As implied, ankle weights are worn just above the ankle to add weight to your legs. These weights should only be worn during strength training exercises as the resistance they add will increase muscle mass.
However, they should not be worn for cardio workouts e.g walking or running even though they can help to increase the energy that you burn. This is because there is a risk of them straining your ankles and causing a possible injury due to how they are worn.
There are many exercises that you can attempt using ankle weights and they offer the most benefits when used to isolate different muscle groups. For example, you can attach the weight to one leg and then complete some squats lifting one leg each time you rise.
They can also be used for weighted lunges. Attach a weight to each ankle and then practice the motion of a lunge, taking a step forward and then bending your knees until you are near the ground.
Though ankle weights are worn on your ankles they provide a whole body workout targeting all of your major muscles. Depending on the exercise it is likely that each weight will weigh between 5 to 10 pounds.
Ankle weights are often used in rehabilitation centers to help those suffering from injuries that have affected their strength. They can also benefit individuals who are suffering from arthritis as lifting weights can ease joint pain and stiffness to improve their functionality.
Do ankle weights strengthen knees?
Ankle weights can increase the risk of a possible knee injury as they put more pressure onto your joints which will ultimately result in more pain.
Although they can be effective when worn for workouts, wearing ankle weights to walk or run can cause them to pull on the joints in your ankle, resulting in injury to the tendons and ligaments in your hips, back, and of course your knees. If worn over prolonged periods, there is also a chance of them affecting your walking pattern.
Should you decide to use ankle weights to walk despite the risks associated with doing so (e.g if you are in the process of rehabilitating from an injury) you must not use any that weigh more than 3 to 5 pounds.
If you are looking for ways to increase the intensity of your walk or run, seek alternative methods such as increasing the pace at which you are traveling and the distance that you aspire to reach.
If they are used safely and correctly ankle weights can be effective, although you should avoid using them if you are already experiencing any existing knee pains as they will only worsen your condition. There are several exercises that you can do to strengthen your knees that don’t call for you to wear any weights.
This includes knee extensions, wall squats, and standing knee flexions. As your strength improves you can add light ankle weights to your workout routine to increase your resistance and build your muscles, however, you should only do so when you feel as though your knees are strong enough.
Although ankle weights present a greater risk of injury to your knees, they can help to strengthen many other muscles in your body.
How long should you wear ankle weights?
It is recommended that you wear ankle weights for 20 minute sessions around 3 times a week. There are some instances where they are suitable for all-day wear. For example, if you work in an office where your job requires you to walk around fairly regularly, you may choose to wear some ankle weights ensuring that they are not too heavy.
Remember, that you need to allow your body time to adjust to this added weight, especially if you do not have previous experience of wearing weights of this kind. If you do usually work out without using weights, adapt your typical workouts accordingly.
Rather than doing the same amount of lunges as you normally would without the weights, begin by reducing the amount that you attempt to achieve. As mentioned, there is a risk of ankle weights altering a person's walking pattern so they aren’t recommended for intense and brisk walks.
When worn for more physically demanding workouts, it is important to ensure that you allow your body time to rest in between. As such, you may wear them for the duration of your workout and then remove them for a few hours afterward to allow your body to adjust and recuperate.
Avoid overusing your ankle weights because this will reduce the risk of possible injuries occurring to your muscles and joints.
Also, if you are new to these types of weights, don’t just jump straight in and wear them for a whole day at once but rather ease yourself into it and familiarize yourself with them gradually, perhaps choosing to wear them for the maximum of an hour at once.
As your confidence and strength increase, the regularity in which you wear your ankle weights will likely increase too.
For many people, finding the time to dedicate to a gym visit or intense home workout can be an unachievable task, but choosing to wear ankle weights can make subtle but effective differences to your daily routine.
By wearing them as you work around your work office, you will be reaping the benefits without feeling as though you have had to over-exert yourself to do so.
Remember to make sure that you do not overdo it, instead start slow and work your way up. You must make sure that you give your body plenty of time to rest and don’t put too much strain on your muscles by using weights that are too heavy for your capabilities.
Though you should begin by wearing your ankle weights for short workout sessions around 2 to 3 times a week, you can then make any necessary adjustments to your routine as your fitness improves and you feel ready to do so.