What Do Ankle Weights Do?

Have you ever seen someone wearing ankle weights in the gym and wondered what they are used for?

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about ankle weights!

What Do Ankle Weights Do?

Ankle weights are versatile workout tools that provide countless benefits for improving endurance, toning muscle, and building strength.

They are portable, affordable, and can be used in a range of exercises — from jogging to advanced bodyweight training.

If you are unsure what ankle weights are used for or want to know whether buying ankle weights is worth it, keep reading to find out what ankle weights do, the types of ankle weights, ankle weights exercises, and the pros and cons of ankle weights.

What Does Putting Weights On Your Ankles Do?

Put simply, ankle weights increase the difficulty of any exercise that involves lifting the feet or legs. This helps to build endurance, strength, and muscle in different areas.

For people who want more of a challenge while running or training abs and glutes, ankle weights offer a convenient solution.

They are also ideal for people who do not go to the gym and want to add weight to bodyweight exercises performed at home.

Ultimately, ankle weights are not only used for running or performing leg-lifting exercises, as is commonly thought.

They can help to build abs and core strength, back strength, and are even used by calisthenics and gymnastic athletes who are training advanced moves such as the l-sit, back lever, front lever, and planche.

The Types Of Ankle Weights

What Do Ankle Weights Do?

On the whole, ankle weights come in different weight ranges. Some ankle weights have a fixed weight, while other ankle weights have an adjustable weight.

Adjustable ankle weights will have pockets in which weighted sandbags or blocks can be added and removed to change the amount of weight. This also means that adjustable ankle weights are generally larger in size.

Fixed weight ankle weights, on the other hand, are smaller and more compact, but may require purchasing in sets. 

All ankle weights are adjustable in terms of fit, utilizing Velcro straps that can be fastened to fit all ankle sizes. In general, ankle weights can provide up to 20 lbs of weight (9 kg).

Bear in mind that, if purchased as a pair, this would mean 10 lbs per ankle weight.

Do Ankle Weights Help Build Muscle?

If ankle weights are used in resistance training, then the answer is yes – ankle weights can help to build muscle.

Ankle weights are mostly used for training abs and glutes, but they can also be used to target areas of the back, including the lower back and lat muscles.

Any exercise that involves lifting the legs or feet will benefit from utilizing ankle weights. This includes ab and core exercises, glute and hamstring exercises, as well as lower back and lat exercises.

Do Ankle Weights Work For Weight Loss?

Ankle weights can help for weight loss if used in cardiovascular training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

This is because ankle weights increase training difficulty, therefore demanding more of an energy output.

This is why ankle weights are commonly seen being used by joggers, as it makes each stride more difficult.

The same applies to other cardio exercises, such as jumping jacks and skipping, which involve jumping with increased weight attached to the ankles.

Wherever used, if ankle weights help to elevate heart rate to a fat-burning level, ankle weights will help for weight loss.

Ankle Weights For Running

What Do Ankle Weights Do?

Ankle weights are popular among joggers, especially long-distance runners, as they help to build endurance and stamina by making each stride heavier and more difficult. 

Ankle weights can be used on treadmills, as well as for outdoor running.

By increasing the difficulty of running, ankle weights also provide the mental benefit of feeling lighter and faster once the ankle weights are taken off.

As an example, if someone runs 5k with ankle weights, running 5k without ankle weights will feel much easier on the next attempt.

Ankle Weights Exercises

Ankle weights are not only used for running, but for a variety of cardiovascular exercises that involve lifting the legs and jumping, such as jumping jacks and skipping.

What Do Ankle Weights Do?

And in the same way that ankle weights provide benefits when running, they also increase the difficulty of cardio and bodyweight exercises to help build muscle, strength, and endurance.

For abdominal exercises, ankle weights can be used for knee raises, leg raises, flutter kicks, mountain climbers, and more.

They can also be used for a range of hanging exercises, including hanging knee raises, hanging leg raises, and even pull-ups.

For building glutes and lower back muscles, ankle weights are suitable for donkey kicks, leg curls, reverse hyperextensions, and more, making them ideal for working out at home.

In addition, gymnasts and calisthenics athletes also make use of ankle weights when training advanced bodyweight exercises such as front levers and back levers, l-sits, and planches.

Ankle Weights Pros And Cons

Now that you know what ankle weights do and what they are used for, here are some final pros and cons of ankle weights:

The Pros Of Ankle Weights 

  • Ankle weights are generally affordable
  • Ankle weights are portable
  • Ankle weights are versatile for a range of exercises
  • Ankle weights help to build endurance, stamina, strength, and muscle
  • Ankle weights can be bought with a set weight or adjustable weight
  • Ankle weights are simple to use and fit, featuring Velcro-fastening straps

The Cons Of Ankle Weights 

  • Ankle weights, if bought as an adjustable pair, can be bulky 
  • Individually-bought ankle weights with a fixed weight can take up space and be less portable


To conclude, ankle weights are affordable, versatile, and portable pieces of workout equipment with a range of applications, aimed at increasing the difficulty of different exercises to improve endurance, strength, and muscle building.

Ankle weights can be used for cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging and skipping, resistance exercising for building abs and glutes, as well as training gymnastics and calisthenics moves such as the planche, back lever, and front lever.

Megan Rinzel
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