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10 Ankle Weight Exercises For Muscle, Weight Loss,…

You may realize that ankle weight workouts can offer you impressive benefits but what are some ankle weight exercises you can do?

Ankle weights are simply straps with some extra weight that are attached to your ankles. They can be used in many exercises to add some extra resistance to your training. This results in a few benefits including burning slightly more calories and building slightly more muscle with the same workouts.

How much weight you should use for ankle weights varies from exercise to exercise and individual to individual. A very general recommendation is a maximum weight of 3 pounds (1.4 kg) for exercises like walking and jumping rope.

For the resistance training exercises, you can find and use ankle weights from 0.5 pounds (0.23 kg) up to 20 pounds (9.1 kg). If you are not sure which weight would be right for you, you can start with light or no ankle weights and slowly build up from there.

Keep in mind that even though there are upsides, your injury risk is generally also higher when you do exercises with more weight/resistance. You may want to talk to your primary care provider before starting a new workout routine.

1. Lying lateral leg raise

For the lying lateral leg raise and any other ankle weight exercises that take place on the floor, it can be helpful to invest in something like a yoga mat if you have no other soft surface to do the exercise on. To do a lying lateral leg raise take the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on your side with your body in more or less one straight line, adjust for stability.
  2. Raise one leg upward until it is at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Keep the foot of this leg pointing horizontally.
  3. Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat the same number of repetitions with the other leg.

You can also do this glute exercise standing up. With this version, you may need something to hold on to for balance.

2. Jumping rope

Jumping rope with ankle weights is usually not the exercise most people think of when implementing more ankle weight exercises. Even so, adding ankle weights to a jump rope session can help you burn more calories and build more muscle when done right.

When done right means jumping straight up and down and only adding them if you are not injury sensitive. Once you start doing big movements with your legs, ankle weights may negatively influence your rope jump performance without them. Jumping rope with other weights like a weighted vest may be a better idea.

Jumping rope can also be hard on body parts like ankles, shins, knees, and back. Wearing ankle weights while jumping rope increases the injury risk even more, especially in your ankles.

The message with this ankle weight exercise is to be careful and maybe stick to regular rope jumping. If you feel pain it may be a sign you are overdoing it. In that case, you may need some rest, better lifestyle habits, or maybe jumping rope with ankle weights is not for you.

3. Leg raise

The leg raise is an ab exercise that can also be done without equipment. However, by adding ankle weights you can speed up the ab-building process. One repetition of a leg raise involves the following steps:

  1. You start lying down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Your arms start resting on the ground at your sides for balance.
  2. Keep your legs more or less stretched while you move up your feet slowly until your legs make a right angle with the ground. If this angle is not yet within your capabilities you can start with repetitions with smaller angles and build up from there.
  3. Slowly lower your feet with stretched legs again. If you will do more repetitions you can keep your feet hovering just above the ground. If you are done you can lower them to the ground.

4. Walking

Walking is a popular form of exercise among other reasons because it is so convenient to fit into a busy schedule and because many people find it enjoyable. By walking with ankle weights you can increase the number of calories you burn even if you walk the same distance and at the same speed.

A big factor in how many calories you burn during a workout is your weight. To move around your body needs energy, measured in calories. The more weight you carry, the more energy you need to fuel movement.

For example, a 155-pound (70 kg) person walking for 30 minutes at 3 mph (4.8 km/h) burns around 128 calories. On the other hand, a 185-pound (83 kg) person walking for 30 minutes at 3 mph (4.8 km/h) burns around 153 calories.

Keep in mind that walking with ankle weights engages your muscles in a different ratio. This can lead to muscular imbalances that in turn can lead to a change in gait that may not be optimal for your daily life or physical performance (1, 2).

If you want to walk with external weights, walking with a weighted vest is generally better than walking with ankle weights. That being said, walking with ankle weights can still offer some benefits over walking without.

5. Donkey kick

To do a donkey kick take the following steps:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor with your hands on the ground, your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground.
  2. Move one foot upward until the upper leg of this side is in 1 line with your body. Keep your knees at 90-degree angles throughout the movement.
  3. Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat with your other leg.

The donkey kick is an ankle weight exercise for your glutes, also known as your butt muscles.

6. Windshield wiper

The windshield wiper is another ankle weight ab exercise. To do one repetition take the following steps:

  1. You start lying down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Your arms start resting on the ground at 90 degrees out from your shoulders for stability.
  2. Keep your legs more or less stretched while you move up your feet slowly until your legs make a right angle with the ground. If this angle is not yet within your capabilities you can start with a smaller angle and build up from there.
  3. Slowly lower your feet and legs to one side until just above the ground while keeping your legs at a 90-degree angle with your upper body.
  4. Slowly return your legs back to starting position and repeat for the other side.

7. Butt kicks

To do butt kicks take the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight and slightly raise your heels.
  2. Fold one leg at your knees until the heel of your foot touches your butt.
  3. While lowering the first leg, start raising the other leg in the same way.
  4. Repeat for a certain number of repetitions or a certain amount of time.

Butt kicks mainly work your cardiovascular system and your hamstring and quadriceps (back and front thigh) muscles. By wearing ankle weights you will engage your thigh muscles more.

8. Flutter kicks

This next ankle weight exercise is for strengthening your ab muscles. Flutter kicks involve the following steps:

  1. Start lying down on your back with your legs stretched and right next to each other on the ground. Your arms start resting on the ground at your sides for balance.
  2. Push your lower back against the ground with the help of your core muscles. The goal is to keep your lower back pushed to the ground throughout the exercise if you want to train your core muscles.
  3. Keep your legs more or less stretched and together while you move up your feet until your legs make a 90 degree angle with the ground.
  4. Slowly lower your legs until you either can’t keep your lower back on the ground anymore or until they are right above the ground. The more experienced you are with core training the closer you will be able to get to the ground.
  5. While keeping the other leg stretched, elevate one leg a small amount.
  6. While lowering this leg back to starting position elevate the other leg in the same way.
  7. Keep repeating this alternation between the two sides.

Flutter kicks are similar to the movement you make with your legs while swimming crawl.

9. Knee-to-elbow

This next exercise requires slightly more coordination. Two repetitions of knee-to-elbows involve the following steps:

  1. Start laying down on your back with your hands behind your head.
  2. Bend your legs at the hip and knee so both angles are about 90 degrees.
  3. Slightly turn your upper body to one side and reach with your elbow to the knee of the opposite side (for example your left elbow to your right knee) while stretching the leg of the elbow you use while still keeping it off the ground (continuing the example stretching your left leg).
  4. Bring the stretched leg back into the starting position and repeat with the other side.

The knee-to-elbow exercise engages your core muscles.

10. Fire Hydrant

To do a fire hydrant take the following steps:

  1. Start with your face facing the floor with your hands on the ground, your arms stretched, and your knees on the ground.
  2. Slowly move one leg sideways as close to a 90-degree angle in your hips as you comfortably can. Keep your knees at about 90-degree angles during the movement. Try to keep your back straight and the rest of your body besides your legs still to focus the most on your glutes.
  3. Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
  4. Repeat with your other leg.

The fire hydrant exercise engages your core muscles and glutes, even more so when wearing ankle weights.