Before I begin, I would first like to speak of my own experience with ankle weights. As a gymnast, my coach would make me train using ankle weights. I would have to do my beam routines – layouts and all – with ankle weights on! All of the gymnasts would always complain because the routines would become too difficult as our legs were weighed down; it was hard to flip with so much extra weight on our ankles and it took a lot of effort to get our legs over our heads! After we completed the specified number of routines, we were then told to take the weights off and do the same number of routines without them. The routines I did when I took the weights off were extremely easy compared to the ones I did with them on. Over time, I found that doing my routines with ankle weights on gave me the strength to breeze through my routines. My core muscles strengthened and my skills became a lot easier for me as I grew stronger and gained more endurance. Today, when I do bootcamp-type workouts, I supplement them with ankle weights. I’ll do the first half of the workout with them on and the second half without them!
In this post, I would like to address the women who are in the beginner fit level. Don’t worry, ladies, you do not have to do beam routines! All I would suggest if you are just getting started with your exercise would be to walk! That’s it? Walk? Yup! You can reap countless health benefits from walking alone, but walking with ankle weights makes the cardio much more beneficial. “The added weight can increase energy expenditure, respiration rate, heart rate and training intensity, which can all have positive impacts on overall health” (Livestrong.com). If you have a hard time walking and you tire easily, walking with ankle weights adds intensity to each walking session and, eventually, you will be able to walk for a longer period of time as you’ve increased your overall endurance. When adding the ankle weights to your walking sessions, you will torch more calories than you would without them because your body has to work harder than it normally would. During your walking sessions, you can implement strength training by wearing the ankle weights. This way you will not only be burning calories, but you’ll also be getting stronger at the same time. Remember, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn at rest!
Although there are numerous benefits of ankle weight walking, you must make sure not to use them every time you are doing your aerobic exercise. The weights put extra stress on your joints and sometimes you need to give them a break! My advice would be to alternate on and off whenever you walk – use them one day, leave them behind the next!
If you need a little guidance, here are a few workout tips on how to walk with ankle weights:
- Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Walk heel to toe.
- Arms are always opposite of legs – if the right leg steps forward, the left arm is in front.
- Maintain good posture – the ankle weights will be pulling you down a bit, so keep your back and shoulders upright.
- Keep abdominal muscles tight – squeeze them during your walk!
- Keep a steady pace.
If you want to change it up a little, you can also use the weights on your wrists to increase the strength of your arms!
If you are a little worried about using the ankle weights – you may not be confident in your ability to add the weight – don’t worry! Take some time to find your walking rhythm and when you feel you are able to add the ankle weights do so! Don’t feel you need to buy extremely heavy ankle weights. There are ankle weights of all kinds – there are different amounts of weight you can choose from, style, fit, etc. It is all up to your personal preference, but no matter which one you choose, you WILL benefit from them!
Head to your local Sports Authority to pick up some ankle weights! Browse some of the different kinds here: http://www.sportsauthority.com/family/index.jsp?cp=710958&categoryId=693991&pg=1
Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/228090-benefits-of-walking-with-ankle-weights/, picture from: http://www.sportsauthority.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12072965&cp=710958.693991&pg=2&parentPage=family