a woman using ankle weights

Everything You Need To Know About Adjustable Ankle Weights

Do you drive everywhere you go? Maybe you ride a bicycle to decrease your carbon footprint. In fact, it is your own two legs that you use most often to get from point A to point B. To tone the muscles that get you back and forth, exercise them regularly with adjustable ankle weights.

What Are Adjustable Ankle Weights?

Adjustable ankle weights are workout weights designed to fit around the area above your ankle joint to increase the work of your lower body muscles. The added resistance causes your butt, thighs and calf muscles to exercise harder; over time, the increased work increases muscle mass and stamina.

Benefits of Adjustable Ankle Weights

Ankle weights are best used with strength training exercises. Each exercise isolates different muscle groups, for example, front lunges exercise the thighs, calves, butt muscles and the cardiovascular system. The dog-at-fire hydrant exercise will work the lower back, inner thigh and butt muscles.

Ankle weights add variety to workouts. One of the biggest causes of failure to stay fit is boredom. Ankle weights are an inexpensive and convenient way to change things up. Ankle weights not only cause you to burn more calories, they help you breathe better; wearing ankle weights while doing breathing exercises strengthens core muscles. Ankle weights allow you to get an efficient exercise in less time than going to the gym or using home gym equipment.

What Are Adjustable Ankle Weights Made From?

Adjustable ankle weights look like segmented belts; each segment is a pocket filled with sand (usually), although it could be just one pouch filled with sand. The fabric is typically neoprene and has reinforced stitching around each compartment and all edges. A neoprene or web strap runs the across the length of the stitched compartments, which is adjusted with a Velcro strap. Adjustable ankle weights are usually fixed to the ankle with a steel D ring and adjustable strap. Ankle weights can also be filled with water and synthetic materials, depending on the brand.

Adjustable ankle weights are adjustable to accommodate different leg and ankle sizes. They are also adjustable in terms of height and weight. Some ankle weights come with removable pockets of sand so you can adjust the amount of weight as you choose. Adjustable ankle weights also come in different colors.

How Are Adjustable Ankle Weights Used?

There are about as many uses for adjustable ankle weights as there are varieties of the items themselves. Ankle weights can also be attached to your wrists to perform exercises to strengthen biceps, triceps and deltoids, and the extra weight will help exercise your shoulders as well. Some exercises that can be performed with adjustable ankle weights include:

  • Bicycle pedaling
  • High knees
  • Leg raises
  • Front lunges
  • Donkey kicks
  • Leg squats
  • Dog-at-fire hydrant
  • Arm circles
  • Pointing bird-dog
  • Hip thrusts

When Should Ankle Weights Be Used With Caution?

Ankle weights are not recommended for brisk walking, and prolonged inappropriate use of ankle weights will strain your ankles, tendons, and leg muscles. Those who are in rehabilitation after orthopedic surgery or injury should only use ankle weights with the approval of their doctor and supervised by a qualified rehabilitation therapist or technician. Those who have back, balance and/or joint problems should consult their physician first and work with a physical therapist to design an appropriate workout routine. Examples of back disorders are:

  • Muscle and ligament strain
  • Disk disruption
  • Skeletal irregularities
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis

Joint disorders that will require a supervised and carefully planned exercise routine include:

  • Gout
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis

Balance and motion disorders can be especially annoying if ankle weights are not used with caution. Some motion disorders include:

  • Ménière's disease
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Head injury
  • Motion sickness
  • Vertigo
  • Migraine
  • Acoustic neuroma

How Heavy Should Adjustable Ankle Weights Be?

Now that we know what adjustable ankle weights are, what they are made of, the benefits of using them, and the precautions some of us must take before using them are, now it's time to touch on how heavy ankle weights should be. The short answer is that you should start out small and gradually increase the weight during your workout, and the bottom line is this: If ankle weights are causing you pain, they are too heavy.

How much weight you should use depends on your level of fitness, your workout goals and the ability of your joints to manage ankle weights without pain or injury. If you start out with 2 pounds that means each ankle will carry 1 pound. After your first few exercise sessions at 1 pound each, you can increase the weight to 5 pounds, so each ankle will support 2 ½ pounds. A total weight of 5 pounds is a very common selection; it's good to stay at 5 pounds until your joints and muscles strengthen and your endurance improves.

Once you are really going, try adding 5 pounds to each ankle. Remember, you will need to have a certain level of fitness, muscle tone and stamina before adding 10 pounds to your workout. As with every weight, be mindful of what your body tries to tell you; if it hurts or it's causing an injury, take the weights off immediately.

Keep Going!

After you have attained a super-fit status, carefully add weight up to 20 pounds, which means 10 pounds of weight on each leg. You don't have to be Adonis or Athena, but you better be doing more than just looking in the mirror. Physical fitness and shapely legs are the goal, so get out there and exercise with as heavy an ankle weight belt as you can tolerate, but be reasonable. More weight is only better to a certain point.

If you plan to use more than 20 pounds of weight on your ankles, it's best to do so under the supervision of a physical fitness expert, at least at first. You will often see guys in the gym packing on more than one ankle weight belt on each ankle, but don't think you can follow in their footsteps on a whim. Some adjustable ankle weights come with half-pound iron bars that be added, while others have removable pouches filled with sand. Adjustable ankle weights can range from ½ pounds up to 20 pounds. A typical product can be:

  • One pair of adjustable ankle belts
  • One pair of 2.5 pounds each weights
  • One pair of 5 pound each weights
  • One pair of 10 pound each weights

To find a great set of adjustable ankle weights, you can always rely on Amazon.com.

What Size Do I Need?

Ankle weights can be uncomfortable if they don't fit properly. If your ankle weight belt keeps sliding down onto the top of your foot, then you need to adjust the strap. If you have to keep adjusting the strap around your ankle, then you need a smaller sized belt. Adjustable ankle weights come in small and medium sizes for women and children, but keep in mind that what is meant by "children" are young people were old enough to use ankle weights safely.

If your ankle weight belt does not completely encircle your ankle, or if the Velcro can hardly be secured, then you need a larger ankle weight belt. Ankle weights come in large and extra large for bigger people while medium and large sized ankle weights are in the Goldilocks range for most people.


One of the best ways to attain and maintain a strong and shapely butt, thighs, upper body, calves, and core is to use adjustable ankle weights. Ankle weights are designed to be used for strength training by increasing the resistance against which your muscles work, and they are usually made of a neoprene material that is filled with sand, iron bars, water or a synthetic material. Adjustable straps are made of Velcro and may include a D ring to secure the weight to your ankle.

A wide variety of exercises can be performed using ankle weights, but ankle weights are not for everybody, and they should be used with caution. Some people with certain health conditions should only use them under strict supervision. The amount of weight depends on the goals and fitness level of the user, but no matter what the motive, users should start out small and slowly increase the weights as their strength and endurance increases. Ankle weights come in different sizes; small and medium for the smaller ankle, all the way up to extra large.

Today, most of us drive just about everywhere we go, and while some of us are lucky and thoughtful enough to ride a bicycle as often as possible to decrease our carbon footprint and keep up our physical fitness, the most frequently used method of transportation is the "ankle express" — also known as our own two feet. The regular use of adjustable ankle weights is perhaps the easiest and most convenient way to tone and tuneup the muscles that get us where we want to go whenever we want, so get a pair for yourself today!

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