Here we list some of the benefits of ankle weights.
- #1 You Increases your Endurance
- #2 Helps You Tone Your Legs
- #3 You Burn A Lot More Calories
- #4 Offers Versatility
- #5 Helps in Strengthening the Stems
- #6 Ankle Weights help improve water workouts
- #7 What You Should Really Avoid
- Top 5 Ankle Weights on Amazon.com
- Ankle Weights Are a Thing Again—Here’s How to Use Them for a Crazy-Good Workout
- Benefit #1: Strengthening Your Legs
- Benefit #2: They Can Be Used For Swimming
- Benefit #3: Resistance Workouts To The Max
- Benefit #4: They Are Very Versatile
- Benefit #5: Increased Calorie Burning & Weight Loss
- Benefit #6: Increasing Endurance
- Benefit #7: Increasing Your Cardiovascular Workout
- Benefit #8: They Are Cheap
- What Happens To The Body When You Use Ankle Weights?
- What Happens When You Walk With Ankle Weights All Day?
- What Are The Ways Ankle Weights Can Be Used Safely?
- Is There A Difference?
- Purchasing Weights
- Proceed with Caution
- Exercise Ideas
- Exercise shortcuts claim to do the work for you
- Ankle Weights & Weight Loss
#1 You Increases your Endurance
Ankle weights do increase your overall endurance. This is because adding additional weight forces you to exert extra force than usual thus increasing your endurance and helping you with other benefits such as cardiovascular and pulmonary health.
Within few weeks of the use, you start building more and more stamina.
#2 Helps You Tone Your Legs
Leg raises without any resistance can shape your legs but to further enhance your workout you must add more resistance. Doing just more reps may not be as effective as you think they might be. To grow your muscles stronger, you must add weight.
If you consistently workout with more weight you would eventually start seeing the leg shape you desire – Within some weeks.
For women, this would not make you look like a body builder – So be sure to add variation to your workout.
#3 You Burn A Lot More Calories
As you apply more force, you apply more energy and that makes your body burn more calories. This is overall more effective than doing the workout without any weights.
Your body is already accustomed to the usual workout you do. Adding more weight forces your body to adapt to the added weight.
If you are looking to lose weight this is a great way to help yourself. Various studies have backed that wearing weight to your ankles help you lose weight in lesser time.
#4 Offers Versatility
Ankle weights also help you increase the variety and variability of your exercise.
They can also be added to stationary exercises such as raises or leg lifts. And they can be helpful when you are jogging or walking.
However, some fitness experts do consider walking or running with weight on the ankle to be harmful.
#5 Helps in Strengthening the Stems
Wearing weights on your ankle helps you strength muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. It also helps you tone your thighs.
#6 Ankle Weights help improve water workouts
They are becoming more and more popular and many swimmers use them to enhance their skills. The big advantage of using these is that they do not cause any damage to joints or any other issues for that matter.
Additionally, they also train you to jump higher. Many athletes are using them to improve their jump height.
#7 What You Should Really Avoid
Wearing them every time you walk or workout.
This is not effective as you think it might be. In fact various studies have backed up the fact that walking with ankle weights could actually cause injury to people with joint problems.
Your muscle, joints and tendons need rest so avoid using weights all the time. What you should really do is increase your reps or speed while working out.
Pro Tip: Start slowly and gradually increase weight.
Top 5 Ankle Weights on Amazon.com
1. All Pro Weight Adjustable Ankle Weight, 20-lb individual (up to 20-lbs on one ankle)
2. Valeo Adjustable Ankle / Wrist Weights
3. Nayoya 3 Pound Ankle Weights Set and Carry Pouch – Premium High Quality Adjustable Ankle and Wrist Cuffs
4. Reebok Adjustable Ankle Weight Sets
5. oFitness Ankle and Wrist Weights, 6 Pound Set
Ankle Weights Are a Thing Again—Here’s How to Use Them for a Crazy-Good Workout
Selena Gomez walks around Disney with them. And Kayla Itsines never flies without them. Ankle weights are having a serious moment right now. And trainers agree the fitness accessory of the ’80s has staying power in both a healthy lifestyle and a workout routine of today.
But how can ankle weights help your fitness-and how exactly do you use them? We touched base with experts to find out.
The Benefits of Ankle Weights
Part of the reason ankle weights are so great is that they’re versatile. You can bring them anywhere, strap them to your feet while traveling (if Kayla does it, you can, too), and use them on your ankles or in your hands as weights if you’re stuck at a gym-less hotel, says Holly Perkins, C.S.C.S., author of Lift to Get Lean.
When used correctly, ankle weights can *also* target and isolate muscles that grow weak (the glutes, which are inactive all day from sitting, for example). They can be useful in a physical therapy setting, too-say if you’re suffering from something like injured or weak hamstrings or knee issues, notes Perkins. (Related: This Boxing-Style HIIT Workout Is Designed for People with Knee Pain)
They allow you to move freely and perform movements you can’t with traditional weight equipment. (Have you ever tried doing a donkey kick with a dumbbell? Case in point.) “Ankle weights allow you to move in nearly every direction and rotation imaginable,” says Perkins. This is particularly important for hip work. “The hip is a ‘ball joint’ that moves in all directions. It’s important to strengthen the numerous movement patterns and large and small muscles that are at play.”
Even simply walking around with them on your feet can make a difference. Wearing ankle weights can add impact forces, which may help with maintaining bone density, says Michele Olson, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist and adjunct professor at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, AL. (Related: The Low-Impact Walking Workout for Every Fitness Level)
How to Use Ankle Weights
If you’re using ankle weights to walk, keep them light-3 to 5 pounds max. Any more weight can alter your stride, placing stress on your low back and pelvis, says Olson.
For specific exercises, you can use 5- to 10-pound weights on each leg (or less weight), but the right weight varies for everyone. “The perfect weight load for any exercise is one where the last two reps of every set are really hard to complete,” says Perkins.
Interested in exercising with ankle weights? Pick up a set and secure them around your ankles for these three exercises, demonstrated by Perkins in her Instagram video below.
Make sure you can perform a full range of motion for each move without rotating your pelvis or moving your spine. Keeping your core braced will help stabilize your pelvis.
Prone Leg Lifts
Ankle weights can make most of the facedown exercises we do for our glutes more effective. “Nearly every client I have ever worked with has significantly weak glutes,” says Perkins. “Ankle weights are brilliant for loading the glutes in a way that isolates them, without requiring much involvement from the hamstrings.” (Related: 5 Reasons It’s Important to Have a Strong Butt)
Side Leg Lifts
Ankle weights can enhance the intensity of lateral glute work, activating the gluteus medius muscles that tend to be super weak but are key for hip stabilization, says Perkins. “Ankle weights are perfect for correcting this imbalance that often leads to knee problems.” Flip over and lie faceup, too, if you want. “Doing leg lifts in this position enhances quad activity, which is a boon for keeping your knees healthy,” says Olson.
You may have seen people wearing ankle weights before, and maybe you have always wondered what exactly those blasted contraptions are for. Well, you might be interested to know that ankle weights can do quite a bit in terms of helping you get the proper exercise that you need. Ankle weights benefits are quite diverse and there is quite a large number of them that you can reap.
Ankle weights can do a whole lot for you including increasing the strength of your legs, increasing your fat burn, increasing the effectiveness of cardio workouts, and much more too. If you have not tried using ankle weights yet, we would recommend doing so because they add a whole new level of difficulty to any workout, difficulty which ultimately helps to increase the results that you get with each routine.
Benefit #1: Strengthening Your Legs
One of the top benefits that you can get from wearing ankle weights is that they go a really long way in helping you to increase the strength of your legs, not to mention that they also help you get that really muscular look that you are aiming for. The simple fact of the matter is that the extra weight that you get from strapping these things on forces you to use your leg muscles much more, thus helping your legs get much stronger much faster.
Your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and other leg muscles will all greatly benefit from wearing ankle weights while you walk, run, cycle, or do any other kind of exercise. 5 or 10 extra pounds may not seem like that much, but when you work out for any number of time with that added weight, it really helps to strain your muscles just that much more. It actually takes quite a bit of force to carry around that extra weight, and that required force can go a very long way in toning your legs.
Benefit #2: They Can Be Used For Swimming
Another benefit that you can get from using ankle weights has to do with swimming. If you aren’t an avid swimmer, maybe you should give it a try because it’s an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that also tones your muscles, not to mention that it’s easy on the joints, something that is especially important for people with joint problems.
What we are getting at here is that you can improve the overall results that you get from your daily swimming routine by wearing ankle weights. It’s actually quite simple because the extra weight that you get from wearing these things in the water forces you to work a lot harder to stay afloat, plus it makes it quite a bit more difficult to actually swim.
With the added weight from ankle weights, you can increase the strength training and cardiovascular benefits that are already inherent in swimming. They will force your arms and legs to work harder than ever to keep you from going under. In the end, this has the big benefit of making you a better, more solid, and competent swimmer, something which comes in handy for improving physical fitness no doubt.
Benefit #3: Resistance Workouts To The Max
It is no secret that resistance training is a great way to strengthen your muscles and get those big Vin Diesel muscles, but there is only so much that resistance training can do for you, especially when you are dealing with a limited schedule in terms of how long you can work out for each day.
Sure, you could just do more reps and more sets, such as with squats, lunges, leg lifts, and other leg exercises, but that takes up valuable time in your day, time which you could spend on other and more important things. Leg lifts and other such exercises will definitely increase your strength through the nature of resistance training, but ankle weights can help further your gains thanks to the increased resistance that they add to almost any movement you do. You could compare this to something like working out with dumbbells.
In essence, a 20-pound dumbbell will get you so far, but a 30-pound dumbbell will get you further, something which can be compared to doing leg lifts with the added 5 or 10 pounds of the ankle weights. They make you work out harder and make your muscles more efficient, something which everyone can definitely appreciate.
Benefit #4: They Are Very Versatile
Another thing that you will definitely like about ankle weights is that they are very versatile in nature. What we mean is that you can get a good workout at any time of the day, even when you aren’t actually exercising.
You can wear ankle weights while doing chores around the house, at work, or when you’re walking your dog too. You can wear them while going for a jog, while cycling, when swimming, or when you are doing weight training and resistance training too. You can wear these things at literally any time of the day to get some extra calorie burning effects, and you don’t even have to be at the gym.
On that same note, ankle weights are actually pretty small and comfortable to wear, which means you can comfortably wear them under your jeans or sweat pants without them getting in the way of your daily routine. These things are also very versatile because they come in different weight classes, so when you get used to a lighter weight, you can always increase the weight of the ankle weights to keep progressing in fitness as time goes on.
Even better is the fact that ankle weights can also double as wrist weights, so when you don’t want them on your ankles, you can always wear them on your wrists to give your arms some strength boosting benefits too.
Benefit #5: Increased Calorie Burning & Weight Loss
The next big benefit that comes along with wearing ankle weights while you work out, especially when doing some fat burning cardio, is that it will maximize the results that you get by increasing the number of calories you burn with each movement. Your body gets accustomed to the exercise that you do, and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that over a period of time you won’t burn as many calories as you could be getting rid of.
The simple fact of the matter is that the extra weight you have on your legs helps to increase the number of calories you burn by forcing your muscles and the rest of your body to work much harder than it is used to. Even a little bit of extra weight goes a long way in increasing the amount of fat and calories that you burn.
Let’s face it, the main reason that people exercise is to lose weight and to keep away that pot belly for swimsuit season and there’s no better way to do that than with ankle weights. Sure, running or cycling is great and they will definitely help you burn calories, but some simple ankle weights can optimize results, something which lets you save time because it makes your workouts much more efficient.
The added weight forces your muscles to work harder, something which of course makes you burn more calories than you would otherwise. Not only that but the increased difficulty of the workout you are doing will also benefit your metabolism. The more you work out and the harder you work out, the more your metabolism gets activated.
A higher metabolism means that you burn ever more calories, plus if you don’t have many calories in your system, the increased metabolic rate will help you burn more fat than ever. Moreover, this also goes a long way in increasing your EPOC or exercise post metabolic rate. In essence, this means that you will continue to burn more calories throughout the day even after you have stopped exercising.
Benefit #6: Increasing Endurance
Another thing which ankle weights are fantastic for is to increase your endurance and overall stamina, especially when you aren’t wearing them. As we mentioned before, ankle weights add resistance to anything you do, and this goes for resistance training, strength training, and cardiovascular exercise too.
As you use ankle weights, especially when you continually increase the weight level of the ankle weights, your muscles get used to that added weight, almost like your legs actually weighed that much on a regular basis. Your muscles grow accustomed to that added weight and thus learn to accommodate said weight.
What this means is that your muscles learn to grow stronger and work harder thanks to that weight. So, when you take the ankle weights off, it is like your legs weighed several pounds less all of a sudden. This helps you to work out for longer and work harder because your muscles are used to the extra weight, but now that the weight is removed, they can end up doing a lot more.
This is great for people who like to run because if you train with ankle weights you will find that when you aren’t wearing them you can all of a sudden go a lot further without getting tired thanks to your muscles being accustomed to carrying around a lot of extra weight.
On an interesting side note, since your muscles are used to working out with the ankle weights, when you take them off you will be able to jump higher than ever. If you like to practice how high you can jump, train jumping with ankle weights on. Since your muscles will grow accustomed to jumping with added weight, when you take them off you will find that you can jump higher than ever.
Benefit #7: Increasing Your Cardiovascular Workout
Another big benefit that you can reap from wearing ankle weights is that they help to increase the difficulty, and thus the results of your cardiovascular exercises. Your muscles require blood and oxygen to function properly, and since your muscles are working harder than ever thanks to the ankle weights, your heart and lungs must also work harder in order to deliver said blood and oxygen to your muscles.
Since your heart and lungs have to work harder, it trains your cardiovascular system to be more efficient. Simply by wearing some 5 or 10-pound ankle weights, you can increase the heart healthy effects of any cardio routine that you do by making your heart and lungs accommodate for the extra weight.
Of course having a strong cardiovascular system is essential to your overall health. A good and strong heart means that you have a lower chance of developing heart disease, getting a heart attack, developing arterial diseases, and it helps keep your blood pressure at an acceptable level too, not to mention that it helps increase your overall physical performance too. It doesn’t seem that obvious, but running or cycling with some added weight will not only strengthen your muscles but your cardiovascular endurance as well.
Benefit #8: They Are Cheap
Something that you can definitely appreciate about working out with ankle weights is that they are fairly inexpensive. A good pair of ankle weights really doesn’t cost very much, especially when compared to other exercise equipment such as dumbbells. Thus, with ankle weights, you can increase the results that you get from virtually any exercise routine without having to spend a whole lot of money.
As you can see, there are a great number of ankle weights benefits that will make you a stronger and healthier person. Ankle weights are fantastic for a wide variety of reasons and they go a long way in increasing the difficulty of any workout and thus the results that you get from it. You should definitely try using some ankle weights as soon as possible because once you do, you will never go back to working out without them.
Any questions or comments you have about ankle weights are more than welcome!
There are lots of ways to make running more challenging. You can choose routes with more hills, increase your pace or throw in some bodyweight exercises every few minutes. One thing you should avoid, is strapping weights to your ankles or wrists.
In the 1980s ankle and wrist weights were promoted as a way to lose weight and build muscle during your run. The idea certainly seemed logical. Make someone carry around more weight and you’ll increase their heart rate and burn more calories. But that’s not how things worked out.
When runners were allowed to set their own pace, researchers found that runners tended to slow down if weights were added. In fact, when weights were added it “caused a significant decrease in the running speed…” As runners slowed down, any additional fat burning effect of the weights was eliminated. The runners heart rate and oxygen consumption with ankle weights on were virtually unchanged from the unweighted runs.
So researchers changed things up. They decided to try testing runners on a treadmill, but force them to run at the same speed, with and without weights. Over a four week period, runners were measured while running at various speeds and weight configurations. From carrying nothing, to as much as 5 pound weights in each per hand.
When running at the same speed with and without weights, the results were surprising. Researchers said that using hand-held weights of 5 pounds or less per hand, was “insufficient stimulus for significantly increasing oxygen uptake or heart rate.” In other words, they didn’t really provide much additional help.
In fact, physical therapists and locomotion experts have found that adding weights to a cardio routine can cause serious problems. It increases the impact forces on your joints as you run. Ankle and wrist weights increase the risk of injury from dislocations, ligament tears and sprains. Over time it even increases the risk of tendinitis.
That’s not all. Ankle weights tend to “bounce” and cause blisters and rub skin raw. Hand held weights change the gait of runners that leads to pain and injury in the lower back and hips. It’s even more serious for people with stability issues. Adding weight to your ankle or wrist can alter how you walk, destabilizing your balance. That increases the risk of tripping or falling.
There’s a reason weight training and cardio programs are done separately. When you’re moving weights, you want to be sure the movements are deliberate and controlled. Veering off in the wrong direction can cause injury. You never move too quickly, so your form is always good.
For cardio to work, you MUST move quickly. The goal is to increase your heart rate and rapid movements are the best way to do that. Carrying weights along as you do cardio, reduces the effectiveness of an aerobic workout, puts unnecessary stress on the joints and adversely affects balance.
For the small calorie burning boost or 5 to 8%, the dangers of using hand or ankle weights while running just doesn’t make sense. But, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used in the gym.
Ankle and wrist weights are great tools when used in stationary exercises, for neurologic rehabilitation or during some stretching moves. Physical therapists and trainers use them for exercises that require resistance, and when they don’t need all the weight that dumbbells or machines would provide.
Ankle weights in particular can be very useful. Most people can hold weights with their hands to build upper body strength. However, our feet don’t really have the ability to grip much. Weights that attach to the ankle are a great way to perform some lower body resistance exercises.
Consider the advice not to use wrist or ankle weights while running or walking to include things like weighted gloves or shoes. Moving the weight from the ankle to the foot doesn’t eliminate the dangers or suddenly make it a good idea. Use weights for resistance training and skip weights for cardio.
Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 1990 Mar;71(3):231-5.
Physiologic and perceptual responses during treadmill running with ankle weights.
Bhambhani YN1, Gomes PS, Wheeler G.
Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 1989 Dec;29(4):384-7.
Physiological effects of walking and running with hand-held weights.
Owens SG, al-Ahmed A, Moffatt RJ.
Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1988 Apr;20(2):167-71.
Effects of extremity loading upon energy expenditure and running mechanics.
Claremont AD1, Hall SJ.
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Ankle weights are cheap, effective and versatile ways of getting the most out of a work out. They can be used for strength, endurance and speed training and come in a variety of weights.
More often used by runners to improve the speed, they have now come off the track field and onto the streets (and ankles) of people wanting to get fit with promised benefits of better toned legs, increased endurance, more burnt calories, etc.
People now use them for a variety of workouts and some have taken into the practice of wearing them all the time.
But should they be worn the whole day?
The answer may vary from one person to another since people are built differently. But knowing the right answer may be the difference from getting nicely shaped calves and a range of injuries.
What Happens To The Body When You Use Ankle Weights?
Initially, they increase the amount of work the legs have to do because of the additional weight present. The muscles in the glutes, thighs, hamstrings, and quadriceps have to put in extra effort. This added work results in an increase in heart rate and muscle activity supposedly making the work out more effective.
Related: 8 Ankle Weights Benefits That Nobody Will Tell You
A study found that when used in running, they help burn more calories as a result of the increased cardiovascular exercise which then also increases the metabolism rate of the subjects.
However, in people who have histories of joint, ankle, or knee pain and injuries, the use of ankle weights might do more harm than good. Since it puts additional stress on these areas and may cause further injuries.
What Happens When You Walk With Ankle Weights All Day?
For moderate activities like walking around the office or walking around at home, wearing ankle weights for long periods is fine. But there has to be a period of adjustment for the body to get used to the weights.
Additional weight on the ankles and feet could change the way a person walks, resulting in pain in the hips, legs and ankles, which may be why it isn’t advisable to use the weights while brisk walking. Yes, using the weights burns more calories; but there is a higher chance of injuries from the strain on the joints.
Related: Do Ankle Weights Work (PROS & CONS)?
What Are The Ways Ankle Weights Can Be Used Safely?
When used in running or jogging, maintaining a steady pace is important since it reduces amount of strain put on the ankle. The weights should be less than three pounds and should only be used a few hours at a time to give the body time to rest and adjust to the changes.
Related: 18 Fantastic Ankle Weight Exercises (For Abs & Lower Body)
They aren’t replacements for regular athletic training either. Runners who may want to improve their speed by using the ankle weights all day may find more benefit and less injury in just increasing the intensity of the run.
Is There A Difference?
Wearing ankle weights does have its benefits like added cardio, increased endurance, and muscle growth. It’s something that can integrated to workouts to make them more effective. But when wearing ankle weights all day, there is a higher risk of injury especially when you strain yourself. This could cause bigger problems later on.
The bottom line is that you have to be careful not to over-work yourself and let your body adjust to use the weights. It is imperative that you also listen to your body and know how much your body can stand.
Using weights during any workout is a great way to achieve fast results. Wrist and ankle weights are an excellent choice because you can secure them in place, allowing you to focus on your workout without over-gripping or dropping anything.
It’s important to know how to use ankle and wrist weights correctly to maximize success and to reduce the risk of injury.
The American Council of Exercise (ACE) has found that adding 1-3 pound wrist weights to your workout can increase your heart rate by 5-10 beat per minute, and oxygen consumption by about 5-15%. This is in comparison to the same activity done without the addition of weights. It’s obvious that adding mass to your workout is bound to get you some noticeable results.
Ankle weights are great for increasing strength, endurance, toning, and pushing your stretching to the next level. Used with caution and under the supervision of a physician or physical therapist, they can even help you recover from injury.
There are so many products out there, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. We’re here to guide you through it.
Many wrist and ankle weights are filled with fine lead or iron powder, which is not so good for the environment. Consider purchasing weights filled with water or sand. Make sure the weights are covered in a breathable, non-irritating material. Check out reviews before purchasing, and avoid cheap knock-offs that have low-quality material.
How Many Pounds?
You may think the heavier the weight, the quicker the progress, but this isn’t true.
If you slap a 10-pound weight onto each wrist, you’re putting a lot of unexpected strain on your muscles, and that can lead to injury. It’s better to start light, working your way up. Check out these ankle and wrist bands, which come with adjustable weights, making it easy to add or subtract poundage depending on your current fitness level.
You should feel slight fatigue in the muscles after working out with your weights, but not complete exhaustion. ACE recommends not going above three pounds for each wrist. For ankle weights, some fitness experts recommend five pounds per leg. If this seems like too much, start lower and work your way up.
Remember, it’s not a race; it’s okay to take time building your strength.
Proceed with Caution
Just like anything fitness-related, make sure to check in with your body at every stage of the workout. Avoid any exercises that cause extreme pain or discomfort.
Here are some tips to keep you safe with your ankle and wrist weights:
- Add weights when you’re feeling fit: Including ankle and wrist weights in your workout routine isn’t recommended for complete beginners. You want to use the weights to take your workout to the next level. If a run around the block leaves you winded, then wait before adding more challenge.
- Don’t wear the weights 24/7: Some people wear their weights all day in hopes that they’ll tone their muscles while doing ordinary tasks, like doing the laundry. While it’s okay to wear the weights around the house or while doing some gentle activity, you don’t want to exhaust your muscles by having them engaged all day long. This also goes for sleeping with them on—give your body a break.
- Not recommended for overweight individuals: If you’re already carrying extra body weight, don’t add more pressure with ankle and wrist weights. Wait to get those muscles, joints, and abs a bit stronger.
- Avoid ankle weights during certain cardiovascular activity: ACE states that ankle weights may influence walking stride, potentially making you more susceptible to injury. Other activities, such as swimming and cycling, seem to be okay.
- Be mindful of back problems: Adding in ankle weights for core or strength training can put some strain on the lower back. Don’t use them if you struggle with back problems, or consult a fitness expert for advice.
Now that you’ve got your weights, you’re wondering what to do with them. Here’s a list of ideas for using ankle and wrist weights to kick your fitness into gear:
- Walking/Jogging/Running: Use wrist weights and swing those arms to maximize your workout. Remember, it’s not advised to use ankle weights while walking or running as it can affect your stride.
- Cycling: Strengthen those lower-body muscles by using ankle weights.
- Swimming: Use either wrist or ankle weights (or both!) depending on which muscles you want to target.
- Karate: Take those kicks and punches to the next level!
- Stretching hamstrings: Lie on your back and lift one leg to a 90° angle, letting the ankle weight and gravity pull that leg to your head. Check out this video for more details.
- Arm circles and swings: Wake up those muscles with some simple movements.
- Standing leg abduction: Using ankle weights, stand up straight, resting one hand on a chair. Lift the outside leg slowly until you feel the buttocks engage. Hold for 1-2 seconds, then lower the leg down. Repeat 10-20 times before switching to the other side. This exercise will work your outer hips, thighs, and quads.
Ankle and wrist weights are also great for strengthening your core. Try these exercises with ankle weights to improve your core strength:
- Leg Raises: Lie on your back, arms to the side, and raise your legs straight up in the air, to a 90° angle. Lower them slowly, hovering about six inches above the ground. Do 10-20 reps, making sure to keep your legs straight, and not letting them touch the ground. If you feel a strain in your lower back, then place your hands under your butt.
- Bicycle crunches: Lie on your back, bending one knee and straightening the other leg, in a cycling fashion. The opposite elbow should touch each knee as it comes in. Repeat 10-20 times.
- Reverse crunches: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet off the floor, and hands on the ground. Bring your knees to your chest, tilting your pelvis off the ground, hold and breath, then lower down. Repeat 10-20 times.
There are plenty of exercises out there targeted specifically for ankle and wrist weights. Keep experimenting, seeing what works for you and your fitness level. The sky’s the limit; just remember to take it easy at first, don’t overdo it, and have fun. And always consult a fitness expert if you have any concerns.
Exercise shortcuts claim to do the work for you
When it comes to exercise, most of us are looking for a shortcut, a way to lose weight and firm up without spending endless hours in the gym.
So a funky pair of sneakers that promises to tone the butt and calves sounds appealing. The same for weighted sleeves and stylish ankle weights, or a belt that creators say can shape abdominals, butt and arms.
But how well do such “exercise cheats” measure up to their claims that they’ll do the work for you? We sent four products to four experts for their evaluation.
Banglz Wrist Weights, Ankle Weights, from fitnessUwear (starting at $24.95)
The manufacturer says the fashionable, weighted bangles and anklets help the body burn more calories and build muscle. Wear them during everyday activities or for fitness training. The wrist weights help strengthen arms, shoulders, chest and core. The ankle weights work the legs, hips and glutes. Wrist weights come at 1/2 pound ($24.95) or 1 pound ($27.95); ankle weights at 1 pound ($27.95) or 2 pounds ($41.95).
The expert: “I loved the ankle weights,” said Leigh Anne Richards, general manager of MetroFitness, a health club in Montgomery, Ala. “I could immediately tell that it was affecting my legs and glutes.”
Richards, who has a master’s degree in exercise science, said she walked around in them for hours, at work and at home, and could really feel the workout.
As for the wrist weights? “I really could not tell that much of a difference with those unless I was doing some form of exercise such as kickboxing,” she said. “Granted, I am in good physical shape.”
The verdict: The wrist weights were too light to feel any benefit from just walking around with them, she said. “However, I did think the ankle weights could really be beneficial for the lower body as people move around during the day.”
Skechers Shape-ups (starting at $110)
Chunky fashionable sneakers designed to promote weight loss, firm calf and butt muscles, improve posture and strengthen the back. They have a soft kinetic wedge insert and a rolling bottom to simulate walking barefoot on the sand. Several styles and colors available for men and women.
The expert: “I must say that they are actually kind of cute,” said Michele Olson, a professor of exercise science at Auburn University-Montgomery in Alabama.
Her first impression, though, was the heaviness of the shoe. She had to get used to the clunky feeling.
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“I could feel it working in my calves and the arches of my feet,” she said. “I had to keep my balance in check.”
Olson said she was expending more energy, but isn’t sure if that was because of the shoe’s weight (similar to strapping on ankle weights) or the shape of the sole.
As for posture, she didn’t feel much difference, but as a former gymnast, she has no issues there.
The verdict: “Maybe. I think if you are trying to shape up, it’s more important what you do in the shoes than any shoe per se,” she said. “If you like wearing these shoes walking, that’s fine.
“If you are looking for weight loss from wearing them every day, I don’t see that happening.”
BodyTogs ($69.95/pair for arms, $79.95/pair for legs)
Weighted “sleeves” thin enough to be worn under regular clothing. Developed by a bariatric physician, they add 4 to 7 pounds to help you burn more calories, lose weight and improve overall fitness. The company says wearing BodyTogs on forearms and legs for up to 10 hours a day may be as effective as a two-mile run.
The expert: “We saw an increase in heart rate with the BodyTogs,” said Frank Wyatt, an associate professor of kinesiology at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. He had two students wear the product while walking on a treadmill for 20 minutes.
But while the students were expending more energy and burning more calories with the sleeves on, they complained that they were “awkward, hot and scratchy,” he said. The students said that wearing them for day-to-day activities was unlikely because they were uncomfortable.
The verdict: Wyatt said he would need more time and test subjects to do a complete assessment. But the initial findings showed “increased work” from wearing the BodyTogs, he said.
Slendertone (from $99 to $179.99)
Slendertone is a belt that uses Electronic Muscle Stimulation technology to create deep yet comfortable contractions in all three of the major abdominal muscles.
Gentle signals get sent through medical-grade gel pads, the company says. The products include three garments that are worn directly against the skin, targeting muscles in the arms, core and butt. You control the intensity and duration.
The expert: “It kind of feels like a tingling sensation,” said Tim Derrick, an associate professor of kinesiology at Iowa State in Ames, who wore the ab-toning belt for 20 minutes while walking the halls.
Derrick said he read the six-week clinical study that was done on the belt and it was “fairly sound.” More than 90 percent of the participants felt more firmness in their abs.
But he said the product alone was unlikely to make someone slender; he noted that the company says that for best results, it should be combined with healthy eating and regular, moderate exercise.
“It’s probably not going to give you a six-pack,” he said. “The contractions are not that strong. If you’re lying on your back and it stimulates your abdominals, it’s not going to make you do a sit-up. It would be better to just do sit-ups, but it’s more work.”
The verdict: “It’s not going to help a weightlifter,” he said. “Someone who like me doesn’t have time to work out, it would probably benefit them, in terms of increased strength and endurance.”
Ankle Weights & Weight Loss
Getting regular exercise is an important component in both losing weight and maintaining weight loss. Knowing where to start can be confusing, as there are many products and programs to choose from. While aerobic exercise is the best way to burn calories to shed those extra pounds, using weights can also help. However, there are some precautions to take in regard to ankle weights and weight loss.
If you are consuming more calories than you are burning, you will gain weight. If you eat the same amount of calories your body burns, then your weight will not change. To lose weight, it is necessary to take in fewer calories than you use, states the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1. Since 1 lb. is equal to 3,500 calories, to lose 1 lb. per week you must exercise enough to burn 500 extra calories per day through exercise. To lose 2 lbs., you must burn 1,00 extra calories a day The CDC states that it usually takes about 60 to 90 minutes of moderate level exercise on most days of the week to lose weight. Aerobic exercise such as walking, biking, swimming and dancing burn the most amount of calories, but using weights can help as well. In addition, cutting calories while exercising will help to speed weight loss even more.
While it may seem to make sense to stay away from using weights when trying to lose weight to prevent bulking up, weight training is an important addition to a weight-loss program. Muscle requires more calories to survive than fat does. This means as the muscles get stronger and percentage of fat decreases, your metabolism gets faster. Those stronger muscles will burn more calories even at rest, according to the Mayo Clinic. This does not mean it is necessary to bulk up, it just means making the muscles stronger. It is also good to remember that in order to bulk up, it is necessary to spend hours in the gym. Bodybuilders work out five to six days a week for hours at a time, with very heavy weights and machines. Using ankle weights two to three times a week and doing a few sets of each exercise will not be enough exercise to create bulk.
It is important to choose ankle weights that are heavy enough to fatigue the muscles within 10 to 12 repetitions. Using lighter weights and doing a lot of repetitions will not be as effective in building strength. Building strength is what raises the metabolism. Weight training the muscles to fatigue causes the muscle fibers to tear slightly so that they can heal and become stronger. This is a natural process; however, it means that it is important to rest in between workouts. Use ankle weights every other day and incorporate some aerobic exercises or upper-body exercises on other days to balance out the workout.
You can use ankle weights for exercises such as squats, lunges and standing leg lifts. You can wear them while sitting in a chair and slowly marching or extending the leg or when on all fours on the floor doing leg lifts. When lying on the side or back on the floor, you can use ankle weights to add resistance to leg exercises. However, it is important to take care of the knees. It is better for the joints to place the ankle weights closer to the knee when doing exercises while lying on the side. If the weights are around your ankles when you are lying on your side, as you lift your leg, the weights may pull on the knees. If you are new to exercise, it is best to work with a trainer or physical therapist, to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly and in the most efficient manner.
Whenever you are a using weights, it is important to move slowly and with control and never bounce or swing the weights. It may be tempting to wear ankle weights while walking, in an attempt to strengthen the legs and burn more calories. However, this can do more harm than good, warns the Mayo Clinic. Walking with weights places excessive force on your feet, ankles, knees and hips with each foot strike. If you are walking fast enough to get your heart rate up, your legs will be swinging fast, and the extra weight can pull too much on the knee and hip joints. Strength -training exercises should always be done separately from aerobic exercises. When walking, just try picking up the pace, walking up hill, walking on sand or using walking poles to make it more challenging. Leave the ankle weights home for the strength-training exercises.
The Wrap Up
While aerobic exercise is the best way to burn calories to shed those extra pounds, using weights can also help. Aerobic exercise such as walking, biking, swimming and dancing burn the most amount of calories, but using weights can help as well. It is important to choose ankle weights that are heavy enough to fatigue the muscles within 10 to 12 repetitions.