Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best ankle weights

Strength training is an important part of any fitness routine. For many people, however, working out with heavy free weights just isn’t possible. Exercising with ankle weights is an alternative worth considering. Ankle weights are considerably lighter than most dumbbells, and they allow you to keep your hands free while you get some good exercise.

To get the most out of your ankle weight workout, you need to select a product with the appropriate weight, material, closures, and other features.

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Ankle weights should fit tightly enough around your lower leg that they don’t move while you exercise, but they shouldn’t be so snug that they feel like they’re cutting off your circulation.

Ankle weight benefits

There are many reasons why you might wish to incorporate ankle weights into your workout routine.

  • Boost workout intensity: Whether you’re power-walking around the block or running 10 miles on the treadmill, wearing ankle weights can boost the intensity of your exercise. As a result, you incorporate some extra strength training into your workout and burn more calories.

  • Keep hands free: Do you have joint issues, a hand injury, or balance problems? With ankle weights, your hands remain free, yet you still get the benefits of strength training.

  • Target hard-to-reach muscles: By wearing ankle weights, you can work out lower-body muscles that would be more difficult to target otherwise.

  • Strengthen knees and hips: With weights on your ankles, you can build strength in your lower-body joints, namely the knees and hips. For people with arthritis, this can be particularly helpful.

  • Improve flexibility, balance, and range of motion: Using ankle weights while you practice yoga or perform light stretches can help expand your flexibility, improve your balance, and increase your range of motion.
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Did you know?
For pool workouts, avoid ankle weights that contain sand. Submerging them in water will ruin them.

What can you do with ankle weights?

There are many ways to incorporate ankle weights into your workout routine.

Full-body workout

Don’t have room in your home for large pieces of workout equipment? Ankle weights can help you achieve a full-body workout. With ankle weights, you can perform a range of lower-body exercises to target your abs, glutes, hips, thighs, calves, and shins. Switch the weights to your wrists, and you can get an upper-body workout that targets your shoulders, back, biceps, and triceps.

Injury recovery

Ankle weights provide a great way to regain strength after an accident or other injury. In fact, ankle weights are often used in physical therapy and rehab centers to help gradually build up strength with gentle exercises.

Cardio workouts

When you’re walking, running, swimming, or even riding a bike, adding light ankle weights to your legs can make your workout a little more difficult for better results.


Wearing ankle weights when you stretch or do yoga can help you improve your flexibility and build muscle at the same time.


Perhaps the most important feature to consider when selecting ankle weights is how much they weigh. You want them to be heavy enough for an effective workout but not so heavy that they strain your muscles. Ankle weights generally range from one to ten pounds. For most people, weights in the one- to five-pound range are best.

To choose the best weight, consider both your fitness level and the activity you plan to use the ankle weights for. Individuals who are recovering from injuries or aren’t very physically fit should usually opt for weights in the one- to three-pound range. These lighter ankle weights also work well for exercises that require a greater range of motion, such as leg lifts or stretches.

If you’re a little more physically fit, ankle weights of about three pounds are a good option for boosting the intensity of your cardio workout or targeting specific muscles. If you’re very physically fit, you may wish to consider five-pound ankle weights for cardio or muscle-targeting exercises.

Ankle weights that are heavier than five pounds can strain muscles if you’re not careful, so it’s best not to use them unless you’ve worked your way up from light and moderate weights.

Adjustable ankle weights

Want to tailor your ankle weights to specific activities? Look for adjustable ankle weights with pockets that allow you to add or subtract weight. These weights typically come with an iron bar or sandbags that you can place in the pockets.

"If you’re looking to achieve your target heart rate while exercising, consider adding a pair of ankle weights to your aerobic routine. Due to the increased resistance, your body will automatically work harder, thereby increasing your heart rate as well as your caloric burn."

Other feature considerations

Ankle weight material

If you want to use your ankle weights outdoors during inclement weather, we advise you to choose a set made of a water-resistant material like nylon or neoprene. (These materials are also suitable if you’ll be sweating during your workout.) If you plan to use your ankle weights for water workouts, opt for neoprene ankle weights, which are fully waterproof.

Some ankle weights also feature a moisture-wicking material that helps pull moisture away from the body. These are ideal if you tend to sweat a lot when you exercise.


The ankle weights you choose should be comfortable. Otherwise, you might not feel like wearing them! Look for contoured ankle weights with smooth corners and a soft inner lining; you’re less likely to suffer scratches, abrasions, or other skin irritations with this type of user-friendly design.


Most ankle weights have Velcro closures. The closure may be a simple band that wraps around your ankle or a belt that passes through a metal or plastic tip. Simple band closures are best for light-impact activities that require little foot movement. Belted closures are more secure and therefore more suitable for vigorous activities.


Some ankle weights double as wrist weights; you can use them to work your upper body, too. And, as mentioned above, some ankle weights are adjustable: you can make them lighter for cardio exercise and heavier for strength training.


Ankle weights are available in a wide range of colors. Choose an option that fits your personal style. Neutral colors like gray or black may be your best bet because you’ll never have to worry about them clashing with your workout clothing.

If you plan to use your ankle weights outdoors, look for a set with reflective trim. The trim will reflect light at night, allowing drivers to easily spot you when you’re walking, running, or biking.

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For your safety
If you have joint injuries or issues, consult with your doctor before working out with ankle weights.

Ankle weight prices

Ankle weight prices are usually based on how heavy they are. In most cases, you can expect to pay between $10 and $55 for a set of ankle weights.

Many consumers will want weights that are one to three pounds. For these, you can expect to pay between $10 and $20. For weights in the three- to five-pound range, you can expect to pay between $16 and $35.

Weights that weight five pounds or more can cost between $30 and $55. As mentioned above, these heavier weights are best reserved for people who are highly physically fit already.

Adjustable ankle weights offer a bit more versatility than a product with a set weight. The price for adjustable ankle weights is typically reflected by the maximum weight of the pair.

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Inspect your ankle weights periodically to make sure there aren’t any rips or tears along the seams or closures.


Q. I’m new to ankle weights. How heavy should I go?

A. When you’re getting used to exercising with ankle weights, it’s best to start with a lighter option. Weights that are one to three pounds are usually a good choice. If you’re a regular exerciser but just haven’t used ankle weights before, you may be able to go up to five pounds. Adjustable ankle weights are ideal for beginners because they allow you to gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable.

Q. How can I tell if I’m overdoing it with ankle weights?

A. Pay attention to how your body feels when you’re working out. If you’re using weights that are too heavy or working out with the weights too often, you’ll likely feel pain or discomfort in your joints or muscles. If you’re having trouble adjusting your routine to be easier on your body, consider working out with the ankle weights in a swimming pool. You’ll endure less stress on your joints there.

Q. What’s the best way to clean ankle weights?

A. The best method for cleaning your weights depends on the material with which they’re made; consult the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally speaking, you should avoid submerging the weights in water or using an abrasive cleaner. Instead, use a soft cloth dampened with a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water to wipe down the exterior of the weights.

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