Ankle weights are an easy way to increase the intensity of your workout. You just strap them on during exercises. The added weight makes your muscles work harder. Use them incorrectly, though, and ankle weights can do more harm than good.
What are Ankle Weights?
Ankle weights are weights that strap on to your ankles to provide additional resistance when performing exercises. They come in a range of weights, sizes and colors. Usually, the weight is wrapped in cushioned flaps to protect the ankles and permit full freedom of movement. The weight is generally adjustable.
They are most recommended for controlled strength training exercises. Ankle weights generally aren’t recommended for walking or running. Although ankle weights can increase the energy you burn while walking, they put additional strain the ankle joint and leg muscles, which could increase your risk of injury.
Ankle Weights Benefits
Ankle weights can increase the strength of major leg muscles, like calves, quadriceps and hamstrings. They have the ability to increase both calorie burning and overall strength.
Ankle weights are a great option if you are accustomed to working out alone and don’t have access to machines to put resistance on your leg movements.
The greatest benefits of ankle weights come when performing slow, controlled exercise. Using them for free movement exercises like hiking, walking and jogging, can put too much strain on your leg and hip muscles and joints, and cause issues in the long run.
Types of Ankle Weights
There are two main types of ankle weights.
- Fixed weight ankle weights, available from 1/4lbs to 25lbs; an example of this is the Thera-Band (see our review); or
- Adjustable ankle weights (such as the All Pro that we reviewed) that let you add weight bars to fit your needs and avoid buying multiple sizes as your strength improves.
Which you choose depends on how strong your leg and hip muscles are, as well as whether you plan to use them as a central training tool or an add-on to your normal training.
If you are a beginner, and you aren’t interested in making ankle weights one of your central workout tools, you might want to choose a fixed weight. Before you buy one online, go to your gym or physical therapists to try out different weights and see which is most comfortable for you. Remember that it should put slight resistance on your legs, but your foot should never be hard to lift.
If you are interested in using ankle weights as a central workout tool and you often work out at home, the adjustable ankle weights might be good option for you. It might seem more expensive at first, in comparison to the fixed weights, but in the long run you won’t have to buy multiple ankle weights to ensure you are being challenged.
Best Exercises to Do With Ankle Weights
Ankle weights can make those workouts more challenging and effective that involve the legs to work the core, glutes and lower/upper legs.
The best exercises to perform with ankle weights are leg lifts, squats, lunges, and kicks. Here are some specific exercises to add ankle weights.
Of course, ankle weights are also great for adding weight to pull-ups.
Those exercises in themselves are beneficial, and you can increase the challenge and the focus on muscle development by increasing the resistance with weights.
You will notice that after about five minutes of using them, you begin to forget they are there. This means that your body is accommodating to the resistance. If they are uncomfortable, you should try reducing the weight. They should never be painful.
Precautions When Using Ankle Weights
It is generally not recommended to use ankle weights when jogging, walking, hiking, or performing other cardio exercises. Using ankle weights during these exercises can increase your chance for injury including joint and muscle damage, since it alters your stride and puts more stress on knees and ankles. If you want more bang for your cardio workout, instead of adding ankle weights, try increasing the intensity by varying your speed or climbing hills. That will give you a bigger calorie burn without the risk.
If you are using them for therapeutic purposes, you should always receive guidance from your doctor or physical therapist.
5 Best Ankle Weights Reviews
This guide below contains our reviews of the five best ankle weights for you to compare.
- Entry-level fixed weight ankle weights with some quality issues.
- Our recommendation for static weight ankle weights. Decent quality and good price.
- Adjustable with solid iron weights, these are our top choice for ankle weights.
- Low-cost adjustable ankle weights.
- Adjustable, but with quality problems in weight bags.