The Uses and Benefits of Ankle Weights

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Ankle weights: They’re not just for your mom’s old aerobic videos anymore.

Ankle weights may have seen something of a heyday back in the ’80s, but they’ve never really left us. And today, as our knowledge of exercise science has advanced, they’re seeing a resurgence in popularity. The difference is that now we have a better idea of exactly what they’re good for and how to use them, making them a great piece of at-home exercise equipment to add to your collection.

By their nature, a weight that you wrap around your ankle is going to be on the lighter side when compared to the range of weights available in barbells or machines. But that’s not a bad thing. It just makes them more suitable for the high rep / low resistance exercises geared towards increasing strength rather than bulking up. Their focus is on improving function, not appearance. That makes them great for rehabbing from injuries and learning proper form for total muscle group engagement.

What aren’t they good for?

There’s a right way to use ankle weights, and there’s a wrong way. There’s generally no need for ankle weights when performing intense cardio exercises like running. For one thing, studies have shown that when people do these exercises with ankle weights, they tend to unconsciously slow down their pace to a point where they see no caloric benefit from the added weights. Even worse, ankle weights will throw off your natural gait and balance, putting extra strain on ligaments and joints and leaving you at increased risk of injury.

The right way to use ankle weights

If you’re using ankle weights for physical therapy, your PT will instruct you on how much weight to use, which exercises to perform, and how often to perform them. If you’re just looking to create a few new healthy habits, ankle weights can be a great addition to your repertoire.

With the ankle weight bag from PrePak Products, you can adjust the weight depending on how much you need for each exercise. How much weight to use really depends on the exercise you’re doing. You want it heavy enough so that your muscles are fatigued by the end of each set. Start with maybe two to five pounds, and adjust accordingly. You’ll also want to make sure the bag is strapped securely to your leg so it doesn’t slide around during exercise.

Exercises to try

Side Leg Lifts — While lying on your side with your legs straight, lift one leg into the air then lower it back down. This is great for hip strength and mobility.

Lateral Leg Lifts — Similar to the side lift, but in this case you do it from a standing position. Repeat for four sets of ten to twelve reps.

Glute Kickbacks — Do these from a standing or position or on all fours. With your abdominals contracted, raise one leg behind you and lift from the crease of your glutes.

Prone Leg Lifts — While lying face down, raise both legs and hold. Make sure the abdominals stay contracted as you slowly lower the legs back down. This is a great exercise for the glutes.