T Nation

Fooling the Nervous System?


Everyone knows that the less extra weight one has on their body, the less encumbered they will be during speed and agility based movements. For this reason, many people make improvements in speed and leaping ability once they have lost excess fat.

Would it be right to assume that if someone were to wear a weighted vest all the time, except for in training, for several weeks, their body would adjust to this weight, and once the vest came off, they would perform significantly better? I was thinking about starting with a 10lb vest and adding 2 pounds a week until I reached 20-30 lbs and then allowing my body to acclimate itself to that weight. Whenever I needed to perform, I would remove the vest and reap the benefits of my new, "lighter" body.

I fully realize how stupid I'll look wearing a weighted vest all the time, but it would be a small price to pay for the performance benefits I'm expecting.

Does anyone have experience with something similar, or perhaps see a flaw in this plan?



Ive had that idea before too, I thought it would probably work... I dont see why not. Im curious to find out, let me know how it goes for you.


Walk around shirtless and say its your new 50 cent gig.

I think it'd work. Its similar to using a heavier bike in cycling for training, then switching to a lighter bike for racing.

I believe I read somewhere about bodyfat (or body weight, for that matter) affected performance sportswise. They gave the example of wear an extra 5 lbs of clothes, run a mile. Then recover for a few days, run a mile in just shorts and a t shirt. The time difference could be subtracted from the regular mile, and that would be your new mile time if you were 5 lbs lighter.

I hope I 'splained that ok.


only possible flaw i could forsee is that it messes with your walking motor patterns. Your muscles develop new firing patterns in accordance to the load your bearing, when you remove it your muscles will activate as if they where still carrying that load. Ive seen something similar in over eager army recuits who wear heavy ruck sacks when walking around in prep for basic etc


This depends on how the weight is distributed and what the cost/benefits of this extra weight are and what makes up this weight.

That's true...what part of that performance improvement is down to the loss of fat and what part of the performance improvemnt is down to whatever they did to accomplish this fat loss?

Don't worry about looking stupid...I do that all the time without even trying.

What you need though is an all over weighted body suit though rather than a vest. In a vest you'll be walking around all day getting used to the alteration in your centre of gravity and we are only talking about a minor alteration but I know you a worried about looking for 1/2 inches in performance improvement...this wouldn't be a good thing. I think it would effect you worse as an athlete more than it would an everyday Joe as you mastery of you body is what is key to your performance improvements....you could look into some detachable heavy hands made from lead that you could jetison/throw behind you just as you left the take off board...guarentee you that you'd improve you jump performance.

See...I can be constructive.


Bodyfat is the most overated performance indicator there is...to the extent that most athletes actually hinder there performance in an attempt seek improvement...ie decreases in this area.


Makes sense, give it a try and hit us with the outcome. I know for the first few days of elevation change like mountain climbing it's very difficult but of course the body and respiratory system adapts. I never did hear anyone say that they breathe better when returning to sea level maybe because they were never asked. Anyone climb mountain that has this answer?


It's called Hypergravity loading

Bosco did some studies on it and it worked in the studies, 10% of gravity is what ws used.


I have a similar experience I'll write about.

Throughout my teen years and early 20's I weighed 150-160 lbs on average. During that time I could jump and get my hand about 4 inches over the rim and sometimes dunk. At age 23 I bulked and in 3 or 4 months I weighed 200-205 lbs. During the bulking I did no running/plyos and hardly did legs. Not too long after the bulk session I injured my back (serious injury). I couldn't do any squats or running or jumping because it would aggrivate the disc in my back. When I recovered ( 10-12 months later) at 200lbs I was jumping just as high as when I was 150 lbs, and this was with no running, no plyos, no leg exercises. Strange.


I've used lead wraps on my ankles for track and it helped my mile by about 14-17 seconds on average. I would try using 5lbs. per leg at first then go to 10 and MAYBE 15's though I didn't go that high. I would also try that suggestion for the over body type thing, though i don't know where you would get this. Keep me posted, I'd like to see your results.

And I'd like to see what kind of training/diet you do for track if that's not to much trouble as I also do track and you have made the gains I'm going for.



Funny, but totally unrelated to training, story about ankle weights...

I went through a "wearing them all the time" thing a few years ago. Well I wasn't paying attention and I wore them through the airport security checkpoint and of course I was using the kind that use iron filings as the weights. Needless to say, I was help up a bit...


To Kirdog, when I went from around 170 to 205 I didn't do any real plyos or running either, yet my vertical went up a few inches. I could probably attribute this to strength gains, but in all honesty, I didn't really push my poundages up much in that time, most due to several non training related injuries.

To blakedaman, wearing ankle weights, in my opinion, is hardly constructive. Placing the weight there throws off your running mechanics and would seriously alter technique and speed for sprinters. I'm surprised you made improvements this way. Either way, I wouldn't try that again in the future.

To no one in particular, I was thinking about a weight belt so my center of gravity would be relatively unchanged. How does this sound?



Blake, my current track training is nothing you would like to try to emulate or even hear about. My new coach is completely ignorant as to how sprinters need to train and I have actually gotten slower and less explosive during the time I've trained under her.

When it comes to offseason, however, I recommend you read everything by Kelly Baggett and everything by Inno Sport. Some people may bag on Inno, but they have good info.

Well, there you go.



I had the same idea a whille back, but instead of the vest i used ankle weights, worked well for me (let me add that i was high school wrestling) worked good for endurence, speed, placement of feet,i ran moves in them so i did them faster and could do them more often at the same speed because of the indurence. Go for it, works good.


I'd advise against ankle weights on or close to joints like the wrists and ankles. I'm guessing that over time, that extra poundage concentrated in that one area will have some bad affects on the connective tissues and the joint itself. It may improve your performance, but in reality, that performance increase probably only lasts so long. It's the same concept as punching with weights.

It doesn't help your punching speed or power in the long run. Maybe at first you'll feel quicker, but after a few minutes, that effect will wear off.

Anyways, I think your idea will only work if you keep doing it for a VERY long time and really never stop, or if your body adapts by hypertrophying in some way. Neural adaptations, I'm guessing, will "fade" faster in that the body will realize that once you're not wearing that weight vest after 1 or 2 weeks, and don't go back to it for maybe a month, it'll decondition, thinking it no longer has to pony up to handle the extra load.

I dunno though, I could be wrong. Try it and see what happens, just remember you'll have X amount more weight to deal with, so if you decide to go running or jumping or back flipping like a ninja, take it more on the easy side first.:slight_smile:


I PM'ed you just now RJ


I think that's a great idea!

Baseball players use a weighted dougnut or a led bat so that the bat they actually use seems lighter.

Why not give it a shot. I think the only way it goes wrong is if you use weights (vest) that's too heavy for your bodyweight. I would try to use a 10lb or 15lb. vest, no more.

Good luck.


I'm afraid all the evidence points that this does not work. Why do sprinters not run with vests on? Why do wrestlers not wear vests? Why do basket ball players not use heavier balls to shoot with?
The reason being is that the extra weight changes the CNS/PMS pathway just enough to mean you become inefficient at the movement without the weight i.e you will become slower at your agility drills with the vest on?
Read Joe Defranco and people like that, it has been tried and does not work? sport specific training as a whole does not work, you do weights to get stronger and drills to get quicker but the only way you get better at a sport is to do it under normal conditions.



I can well understand why Basketball players don't use heavier basketballs to practice with. It's mostly a fine motor task, not involving strength.

But, I have used weighted vests and ankle weights before with great results.

Did this with the 1/4 mile run and sparring sessions.

I honestly cannot argue "why" it worked other than to echoe some of the other comments. But I do know that it worked.


I've read this as well, although it was a theory and no evidence was provided. I'm interested to see some scientific studies on this that either proves or disproves this.

I used weighted donuts before batting and remember feeling that the bat was much lighter and that my swings were faster, so while the theory intuitively made sense to me, my experience was seemingly different. (I say seemingly because I'm not sure if the 'feeling'of swinging faster actually translated into a faster swing).

It seems odd to me that if it didn't work, professional baseball teams would have caught on and changed the practice. On the flip side, I do recall that some performance coaches (I don't remember names) were promoting the use of lighter bats for warmups in order to get the neurons used to firing faster and that this would carry over to the real at bat. I'm not sure that this 'camp' is still around.

It's a very interesting topic.