8 Pros & Cons Of Running With Wrist Weights

Photo of author
Last Updated On

There are many different ways to improve your current exercise routine. What about running with wrist weights, what benefits can you expect?

Wrist weights are simply straps with some extra weight that you can wear on your wrists. They can be used in many exercises to add some extra resistance to your training, including running.

Should you run with wrist weights?

Before going into the benefits you have to know that running with wrist weights can also have a few downsides.

Running can be hard on body parts like ankles, shins, knees, and back. Wearing wrist weights while running even more so. Your shoulders and elbows also experience more pressure from running with wrist weights.

There is another reason wrist weights are not optimal for exercises like running and walking. Some external weights like a weighted vest generally only increase pressure on the same muscles you already use in a “normal” ratio.

On the other hand, running with wrist weights will likely influence your center of mass. To balance yourself you will likely engage your muscles in a different ratio. This can lead to a change in gait that may not be optimal for your daily life or running race performance.

If you want to run with external weights, running with a weighted vest is generally better than running with wrist weights.

That being said, running with wrist weights is likely slightly better than running with ankle weights and it can still offer some advantages over running without.

Some of these benefits may not outweigh the downsides. Other workouts may also offer these extra benefits without the downsides. If you are injury-sensitive it may be smarter to leave the wrist weights aside.

1. Can help you lose more weight

Losing weight is about using up body fat, which is basically energy stored. To do this you want to make sure that you require more energy throughout the day than there is coming in from food.

One way to try to make this happen is by doing a workout. By increasing the intensity of your movements for a period of time you use up more energy than usual. Running with wrist weights can help with weight loss since using it generally requires more energy compared to running without them.

A big factor in how many calories you burn during a workout is your weight. To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more weight you carry, the more energy you need to fuel movement.

For example a 155-pound (70 kg) person running for 30 minutes at 5.2 mph (8.4 kmh) burns around 330 calories.

On the other hand, a 185-pound (83 kg) person running for 30 minutes at 5.2 mph (8.4 kmh) burns around 393 calories.

There will likely be a difference in how much wrist weights increase calorie-burning vs the same weight in body fat but that just shows how running with wrist weights can benefit weight loss.

Wrist weights will likely not make or break your weight loss journey but even a small improvement in a workout you do regularly can make a difference over time.

Keep in mind that other lifestyle habits like what you eat are important when trying to lose weight no matter what exercise you do. You can work out and gain weight at the same time if your other lifestyle habits are not good.

2. Engages your muscles more

Something important to note first is that to really grow and strengthen muscles you have to put them under enough pressure with the right resistance, repetitions, and sets.

If you can take more than 30 steps without your muscles fatiguing, running with wrist weights will not take care of the muscle growth part of toning your arms.

At the same time, wearing wrist weights can help you engage certain muscles and improve endurance in them. Some of the muscles that will have to work harder include:

  • Deltoids (main shoulder muscle)
  • Biceps (front upper arm)
  • Trapezius (upper shoulder)
  • Scapular muscles (muscles around your shoulder blades)
  • Core muscles
  • Leg muscles

Especially the upper body muscles mentioned will have to work a good amount more compared to their strength.

Using running equipment like wrist weights will mostly be beneficial for improving arm muscle endurance and flexibility. Additionally, engaging these muscles can help keep them healthier for longer.

If you are serious about growing and strengthening muscles you do generally want to choose weight lifting exercises over running with wrist weights.

3. Improved cardiovascular health

Your cardiovascular system is the circulatory system inside of your body and includes heart and blood vessels. These transport many types of important nutrients, oxygen, and waste throughout your body.

When you move more intensely your body needs to transport these things, which means using your heart, at a higher rate.

Your heart is a muscle that can be trained by using it more intensely. Running with wrist weights makes your heart beat faster and thus helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system more (1).

This in turn leads to a wide variety of other benefits (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Do keep in mind that muscles can get injured. If you have not done any physical activity in a long time you may want to start out with low-intensity movements without wrist weights and build up from there.

4. Relatively budget-friendly

Another potential hurdle for many workouts is the budget required.

Some exercises require inexpensive equipment starting with a jumping rope to at-home workout machines of hundreds or thousands of dollars. Even the investment required for gym subscriptions adds up after a while.

Money put into improving your health is generally a great investment but sometimes you can get the same effects with less. Wrist weights are relatively inexpensive. This can be a great benefit depending on your personal situation.

5. Can improve athletic performance

This next benefit of running with wrist weights doesn’t mean that you should wear them in your next 5k or other competitive running race.

Instead wearing wrist weights during your preparation training can help you improve performance without them to some extent.

By engaging your cardiovascular more with the help of wrist weights, you can potentially see faster improvements. This will be useful in sports and activities that involve cardiovascular efforts.

Something to note is that wrist weights are definitely not the only way to do this. Even when it comes to wearable weights, other methods can be more effective and convenient.

6. Improved bone density

Exercise can help improve, and prevent degeneration of, your bone density, basically the strength of your bones (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12). This is helpful for avoiding broken bones.

Depending on your age you may not be that worried about something like this right now. However, exercising right now can help you avoid broken bones in 40 years. The things you do today have an impact on the future.

The way many parts of your body work is that by challenging them in safe amounts you set in motion processes that strengthen these body parts.

The same goes for your bones, by putting pressure on them you make them stronger in the long term.

Running with wrist weights puts more pressure on your bones than running without them. Especially in your arms. This in turn can benefit your bone density in the long term.

Generally, workouts on land with a lot of jumping and strength training exercises are the best for improving bone density. Next, you have exercises that put less pressure on your bones like walking.

Lastly, you have exercise in the water like swimming which will still benefit bone density but likely not as much as the other categories.

7. Makes your running more time-efficient

Another benefit of running with wrist weights is that it can help you decrease the time it takes to get in a good workout. A good workout session isn’t necessarily about duration.

For example to build muscle you basically want to put enough strain on your muscles so muscle growth processes start. This doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time out of your day.

A more intense cardio workout can train your cardiovascular system in a shorter amount of time than one at a lower intensity. Wearing wrist weights while running can help with this last thing.

This benefit of running with wrist weights is especially useful if you have trouble finding enough time throughout your day to fit in a workout and want to squeeze just a bit more out of your existing workouts.

8. Healthier lungs

To move around your body needs oxygen, the more intensely the more oxygen. Your body absorbs oxygen from the air through your lungs.

By using your lungs more you can improve how well they work (13, 14, 15, 16, 17). Running while wearing wrist weights engages your lungs more than workouts without (1).

Improving how well your lungs function leads to benefits like improved exercise performance and being able to do more without getting out of breath.


All in all, it is nice to know that you can get some advantages from adding one piece of equipment to your running routine.

One thing you need to remember is that even though there are benefits to wearing wrist weights, your injury risk is generally also higher.

Especially if you are more of an exercise beginner you want to start with soft workouts without wrist weights and slowly build up from there.

Many of the best wrist weights allow you to change up the weight. In that case, you can start with lower weights first and if that goes well, go up to higher weights.

If you feel pain in any body parts it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, a less intense workout schedule, or it may be a sign that running with wrist weights is not for you.

You can also just use how fast and how long you run as a way to switch up your workouts.

Additionally, if you want to run with weights a weighted vest may be a better option than wrist weights. In turn, running with wrist weights likely leads to less of a change in gait than running with ankle weights.

Also keep in mind that consistency is a big factor in a workout plan. The more you love the exercise you do the easier it becomes to do it consistently.

If you like running with wrist weights and you can do it in a safe way, great. If not, regular running or other wrist weight exercises can also offer a lot of benefits.

Photo of author


Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.