If you’ve tried streaming Pilates or sculpt workouts at home, you’ve probably seen your trainer donning ankle weights to add resistance. Although relatively light and non-intimidating at first glance–don’t underestimate the serious burn that adding even a couple of extra pounds to your lower-body moves can muster. “It increases the endurance of the muscle groups you’re working,” says Emily Diers, CPT, founder of Body Craft.
Diers frequently cues students to put on their ankle weights during her workouts for a little added oomph! “I use them for sculpt classes,” she says. “Adding resistance to any movement is going to ask more from your muscle, and if you’re doing it without rest it’s going to add a cardiovascular element to it.”
That said, you’ll find that wearing ankle weights helps with more than just revving your heart rate and muscle gain: They can literally help improve your bone strength, too. How, you ask? Well, resistance training aids you in maintaining skeletal health by increasing your bone mass and density, says a 2018 study published in the journal, Endocrinology and Metabolism.
And while ankle weights can level up lots of exercises, there is one type of workout that Diers doesn’t recommend wearing them for: “I stay away from using them during cardio just because I like to take optimal care of my joints and any extra weight with impact is just going to put more stress on them,” she says. (This could be dancing, running, or any workout that requires jumping, like plyo or, sometimes, HIIT.)
Another tip: Don’t start too heavy. Diers recommends beginners skip the weight until they get the hang of their new fitness routines. “Working with body weight and gravity is enough resistance at first, and then once you feel confident in what the movement is, and what the format is, then you can add weight,” she says. After you’ve mastered bodyweight exercises, start with 1 or 1.5-pound ankle weights, and then you can work up to 2 or 3 lbs. from there.
Keep reading for 10 of the best ankle weights you can find online now.
The idea of trying to clean sweaty fabric ankle weights grosses you out? These cast-iron bars are coated in recycled silicone making them a cinch to wipe down post-workout, and they have a velcro strap that’s easy to adjust. They come in a variety of weight increments, starting at 1/2 pound and go up to 2 pounds.
Reviewer Rave: “I love these weights. They are so sleek looking compared to other ankle weights. I love the case they come in, making them super easy to store in a small place. I also love how they do not move around on your ankles once they’re on.”
You can adjust these ankle weights from 1 to 5 pounds as you get stronger, and the added hook closure is also great for reinforcing the strap so you never have to worry about one coming undone in the middle of a workout.
Reviewer Rave: “Totally love the ankle/wrist weights!! The fact that I can change and swap the little weights to build up resistance is the best thing about it. I highly advise those new to this to start low…the last thing you need is swollen joints from being too zealous.”
If you like the softer feel of the fabric-covered ankle weights but want something that’s easier to clean, vinyl covered weights–like The Cuff –are the answer. They feel similar to their fabric-covered counterparts (the weights are filled with sand), but the casing is way easier to wipe down and keep sanitized. Plus, they go up to 8 lbs. which gives you ~lots~ of room to progress.
Reviewer Rave: “They are extremely durable, do not scratch your skin and the make is incomparable. They are definitely worth the investment. I use them for lower body exercises such as the stairclimber, leg lifts, or even just walking. They are great for thicker legs like mine AND slim legs as the Velcro strap has a lot of give to wrap around.”
If you’ve ever used a set of ankle weights and wished the straps were a bit longer, these are a great option since the strap has an extended length compared to most. Plus, they come in 2-, 3-, and 5-lb. options that you can remove individual weight bars from to add or subtract resistance. (These ankle weights are covered in a cotton casing, btw.)
Reviewer Rave: “The weights are perfect and so easy to put on and take off. There’s no messing with buckles, fasteners, D-rings, etc., just wrap around ankles, Velcro, and you are ready to exercise. They are soft, comfortable, and they stay firmly in place. The adjustable 1 pound inserts have to be finessed a little to remove and put back in, but only takes a minute. I love these weights and highly recommend them.”
FILA weights have the best of both worlds: They’re filled with 2.5 pounds of sand, and the soft fabric helps prevent chafing (which is the last thing you want to worry about when you finally hit 25 reps on those leg lifts). A major bonus? This pretty AF lilac color will make you look like a straight up fitness influencer.
Reviewer Rave: “These are perfect ankle weights and not too bulky, they are 5lbs in total, so 2.5 per leg. I purchased them, along with some resistance bands, to work out with at home. They are perfect for butt workouts. I bought them to replace a bulkier/older pair I was sick of, and these are so slim and easy to get on and off quickly between circuits when you’re changing exercises since it’s just a quick slap of the Velcro! Love them!”
These ankle weights are soft, adjustable, and come in a variety of weight increments (1-, 1.5-, and 2-lbs). The inside of these weights are lined with a towel-like terry cloth, perfect for preventing slipping during super sweaty workouts.
Reviewer Rave: “I’m so glad I ordered these weights! I’d read about several different brands and styles, but decided to go with this one because so many people commented about their comfort–and it’s true. I knew if the weights I bought were scratchy, uncomfortable, or difficult to wear, they would probably remain on the shelf never to be worn at all. I’ve walked several miles in these (I bought the red ones and they are PLENTY heavy for me) and they are so comfortable–I strapped them on each ankle for the best fit and they never turned or slipped.”
At $10, these ankle weights won’t break the bank, but they’ll still deliver on comfort and function. These are covered in a soft neoprene material that also helps absorb sweat, while the extra D-shaped loop closure is great for reinforcing an extra secure fit.
Reviewer Rave:“It is very durable and fits well. Velcro is thick and holds tight. I wear them while I do housework and exercise. I myself felt the burn as if I had exercised at a harder pace than I actually did. I also felt like I had exercised when I simply did what I would have done on a regular day. I bought four more sets to give as gifts when my family and friends wanted to know my secret to better looking legs.”
Yes, this pair is on the more expensive side. But do you want a totally sweat-proof set of ankle weights that you can clean and dry without hassle? These are 100-percent fabric-free and super easy to wipe down with disinfectant wipes or any other cleaner. Let them air dry in between sweat sessions and you’re good to go.
Reviewer Rave: “I have used a lot of similar products for strengthening but these are positively the very best. A little pricey but well worth it in my book as they are so comfortable, easy to clean, and the fit is wonderful. No flopping around or chaffing that I have experienced with other adjustable wrist weights. A great product. I am really amazed that I am moved to write a review. But these are worth every word.”
If you take your workouts outdoors, these weights can help you stay visible (and safe!) since they have a reflective trim. Plus, these have reinforced stitching making them extra durable (Read: no sand escaping and creating a huge mess in your living room).
Reviewer Rave: “These have been the most comfortable ankle weights I’ve ever owned. The extra wide Velcro strap makes putting it on easy and it keeps it on. Others I’ve owned were always falling one way or another on the ankle, this set stays in place and has a really good balance around your leg.”
These ankle weights are soft, comfortable (and colorful!) but the super strong velcro strap will keep ’em in place while you work out. They come in four different weight levels, ranging from 1 to 4 lbs. each.
Reviewer Rave:“These are perfect! The wrist weight bands I’ve had in the past fit my wrists but not my ankles. These adjust enough to fit both. With other brands I’ve bought, the Velcro fastener wasn’t very secure and wore out quickly. Sometimes weights would go flying off my wrist and across the room with no warning, which is unacceptable. These have an ultra long mega-length of Velcro to keep the wristbands in place and the loop it passes through is a helpful design feature that other brands lack.”