Image of a woman demonstrating how to properly use ankle weights

The Benefits Of Ankle Weights: Why & How You Should Be Using Them

by Cole Matthews - Last Updated July 6, 2019

Adding resistance to otherwise everyday workout routines has been a trend in the world of fitness for quite some time. There are several items that one could use to add resistance to an exercise, such as resistance bands, a weighted vest, or more popular lately – ankle weights. Incorporating ankle weights to add strength and variety to your exercise routine is a low cost and highly effective option. Using ankle weights while even taking a brisk walk may add extra health benefits.

These beneficial resistance tools can be extremely helpful but must be utilized properly. Some factors to consider is how often they are used, when they’re used, and who using them. The use of ankle weights can improve balance, tone legs, increase resistance and help burn extra calories. On the other hand, ankle weights can sometimes cause strain or stress on joints if an individual has had leg, knee, muscle, or bone injuries, so the amount of weight should also be considered in order to avoid injuries. Let’s talk about the numerous benefits and teach you exactly how to use these little weights to your advantage.

Improved Balance

Ankle weights are linked to increased balance. Consider the fact that the small muscles in the ankle are working all day to help maintain the overall balance of your body. Strengthening the muscles in the ankle help build and support ability to maintain your balance. If interested in using ankle weights to increase balance, it is best to add ankle weights after taking the time to warm up the muscles. My favorite ways to warm up my muscles are to stretch out or do some foam roller exercises for a quick massage.

Tones Legs

Incorporating ankle weights into any routine also helps improve range of motion, which allows for a little more wiggle room when practicing toning exercise such as leg lifts. While completing leg lifts, ankle weights add enough resistance to make the exercise more than worthwhile. Most women look to achieve a sleek, toned look and ankle weights add just enough resistance to a toning workout session.

Some women often opt to avoid resistance or weights at all just to avoid muscles becoming bulky, but to achieve desired results, you have to tire the muscles. Adding ankle weights to toning activities helps exhaust the muscles more quickly, and allows for more variety when practicing the same movements. Plus, truth be told, it is extremely hard for women to gain bulky muscle in the way that men do because of how differently a woman’s body works. So ladies, you shouldn’t worry at all about using weights.

Workout Variety

Ankle weights certainly add variety to workout routines. Since these types of weights typically aren’t incorporated into everyday workout regimens, in most cases, using them should provide a higher level of challenge. However, remember this: using weights on the ankles too frequently or without proper stretching could cause extra strain on the muscle and ligaments in the ankles, which may be more damaging than beneficial. So be mindful of how much you use them. Some other exercises that ankle weights could be used for are water aerobics or cardio exercises. They can change the most mundane of movements into powerful movements that engage different groups of muscles, creating an opportunity for an extra challenge and change to a workout.

Increased Resistance

It should be pretty obvious that including ankle weights during a workout increases resistance to your routine. Resistance during an exercise is important because it can help improve your strength overall. Consider the fact that an individual cannot lift a weight with the bottom half of the body during a free standing exercise. They may be able to lift hand weights while moving, but the lower half of the body is not experiencing the same impact from that resistance, which is where the ankle weights come in. Ankle weights have resistance benefits when used during leg raises, calf raises and even running. Using ankle weights during activities such as running will not make a person faster or allow someone to lift their legs higher, but it will help strengthen the lower body and core so it may lead to faster running times and higher jumps in the long run due to increased endurance and strength. Read our guide about running with ankle weights before you get started.

Burning Calories

Since the human body is using more energy while incorporating ankle weights, it is also burning more calories! The benefit to this is the fact that adding ankle weights helps burn more calories without added intensity or time. For example, if someone runs 3 miles every morning without ankle weights, adding ankle weights to that same routine may help increase the number of calories burned. Without the ankle weights, achieving the extra boost in caloric burning can only be done with an increase in how fast people run or an increase in the length of time of the run. The added resistance also increases heart rate, which helps build cardiovascular health, and also aids in burning calories.

Other Benefits

Among the benefits listed above, some of the other benefits include creating stronger breathing muscles, adding resistance to core workouts, and strengthening non-leg muscles when used during lifting exercises.

The use of ankle weights to help support the strengthening of breathing muscles can be done by wearing ankle weights while practicing breathing exercises. Because of the increased resistance, ankle weights when used during sit-ups, leg lifts, and many other activities, it further engages the core, helping to achieve faster results. Similar to the core muscles, ankle weights, also assist in strengthening other muscles, due to the added resistance.

Things To Consider

Ankle weights are a great way to add extra challenge, versatility and resistance to workout regimens. It’s certainly worth considering whether it might be beneficial to add to a workout routine. However, if there is a previous knee or lower leg injuries, working out with ankle weights may need to be avoided since they do add extra strain on those areas.

Don’t be afraid to switch up a routine, but make sure this isn’t something permanent. Ankle weights should not be used during every work out. Using ankle weights once or twice a week is suggested when engaging in the same type of physical activity often. For example, swimming or participating in water aerobics three times a week, one may consider using ankle weights during one of those weekly sessions for variety and an extra challenge. Also, consider the amount of weight you’re using. Without proper training using heavy weight may be problematic. Some recommend using weights that weigh between 1 to 2 pounds.

Ankle weights indeed offer the opportunity to do more with less time and intensity. There are so many ways to incorporate them into a workout. Benefits can be seen all around if ankle weights are used properly throughout workouts. There are even aquatic ankle weights that are specialized to be used underwater for those interested in usage while swimming or participating in water aerobics.


In the world of fitness, there are so many new gadgets to explore. So many of them are big and expensive or don’t give the results expected, so a simple set of ankle weights may be a real game changer if looking for a unique extra challenge. Whether trying to spice up a daily walk, become stronger and have more endurance, or burn more calories during a workout, ankle weights are definitely worth giving a try. They’re small enough to pop into a gym bag and can be taken nearly anywhere so you have easy access to use them whenever you want.