Ankle weights are an incredibly valuable weapon to add to your exercise arsenal.
The main reason that I am such an advocate of these handy little accessories is that they are so versatile. You can use them in so many ways, to enhance almost any workout or even just have them on while you go for a walk. Even just a small weight will force your muscles to work harder, giving them a more thorough workout.
Something that you can just slip on that increases your overall body strength and the amount of calories you burn? Yes please.
Used in the correct way, the benefits of ankle weights are there for all to see:
- Better Endurance – your stamina is increased with the extra force you exert, which also improves your pulmonary health
- Leg Toning – rather than increasing the size of the muscles, ankle weights help shape and tone them in a far more efficient way than just doing low reps at higher weight.
- Burn More Calories – if your legs are working harder with every step or rep, they are burning more calories
- Strengthen All Your Leg Muscles – glutes, hamstrings, calves and thighs will all get extra use with ankle weights
- Versatility – use them on a jog, walk, in water workouts, abdominal workouts – almost any form of exercise. They’re not as clumsy as dumbbells or other weights, so you can really experiment with them
Of course, as with any gym equipment, you need to be careful – use them wrong and they can cause damage. If you suffer from ankle or knee injuries, these might not be for you, and could cause a lot more harm than good. If you are in any way unsure, consult with a doctor or trainer before using them.
How Heavy Should Ankle Weights Be?
Ankle weights are no different to most other exercise accessories in that you should do a little bit of research to make sure you stay safe and get the most out of using them.
The first thing that you’ll need to establish, is how heavy you want your weights to be. They can range from 0.5lbs for beginners, all the way up to 20lbs for, well, I’m not entirely sure who, maybe The Rock?
As a rough guide:
- 1lb-3lb: These are perfect for beginners, naturally, and for walking and aerobics. They are light enough so you don’t worry about straining, but also increase your calorie burn rate by 5% to 15%.
- 4lb-5lb: After using lighter weights, you’ll notice that your stamina is starting to increase, so you can up your weights. These are great for jogging, and leg specific exercises (like squats, curls and extensions)
- 6lb+: Once you are confident that you can cope with the heavier weights (and please be careful) you can move up to the 6lbs+ section. These are great for strength training, but make sure you have built up to this level to prevent injury.
Obviously the best way is to start low, and build your way up – this is the best way to avoid injury and get the most out of your exercise.
Top Ankle Weight Options
So which ankle weights are the right ones for you? They all offer something different, so to help you decide, we have compiled a list of the best ankle weights available today.
Sportneer Adjustable Ankle Weights Set
Perfect For: Using outdoors on walks, hikes and runs.
First of all, we should point out the design – it’s incredibly plain and simple. Whatever you’re wearing, whatever you’re doing, whoever you are – these ankle weights won’t look out of place.
These weights aren’t interested in aesthetics though, it’s all about functionality and usability. They are adjustable, which is great. You get five individual bags of weights with these, and can create different combinations to alter the weight that you’re carrying, on top of the 0.6lb bag. The max weight is 3.5lbs.
We found these to be really comfortable, which is so important if you’re using them for long periods of time, like on a hike or a walk. The easy-to-adjust velcro straps meant that you can get a really snug fit, and even use them on your wrists as well. They are cushioned with breathable fabric on the inside too.
What we really liked about these though, is how durable they were. The double-stitching and sturdy outer, anti-fray trim mean that you can take them anywhere and really go for it, without worrying about them wearing out. These are built to last.
As an entry level set of ankle weights, these will take some beating.
Adidas Ankle/Wrist Weights
Perfect for: People that need subtlety and versatility from their ankle weights
You only need to look at these for a second to know what you’re going to get from these – simplicity. Just look at the design – it’s just the classic adidas logo on a beefy little weight. Plain black, with white detail. Clean, clear and simple.
This is represented in their use as well. They are incredibly compact and, therefore, unobtrusive – I almost completely forgot that I was wearing them, which is exactly what you want from a set of ankle weights. They are also very discrete, so I didn’t feel self conscious when I went out with them for a walk – whereas sometimes the more garish weights scream ‘LOOK AT ME – I’M WEARING ANKLE WEIGHTS ON A WALK’, which isn’t the image I’m after!
The size also lends itself very nicely to using them on your wrists. While many other ankle weights will advertise that they, too, are suitable for using on your wrists, these really are.
While the suitable size is a huge plus, it is largely because they come as a set weight, so you don’t have the ability to increase or decrease as you see fit, and they only come in two sizes (1.1lbs and 2.2lbs, or 0.5kg and 1kg if you’d prefer).
That’s not to detract from how good these are though – they are perfect, subtle little weights that are well made (from durable neoprene, with iron ore filling), and are very versatile. They are a decent price, and you know you can expect quality from the Adidas brand.
Reebok Ankle Weights
Perfect For: Those that prioritise comfort over everything else
First of all, you will have already noticed that these are very attractive weights. Definitely aimed at the female market, the pleasant light blue and grey colours, and the soft fabric make for a really nice looking accessory. Simple, but very pleasing.
I should state now, that I’m not the target market for these weights, being as I am, a man. However, I am a huge fan of this product. They are, by far, the most comfortable ankle weights I have ever used.
Ultimately comfort is an incredibly important attribute when it comes to ankle weights – the more comfortable a pair is, the more likely you’ll use them regularly and for long periods. Reebok have really gone all out to ensure that these meet the highest of comfort standards.
As they are designed for women, I found the fit to be a little on the snug side, but they were still very comfortable. The adjustable velcro strapping means that you can get the exact sized fit for you, just as long as your ankles aren’t very big. (If you do have big ankles, it may be better to look for a different set).
All in all, despite not being aimed at me, I really enjoyed using these ankle weights, and wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone who just wants the most comfortable ankle weights, especially at the reasonable price.
RitFit Ankle/Wrist Weights
Perfect For: Use by the whole family
It just goes to show, though, that while you can be pretty sure of quality with those big brands, it doesn’t mean that the smaller, lesser known brands, can’t offer quality as well. In fact, this specialist brand have one of the best sets on our list today.
In terms of design, there is a different colour depending on which weight you would like: Red-1lbs, Purple-1.5lbs, Green-2lbs, Blue-3lb, Gray-4lb, Black-5lbs. They are another set that it is simple in design, yet very smart and perfectly practical.
As you have probably gleaned from the previous paragraph, they are another set that come ‘as is’, in that you can’t add weight to them. However, if you are in the market for a specific sized weight, then these could be the ones for you.
The string velcro band means that the fit is comfortable, and particularly secure – you will not get any sliding with this set at all. They are so adjustable that they even recommend that they can be used by children.
These are one of the most expensive options on our list, but they genuinely do justify the price with the style, comfort and versatility. I highly recommend them.
York Fitness Soft Ankle/Wrist Weights
Perfect For: People who are exercising on a strict budget
You won’t be surprised to learn, therefore, that they have come up trumps with these very impressive budget ankle weights.
Again, we have different sets and different colours for different weights, ranging from Purple (1.1lbs, or 0.5kg) all the way up to Light Blue (4.4lbs or 2kg) – they all look pleasant enough, with the colour just appearing on the trim and a solid grey colour on the main body.
Like most of the other options available, they have an adjustable velcro strap that fits around a buckle. Simply put, it does the job.
They are advertised as wrist weights as well, but they are quite bulky, so may be too large if you have quite small wrists. If you are looking for ankle weights that can also be used on wrists, then these may not be your best option.
Having said that, though, for ankle weights, these do the job with little fuss. For the price, they are one of the best value options around, and will do the job more than adequately. If you’re not sure how much you’ll use them, and don’t want to risk wasting your money, these are a great set for you to try.
UFC Ankle Weights Set
Perfect For: The UFC fan that wants to inject a bit more into their workouts (and walks!)
You could be forgiven for assuming that any product from these guys is just a fairly cynical cash grab, just using a brand name to make money selling products that are in some way related to what they are famous for. At least. That’s where my mind went!
It was quite refreshing, therefore, to discover that these weights are actually pretty good! They look fine, with the UFC quite prominent, and a black and red colour scheme. I described the Reebok set above as being designed for women, while I would say that this set is more aimed at the male audience.
The way the strap wraps around and through the buckle is great, and it means you can get a really tight fit – no slipping when you’re in action. They’re also not as bulky as lots of its competitors, so will fit nicely under some clothes if you’re going on a long walk.
I found it quite amusing actually, what with the reputation of UFC, and the accompanying photos of big, muscle-bound guys doing all manner of intense workouts, but the exercise that I found they were most suited to was a lovely leisurely walk!
The UFC connection may put people off, but at the same time, might be quite a draw for others. Whatever your stance, it doesn’t change the fact that these are good ankle weights, and are a very reasonable price.
Mirafit Ankle/Wrist Weights
Perfect For: People new to the world of ankle weights that want to try it out.
From a very plain, subtle accessory, to this in-your-face set from Mirafit – a Norfolk based company looking to make exercise accessible and fun for everybody. The bold, orange colour is quite striking, and definitely makes it stand out from a lot of the competition.
Unlike the Sportneer set above, these come in a range of different weights, rather than having the ability to adjust the weight by adding or removing individual bags.
While this reduces the functionality slightly, it is reflected in the price, and you could buy a couple of different sizes for the same price as one adjustable – so it just depends on what exactly you are going to use them for.
The sizes range from 1.1lbs to 11lbs, so there is plenty of scope for getting whichever size you require for your exercise. Each weight is obviously a different size as well, which might make for a more comfortable fit – if you have small legs, you might find the smaller weights are much better than the adjustable variety, which have to be a certain size to accommodate the heavier weights.
The weight is in the form of iron filings – this is great because the filings themselves will mould around the shape of your ankle, to make for a much more comfortable fit. This, coupled with the adjustable velcro straps, mean that they feel great when you’re exercising.
These are some of the cheapest weights that we’ll be looking at today, so if you are unsure about whether weights are right for you, this is a great place to dip your ankles into the water.