbs or get my body fat down from 27% to its pre-graduation 10% didn’t think walking class to class burned so many calories oh well guess i would say the same about work as well

February 21, 2008 at 5:26 am
(21) Craig says:

I run with a weighted rucksack. I use sand filled freezer bags. Each bag weighs 1 lb. That way I can increase the weight gradually. It’s improved my unweighted run times and leg strength. I would strongly recommend building weighted endurance up over a period of time and schedule in unweighted runs as a rest. Further to this I strongly recommend NOT running with ankle weights. As the weight is at the end of the leg it will cause the foot to gain more velocity than it would normaly create and this may pull the leg and damage the knee and hip joints. Obviously increasing the weight you are carrying on your back oe in a vest will cause more impact damage through the joints so this should be monitored.

March 22, 2008 at 6:01 pm
(22) juan says:

I think the key to being able to run with weights is a strong core. I have been doing 100 sit ups 3 to 4 x week with 45lb barbells for about 5 years now and it has helped. I run with a 30 lb vest and 5 lb dumbbells on each hand for 30 minutes 2-3 a week. I also ran a 10k with my daughter piggyback she weighs 65 lb my time was 58 minutes. hardest thing i have ever done. My point is a strong core. Have not had any problems. everbody thinks i am crazy! 34 years old 170 lb 5’6″

May 29, 2008 at 7:44 am
(23) Andy says:

Would someone who has a low upper body weight be any different using dumbells than someone running who is heavier? I guess the sudden change in stress on the legs would be an issue unless you slowly built up to sizeable dumbells, but surely once this is done the effects would only be positive on the whole body?

August 17, 2008 at 12:22 pm
(24) jjimmy says:

Hey guys,

I wrote a review of a guide on how to stop sweating which I started using a few months ago, and it has been working really well.

I was thinking of sharing some of the methods I read about, but I’d also be interested to hear what steps you guys have been taking to help your sweat problem.


October 11, 2008 at 12:23 pm
(25) todd says:

i run with a weighted vest on occasion. the most i ever worked up to was 30 lbs. im a pretty fit guy though, and i wouldnt recommend doing this to any one outside of any military special operations community. several years ago i had a series of knees surgeries, ACL replacement, two menisectomies. weights can aggrivate my knee, but i limit my mileage with weights to about 6 miles a week. there arent too many physical advantages i can muster. there is a marked increase in raw stamina, but i believe the greates gain comes in core strength and moreover, psychological endurance. its a painful evolution, and knowing you can do it is a big boost in confidence.

October 21, 2008 at 6:38 am
(26) sam says:

i love the idea of running with dumbells, just now i done 10 lengths of my stairs with 10kg dumbells in each hand and im telling you i gt more tired doing that than running round my park :D its a gooden

November 17, 2008 at 3:52 pm
(27) Aldo says:

I like running with dumbells, only 3 lb each… I only have like an hour to workout so I find it perfect when I dont have the time to get my biceps worked, as I have the feeling of a good workout after 30 mins.. of running with dumbells… then I go on with the rest of the body parts

February 16, 2009 at 11:03 pm
(28) Dan says:

I’ve tried running with weights, and it does give your arms more of a workout; but I’ve found that you can build muscle more effectively by simply lifting weights. One thing that can be useful is a weight vest, although it’s most useful when doing hill/stair workouts, where you run up and walk down repeatedly. That way it increases resistance in an anaerobic activity, and will build muscle.

April 18, 2009 at 9:29 pm
(29) Aleksey says:

I’ve been running with dumbbells since I was a like 15(25 now). I mean, every period in my life when I was getting back to gym, I always run with it. Basically my set is: I wear a warm pants, sweater and take 5 lb. in each hand, on treadmill I go Hills, 10 minutes and 7.0 speed. This plus weightlifting helped me to loose 10lb in 4 weeks. Right now I’m getting up to 7,5 lb for each hand and I don’t have any problems with joints or anything. Hands getting stronger in elbow area but I think it really depends on individual fitness level.

May 2, 2009 at 4:40 am
(30) gabriella says:

Since I have injured my ankle I can’t run as fast I would like and keep my heart rate up. So I found that running with light – 1 lb – dumbells helps me get the workout I need even while running slower and I also see some toned upper body that I didn’t see before. But I think the key is to run with very light weights so as not to put too much pressure on your joints. Avoiding injury is the most important thing, believe me!

July 27, 2009 at 6:09 pm
(31) Kalikiano Kalei says:

Small, purpose-made hand weights have a specific utility that apparently isn’t widely known or discussed. In the case of a runner who is of the common ecotomorphic build (slender), there is often a corresponding lack of strong upper torso musculature (arms/chest), while the lower body (thighs, etc.) tend to be (like a cyclist) more well developed. This ‘typical’ runner’s bodily configuration makes it somewhat harder to counteract the swinging motion of the legs with the arms alone, since there’s often less body mass in the arms. Small hand-held weights help to compensate for this lack of upper body mass in the runner’s arm swing, and of course they can also help develop upper body mass/stregth when used properly by thinner runners. Another idea that has been little explored, seemingly, is a small, hand-held device that combines a fixed mass of weight (several Troy ounces, 4 to 10 or so) coupled with a small flask that can be used to hydrate (amount totaling less than 8 fluid ounces); the device is shaped to fit the hand and held in place by a Velcroed, adjustable mesh strap. I note there is now a patent or two to be found on such a device, but to date I do not know of any commercially available combined hand-weight/flask products precisely like this. A product of this type could prove quite useful on short duration, hot runs of three miles or less–the sort of daily training (2 miles only, which is two full laps) run I take around the California State Capitol’s park at noon each day, in the summer months.

October 28, 2009 at 6:00 am
(32) Samael says:

I started to run with 20 kg. bergen in my rucksak for about month and half,5 times per week,and no problems so far.I am 90 kg. in weight and 190 cm. in height.I run 5km. outdoors with some climbing.

October 28, 2009 at 6:02 am
(33) Samael says:

Sorry if my english is bad.

December 17, 2009 at 11:34 pm
(34) wojtek says:

I am former pro runner and distance coach.

Strength has been always my concern .
I used to run with weighted belt and constantly pull a heavy tire ( up to 10x100m).

Ankle weights and dumbbells are great to , as long as we can control the weight , w/o changing technique.

The rule of the thumb is :
- do as little and as light as long as you feel results.

In other words – maximum results with minimum input.
Weights are addictive , don’t let them control you.

January 27, 2010 at 5:29 am
(35) Liam Horsley says:

I am a design student at the University of Northumbria, England and im looking in to the advantages and disadvantages of ankle weights.

I was just wondering if anyone had any comments or issues regarding ankle weights, in particular aspects such as materials, comfort, likes, dislikes and any problems encountered during use? (plus anything else you can think of)

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

March 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm
(36) Martyn says:

I usually run 4 miles, with a total of anything from 13kg up to 19kg. But I will occasionally run 7 miles with the same amount of weight when I fancy it. I normally do this loose combination twice a week. I use ankle weights, wrist weights and rubber dumbells – so as to distribute the load, though, most of the weight is on my arms (the legs are still carrying it all!).

I also perform a few exercises like dumbell curls and shoulder presses (while at a walking pace) and stop to do 20 or 30 press ups every half mile or so. I take my time – usually up to an hour and a half.

I’ve been running with weights since I was 19 I’m now 32, have no aches or pains and quite a desirable body. I’m 6’1″ and weigh 89 kg.

I would reccomend it to most people – but definitely start off with light weights before building up to 20kg and take plenty of water with you.

April 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm
(37) josh says:

There is no quicker way to destroy your joints and strain the skeletal system than to run/jog with weights. The reason larger people can run/jog with the extra weight and not suffer extreme joint damage is due to their weight distribution. Short of putting on a “fat suit” there is no way to simulate proper weight distribution. Weights bring unexpected pressure to specific areas that are affected by the excercise and can only take so much stress before irreversable damage is caused

June 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm
(38) Bob D. says:

I like to run with hand weights but you have to watch your pulse a little to avoid heart problems. But it is good for conditioning and increases foot speed. Thirty seconds on with weights and a minute off seems to be a good pattern.

September 14, 2011 at 4:55 am
(39) kcirtap says:

@Mike, its too bad you hurt your knee. with your 4.2 40, you would have been by far the fastest player in the NFL. Running with ankle weights or dumbells puts tremendous stress on your joints/ligaments and only trains your muscles in 1 direction, further increasing your injury risk when you attempt to run without them. there are thousands of safe practical ways to improve at running faster, jumping higher, or whatever the case may be. figure out what activity you’re trying to improve, then research them. unless of course, you want to get better at running with ankle weights.

September 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm
(40) Juann ! says:

It is the best way to get into a somewhat physical more athletic version of yourself, your body is acting like if your running like a fat guy so when you take them off it’s like you lost 10lbs in minutes feeling way lighter and absolutley faster due to the resistance! I would consider doing it three times a week if your in good phsical condition :)

September 16, 2011 at 7:16 pm
(41) Mohammed says:

I do a mile with a weighted vest 14kg atm which will soon 20kg as I continue. I also can do Squats 60kg 20 reps x 5 sets. Your legs will become solid and very powerful. Best Way to Train !

November 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm
(42) MDM says:

I was in the army and we would do CFT’s (Combat Fitness Test) with 25 kilo’s over 8 miles.

Usually out on exercise we would carry shed loads in our bergans. The Cambrian was a 50 kilo over 60 kilometres (40 miles)

I’m alright for it. We were fit as, back then.

Some of the contributors on this subject are just big girls!!

March 13, 2014 at 5:20 am
(43) Bob the Runner says:

I always run carrying a 20 lb bowling ball. I know the Kenyan Olympic team does this. It builds endurance and core strength.

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