Ankle weights come in a surprising range of shapes, sizes, and styles, but their basic purpose always remains the same: to create additional weight for walkers and runners to resist. It’s like a gentle weights machine for your feet.
The extra weight forces your body to fight additional gravity with every step, and the resistance builds up stronger muscles at a rate regular walking cannot produce. Women use ankle weights for everything from workouts to physical therapy.
The Benefits of Ankle Weights
Ankle weights have been around for a while, and plenty of people have benefitted from them. In addition to providing the cardio benefits any level of resistance adds to a workout, ankle weights can help you achieve fitness goals faster.
- Muscle building: Burning calories and building muscle are the two most common goals of exercise. Completing a motion while resisting weight is a basic tool of exercise machines and free weights. Ankle weights function the same way, building muscle rapidly in target areas.
- Increased resistance: While a machine allows users to increase the amount of weight resisting their movement, many exercises rely solely on the weight of the human body. Walking is one such exercise, and ankle weights provide an increased level of resistance for those looking for a more challenging cardio workout.
The Risk of Ankle Weights
Like any fitness routine, ankle weights do come with their own risks, and these are exacerbated by people’s tendency to overuse them. It’s important to use ankle weights cautiously, especially if you have recently increased the intensity of other parts of your regular workout routine.
- Joint damage: While joints always take a certain amount of strain during exercise, a sudden increase in weight can push them too far and result in injury. Strapping weights onto your ankles produces a similar and even more dramatic effect. If you have pre-existing joint problems, you might want to rethink using ankle weights in your daily walks.
- Altered gait and muscle strain: Even those with perfectly healthy joints have to worry about how the weights will alter their stride. Whether you wear weights for walking or running, frequent use of ankle weights can teach your body to walk differently, even when you are not wearing the weights. This can lead to muscle problems and a lot of pain. Altering your body’s ideal gait is risky.
Finding the Right Ankle Weights
First, you should check with your doctor to make sure your heart is healthy and your body is strong enough to handle the strain of ankle weights. Although walking is an excellent fitness habit for individuals of essentially any fitness level, ankle weights can wear you down faster than you would expect. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Heavy ankle weights tend to create more problems than light ankle weights. It’s always a bad idea to begin with heavy weights – whether they are strapped to your ankle or attached to a bar bell. Your first ankle weights should be fairly light or include an adjustable weight system.
Make sure your ankle weights fit well, too. Poorly-fitted ankle weights can slip and chafe, and if they come loose while you’re moving, you could easily trip over them or lose your balance.
Nordic Lifting Ankle/Wrist Weights Product Review
Available in three sizes ranging from 1lb to 3lb, these weights are fully adjustable for both ankles and wrists. They fit men, women, and children.
Reflective trim keeps you safe during outdoor workouts, and a one year warranty keeps your pocketbook safe. Padding provides comfort, reinforced stitching prolongs the product’s life, and a free carrying bag makes everything easy to transport.
Previous buyers praise this product’s comfort. Many say they are also easy to clean. Since workout equipment was made to get sweaty, this is especially important. These ankle weights are weighted evenly, which helps prevent strain and improves balance. Although these are well padded, those with larger ankles may face some chafing from the unpadded belt.
- Available in multiple weights
- Reinforced stitching
- One year warranty
- Easy to clean
- Evenly weighted
- Fairly expensive
- Those with large ankles may have some chafing
Nayoya 3 Pound Adjustable Ankle Weights Set Product Review
Suitable for kids and adults alike, these ankle weights can also be worn on wrists for arm exercises. Each weighs one and a half pounds. They are made of soft material that also absorbs moisture to help prevent chafing.
The Velcro fitting strap keeps the ankle weights so secure the manufacturer even recommends these weights for kickboxing training. Each pair comes with a carrying bag for travel.
Previous buyers say these ankle weights are comfortable and easy to adjust. They may run small, however, and there are several reports of chafing, especially when the weights were worn against the skin or during vigorous exercise. It is also somewhat difficult, according to previous buyers, to find heavier weights in the same style.
- Moisture-absorbing material
- Come with carrying bag
- Highly adjustable
- May chafe
- Fairly expensive
- Only available in one size/weight
Both brands of ankle weights come with benefits, including carrying bags. Although different individuals may find different ankle weights more comfortable, the Nordic ankle weights appear to be a better product for the vast majority of users.
Not only were there fewer claims of chafing, but the ease of cleaning extends the life of the product. After all, no one wants smelly gear. Nordic also offers a variety of ankle weights, which allows users to gradually build resistance. Don’t forget the warranty, either.
Although the decision is up to every, individual buyer, it’s important to note that Nordic ankle weights are a safer choice due to the range of available weights. The Nayayo weights only come in one size, and the fact that the manufacturer touts the weights as friendly for vigorous exercises like kickboxing and jogging is a little worrisome.
After all, even doctors who support moderate use of ankle weights warn about running, jogging, or practicing rapid-motion exercises while wearing ankle weights.