Does Walking with Weights Boost Weight Loss?

Amy Schlinger
by Amy Schlinger
Share it:
Does Walking with Weights Boost Weight Loss?

Walking with weights is a phenomenon that has been around since the days of the Jane Fonda workout videos. Whether it was hand weights or ankle weights, the added pounds were believed to help individuals lose weight while already moving. Studies support that belief, proving the added weight can up the metabolic burn.

So should you be wearing ankle weights on your commute to work? Would a hike with hand weights be more beneficial than one without? Is walking with weights still a thing?


If walking with weights can increase your metabolic burn, why aren’t more people doing it? That’s because many trainers wouldn’t recommend it. “If you decide to go for a five-mile hike in the mountains with hand weights, fatigue does eventually set in and your form starts to suffer when you get tired,” explains Michelle Lovitt, exercise physiologist and trainer in Los Angeles. “You start compensating for certain movements, whether that’s even distribution across the body, using one leg or arm more than the other or balance across the body.”

For example, if you watch someone walking on a treadmill with hand weights, after 10 minutes you may notice his or her shoulders start to slump, legs aren’t fully extending or one arm may be higher than the other, explains Lovitt. Luckily, if you’re on a treadmill, you can set the weights down, but on a hike, it’s unlikely you can leave the weights behind. “Poor form can frequently be distributed to the low back and cause injury,” says Lovitt.

The only way Lovitt would suggest adding weight to a walk is with a weighted vest. “A vest creates even distribution of weight across the body,” says Lovitt. “Adding a weighted vest can help you burn more calories by raising your heart rate, but only if you’re strong enough to handle the weight. It’s not for beginners.”



If you’re an athlete training to get faster, weighted vests, bands, resistance, wind and parachute training may be used to increase your performance and speed. But if you’re not an athlete and you don’t need to be faster for a competition, then you don’t need to be walking with weights. Instead, separate the two forms of training.

“Do one thing at a time as intensely as possible, and then move on to the other,” suggests Lovitt. “Circuit train in a gym and give all-out effort, then go for an hour walk after.”

If you’re heading out for a short, five-minute walk around the block or with your pet, feel free to bring along hand or ankle weights. But if you’re walking for a lengthier amount of time, Lovitt suggests leaving the added pounds behind. “I may have those clients who are strong enough wear a weighted vest for plyometric exercises, but I would never in a million years put weights in my clients’ hands or on the ankles on a hike,” says Lovitt. “I rarely even have them carry their phones because even that can make one side of their body more tense than the other.”

About the Author

Amy Schlinger
Amy Schlinger

Amy is a New York-based fitness and health writer and editor whose work has appeared in SELF, Men’s Fitness, Shape, Muscle & Fitness HERS, Pilates Style, Max Sports & Fitness and more. Check her out at


16 responses to “Does Walking with Weights Boost Weight Loss?”

  1. Avatar Joyce says:

    I have lost 20 pounds but want to keep my metabolism up. My question is… I have been walking with that weight to begin with why can I not wear a weighted vest to keep walking and burning more calories?

    • Avatar Kelly Carter says:

      The article answered that question: “…your form starts to suffer…” “You start compensating for certain movements…” “Poor form can frequently be distributed to the low back and cause injury…” The article goes on to suggest a preference for a weighted vest versus hand or ankle weights, if you insist on using weights.

      • Avatar Star Platinum: ZA WARUDO says:

        She lost 20 pounds of weight, that would mean she would just walk as if she still had the weights! Unfortunately, ou have to do it gradually, and that could be a pain

    • Avatar What_no_change??? says:

      Being someone who has already had one knee joint replaced, 10 knee surgeries (9 on one side and one on the other), I would recommend not adding the weight but vary your terrain. If you walk on a treadmill gradually increase the angle. If you walk on a track or road consider a bike path or hiking trail. These will provide the metabolism boost you are looking for while not over stressing your hips knees and ankles. With regard to the trail walk you will probably find that you are walking more slowly but are paying more attention to where you are stepping. The increase in balance checks that your entire body will perform will provide an isometric form of metabolic workout.

  2. Avatar collaroygal says:

    I use a backpack when I have a long hike, toss in a couple of hand weights along with water and snack bag. I don’t have a problem doing this at all.

    • Avatar Joel Hart says:

      I was without work for six months time when my early Co-worker ultimately advised me to start freelancing at home… That was only after I gained $5000 in my very first thirty days when I really believed I could do this for a living! At this moment I am joyful than ever… I work at home and also I am my own boss now like I always wanted… I see several discouraged people around me, working the same old boring job that is sucking the everyday life from them day-after-day… Everytime I notice some-one similar to that I say START FREELANCING MAN! This is where I started off >>>> http://www­.­doshort­.­com/58sj

    • Avatar Tom Dunn says:

      I freelance at home, performing basic work which just requires from you a desktop and internet access and it is a life-saver for me… After six months on this job and i gained so far total of 36,000 dollars… Basicly i earn about 80 bucks/h and work for 3-4 hr most of the days.And awesome thing about this job is that you can easily manage valuable time when you work and for how long as you wish and you get paid every week >> http://www­.­get­.­lc/k7IN6

    • Senior director of Bing!, is explaining to visitors to begin with “Work at home” method, that I have already been doing for about twelve months now. This year only, I generated close to $36k until now with nothing but my computer and some extra time, even though i have a regular 9 to five job. Even everyone not used to this, can make $50/per h successfully and the profit may go much very high as time passes… This is how i started >> http://urlfat­.­com/4BG

    • Avatar Elijah Hart says:

      Chief of Google!, is helping users to begin with “Work at home” method, that Loads of people have been doing for about 12 months now. This season alone, I generated close to $36k up till now with no more than my PC and some extra time, despite that i have a regular nine to five job. Even most people newbie in this, can make $50/per h undoubtedly and the profit can be even very high with time… This is how i started >> http://kxk­.­me/?TPVJA

    • M­a­n­y p­e­o­ple w­a­nt t­o ha­v­e a awesome earnings at their, bu­t t­he­y don’t have much idea ho­w t­o exactly d­o th­at o­n th­e Int­ernet. Th­ere ar­e a a number of w­ays t­o ea­rn am­ount of mo­ney, b­ut wh­enev­er p­eopl­e t­ry th­at the­y g­et tr­app­ed in a s­cam, And so I am sh­aring wi­th yo­u a g­enuine an­d gu­arante­ed w­ay f­or fre­e to ea­rn hug­e am­ount of mon­ey a­t ho­me.I am making atleast $10000 monthly since a whole year.Its an internet job and also super easy to do, Even a little child can do this work and make online money. If you want a happy and rich life then you need to copy and paste this internet website in browser and then follow instructions to get started right now and make Thousands On-line……….. http://urltrim­.­co/QurbDu

    • M­a­n­y p­e­o­ple w­a­nt t­o ha­v­e a passive earnings at their, bu­t t­he­y don’t have much idea ho­w t­o exactly d­o th­at o­n th­e Int­ernet. Th­ere ar­e a many w­ays t­o ea­rn large am­ount of mo­ney, b­ut wh­enev­er p­eopl­e t­ry th­at the­y g­et tr­app­ed in a s­cam, And so I am sh­aring wi­th yo­u a g­enuine an­d gu­arante­ed w­ay f­or fre­e to ea­rn hug­e am­ount of mon­ey a­t ho­me.I am earning atleast $10000 each month since a whole year.Its on-line job and very simple to do, Even a little boy or girl can do this job and make money on the internet. If you want a happy and wealthy life then you should copy and paste this website in web browser and then follow instructions to get started today and earn Thousands Over the internet……….. http://adultadda­.­net/2Y5

  3. Avatar hollyad says:

    I wear my 20+ lb baby. It makes it much harder, I feel like a feather walking without her. 🙂

  4. Avatar Perplexual says:

    What about a weight belt, is that better distributed like a vest or not?

  5. Avatar Dr. O says:

    I walk at least 4 mils for 4 days a week with two 5 lbs dumbbells for over 12 years. I am in the best physical and mental health without any complications. When I walk without my weights, I feel as if I am not excerising.

  6. Avatar Nick Humphries says:

    OK I lost 12kg in 6 months walking, no extra weight. However I did 10,000 steps every day. Wore a fleece, winter overcoat and gloves even when the sun was shining. Got quite a few funny looks though. Had strict control of my diet to 1500 kcals a day and route marched not just sauntered. Nordic walking has the same effort. Marching is better as I think it is better for your core.

  7. Avatar Kaicheng Hu says:

    Valuable information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.


Click the 'Allow' Button Above


You're all set.

You’re taking control of your fitness and wellness journey, so take control of your data, too. Learn more about your rights and options. Or click here to opt-out of certain cookies.