How many times have you tried to find some shortcut to meeting your fitness goals? Don’t be shy about answering, because the truth is that we all have.
The shocking thing is that the answer might very well come in the form of nothing more than weird pouches you wear strapped to your ankles!
How Many lbs. Should Ankle Weights Be?
Even if you’re already familiar with the concept of ankle weights, you don’t want to just go out and buy the first set you can find. Wearing the right size can help strengthen your muscles.
Using weights that are too light won’t do you much good. Ones that are too heavy can cause injuries!
One study conducted at the famous Kyungsung University in South Korea found that knee joint repositioning problems can be improved by wearing the right sized ankle weights (1). Those that were too heavy could cause these problems to get worse.
Just like with any weight training program, you should probably start small and then work up a resistance over time.
Try going with adjustable ankle weights and start with around 5 or 10 lbs. at first. You can work your way up to 15-20 lbs. eventually. Experts can often work all the way up to 40 lbs. using this kind of regimen.
Keep in mind that you should always reduce resistance if you start to feel really uncomfortable. You’re probably used to hearing lame warnings from nearly every workout product you’ve ever tried, but this is one that you’ll actually want to abide by. Don’t use more weight than you can handle.
You might even want to vary things up by using heavier weights for more intense workouts and lower measures for aerobic ones.
What Makes a Good Ankle Weight?
Many of the best ankle weights are adjustable and let you add anything from 5-40 lbs. by sliding pieces of metal into a little slot. Look for bands that are made out of durable materials. You want something that’s going to hold up to plenty of abuse in the gym.
Remember that anything you wear while working out will probably get sweaty, so look for comfortable padded materials that won’t slip when you’re really getting into things. Better ankle weights are also sold with everything you need in one package.
Don’t get caught up in some bad deal where you need to constantly buy more weights to keep up with the fact that you’re getting stronger! Plenty of stuff should have just come with the kit.
Can Ankle Weights Build Muscle?
The easy answer is of course! All weight resistance is going to build muscle. If you wear them and do many reps with a smaller weight level, then you’re going to build up muscle endurance.
Workout warriors wearing heavier weights are going to build muscle mass. It’s just like any other form of weight-based exercise.
Training with ankle weights might help build your strongest muscle too. A study at Taibah University found that ankle and wrist weights could potentially lead to a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease (2).
This study also showed plenty of people dropping some fat along the way.
Just be careful about when you wear them.
When Should I Wear Ankle Weights?
A few years ago there was this fad of people who wore weighted clothing, including ankle and wrist weights, every hour of the day. You don’t want to do that!
Some people suggest that you could theoretically wear them all the time if you’re not exerting yourself, but this really doesn’t make much sense.
In fact, scientists from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research looked into this issue and had people wear weighted vests all the time (3).
The overall effect on athletic performance was slight enough that a lot of trainers now recommend only really wearing them when you’re involved in an actual workout.
Fortunately, there are plenty of great exercises that are specific to ankle weights, so you won’t have to worry about not having enough to do with them!
Those who are new to wearing them might want to try something low intensity at first, such as walking with ankle weights. Doctors from the Clinical Biomechanics journal are experimenting with using ankle weights and gentle underwater exercises in the hopes of restoring movement for stroke patients (4).
This kind of gentle motion can be used as you build up a tolerance and make your way to stronger weights.
The Top 5 Ankle Weight Exercises
1) Hip Extensions: This popular exercise works the butt and glutes. It’s made much more intense by adding even a small amount of weight, but 40 lbs. bands make it real tough.
2) High Knees: You probably do a form of these already, and adding a little resistance can really take them to the next level. Expert gym rats might want to try them suspended.
3) Sidekick Squat: Start by performing a sumo squat and then add in an extra kick. You’ll want to start light, but this is perfect if you’re into high intensity interval training (HIIT) work.
4) Donkey Kicks: If you’re ready to graduate from traditional hip extensions, then try pushing your leg just a bit higher in the air. Make sure to keep your back and leg straight.
5) Lift-to-Knee-Tucks: Start in the traditional downward facing dog yoga pose and then follow it up with a leg lift and then add in an abdominal knee tuck.
Once you’ve mastered these five, you might want to add weighted burpees or jump-squats to your routine.
The Top 5 Ankle Weights
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- Easily adjustable
- Available in four weight classes
- Offer protected padding
- Contour foam design can get hot
- Weight pouches start to leak after a while
- Easy to reduce or increase weight
- Very flexible
- Comes with d-rings for custom fit
- Designed to be worn in 20 lbs. pairs
- Might be too big for some
- Comes in pairs
- Adjustable weights each weigh 10 lbs.
- Padded lining
- Might not be heavy enough
- Fit might be a bit small
- Durable heavy canvas design
- Strong straps to hold them in place
- Sand-filled weights might leak
- May be too large for some
- Very comfortable and padded
- Reflective trim makes them great for outdoor use
- Can be bulky
- Would need several to reach 40 lbs