Why didn’t we purchase weight vests for Empower?  We have almost every other toy required to do the CrossFit.com WODs as prescribed except for weight vests.  Was it an oversight or was there a reason?

The only reason we even have weight vests available now is because Dangers bought himself one and then the hard core ladies started lobbying for one so Sandman, always keen to keep the women happy, bought them one.

The CrossFit Games 6K Rucksack run certainly raised some questions when it came up in our programming.  At the Games, weight was added every 1500m up to a total of 50lbs for men and women.  Naturally, our Empower members wondered if they too should wear weighted vests or rucksacks when performing today’s 6K run.

Should you wear a weight vest?  Here’s coach’s decision tree:

Why are you training?

If you are training just to get/stay fit, then no.  Do not run with a vest!  The 6K run is itself sufficient to stimulate positive athletic adaptations.  The weight vest would contribute only marginal benefits with a much increased risk of injury.  Running without additional weight is already challenging on the joints which is why runners suffer a host of injuries including shin splints, plantar fasciitis, ankle, knee and hip pain.

If, however, you are training for competition, the answer gets a bit more complicated.  Weight vests have been featured at the CrossFit Games for years and were programmed for this year’s CanWest Games as well.  So chances are, competitors will find themselves wearing a weight vest during an event.

Getting accustomed to training with your breathing restricted and shoulders fatigued from the weight of the vest can help you prepare for competition.  The question is, are you willing to risk injury to gain that experience?  Especially when an injury could interfere with your training or even compromise your ability to compete.

If you think it worth the risk, go on and give it a try.  Otherwise, give the vest a pass on the run and instead test it out in the gym on safer, less impactful movements like thrusters or push ups or air squats.

Sometimes in CrossFit the lines get blurred, it is important to keep in mind whether you are here for fitness or competition.  It is also useful to regularly do a risk-reward analysis when deciding how to scale workouts because in some cases, such as a 6K weighted run, the risk may greatly outweigh any potential benefit.