Ankle weights may be small, but they’re mighty. Incorporating these into your workout routine will result in a number of benefits for your physical health, fitness goals, home gym, budget, and more. Learn all about these benefits (and some risks) of using ankle weights, as well as some of our favorite ankle weight exercises.

What Are Ankle Weights Good For?

Ankle weights are good for building muscle, burning calories, and helping you safely progress from one weight class to the next. Their compact size and affordable price also make them good for home gyms and home gym workouts. Here’s a full list of ankle weight benefits:

8 Benefits of Ankle Weights

1. Compact

Any worthwhile home gym  should be equipped with a pair of ankle weights. The fact that they’re so compact makes them easy to fit in any home gym setup as they can easily be stored and tucked away—even in small spaces. And, if you live in a condo or apartment and do your home workouts from there, ankle weights are also lightweight and discrete so they won’t make any noises that could potentially disturb the neighbours.

2. Versatile

Despite the name, ankle weights can be used on your wrists as well. Using them as wrist weights is incredibly easy, comfortable and adds extra resistance to your upper-body workouts.

3. Assist with progress

Ankle weights can also help you move up a weight class. For example, if you usually perform bicep curls using 20 pounds and want to move up a weight class but you don’t want to jump straight to 25s, you could wear the 1 to 3-pound ankle weights on your wrists for added resistance. This gradually gets you to a higher weight class without overloading yourself too quickly.

4. Build more muscles

Ankle weights add an extra level of resistance to any workouts which helps you build muscles. When workout movements suddenly get an extra dash of resistance, your muscles have to work even harder to perform the movement. For example, walking with ankle weights helps strengthen your leg muscles, using them during bicycle crunches further engages your abdominal muscles, and wearing them during bird dogs will further work your glutes. 

5. Burn more calories

Ankle weights add an extra challenge to your movements. This can elevate your heart rate and increase the number of calories burned during your workout.

6. Affordable

If you’re looking for a home gym accessory that won’t break the bank, look no further than ankle weights. These affordable yet mighty pieces of fitness equipment are a great investment considering the wide range of movements and activities you can do with them.

7. Compatible with smart fitness equipment

If you love fitness stats and data, you’ll be happy to know that certain ankle weight have connective features such as Bluetooth that will sync with your smart fitness equipment. For example, lululemon Studio’s ankle weights connect to The Mirror and can be added to almost any workout for an extra challenge. They also give you feedback on your workout and your output.

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8. Can be added to any workout

It’s simple to Incorporate ankle weights into your workout routine because they can be added to nearly any type of movement For example, you can easily add them to cardio exercises like walking, running, jumping jacks, burpees, etc., as well as strength training workouts, barre, sculpt classes, Pilates, and more.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Ankle Weights?

The pros of ankle weights are that they’re affordable, compact, easy to use, and compatible with almost any workout. The cons are that they can put you at risk of muscular imbalances if you wear them while walking or running. The ankle weights  force you to use your quadriceps and not your hamstrings, which is required for proper walking and running mobility.

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Ankle Weight Exercises

Here’s a list of our favorite ankle weight exercises and how to perform them. 

Pro tip: As with all free weights, be sure to maintain good form throughout the movement. If your form begins to break down with the addition of ankle weights, use lighter ankle weights or remove them altogether.

Squat with Knee Tuck

  1. Start by securing the ankle weights to your ankles.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
  3. Lower your body down into a squat by bending at the knees and pushing your hips back (as if you are sitting down on a chair).
  4. As you rise back up to a standing position, lift your left knee up towards your chest, balancing on your right leg.
  5. Lower your left foot back down to the floor and repeat the squat on the opposite side, alternating between legs.

Other standing exercises that can be done with ankle weights include:

  • Lateral Leg Lift
  • Hamstring Curl
  • Marching / High Knees / A-Skips
  • Knee to Elbow Tuck
  • Lunges

Toe Taps / Leg Drops

  1. Secure the ankle weights to your ankles.
  2. Start lying on your back with your legs and feet extended straight up in the air, and your arms at your side.
  3. Engage your core and slowly lower both legs towards the floor in a controlled motion.
  4. Once your feet are hovering over the ground (or you’ve lowered your legs as far as you can without arching and lifting your back off the ground), bring them back up to your starting position.

You can modify this movement by lowering one leg at a time.

Other side-lying exercises that can be done with ankle weights include:

  • Leg Abduction / Side Leg Lifts
  • Bicycle Crunches
  • Deadbugs
  • Single Leg & Double Leg Stretch
  • Mountain Climbers

Bird Dogs

  1. Secure the ankle weights to your ankles.
  2. Start in a quadruped position (on your hands and knees).
  3. Engage your core and find your balance as you lift your left leg and right hand off the ground slightly.
  4. Extend and straighten the elevated arm and leg. Be sure to reach the arm forward to the wall in front of you, and the leg backwards to the wall behind you.
  5. Once your arm and leg are straight, return them back to your starting position and repeat on opposite sides.

If you have two pairs of ankle weights, you may also choose to secure a pair to your wrists for an added challenge.

Other quadruped exercises that can be done with ankle weights include:

  • Donkey Kick
  • Fire Hydrant

Biceps Curl 

  1. Secure the ankle weights to your wrists.
  2. In a standing or seated position, start with your arms straight and hanging by your side. 
  3. Bend at the elbows and bring your hands up towards your shoulders, keeping your elbows locked in place.
  4. Once your hands have gotten as close to your shoulders as possible, release and straighten your arms back to the starting position, keeping the elbows locked in place still.

You may also choose to do this movement with dumbbells in your hands and the ankle weights around your wrists.

Other upper body exercises that can be done with ankle weights include:

  • Triceps Kickback
  • Overhead Press
  • Reverse Fly
  • Bent Over Rows

Is It Good to Walk With Ankle Weights?

Yes, it’s good to walk with ankle weights. This adds an extra challenge to your walk and can help you build more muscle and burn more calories. If you’re new to fitness, Lonnie Poupard Jr., a certified personal trainer at lululemon Studio, recommends working your way up. “Beginners should wait until they’re used to walking for longer periods of time before using ankle weights when they walk”, says Poupard Jr.

Do Ankle Weights Burn Fat?

Working out with ankle weights can help you burn more calories during your workout, but they won’t necessarily burn fat. When you exercise, your body uses stored glycogen for energy first. It’s only after about 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise that your body starts burning fat. 

If your goal is to lose weight, build muscle, and tone up, we recommend incorporating both resistance training and cardio into your workout routine to decrease your body fat percentage.

Adding Ankle Weights to your lululemon Studio Workouts

lululemon Studio’s ankle weights are 100% compatible with our smart fitness mirror. Connecting the two offers you feedback on your workout, your output, and your form. Take your workout to the next level with our connected ankle weights and filter classes by ankle-weight-friendly workouts.

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