Want to make your workouts a little more challenging? The best ankle weights are simple and effective additions to your fitness routine that accomplish just that. They can help increase strength, add intensity to cardio, and offer variety to your exercise modalities. If you’re looking to build lower body strength with these portable weights, SELF spoke with fitness trainers to learn more about the best ankle weights and their recommended uses.
“Since you don’t need to hold ankle weights the way you would dumbbells or free weights, ankle weights expand the types of exercises and planes of motion you can add resistance to,” Ashley Iwanicki, owner of Collective studios, says SELF. This makes ankle weights a beneficial accessory for your home gym to shake up and intensify your daily workouts.
As with all other fitness equipment, Matt Scarfo, a NASM-certified personal trainer, says you want to learn about using ankle weights as a beginner. “While walking is a great option because you can tailor your activity to how you feel and shorten your walk, or take the weights off if you feel tired,” he says. And since weights can also put uneven pressure on your ankles, knees and hips, he says it’s important to build the necessary strength before diving into longer use. Once you’re comfortable, you can use them to add resistance to a whole host of common lower body exercises, like donkey kicks, Fire hydrantsand butt kickbacks.
If you are new to exercise or have pre-existing injuries, it is best to consult your doctor or trainer to find out what exercises you can do safely with ankle weights.
What to look for when buying ankle weights
There are three main things to look for when buying ankle weights: comfort, materials, and adjustability.
Since you’ll be wearing them while you work out, you want your ankle weights to be comfortable (i.e. chafe-free). I will use your ankle weights and the types of exercises you do with your weights,” says Iwanicki. She mentions that if your ankle weights are a pain to use, it could be a “huge deterrent” for you to incorporate them into your workouts. Scarfo also recommends keeping no more than 2-5 pounds on your ankles, as anything heavier can cause joint problems. If you want to use more than 10 pounds of total resistance, he suggests exercising with a weighted vest or backpack to better distribute the weight and prevent injury.
There are several types of ankle weights that vary in materials, such as Velcro, silicone, and vegan leather. Whichever you choose, it’s important that they are breathable and lightweight for the activity you’re doing. Check to see if the weight of your ankles shifts as you exercise (hint: they shouldn’t) and if the weight is evenly distributed on your ankles. Assuming they fit comfortably, Scarfo says it can help you “build muscle slowly, get stronger and more proficient with weight” so you can increase the resistance as you progress. .
Whether you want adjustable ankle weights depends on your preference. Some experts, like the performance coach Keith HodgesCPT, founder of The mind in muscle coaching in Los Angeles, let’s say the best ankle weights have adjustment features, allowing you to easily add or subtract the amount of load or resistance needed when performing certain exercises. Additionally, Iwanicki advises looking for snug-fitting ankle weights, ideally with adjustable straps, to ensure your weights stay in place and don’t hit the top of your foot when you’re in motion.
Below, we’ve selected 10 of the best ankle weights, according to fitness experts.