Do you want to know the secret for strengthening your legs? Do you want to tone up your quadriceps, femoral or hamstring muscles? Do you want to get more muscle-building benefits out of every workout? The solution to all these is ankle weights.
If you are looking to boost your workout, ankle weights are an easy way to do it. It helps you burn more calories through all the physical activities. Exercising with ankle weights will noticeably give you better results in a short time.
In this article, I have discussed the benefits of ankle weights, how to use them, and some of the best ankle weights exercises.
What are Ankle Weights?
Ankle weights are weights specially designed to fit the ankle while running, walking, or during a workout. They are sand-filled bags fastened between the foot and calf -just above your ankle joint. Ankle weights can weigh from 0.5 to 5 kg.
The purpose of these weights is to add extra weight to your body and leg muscles that make each step heavier and create additional resistance. Some also choose to use ankle weights throughout the day as a means of integrating exercise into every step they take.
How to Use Ankle Weights Effectively?
Benefits of Ankle Weights
Adding ankle weights to the exercise increase muscle mass in your legs and adds resistance to it. Using ankle weights to your endurance exercises makes you gain more glute muscle if you use them in leg lift exercises.
1) Helps Burn More Calories
Walking with weights around your ankles makes your walking much harder and burns more calories and fat. You can burn more calories in the same amount of time. You don’t need to increase the distance you regularly walk or run.
2) Tone Your Leg Muscles
Ankle weights while walking increases muscle tone in your legs by giving an additional advantage to your regular walking or running.
3) Reduces Ankle Pain
For those with injured knee ligaments, adding ankle weights during rehabilitation is helpful. It increases the strength of the muscles above and below the knee cap, which can help relieve ankle pain.
4) Adds Variety to Workouts
Ankle weights are very easy to use with any cardio workout, including jogging, walking, running, dancing, jumping, or any other workout routine. You can add a variety to your exercises by using it in pilates, yoga, callanetics, and barbell workout.
5) Helps Improve Your Workout
With ankle weights, you can work on building firm glutes and lean legs without lunges or squats.
How Heavy Should Ankle Weights Be?
Increase the ankle weights gradually, starting from the minimum 0.5-1 kg. Do not rush to take 4-5 kg initially. The fact is that your joints and ligaments may not be ready for such a load. Therefore, start with a small weight, and as the muscles strengthen, increase weight gradually.
For cardio training, running, and walking, beginners can purchase ankle weights of 0.5-1 kg, do not wear more than 3 kg for cardio exercises.
- Women: 1-2 kg (beginners); 2-3 kg for experienced
- Men: 2-3 kg (beginners); 3-4 kg for experienced
Best Ankle Weight Exercises
There are many ankle weight exercises that you can perform anytime and anywhere. Below are some of the easy ones to start with.
1) Lateral Strides
- Stand up straight
- Next, take a big step to the side with your right leg
- Bend your left knee to form a 90-degree angle
- Keep your right leg straight. Now, go back to the starting position
- Repeat the above with your other leg.
2) Side-to-Side Leg Swings
- Keep your hand on hard objects like a chair or table, and stand straight as per your comfort. Make sure that you have enough area to swing your legs.
- Start lifting your left leg straight out to the side at a 90-degree angle and swing back towards your body. That completes one rep. Perform at least 10-15 reps.
- Repeat with your right leg
3) Bird-Dog Exercise
- Get on your knees on the floor. The palms of your hands should also touch the ground.
- Begin to lift your right hand and left leg straight. With each movement, you should feel the pressure in your glutes.
- Repeat with your other leg.
4) Donkey Kicks
- To carry out this exercise, Place yourself on the floor in a “four-legged” position.
- Begin to lift your left leg back to create gluteal tension. You can do it in different ways: with one leg stretched or with the leg bent at the knee.
- Repeat with your other leg.
- Do 10-12 reps and 2-3 sets per leg
- Lie on the floor with your stomach
- Stretch your arms forward and your legs back.
- As you exhale, tighten your glutes and lower back.
- Lift your upper and lower limbs off the floor.
- Hold in superman Pose for some seconds, then inhale and gently lower yourself to the starting position.
- Do 5 reps and hold each set for 15 seconds
6) Boat Pose
- Lie on your back.
- Pull your arms behind your head and your legs forward.
- At the same time, lift your upper body and legs about 20-30 cm.
- Do not hold your breath, breathe evenly.
- Maintain the boat position on the tailbone.
7) Prone Leg Lifts
- Lie on your back straight
- Extend your arms along the body or behind the head
- Raise one leg to an angle of 45-60 degrees, hold for 1-2 seconds, and bring it to its original position.
- Repeat the same for the other leg.
- Do 5 reps for each leg
8) Bicycle Crunches
- Lie on the floor (you can use a yoga mat for more comfort).
- Press your lower back to the floor, place your hands behind your head, and spread your elbows to the sides.
- While straining the abdominal muscles (the lower back does not bend), lift your legs so that the hips are perpendicular to the floor, and the lower body, in turn, are parallel.
- Keeping the lower back in mind, begin to rotate your legs as if you are pedaling.
9) Fire Hydrants
- Make a “four-legged” position on the floor
- Straighten your back, exhale and swing your leg laterally to the side at 45 degrees. Keep it there for one-two seconds
- Keep your knee at a right angle when lifting
- Try to keep your thigh parallel to the floor
- Perform 10 reps and 2 to 3 sets on each leg
10) Bulgarian Lunges
- Stand up straight and wear ankle weight
- You need a chair or bench for this exercise
- Bend your leg at the knee back and keep it on a bench; keep another leg in front parallelly on the floor
- After taking the starting position, you need to smoothly perform a squat, until the thigh of the leg located on the support is parallel to the floor, and the knee touches the floor. The spine should be straight at all times.
- After the knee touches the floor, you need to stay in this position for 10-15 seconds
- Repeat 10-20 times, making 3-4 approaches with each leg
Ankle weights are a great fitness accessory to add temporary resistance to your workout for better muscle engagement. It is useful in different disciplines: athletics, martial arts, aerobics, CrossFit, and others.
You put stress on your back and joints while using ankle weight. So make sure that you don’t have any back pain problem. Use them if you’re comfortable and keep the precautions in mind.
So enjoy the benefits, keep adding variation to your exercise, and get the best results from ankle weights.
You should also read: 20 Power Yoga Poses For Complete Strength and Flexibility
Q1) How to Use Ankle Weights?
You must pay attention to the weight you choose. Use a weight that is appropriate to your physical condition. Avoid putting too much load on your ankles and knees. It can cause injuries.
People who have sustained injuries in the ankle and calf area must avoid or reduce their use. If you are overweight, do not use ankle weights, especially in cardiovascular exercises. They can put additional tension in the joints that are already overloaded by the own weight of the person.
Q2) Is Ankle Weight Good or Bad?
Pros of Ankle Weight
1) Make hamstrings, quads, and glutes work harder
2) Increases cardiovascular benefits
3) Increases aerobic activity
4) Burn more calories
5) Adds resistance to running, walking, or a training session
Cons of Ankle Weight
1) Put additional stress and strain on muscles, joints, ankles, nerves, and tendons
2) Can lead to degeneration of the hips, knees, and ankle joints
3) May result in a physical injury such as a sprain, dislocation, or broken bone
People who want the maximum benefits from walking or running sessions can use ankle weights to add some “punch” to the workout. Indeed, ankle weights are beneficial for endurance and resistance training.
Q3) Do Ankle Weights Help in Toning Legs?
Ankle weights not only help in toning legs but also beneficial for the overall body. To specifically tone leg muscles, you need to choose relevant exercise.
Q4) When Should I Wear Ankle Weights?
You can wear ankle weights during strength training exercises and cardio activities such as walking or running. People with knee or joints problems should not use such weights; it can put them at risk for injury.
Q5) For How Long Should I Wear Ankle Weights?
Avoid using ankle weights for the whole day. I recommend you to wear weights for an hour during workout session. Of course, you can wear it during moderate activities like gentle walking around your home or garden.
Q6) Do Ankle Weights Help to Lose Weight?
Yes, carrying out specific exercises with ankle weights can help you lose weight quickly as compraed to normal workouts. Avoid consuming high calories food to get the best results.
Q7) Are there any Disadvantages of Wearing Ankle Weights?
Excessive use of ankle weights may increase disproportion in the thighs (upper leg). This imbalance creates an increased risk of injury. Additionally, it can limit or change the way you walk usually.
Using ankle weights is risky for those who are physically weaker, obese, and those who have pre-existing orthopedic conditions. People who suffer from joint pain and have any bone or muscle conditions should not use ankle weights or consult a physician before using them.
Also, be sure to warm-up well before running or exercising with ankle weights. Stop all exercises immediately if any pain occurs, and observe the level of pain in the next few days. If the pain worsens, be sure to bring it to the attention to your doctor, and modify future regimens with ankle weights as needed.
Q8) Which Muscle Areas Ankle Weights Work On?
Ankle weights are beneficial for strengthening your quads and glutes muscles. You can also target your leg muscles while exercising with ankle weights. It’s easy to exercise in a limited space with ankle weights. It not only tones or shapes your body but is also beneficial for metabolism, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems.