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Published Aug 15, 2022 9:54 AM

If you have limited space in your house or you don’t want to spend a ton of money on home gym equipment, ankle weights are a great solution. Leg weights help you get the most out of bodyweight exercises like leg lifts, chin-ups, a variety of core exercises, and even low-intensity workouts like yoga.  There’s also not much to them: they’re just weighted straps for your ankles. However, there are literally hundreds of options to choose from, which make it very difficult to figure out which ones are best for your needs.  

In this buying guide, we look at a variety of categories like the best overall, best adjustable, and best for women, as well as some other factors to consider before dishing out 10s of dollars on a pair of wearable weights.

Best Overall

The BalanceFrom GoFit gives you flexible leg weight options at a low $18 price point. They provide a secure fit, plus a two-year warranty unmatched by other products we reviewed. The composite neoprene and plastic casing, coupled with the longer Velcro strap, will prevent wear and tear through serious use, giving the leg weights additional value.

If you’re one of those guys or gals with extremely slim ankles, you can also remove one of the weight pouches for additional length on the Velcro strap to get the extra stability you need for high-intensity exercises. The pouches are one pound each for up to five pounds per leg weight.

For the best overall combination of function, fit, and quality, you can’t go wrong with the BalanceFrom GoFit.

Product Specs
  • Weight: Up to five pounds (one-pound increments)
  • Weight material: Sand-filled pouches
  • Fastener type: Velcro with D-Ring Loop
Why It Made The Cut
  • The BalanceFrom GoFit has it all — removable sand pockets to adjust your leg weights and a Velcro D-ring faster to ensure a snug fit for no-wobble weight exercises.
PROS

Comfortable and secure

Cost-effective

Adjustable weight pouches

Two-year warranty

CONS

Sand pouches may shift during high-impact workouts

May sit loose with smaller ankle diameters

Best for Women

The Bala Bangles are on the high end of the products we reviewed. The manufacturer realized that women tend to have smaller ankles than men, and created a product that will actually fit well for their body types. Designed for comfort and longer duration activities, the Bala Bangles sacrifice heavier weights and adjustability for form and security, dividing up the load into eight separate bars. This gives the bands greater curve and flexibility for different ankle widths without having a solid bar resting directly on your ankle bone (not fun). The secure fit allows you to wear the Bala Bangles when doing exercise or yoga.

We would have liked to see larger wearable weight options for prolonged use, but we understand why they chose to stay in the lighter categories. Its marketing material makes it clear, women are the primary audience for the Bala products, with good reason. The silicon-coated metal bars are not removable, but at these low weights, the difference would be negligible. If you’re willing to overlook the $50 to $65 price point, the Bala Bangles are a unique set of slim, well-designed ankle weights that deserve a home in your regular workout equipment bag.

Product Specs
  • Weight: Two pounds each
  • Weight material: Recycled stainless steel bars wrapped in silicone
  • Fastener type: Velcro and elastic
Why It Made The Cut
  • Bala Bangles were specifically made to fit the female form, with a high-end weighted wraparound for ankle or wrist, earning our Best for Women rating.
PROS

Multiple smaller weight pouches secures tighter

Multiple color options

Comfortable material

CONS

More expensive than other similar products

Non-adjustable weight

Best for Low Intensity

Gaiam products trend toward low-impact exercise, yoga, and stretching exercises, which is reflected in its ankle weight design. The heavy ankle weights are designed with reinforced seams on the top and bottom of the main wraparound. They provide more than enough padding and comfort for repetitive movements.

Compared to other ankle weights, the Gaiams have a few drawbacks. The weight loads aren’t adjustable, and if you have small ankles, you may feel some shifting from the iron sand pouches.

Product Specs
  • Weight: Available in 2.5 and five pounds
  • Weight material: Sealed iron sand pouches
  • Fastener type: Velcro
Why It Made The Cut
  • The Gaiam ankle weights provide you with everything you need for prolonged exercise at a reasonable price point, earning the award for Best for Low Intensity.
PROS

Wide hook-and-loop wraparound retention strap

Soft, reinforced edge fabric

CONS

Sand pouches may shift during high-intensity ankle exercises

Non-adjustable weight

Honorable Mention

The Tosamc answers the biggest problem facing ankle weight manufacturers: how to provide a truly universal fit. Velcro options, even the longer double-wrap types, are still prone to shifting during prolonged activity, and fitness enthusiasts with smaller ankles may still find they have to either drop a weight pouch (if possible) or wear a band underneath the pad to ensure a snug fit.

The Tosamc skips all that and uses three stainless steel retention buttons that snap cleanly into a silicon band, with holes punched almost halfway around it for small- and large-boned customers alike. The silicon material also means you could take these into the pool for a low-impact resistance ankle weight workout and not have to worry about cleaning or mold formation.

The price tag is a bit steep for 1.5-pound wearable weights, but if you buy the Tosamc, you’re doing it for the material, not the weight variations. Its unique design, coupled with a one-year warranty, more than earns the Tosamc our Honorable Mention award.

Product Specs
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds each
  • Weight material: Silicone
  • Fastener type: Stainless steel buttons and silicon strap
Why It Made The Cut
  • In a market where everything is pretty much Velcro and sand, Tosamc takes a novel approach using silicon and metal to make an original ankle weight design.
PROS

Hole-punch button fastener

One-year warranty

Silicon band

CONS

No other weight options

Expensive

Things to consider before buying ankle weights 

Material

While most ankle weights are made out of neoprene with Velcro straps that loop through a D-ring, they’re available in a variety of materials like silicon, vinyl, leather, rubber, and more. The weighted portion also comes in different materials, but most common are iron sand or metal bars. Cheaper ankle weights typically use fabric and iron sand — and don’t always distribute weight evenly — while more expensive ones use soft rubber and metal bars. 

Adjustable and fixed weight

Ankle weights are like most strength training tools, in that you can find adjustable and fixed-weight options. With adjustable ankle weights, you can typically add or remove one pound at a time. They generally weigh five to 10 pounds. The obvious benefit of adjustable ankle weights is that you adjust the weight for different exercises, but you can also wash the band without ruining your washing machine with the extra weight. However, if that’s the case, you may want to consider rubberized ankle weights. 

Retention 

The retention device on an ankle weight depends on the materials used to construct the weight. Fabric ankle weights typically use a Velcro strap and a D-ring, whereas rubberized materials like silicon ankle weights will fit like a watch strap.  

FAQs about ankle weights

Q: Can ankle weights be used when running or walking?

A: No. Medical professionals advise against wearing ankle weights while running or walking. They say it can strain your ankle joints or cause muscle imbalance. Overall, you increase the risk of injuring your hips, back, and knees if you wear them for those activities. If you do want extra resistance during cardio, they recommend wearing a weighted vest instead.  

Q: How heavy should my ankle weights be?

A: Most experts recommend using ankle weights that weigh one to three percent of your body weight. However, ankle weights are often available weighing anywhere from one to 10 pounds. 

Q: What’s the best way to use ankle weights?

A: Ankle weight exercises are typically limited to lower body and core workouts, but the additional weight will make pull-ups and chin-ups more challenging as well. Additionally, physical therapists like to use ankle weights to improve the walking gait in older adults or rehabbing patients who suffered a stroke.

Final thoughts

Ankle weights are a great way to supplement bodyweight workouts, especially during leg and core exercises. If you’re looking for adjustable ankle weights, the BalanceFrom GoFit can’t be beat. They’ll give you a snug fit and no wobble. For women, the Bala Bangles were made to fit around slim forms. They’re like weighted bracelets for your ankles. And, if you’re planning to wear them during low-intensity workouts like yoga, the Gaiam Ankle Weights will hold tight for prolonged exercise.

Methodology 

We scoured the internet for the top brands of wraparound ankle weights, excluding vests, hand, and arm-specific types, and other off-the-wall products. From there, we excluded any products that had less than 1,000 verified reviews (you’d be surprised how many were still left after that criteria). Once we had the list narrowed to a manageable level, we categorized the rest by material, weight adjustability, type of retention, and price. You can check out the link below to learn more about the Task & Purpose methodology we use for our review process.