The Use of Ankle Weights When Running or Walking
What are Ankle Weights For?
Are you an avid walker or runner? If so, you’ve probably considered throwing some ankle weights on before heading out to get your exercise in. If an ankle weight is a completely new term in your fitness venture, then you’re probably clueless right now. If that’s the case, your first question is more than likely: “Why would you want to make going for a walk or run any harder than it already is?” Which is a valid question that I’m here to give you the 411 on (or as the cool kids now say, the tea).
First things first, what even is an ankle weight? To put it simply, an ankle weight is exactly what it sounds like – a weight that goes around your ankle. You simply slip the weight around your ankles before doing an exercise. This extra weight will cause your body to work a bit harder than it’s used to which can result in an increase in endurance and strength. Ankle weights are typically between 3 to 5 pounds, which doesn’t seem like much until you get moving. If you’re feeling really motivated you can opt to buy the 10 pound ankle weights. Runner/walkers choice, of course. But, I highly encourage starting small!
I can tell you from experience, the use of ankle weights when running or walking is a force to be reckoned with. In fact, I might actually still be sore from that same workout about five years ago. Kidding – kind of. But, all jokes aside tossing on a one, two, or three pound ankle weight isn’t as easy as you think it would be.
Throwing on a pair of ankle weights before going on a walk or run has shown to have a variety of advantages. However, as with all things in life, advantages come with disadvantages that may cause you to leave the ankle weights at home. Of course, every body is different and the choice ultimately depends on your personal preferences. The choice also depends on any injuries you might suffer from, health problems or other underlying causes.
Benefits of Wearing Ankle Weights
If you’re searching for a way to make your daily walks or runs more intense then ankle weights may be the answer you’ve been searching for. Here are a few advantages regarding the use of ankle weights when running or walking:
Increased Heart Rate
One advantage of throwing on some ankle weights for a walk or run is that it will increase your heart rate. Increased heart rate = more calories burned. In fact, when you use ankle weights that are between 1 to 3 pounds, it can increase your heart rate by 5 to 10 beats per minute. Which means you get more bang for your buck and can switch that hour long walk to thirty minutes – if you want to of course!
The whole reason you workout is to tone your muscles, right? While you will definitely start to notice a difference in toning by just walking or running, adding in the use of ankle weights when running or walking is a game changer. Dr. Anthony Luke, assistant professor of orthopedics and director of primary care sports medicine at UC San Francisco, stated that ankle weights make muscles, such as hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes, work harder to do the same motion. Yes, that means I’m telling you that you’ll be working all the right muscle groups. Who doesn’t want to tone their calves, thighs, hamstrings, glutes and abs all at one time? Sign me up!
The use of ankle weights when running or walking is what you need to take your workout to the next level. By adding resistance to your runs or walks, you are putting your workout into overdrive. The extra resistance will help to build muscles in both the legs and abdominal muscles. You can also use ankle weights when running or walking on treadmills to build muscles. By using ankle weights, you will also strengthen your cardiovascular and respiratory system.
Using ankle weights when training will definitely aid in increasing your endurance. Let’s face it, if you can run or walk a mile while wearing ankle weights, you shouldn’t have any problem doing twice that without them. The use the ankle weights when running or walking causes higher heart rate and breathing, thereby increasing energy expenditure. By training at this higher level, your endurance level will also be increased.
Affordable & Accessible
One major pro of ankle weights is that they are affordable, accessible and easy to use. They are seriously everywhere! From your local WalMart to Amazon, ankle weights can be found at a great price and in so many places. In addition, they are extremely easy to use. You just simply strap them around your ankles before going walking or running. That’s where it ends – just put them on and head out the door!
Disadvantages of Ankle Weights
Unfortunately, there are disadvantages of the use of ankle weights when running or walking. That’s pretty much the name of the game though, right? With all good things come a list of cons. However, comparing the two can help you better decide if the use of ankle weights while walking or running is right for you. Here’s one major disadvantage:
More Risk of Injury
The main con of the use of ankle weights when running or walking is that it increases your risk of injury. We all know that you can’t (or shouldn’t) workout when injured. The last thing you want to do is mess up your fitness regimen or create an injury that takes months to heal. While Dr. Anthony Luke is an advocate for ankle weights, he also stated that: “It will put more force on the joints as well as the muscles,” he says. “If there’s an existing problem, it can make things more difficult.” Dr. Luke also recommends not using the weights every time you do your cardio activity.
According to Kent Adams, director of the exercise physiology lab of Cal State in Monterey Bay, ankle weights add too much extra pressure on the joints – including the knees, ankle and hips. Adams also says that this is especially a problem for individuals who are frail or overweight. Instead, Adams advises that you increase your cardio intensity by varying your speed or climbing hills. In addition, he says that if you are wanting to develop leg muscles that can be done during weight training.
If you’re leaning towards the “ankle weights are definitely for me” category, then there’s a few things to keep in mind before diving in head (or ankle) first. While you might believe you’re ready for those ten pound weights, start slow and with smaller weights. You need to give your body time to adjust and get used to the additional weight. Plus, you don’t want to throw those joints into overdrive all at once.
Be sure to switch it up. You shouldn’t wear ankle weights back to back days of working out. This will help prevent injury and will also keep the muscles from getting fatigued. In addition, don’t wear the weights for too long. If you feel any aches, pains or discomfort – take the ankle weights off immediately. Always listen to your body and what it is telling you to do! This will help keep you from getting hurt and off track.
In my opinion, using ankle weights while walking may be a safer choice than using them for running. There’s already a significant amount of stress on the knees and ankles while running, so walking with weights may cause you to be less prone to an injury. However, if you plan to use ankle weights for running then I highly encourage you to use them while walking first. This can be a difficult thing to do if you’re pretty advanced with your cardio routine. However, you’ll thank me later!
Ankle weights are a versatile fitness tool. The use of ankle weights when running or walking will cause your body to work harder than it’s used to, which can result in increases in endurance and strength.
Above, we covered 5 amazing benefits of the use of ankle weights: 1) increased heart rate, 2) toning of muscles, 3) additional resistance, 4) increased endurance and 5) they are affordable & accessible.
While there are numerous benefits of the use of ankle weights when running or walking, there are also disadvantages. One being that there is an increased risk of injury. Always start slow with smaller weights when starting out. Never wear ankle weights on back to back days of working out. Listen to your body. If you feel any pain or discomfort, stop wearing the ankle weights immediately.
If you are careful and listen to your body, the use of ankle weights when running or walking can help push your physical training to the next level!