The Pros and Cons of Ankle Weights
Should Ankle Weights Be Apart Of Your Next Workout?
When you’re doing your training routine and you want to easily take it to the next level by increasing the stakes and adding some additional strength training, using wearable weights is probably one of the top ideas that immediately popped into your head. After all, it’s also very basic; just slip them on and carry on with your regular routine, whether that be walking, jogging, running, or jumping. There, done. You simply add some weights, which makes your muscles work harder, changing the mechanics of your gait, and therefore, the overall result of your routine. This made the exercise equipment highly popular throughout the years, being incorporated into numerous exercises.
However, did you know that using them incorrectly or recklessly can do more harm than good?
The what’s and how’s of ankle weights
Before we dive in deep to that however, it’s important that we know everything about ankle weights.
What Are Ankle Weights
Well, as the name easily suggests, ankle weights are “weights” that you slip onto your ankles before doing an exercise. Its primary goal is to add some strength training and help train your endurance. This is because adding additional weight onto your base forces your body to exert and produce more force than what you’re accustomed to, eventually increasing your endurance and building your overall stamina. Moreover, ankle weights are also used to increase your overall gluteus, quadriceps and calve muscle strength, which, in time, results to more muscle mass.
Benefits Of Using Ankle Weights
With proper use, ankle weights can do a lot to enhance workouts, and here are some of its best benefits:
1. Better endurance – As we’ve previously mentioned, if used properly, ankle weights can help build your overall endurance. This is because the extra force you exert helps gradually build up your stamina, which in turn also helps your cardiovascular and pulmonary health.
2. Tones your legs – If doing leg raises without any resistance already does a lot to shape your legs then what more can it do with some? In fact, it is recommended to add weight resistance when it comes to toning your legs, as it proves to be far more effective than simply doing more reps. Of course, as with any workout routine, variation is also recommended and needed.
3. More versatility – Ankle weights can also be helpful to increase the variety of your routine, such as adding them to what’s considered as stationary exercises, such as raises and leg lifts.
4. More burned calories – Furthermore, ankle weights can also help you down a few hundred calories. This is because applying more force results to more energy used, which the results to your body burning more calories. Plus, when you force your body to take on some additional weight when it’s already so accustomed to your usual workout, you basically force your body to adapt onto the new weight.
5. Strengthens stems – In addition to helping you tone your thighs, wearing weights while working out also increases the overall strength of your glutes and hamstrings.
6. Help in water workouts – Although not common before, the athlete’s use of ankle weights while swimming has become popular in the last recent years. Besides adding an extra layer of challenge and push, another big perk to this is that it doesn’t cause any issues to the joints whatsoever. In fact, use of ankle weights while swimming does not contribute to any issue at all.
7. Extra resistance to ab workouts – Believe it or not, ankle weights can also help take your abdominal workouts to the next level, especially since the abs are a hard area to train. Make sure to maintain a pelvic tilt the whole way through. In addition, you can also do other sorts of exercises, such as abdominal lifts.
Disadvantages Of Ankle Weights
But now that we’ve highlighted most of the best advantages of using ankle weights, it’s also important that it also has its own set of disadvantages. Ankle weights are a tool, and excessive use of these can cause serious problems. Because of this, it’s recommended to use them sparingly and/or moderately. In fact, according to Dr. Anthony Lee, assistant professor of orthopedics and director of primary care sports medicine at UC San Francisco, ankle weights can easily cause joint stress (as opposed to muscle-building) if you use them all the time. For this same reason, it’s also not recommended to walk or run with ankle weights, as this can easily result to an altered gait, or worse, muscle strain and imbalances. In fact, overweight people can also feel this strain in their knees and hips.
Another thing is that your muscles, tendons, and especially joints, need to rest every once in a while. Adding weight won’t only stop this, but make it worse in some scenarios. And so a usual go-around to this is simply increasing your reps and/or speed, not adding extra weight all of a sudden. When it comes to aerobic and cardiovascular exercise, ankle weights also tend to be less effective than say, stair-climbing or uphill-walking. Not to mention that the latter gives a bigger calorie burn as well.
Truth is, for anyone looking for variation or simply looking for a way to increase the stakes of their usual monotonous exercise routine, the ankle weight provides a quick, easy solution. After all, it’s cheap, versatile, and can be utilized in a whole myriad of exercises. As a matter of fact, you can target all major muscle groups using simply the ankle weight, given that you know how to properly use it, and you do so in moderation.
The bottom line is, it’s a great tool for workouts. However, too much of a good thing can be bad, and in this case, merely relying on temporary added resistance and strength isn’t going to give you any good lasting results. So add variation, keep everything in moderation, and of course, stay safe!