How To Work Out With Wrist & Ankle Weights

Once an 80s workout staple, ankle and wrist weights are staging a comeback in the fitness space. An easy way to add resistance to any workout for stronger, leaner limbs, they’re the must-have accessory everyone’s talking about. Here’s what you need to know before giving them a go…
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They’re Proof You Don’t Always Need Heavy Weights

Wrist and ankle weights help you get more out of your workout by forcing your muscles to engage more than normal, and tone without the need for heavy weights. The majority of ankle and wrist weights on offer range from one to three pounds (around 0.5-1.5kg), which may not sound like much, but by offering constant tension, they provide a fool proof way to build strength without bulk. Lifting heavy weights in the gym isn’t everything, says Louisa Drake, founder of the Louisa Drake Method. “More reps of a movement using lighter weights, as opposed to less reps with a heavier weight can be deceptively hard,” she tells SL. Natalie Holloway, co-founder of Bala Bangles, is also an advocate of strengthening the body using lighter weights. “There is an increasing number of trainers who believe that light weights are actually better for you, namely because of their ability to create long, lean lines without overstressing the body. If you use these types of weights regularly, you will feel and see a difference, there’s no doubt about it.”

They Help You Burn More Calories

According to a recent study, adding 1lb-3lb additional weight to your workout can increase your heart rate by five to ten beats per minute, meaning you’ll burn more calories. “Using weights on your wrists during aerobic activity means you can burn up to 15% more calories,” adds Louisa. “While ankle and wrist weights don’t offer the same weight as heavy dumbbells, they are more versatile in that they leave your hands free and don’t limit your range of motion during exercises. I love wearing wrist weights during strength and cardio workouts – use them when doing moves like jumping jacks, speed skaters and high knees, and you’ll really notice the difference in your arms, shoulders and core. You quickly notice how these light weights make you work much harder.”

A Must-Have For Stronger Arms & Legs 

Arms, shoulders and glutes can be notoriously tricky to tone, but using wrist and ankle weights will set you on your way. “These types of weights are fantastic if you’re looking to target the leg and hip muscles, arms, shoulders and core,” Louisa says. “In a nutshell, the weight places a greater load on the muscle group being targeted. Your muscles have to work harder to move this increased load against gravity, and in turn, this will increase strength. A simple leg raise can improve your flexibility and range of motion, but if you add weights to your ankles, you’ll go one step further and gently strengthen the quads, hamstrings, glutes and thighs. At the same time, adding wrist weights to an arm routine will sculpt the biceps, triceps and shoulders.” And if you’re looking for a stronger core, pop a pair of weights around your ankles to supercharge moves like bicycle crunches and abdominal lifts. 

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If you’re looking for a stronger core, pop a pair of weights around your ankles to supercharge moves like bicycle crunches and abdominal lifts.
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You Can Add Them To Pretty Much Any Workout

If you’re a fan of low-impact workouts such as yoga and Pilates, a pair of ankle and wrist weights is a no-brainer. “While these types of weights complement dozens of different types of exercise, using them alongside resistance bands, gliding discs, light dumbbells and stability balls will enhance their toning and strengthening abilities,” says Louisa. “I tend to wear wrist weights when using a resistance band for extra upper body work and then pop them onto my ankles for core and lower body work. Being light in weight, they are also great to take travelling – there’s no need to pack heavy weights and you will still get a fantastic full-body workout.” If low-impact workouts aren’t your thing, consider using them when boxing. “If you don’t have a bag to punch, wrist weights will give you just the right amount of resistance to give power and focus to your air jabs and hooks,” Louisa adds. “You can also pop them on your arms when going for a walk but avoid using them when running, which can strain your ankle joints and leg muscles. The added weight can also alter your stride, placing stress on your lower back and pelvis.” If you really want to try using them while running, Louisa advises sticking to a slow jog, wearing them only on your wrists, not your ankles, and starting with one-pound weights per wrist. 

The Options Are Endless

As well as providing an easy option to supercharge your workout, Natalie also says you can wear them around the house for on-the-go toning. “Wear them when doing chores around the house or packing for a trip – they will subtly increase your heart rate and strengthen and tone muscles while you’re at it.” And when it comes to specific moves they work well with, Louisa recommends trying weighted lunges, donkey kicks, squats with leg lifts and side leg lifts for speedy results. 

The Reality Is, Technique Matters 

Proper form and moving at a slow and controlled pace is important when using any piece of kit, but particularly so when using ankle and wrist weights. “Keep your weights light – ideally no more than 2kg – and start by wearing them for short periods of time,” Louisa advises. “Control the weights at all times and avoid using momentum to swing through the movement. If you’re using them for the first time, try using them for a short walk first, either on your arms or legs, and see how you feel the next day before using them again.”
 
For more information visit ShopBala.com and LouisaDrake.com.
 

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