Many people believe that wearing leg or ankle weights while running will help them run faster. This belief stems from the theory that wearing ankle weights will build up the muscles in your legs that are used for running, allowing you to run faster when you don't wear the weights. However, running with ankle weights can cause injury and compromise your form. Specific training, cardio training and weight training are safer, more effective ways to increase running speed.
Problems With Leg Weights
Despite the popular theory, wearing leg weights while running will not help you run faster. Instead, wearing them can put you at risk for injury by creating strain on your ankle joints and leg muscles, according to Mayo Clinic. Further, they can compromise your running form by interfering with your coordination. Wearing ankle weights while running makes it harder for you to lift your knees with each step. This will make you more tired, but it will not impact your ability to run faster.
If you want to increase running speed, specifically training for speed is more effective than running with ankle weights. According to Dr. Mirkim, who specializes in sports medicine, in order to run faster you have to train your muscles by running faster for longer periods of time. Try to pick up the pace during your usual runs to get used to running faster. As your endurance increases, try to run faster for longer distances to gain more speed.
When you are training, it's important to take time to build up your aerobic fitness. If you bypass cardio training, you won't have the endurance necessary to run fast for the distance of the race. Begin slowly by engaging in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity and build up to at least 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity to increase your aerobic fitness level, according to Mayo Clinic.
If you want to increase strength in your legs for running, skip the leg weights and use a weight-training routine instead. Perform body-weight leg exercises such as traditional squats, single-leg squats, lunges and calf raises three times a week with rest days in between for muscle recovery and growth. This will help develop your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles. Increasing strength in the major muscle groups in your legs will allow you to generate more power with each stride to increase speed while also helping you run longer.
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