Training with ankle and wrist weights can really boost your training, by adding extra resistance to the ends of the longest levers in your body. This increase in resistance can be used both statically for stretching and dynamically for resistance training. However there's some cautionary advice to take on board, so let's start with safety first.
Ankle & Wrist Weight Safety
The average human arm weighs about 6.5% of the total body weight, legs are about 10% each. So for an average male of 75 KG that's 4.5 KG per arm and 7.5 KG per leg. If you consider that our heaviest ankle weights come in at a hefty 5 KG each, there's potential to add a lot of additional resistance to your body weight. If you're not conditioned for it or are using the weights incorrectly you could injure yourself.
Here's a few rules worth paying attention to when using wrist and ankle weights:
- Avoid them if you are significantly overweight.
- Always start with a lighter weight and build up gradually.
- Don't keep them on for extended periods of time, such as all day.
- Don't sleep in them.
- Before using them for stretching make sure you can stretch to recommended minimums (see below).
- Don't use them if you are already injured or recovering from an injury.
- Only use them for endurance exercise if you are already at a high level of fitness.
The Benefits of Ankle & Wrist Weights
The biggest benefit with ankle and wrist weights, is that they can add additional resistance to your workouts in a subtle, fairly unobtrusive way. They are versatile and generally comfortable. They can also be used in almost any workout as long as you follow the safety advice above. They're also small and portable, making them an option for taking with you to workouts or even when travelling. The final benefit is that they're inexpensive compared to many other pieces of fitness equipment.
Ankle and Wrist Weight Exercises
Whilst you can add ankle/wrist weights to most exercises for additional resistance. Here are our top 6 exercises that take full advantage of the large levers of the body to gain maximum training effect.
Side Lateral Raises
This is one of the fundamental shoulder isolation exercises, that many people do with dumbbells, but if you don't have dumbbells to hand then wrist weights work well. It works the anterior and lateral deltoids, but also the trapezius for stability. Wrist weights can add resistance where you maybe don't have a heavier dumbell, or they can be used for strip sets. This method means performing your set to exhaustion using both dumbbells and wrist weights, then after the final rep, you jettison the dumbbells and finish the set to a second point of exhaustion with just the wrist weights attached.
Front Lateral Raises
This exercise is very similar to the side lateral raise, except there's a lot more emphasis on your anterior deltoid. It's important with both types of lateral raise, to keep your elbows straight. Again this version can be used for strip sets.
Punches are another great shoulder burner, they also work the serratus anterior and your core. If you are a martial artist, then additional resistance whilst shadow boxing makes for an intense session. Punches can also be used as a good cardio blast and the end of any workout.
Bicycles are a fantastic abdominal exercise, working both the rectus abdominus and the external obiques. Try to extend your legs fully whilst "cycling" the legs for increased training effect. You'll be surprised at how much extra resistance the ankle weights can add, you can see our model George finding it hard to fully extend his legs. Also remember to keep things slow and controlled for maximum benefit.
Side Leg Raises
Side leg raises work the glutes, hip adductors and even the thighs. If you want a shapely bum or if you do any sports that involve the legs, then these are a great exercise for you. Make sure you lock your core in tight whilst performing these to keep everything under control.
Back hyperextensions are a great way of building up the Erector Spinae muscle and helping to stabilise your core from the back. Remember to keep your thighs off the ground, try not to bend the knees too much and stretch the arms outward to increase the training effect. Include a pause at the top of your motion to really hit the muscles hard!
These are 6 exercises that work well with wrist and ankle weights, however as we said above you can use the weights for any resistance exercise. Using them for strip sets where you use them in addition to dumbbells or kettlebells, and at the point of exhaustion you let go of the dumbbells/kettlebells and continue until a second point of exhaustion with just your ankle/wrist weights. This is a fantastic way of pushing yourself to the limit and also pushing your muscles into improvement.
If you're interested in the same wrist and ankle weights that George is using in the video, they are our 5 KG adjustable set below.