When should I use ankle weights? I know to use them during a couple of jumping exercises, but when else should I use them? I train as a track athlete. Please include whys and proof/own experience, I am very skeptical.
The only thing ankle weights will do fo you is mess up your biomechanics.
Ankle weights are no good for running. The weight is so far down on your legs that it doesn't have a serious impact on your quads and glutes, it only really effects your hamstrings and your hip flexors. In addition run at the elite level is a crap load of mechanics as well as explosive power, and the ankle weight will mess up your mechanics. Note that I am a huge proponent for weighted clothing but ankle weights are no good for running, or jumping. For a track athlete a weighted belt or vest would work out alot better, my weighted belt is a set of ankle weights strung together.
I used to wear them while performing various movements during Karate class. When I took them off to spar at the end of class my legs felt like they were light as a feather and my kicks were incredibly fast.
While I'm sure this is true, they would have felt the same if you'd done a few heavy sets of squats, too. While the ankle weights may have been fine for a recreational martial artist, I agree that they would effect sprint mechanics too much to be beneficial (for the original poster).
As far as proof, there's tons of research in biomechanics literature about significant loading seriously affecting sprint mechanics (that is, loading while doing the actual sprints). I'd stay away from it, using the weight room to get stronger and the track to improve skill.
only thing they're good for are leg raises...
No actually that's not true. I tried a few heavy sets of squats and my legs felt quite heavy after. I think it had to do with my body adjusting over a one hour period to the 3lb ankle weights and when they came off the effect was dramatic.
I would never use them for sprint training purposes!
Get you a weighted vest as mentioned above. It will put a significantly higher load on your entire legs instead of just your hams.
They key word being "felt"
I suspect kicks done may feel faster but won't necessarily BE faster.
It may be that the wearing of ankle weights simply tricks our body into thinking we're faster when we're not.
I'm not sure what the actual process is, but I figure it'd be something to do with feedback, proprioception. Similar to that heavy, "gravity suddenly got stronger" feeling one gets when jumping on the ground shortly after getting off a trampoline.
Then again, it might relate more closely to the "trick" whereby you try to lift something light which you expect to be much heavier (eg an empty tin you think is full) You then over-recruit motor units and lift it faster and/or higher than intended.
I guess the trampoline thing could be explained by an under-firing of motor units given the momentarily ingrained expectation of a much easier jump.
Either way, I feel these effects are merely short term tricks and wouldn't carry any long term benefit.
Matters not why it worked. The fact is it worked! Even if it was all psychological (which I highly doubt), it's still an edge.
Thanks guys. Thats logical and makes perfect sense, exactly what I asked for.