During this time when gyms are closed, many people have been investing in equipment in order to get some exercise at home. Perhaps you are lucky enough to already have a few items that you have been using or that have been languishing in a closet for awhile.
Here I would like to make a pitch for the best ways to use ankle weights, and the best ways NOT to use ankle weights. (IF you already have some, or if you can manage to find some on line, that is.)
First…what they are NOT good for and why:
Some people invest in ankle (or wrist) weights thinking that they are going to help them lose weight. By wearing them around the house or when out for a walk, the idea is that it will help to burn more calories. Or, the thinking is that adding weight to walking can help tone muscles more quickly, or get you stronger more quickly.
Here’s the thing about those ideas:
- If you are wearing weights light enough (1/2 to 3 pounds) to still be able to walk comfortably, the extra calorie burn you are getting is minimal.
- If you wear light OR heavy weights while walking, it will interfere with your coordination in ways that are unpredictable.
- The interference in coordination will also impact any aerobic benefits you may be getting by slowing you down.
- Walking with ankle weights involves using momentum to get the job done. Momentum can take your muscles, ligaments, and tendons to a place beyond a controlled range of motion, potentially causing injury.
- For some folks, the lack of coordination can result in tripping or falling.
The take-home message is that lifting extra weight can be a good thing, but it needs to be done using proper form and kept separate from aerobic endeavors such as walking, running, or riding a bike.
Now the good part, and a few tips:
- Use ankle weights for slow, controlled lifting. When you do that, you recruit muscles and other tissues that help you stabilize the motion. When you do that, you are not only working larger muscles that move you, but also you are training your body to lift safely. Using momentum when lifting weight bypasses that process. By the way, this goes for most other lifting too, unless you are training as a power lifter.
- Using ankle weights to do straight leg lifts can be good for your knees. Why? Because it strengthens the muscles around your knees that stabilize the knee joint and keep it from straining during many activities. You can get on a mat and do straight leg lifts while on your back, side, or on all four’s.
- See the two graphics below for ways to strengthen the front and back of your thigh, and buttocks. These are good ways to strengthen your legs without doing squats, which some people find difficult or painful.
There’re a few added bonuses to using ankle weights that speak to (1) lack of time or (2) days when you are feeling lazy.
- You can do these exercises in MINUTES A DAY. Yay! You can stick them into your life here and there without even having to change your clothes. You will end up doing something very good for you without having to make a giant commitment to a big workout routine.
- On those days when your mojo seems to have left you, you may be able to talk yourself into doing some leg lifts BECAUSE YOU CAN DO (most of them) THEM LYING DOWN! I guarantee that you will feel better afterwards.
Hope this was helpful! Be well,
© 2020 Kristen Carter, MS. All rights reserved.