Running with Weights: Good or Bad?

There are two sides on whether to use weights while running. I’ve used weights before and it helped me develop my leg muscles, speed and endurance, which also helped me with my jumping ability in basketball. But I made sure that the weight I used in training didn’t cause any strain on my body.

Now paratroopers have always carried a load on their back that was much too heavy. A paratrooper I know once told me that he has a bad back and other problems because of his days in the army. So weight is a big factor.

If you have a lean build and run long distances you can use light weights, 1 or 2 pounds, for working on your arm techniques, how you move your arms in walking or running.  See this video. Also ask a trainer about running with weights. He or she can check you out to see if you could handle the extra load properly.

For all you jocks out there, this video shows a workout routine in which a young man runs up and back  on a football field wearing a 40 pound chest weight. Use this only if you are younger or in extremely good condition. I feel that most people would not benefit at all from that much weight. It would most likely cause injury if you pushed it just a little beyond the red line.

People use weights differently. I know a man who takes daily walks with a 10-pound weight in each hand, doing curls as he walks. It will tone your biceps if you don’t overdo it. Finish your reps, then drop them. You can hurt yourself if you overdo your reps. Your body will certainly let you know.  I qualify as a specialist in overdoing it. But I’m improving.

I have used weights while running to build up my leg muscles and endurance. Before I joined the air force I trained 10 hours a day and lost 40 pounds. That included playing in a volley ball league and a basketball league that had ex-college and pro players. At six feet even, I couldn’t touch the rim. After training, I was down to 175 and had excellent speed and endurance. My vertical leap was 32 inches and with a three-step run-up I could dunk with my large hand on occasion.

Years later, I was up to 205 and in excellent health but I wanted to get rid of the excess fat and lose down to 190. With a proper diet (no trips to Fat Boy’s Bar-b-que) and a steady diet of running, with and without weights, I lost the excess and later on developed more definition.

My hand weights were about 5 pounds each and my weight belt, about 13 pounds. But I preferred the weight belt. I varied my runs but kept the loaded-down runs to 800 to 1200 yards, picking up speed the last 100 to 200 yards. Other days I would run 2 miles without weights. After a while I could run much faster, longer without breathing hard. Recovery time was quick, a matter of about 25 seconds. My blood pressure was generally between 100-110 and my pulse just under 60.

Years later, when I was working at Kennedy Space Center, a doctor there measured my lung capacity at 6.78 liters, equivalent to a deep sea diver. The average man has a lung capacity of 4.68 liters. My capacity was equal to 414 cubic inches. They put me on a treadmill, turned it on high and raised it up to get my heart beating to 162 but they never could. Once I tried it wearing combat boots and carrying two 5-pound weights and they still failed to hit 162.

All that training helped me to weather a lot of stress and physical exhaustion over the years. Otherwise I know for certain that I would have been off planet earth a long time ago.

So keep on running.



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