September 21, 2021 7 min read

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that nothing can stop us from reaching our goals. We dealt with lockdowns, more specifically, lockdowns at our favorite place: the gym, but that didn’t stop us from making our gains.

We simply had to learn new ways to reach our goals and different resources to utilize to continue building muscle.

Ankle weights are a great example of resources to incorporate into your weekly workout routine especially if you are seeking to spice things up and add some resistance to your workout. They are great for adding intensity to your workouts.

Other than the fact that they add great resistance, they are extremely versatile and flexible as you can use them essentially anywhere. Whether you are traveling, at home, or simply do not want to use free weights, they are extremely beneficial to target large muscle groups such as your glutes, core muscles, or quadriceps.

Now, go grab some Pumped-AF pre-workout to get you hype for your next steps towards your muscle gains.

Benefits of Ankle Weight Exercises

1. Provide Extra Resistance To Strengthen Your Leg Muscles.

Exercises like leg lifts, kickbacks, and fire hydrants are all great bodyweight exercises but when you add ankle weights, they are receiving an extreme upgrade. 

The extra resistance that the ankle weights provide further targets your quad, hamstring, calf, and glute muscles placing more pressure on those muscle fibers. When more weight is placed on your muscle fibers in a safe manner, more breakdown occurs which can lead to an increase of hypertrophy in both type l and type ll muscle fibers.

2. Can Be Used Essentially Anywhere

Ankle weights are great for at-home workouts as you essentially have everything you need right then and there.Although we have 24 hours in a day and there is no time for excuses, it can be hard to make it to the gym sometimes. However, that doesn't mean we can't fit in a quick at-home workout.

Ankle weights provide a lot of flexibility as they can easily be thrown into your bag if you're traveling or you can put them on real quick if you feel like getting a quick workout in at home.

3. Helps Build Endurance

Ankle weights are a great resource to build your overall endurance. By placing extra force on your muscles, your body increases your stamina in response which is great for your health.

study focused on two groups of male subjects who were split into two groups.The first group performed 7 weeks of resistance exercise alone and the other group performed 7 weeks of resistance exercise in combination with endurance exercise. 

After analyzing the data, they found that individuals with more endurance exercise saw an enlargement in both type l and type ll muscle fibers while the group with only resistance exercises saw an enlargement in only type ll muscle fibers.

How To Pick The Right Ankle Weights

If you're a novice to the ankle weights world, have no fear. We all have to start somewhere. Ankle weights come in a variety of weights and you will probably want to start on the lower end when you are first getting started. 

Ankle weights range from 1lb all the way up to 20lbs. Staying around the 1-3lb weight range is great for beginners and once you have become more acquainted with your ankle weights, you can work your way up to the 4-5lb range. This range is ideal for leg exercises such as squats, curls, and extensions. 

If you are feeling daring, you can work your way up to the 6lb+ range but it is crucial that your muscles and bones are up to the resistance as well as make sure you use fewer sets and fewer reps as it is placing more pressure on your muscles. 

Many ankle weights have convenient features such as velcro which make it easy to switch quickly between weights. Let's not waste any more time and let's get into how to perform 12 awesome ankle weight exercises that will give you strong and toned legs.

1. Donkey Kicks

 

  1. To prepare, get into your starting position. Get on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders with your knees in line with your hips.
  2. Begin in a neutral position with your back flat. 
  3. Start with your right leg. Without compromising your spine, keep your back straight and start engaging your ab muscles and lift your leg straight up towards the ceiling maintaining a 90-degree bend in your knee.
  4. Lower your leg back down and repeat for your desired number of repetitions. Then, repeat on your other side.

Note: Make sure you do not arch your lower back as this places more stress on your lower back instead of targetting your glutes.

2. Fire Hydrants

 

  1. Get in your starting position on all fours with a neutral spine. Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders and your knees are directly below your hips. 
  2. Next, lift one knee out to the side keeping your thigh at a 90-degree angle. 
  3. Hold for one breath and slowly lower back down. 
  4. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions on one side then switch to the other side.

3. Pistol Squats

 

This ankle weight workout is quite an advanced exercise so please proceed with caution, especially if you have any sort of knee issue or injury.

This exercise is great to target your quads and glute muscles.

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Keep your chest facing forward and engage your core. 
  1. Extend your arms and one knee in front of you and slowly bend from one knee to lower into a squat. Make sure you are hinging at your hips and not from your lower back. 
  2. Lower as far as possible while maintaining a straight back and upright torso. 
  3. Once you've lowered as far as you can, engage your glutes and stand back up.
  4. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions and switch to your other leg.

4. Side Leg Lifts

 

  1. Pick a side to lie on comfortably and place your legs together. 
  2. Use your arms to keep your body up.
  3. Raise your upper leg while keeping your abdominal muscles engaged. 
  4. Hold your leg up for a breath and slowly lower back to starting position.
  5. Repeat on one side for your desired number of repetitions then switch to the other side. 

5. Hip Extensions

This exercise not only targes your gluteal muscles but also strengthens your lower back. 

How To:

  1. Place a chair in front of you with your feet slightly apart. 
  2. Start to hinge from your hips at a 45-degree ankle. 
  3. Use the chair in front of you to balance and lift your leg straight behind you. 
  4. Avoid bending your knees and pointing your toes. 
  5. Hold this position for a breath then slowly lower your leg back to the starting position.
  6. Repeat for your desired number of repetitions then switch to the other side.

6. Kickback Squats

      1. Begin in a squat starting position with your feet hip-width apart.
      2. Slowly lower down into a squat. 
      3. Slowly lift back up to stand and lift up one leg into a sidekick. 
      4. Return your leg back onto the floor and perform another squat. 
      5. Keep alternating legs until you have finished your desired number of repetitions.

      Note: The focus is to move with control rather than to move with speed in order to maximize muscle engagement.

      7. High Knees

       

      An all-time favorite aerobic exercise we've been doing since we were kids, high knees are a great exercise to get some cardio in that especially targets your lower body. 

      How To:

      1. Stand up straight and place your feet shoulder-width apart. 
      2. Bring one knee up above hip height and as close to your chest as possible. Simultaneously, bring your opposite arm up. 
      3. Return both your foot and arm down to repeat on the other side. 

      Note: You can do this in a marching motion which is slower and more controlled, or, you can perform this exercise fast and jog on the spot.

      8. Captain's Chair Leg Raises

          1. Find a captain's chair and engage your core. 
          2. Start to raise your legs up straight with a slight bend in the knees to prevent stress on the knees. 
          3. Hold up for a breath then slowly lower to really fire up those muscles. 
          4. Repeat for your desired number of reps.

          If you're really up for a challenge, try alternating legs.

          9. Bicycle Kicks

           

          This exercise is great to target multiple muscle groups including your quads, glutes, hip flexors, abs, and hamstrings. 

          How To:

          1. Lay down on the floor with your feet flat on the ground. If you find yourself arching your back, place your hands beside you for extra support. 
          2. Bring your knees up to your chest and extend a leg straight in front of you. 
          3. Take a deep breath then bring your knee back in. 
          4. Next, extend your other leg in front of you and bring it back. 
          5. Repeat this motion for your desired number of reps.

          10. Weighted Reverse Lunges

           

          1. Stand up straight and place your hands at your hips to help maintain balance. 
          2. Take a large step backward with your right foot. 
          3. Slowly lower your hips to ensure that your front leg is parallel with the floor and is directly over your ankle. 
          4. Make sure your back leg is bent at a 90-degree angle with your heel lifted. 
          5. Return to your starting position by placing your weight into your front foot and returning your back leg forward.
          6. Repeat for your desired number of reps on one leg then switch to your other leg.

          11. Standing Hamstring Curl

           

          1. Stand with your feet placed hip-width apart. 
          2. Place your hands on your hips to provide extra balance. 
          3. Begin to shift your weight on your right leg. 
          4. Start bending your left knee while bringing your heel towards your glutes. 
          5. Make sure you are keeping your thighs parallel. 
          6. Slowly lower your foot and return to starting position.
          7. Repeat for your desired number of reps and repeat on your other leg.

          12. Leg Swings

             

            Leg swings are a great warmup move to incorporate into your strength training routine.

            1. Stand upright with both of your feet together and your arms out wide. 
            2. Place your weight into your left leg and swing your right leg in front of you then swing it behind you.
            3. Continue to use the momentum that is built up through the movement to complete your desired number of repetitions.
            4. Once you have reached your desired number of reps switch to your other leg.

            Please note that all the exercises mentioned above are not only limited to the use of ankle weights.These exercises are also great bodyweight exercises that you can incorporate into your full-body workout routine to reach your goals. You can also use other equipment such as kettlebells or dumbbells to perform these exercises with extra weight.

            Final Notes

            Ankle weight exercises are extremely versatile exercises that can be performed essentially anywhere. Whether you are seeking to build strength, endurance or simply spice up your workout routine, ankle weights are the way to go.

            If you enjoyed learning about different ways to add resistance to your workout, it might be time to check out this article about resistance bands. 


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