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The 9 Benefits Of Heavy Ankle Weights

Ankle weights were popularized in the 1980s and for good reason.

They are very versatile and are a great tool for targeting the lower body and for performing weighted isolation movements.

However one of the biggest issues with ankle weights is that they are usually limited in weight. They start at 1 lbs per leg and go up to 10 lbs.

These increments of weight are great for beginners and for certain exercises, but many times they are not enough to get the optimal workout.

In this blog post, we will discuss the many benefits of using heavier ankle weights and where to find the heaviest ankle weights on the market.

Why Some Exercises Require More Load

For any exercise, the farther the weight is from the joint that is moving, the harder it is to perform. A knee raise is much easier to perform than a leg raise.

That is because of physics and more effort is required if the resistance is farther from the joint.

That's why exercises such as leg raises, front levers are challenging even without any weights and even more challenging with light ankle weights.

However exercises that don't use leverage such as high knees, step ups, the standard ankle weights are quite easy to perform with light weights.

Too easy in fact you won't get the required stimulus required for muscle and strength gains.

These exercises require heavy ankle weights to get a good workout.

Heavy Ankle Weight Staple Exercise #1:
The Leg Lift

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” - Isaac Newton

Every major compound exercise has an antagonistic movements.

When the antagonistic movement is not performed, imbalances occur.

It’s very common to see individuals at the gym over doing the bench press and not focussing enough on the antagonist movement called the row.

This leads to the terrible forward posture and the frequent shoulder injuries.


Now let’s take a deep dive into other exercises and the antagonist movement.

  • Shoulder press ==> Pull-ups
  • Bicep curl ==>  tricep push down
  • Leg extension ==> Leg curl
  • Anterior shoulder raise ==> straight arm lat pull down

These exercises are all very well known and are in most training programs.

Thats a good thing.

Ok and what about the king of all leg exercises, the SQUAT.

What is the antagonist movement of the SQUAT?

Well… that would be the LEGLIFT.

An exercise we never see performed in the gym.

Why is that?

Is there any example of the movement being used in nature?

Yes, its called running! We perform a leg lift when we run so it is definitely important.

But the reason its not performed in gyms is because its is hard to perform..unless you had heavy ankle weights!

Leg Lift Benefits

Benefit 1: Run Faster!

When performing leg lifts, you are mimicing and training the same movement you perform when running.

Therefore, it is no suprise that it will make you run faster and is a reason that this exercise is a staple for sprinters.

Benefit 2: Jump higher!

One of the secrets to jumping higher is actually how fast you can get down before pushing off. The faster you can get down the more kinetic energy you can convert when you spring back up.

By performingg heavy leg lifts you will be able to get down fast and jump higher.

Benefit 3: Squat More

Strengthening the antagonist movement is also a great way to break plateaus in an exercise. If you train the reverse squat, you will most likley improve your squat.

Benefit 4: Prevent Injuries

Training antagonise movements is going to reduce muscular imbalances and thereby prevent injuries.

Heavy Ankle Weight Staple Exercise #2:
Weighted Calisthenics

Weighted Pull-ups and dips are a staple of weighted calisthenics. Although they are usually performed with a weight vest or dip belt, it can also be done with ankle weights.

However weight pull-ups and dips are usually performed with more weight than just 20lbs.

Unless you are doing an endurance workout or are an intermediate athlete 20 lbs will most likely not be enough weight to get a proper hypertrophy workout. 

Therefore, regular ankle weights are most likely not sufficient for weighted calisthenics.

The Ankle weights also distribute the weight differently than vest or belt as the weight is lower down on your body.

This adds a new stimulus and activated new muscles similar to how a front squat is different from a back squat.

So if you’re looking for ankle weights that go heavier so you can make good gains in your pullups, but are having trouble finding them, keep reading!

Weighted Calisthenics Benefit

Benefit #5: Save Time

With more intensity compared to bodyweight calisthenics, you can stick to shorter reps and sets!

Benefit #6: Stronger Pullup and Dips

With weights, you can slowly add more, to progressively overload while sticking in the rep range you want for optimal gains.

Heavy Ankle Weight Staple Exercise #3:
Leg Curls and Extensions

Having a home gym and training directly where you live is a great way to stay consistent and save time by not having to commute to the gym. It is also cost effective.

However, some exercises like ham curls, leg extensions and reverse hypers are hard to perform.

These exercises usually require expensive and space taking machines. You can try to replace the machines with regular ankle weights but they are usually not enough weight for a proper stimulus.

However, with heavy ankle weights, you can get the benefits of being able to train these 3 leg exercises in the comfort of your own home.

Leg Curls, Extensions Benefits

Benefit #7: Bigger Quads and Hamstrings

Studies have shown that performing isolation movements leads to more gains than just performing compound movements like the squat.

Heavy Ankle Weight Staple Exercise #4:
Reverse Hyper

Another exercise thats extremely beneficial but hard to perform at home or even at many gyms for the matter is the reverse hyper.

Because the exercise is relatveiyl new and that machine usually required for the exercise is single-purpose, big and expensice even most gyms don't have the reverse hyper machines.

However the exercise is highly beneficial to do.

Reverse Hyper Benefits

Benefit #8: Spinal Decompression

This exercise was invented by ther great louie Simmons specifically to counteract and reverse all the spinal compression that happens from heavy squats and deadlift.

Benefit #9: Lower Back Strengthening + Recovery

You'll get a nice lower back pump from performing reverse hypers! All the bloodflow also speeds up any recovery from an injury.

Introducing ANKR

ANKR is a plate loading ankle weight that can hold up to 200lbs per leg.

Our patent-pending design allows you to use weight plates already easily accessible to load up the ankle weights.

We don’t use velcro that break over time. Instead we use heavy duty cam buckles.

The ANKR only weighs 700 grams and can easily fit into any gym bag so its very portable.

As discussed in this blog, the most important exercise that you can perform with the ankle weight is most likely the leg lift and weighted calisthenics.

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About the Author

Remy started calisthenics in 2014 and has mastered advanced movements such as the one arm pull-up, front-lever, one arm muscle-up and more.

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