These Trendy Ankle Weights Will Transform Your At-Home Workout

It's no wonder these weights (which can also be worn on the wrists) are everywhere right now. Here are the best ways to use them.

Forget what you thought you knew about wrist and ankle weights. No longer are they the chunky, cast-like contraptions grasping to pinched, perspiring skin. New companies are ushering in an era of smaller, sleeker, cuter weights that still deliver a burn to any workout. And Bala Bangles are leading the charge.

I tried these comfortable, colourful wrist and ankle weights on a variety of workouts — first, one of my Tracy Anderson routines and then for my Ballet Beautiful routine. I won’t do either workout without them again.

The weights are covered in silicone and attached to a soft spandex strap. I velcroed them on, hit play on the Anderson workout video. The weights are only one pound, but for every ab-focused leg move, donkey kick back, and other leg lifts, I could feel the muscles in my core, legs, and butt getting worked at a deeper level than ever before.

I experienced the same feeling during my slower-paced, smaller-movement Ballet Beautiful workout (the founder and instructor of the online videos, Mary Helen Bowers, often wears wrist weights for “swan arms” exercises and ankle weights for routines that focus on the legs). With my toes pointed, legs straightened, and ankle weights secure, it felt like I was able to target the hard-to-reach muscles in my legs.

(Related: Can’t Fit In a Full At-Home Workout? Do This)

Bala Bangles Canada | wrist and ankle weights | Indigo ChaptersImage Credit: Indigo

Bala Bangles, $65, chapters.indigo.ca

For some background on the benefits of strapping just a one-pound weight onto each limb before a workout, I reached out to Heather Wilson-Phillips, a fitness coach at The Fitness Empire in Toronto, for her thoughts.

“By adding even just a little resistance to typical body weight-type exercises, you’ll feel yourself getting stronger, and you’ll gain more overall muscle strength, tone and endurance,” she says. Wrist and ankle weights can also help you get your heart rate up and burn more calories.

(Related: 6 Myths About How to Strengthen Your Core)

So, should I add them to my cardio workout—a Tracy Anderson dance routine—as well? Wilson-Phillips says no. “I don’t recommend people use wrist or ankle weights when they go for jogs, runs, power walks or for other high intensity-type cardio,” she says. “They can cause unneeded stress on your joints and imbalances in your muscles.”

Instead, Wilson-Phillips suggests using them simply for extra resistance in a workout where you’ve previously used just your body weight. “I like to use them if I really want to focus on targeting certain muscles,” she says. “It’s a gradual progression—adding in additional resistance will help you get stronger over time.”

So, cardio is a no-go, but because I’ve gotten obsessed, I now also wear them, as the Bala website suggests, when I do household chores. Weighted laundry, cleaning, tidying have now become things. We’ll call them “power chores.”

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Originally Published in Best Health Canada