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No Time to Work Out? Use Ankle Weights Instead

A person working out in the comfor of their home with ankle weights on for additional resistance
Lucky Business/Shutterstock.com

Looking for a simple way to add a workout to your daily routine, but don’t have much time to spare? Wearing ankle weights might be the perfect solution! We’ll show you how, when, and where you can use them to get the best results.

Before you run out and buy yourself a pair of ankle weights, you need to be aware of the safety precautions, as well as how to wear them correctly to avoid any injuries. If you keep all of the following tips in mind, you’ll soon be working out without changing your routine at all.

Is It Safe to Wear Ankle Weights All Day?

an image of someones feet with ankle weights around the ankles, in a home setting.

There are several benefits to wearing ankle weights. Not only can they help you tone and shape your legs, but they also give you an extra edge during many abdominal workouts.

However, the same as with any new form of exercise, it’s always a good idea to talk with your physician first to ensure it’s a safe option for you, especially if you have any health conditions.

Misusing ankle weights could cause injury depending on the muscles being used during a specific workout. They can even cause muscle imbalance or pull on your ankle joints if they aren’t used properly.

Some studies do suggest that wearing ankle weights might enhance the effects of walking in healthy adults. Again, though, there are safe ways to wear ankle weights so you avoid overuse injuries, while still getting the most out of them.

Generally, it’s not recommended that you wear ankle weights all day, but rather, on shorter walks a few times per day. The latter practice has been proven to lower body fat percentage.

So, rather than putting on your ankle weights in the morning and not taking them off until the evening, use them for shorter walking spurts throughout the day, as this is the much safer option.

How to Use Ankle Weights Correctly

a woman tying her shoe before going for a walk with her ankle weights on.
Anna Mente/Shutterstock.com

Luckily, ankle weights are usually adjustable, meaning you can add or remove weight and build up to a goal weight.

Generally, you should start with a total weight of about 1-2% of your body weight for limited periods. If you’re new to ankle weights, start with 1% of your body weight, and work your way up to 2%. The combined weight of your ankle weights should never exceed 3% of your body weight.

Ankle weights aren’t recommended for aerobic exercises. Instead, consider wearing them a few times per week for short periods. If you’re new to exercise in general, it’s best to perform your routines without any additional weight for a while. This will give you a chance to work up to adding additional resistance.

If you follow these suggestions before incorporating ankle weights into your routine, it’ll help you get the most out of your workouts, while also preventing you from injuring yourself.

Now that you know more about how to safely get the most out of your ankle weights, let’s look at three easy ways to incorporate them into your daily routine.

Wear Them Around the House

A person excercising with ankle weights on while at the gym.

If you don’t have time to add an all-out fitness or workout routine to your schedule, wearing ankle weights as you walk around the house will give you a bit of a workout.

To start, try wearing them three times per week for 20 minutes at a time, and then work your way up. Pick a few days each week that work best for you, but just remember to increase the amount of time you wear them slowly to avoid injury.

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Add some comfortable, hands-free resistance to any workout.

Wear Them While Doing Lower-Body Strength Exercises

If working out is already part of your routine, wearing ankle weights while you do certain exercises can help you tone your muscles even further with each rep.

If they’re not already part of your routine, consider adding the following exercises while you’re wearing ankle weights:

  • Superman: Lie on your stomach with your legs and arms extended, and your palms facing one another. Slowly raise both legs and arms off the floor a few inches and hold for one second. Gently lower them to the floor, and then repeat.
  • Hamstring curl: Lie on your stomach, using your hands for head stability, and your arms for comfort and torso stability. With both legs extended, slowly curl one up by bending it at the knee until it forms a 90-degree angle, and then return it to the ground. Repeat with the other leg, and then continue, alternating between legs.
  • Scissors: Lie flat on your back on a mat or the floor with your arms by your side (you can place your hands under your bottom if you need extra back support) and your legs extended. Lift both legs off the mat, and then twist them in and out, or up and down, while keeping your back pressed against the mat. Keep your core engaged as you move your legs with slow, controlled movements.

After you perform these basic moves regularly for a while, check out the free 20-minute workout above from FIT by Larie. She takes you through a full ankle-weight workout that hits your inner thighs, abs, hamstrings, and booty.

Wear Them While Sitting

If you don’t have time to add more exercises to your routine, and you spend most of your day sitting at a desk, you can still get some exercise in with your ankle weights.

Try performing these exercises while typing away on your computer:

  • Leg lifts: Place both hands on armrests for stability and support. Start with your legs at a 90-degree angle and your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your back straight, lean back slightly, lift both legs upward, and then lower them back to the floor. You can also alternate between legs for an easier workout.
  • Seated leg extensions: Place both hands on armrests for stability and start with your feet flat on the floor. Keeping your left foot firmly planted on the floor, extend your right leg until it’s parallel with the floor, and then lower it back down. Continue, alternating legs.
  • Hip march: Sit upright without leaning into the back of your chair. Place both hands on the armrests or under the seat for stability. With both knees bent at a 90-degree angle, raise one leg up, and then down, and then repeat with the other leg, as if you’re slowly marching in place.

If you’re new to exercise, or it’s been a long time since you’ve worked out, take things slowly at first. You might want to perform these movements without ankle weights for a while before adding them.

And, once again, if you’ve been dealing with any health conditions or recovering from an injury, be sure to speak to your physician before trying any new exercises or routines.

If getting more exercise is one of your goals this year, ankle weights are an easy way to get a workout without having to carve any extra time out of your day. As long as you ease into it slowly and use them safely, you’ll start seeing results before you know it!

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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