If you’ve seen the influx of ankle weights flooding social media, you might have twigged by now that they’re are all the rage.
What was once 80’s workout video territory has become a very 2021 way of easily upping your strength from home and making those living room workouts a little more effective. Plus, they’re one of the only bits of at-home gym equipment that don’t seem to be selling out faster than you can say dumbbell.
Ankle weights come in all different styles, shapes, weights, and colours, so don’t worry if you’re a bit baffled by the lingo. We’re here to help – by the end of this article, you’ll be an ankle weight pro.
So, what are the benefits of using ankle weights?
As the name suggests, they’re circular weights that you slip on your ankles (or sometimes wrists) to make your workout harder.
They’re commonly used in pilates and barre, and Kayla Itsines and Selena Gomez are big fans. But what’s so great about ankle weights?
Well, they’re a simple and handy way of making your muscles work harder. You can use them in most workouts or wear them to add a little burn to your lunch walks. Kayla even wears them on flights (a good one to have banked for when we’re allowed to travel again).
As with any weights, like dumbbells and kettlebells, they’re designed to increase your overall strength, help build lean muscle mass, and improve your endurance.
Do make sure you’re not just whacking them on for any old move. Harvard Health experts recommend using them for leg moves that target your hamstrings, glutes, and core. Leg lifts, crunches, toe taps, and donkey kicks are a good place to start.
How should I use ankle weights?
It’s entirely up to you, as there are a multitude of ways you can use them.
If you’re a walker, you can add three to five-pound ankle weights to each ankle for your afternoon strolls to encourage engagement of your quad, hamstring, and glute muscles. Just don’t go higher than this, as it’ll likely add too much strain to your stride and make you overcompensate using other muscles.
For your workouts, you can add anything from three to ten-pound weights to pretty much any routine you like. They work best for pilates, barre, and core and leg specific strength workouts.
As explained in our guide to the best kettlebells, the perfect weight differs from person to person, so do make sure to start low and build your strength gradually to reduce risk of injury.
Should I use ankle weights every day?
Everyone needs a rest day or two a week, even if you’re only working out using what you deem to be ‘lighter’ weights. Remember that your body won’t be able to push yourself hard in workouts if you don’t give your body time to recover and your muscle fibres time to repair.
So, in short, no. If you’re really keen to keep moving, active recovery or LISS (that’s low-intensity steady state) training, like walking, are a great way of promoting muscle recovery.