What I love about using ankles weights for working out is that they are so simple to add to any exercise to create more resistance and challenge yourself more than you normally would. They are also not intrusive where they get in the way of your movements. What I would like to do is show you guys various exercises you can do at home with them to strengthen your abs, legs and butt muscles.
With the exercises I am going to suggest below you will want to use ankle weights that are 1-5lbs in weight. All of these of course can be done without weights as well and you and work your way into using weights as you get strong enough to do so. You can also go crazy and add a weighted vest to the exercise as well.
10 Ankle Weight Exercises For Legs and Butt!
1. Bicycle Kick
I love this exercise because you activate so many muscles with it making a big impact in a short amount of time. With your ankle weights on, we want to be in a sitting position on the floor starting with your feet flat. Your arms are locked and hands flat on the ground to give yourself support.
We will start by lifting both knees to your chest. Extend your left leg straight out, pause, bring your left leg back in. Now extend your right leg straight out, pause and then bring your right leg back in. You can continue at this pace or start to extend the leg by the chess as the extend leg is coming back in to get the bicycle pedal motion.
Tip: You can make this more difficult by taking your hands off the floor which will engage your core and make the exercise even harder.
I would suggest 10 reps for each leg and a total of 3 sets to start with.
Extend the number of reps as you get stronger. You will work your quads, abs, hamstrings, hip flexors and some of your butt muscles with this!
2. High Knees
This exercise has been around for ages but it simply just works! Ankle weights are again attached to the ankles. Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, bring your left knee up to your chest, your right arm comes forward like you are running. Place your left foot down. Bring your right foot up and your left arm up. It should feel like you are running in place.
I would start out with doing this for 30 seconds doing it 2-3 sets. You can make this difficult by raising the knees up and down faster or by actually adding a hop as the knee comes up each time.
The focus here is your upper quads, hamstrings, lower abs and lower back.
3. Leg Raises
The military made leg raises famous and we will continue to use them as well because they are easy to do but effective. Weights are attached to your ankles while you are laying in a prone position on your back. Place your hands slight under you butt cheek on each side for support.
Slow lift your legs up together until you reach 45 degrees, pause for 1-3 seconds if you can and slowly lower your legs. You can make this easier by bending your legs slightly if having your legs straighten out is to hard. You will feel this working your quads, lower and upper abs. It will also work your hip flexors and lower back.
I would perform 10 reps and 3 sets for this exercise to start out with.
4. Front Lunges
Front lunges are a staple of anybody’s workout. They work your glutesmaximus, quadriceps, calves, core and even work your cardiovascular system all at once. This is why people love using this exercise but yet cringe when doing it because it does burn your legs and glutes once you crank up the reps. It is all worth the results though. I call this type of exercise a love hate exercise. 🙂
Tip: When you are taking your step forward, really raise up your knee higher than a normal step to add more difficulty to the exercise. You can also add dumbbells to the exercise to add weight as well.
5. Donkey Kicks
I know this sounds funny but it is effective for working your butt muscles and tightening that butt up! Ankles are attached around the ankle.
Hands and knees are on the floor. We start out with raising your left leg, push the leg straight back until you are almost fully extended.
I personally would not lock out your knees to be safe. To make this difficult pause for a 1-3 seconds while the leg is extended and then bring the knee back in under your chest without touching the floor and extend the left leg again.
You will do this continuously until you completed the number of reps you want to complete. Once this is complete switch legs.
I would do 10-12 reps and do 2-3 sets per leg.
6. Single Leg Squats
Ok, this one will not be for everyone as this exercise is difficult and can put enough stress on the knee that if you have knee issues, please just skip this one and do full squats. You will need a chair for this exercise and ankle weights attached to your ankles.
We start standing in front of the chair as if you are going to sit down. Put pressure on your right leg and slightly lift your left leg off the ground. At this point tighten your core and begin the sitting down while flexing your quads and gluteus Maximus (butt) to maintain stability. As you touch the chair start to raise back up to standing position.
Tip: You will want to keep both hands out in front of you to help you balance.
7. Fire Hydrants
Ha, Ha, I love explaining this one! This is great for lower back issues, inner thigh work and butt muscle work. We will start on all fours on the ground with ankle weights on the ankles. Starting with the left leg we are going to raise the knee out to the side at a 90 degree angle in the air. You basically look like a dog going the bathroom on a fire hydrant. lol It’s really that simple.
I would perform 10 reps and 2-3 sets on each leg.
8. Arm Circles
I know this is not focusing on the leg muscles but I did want to throw this in here to show you can work your upper body muscles along with your abs during this exercises. You will use weights around your wrist for this exercise. In standing position, with your arms at your side, raise your arms parallel. With your arms extended start making circles in the air for 10 seconds. Reverse the direction for another 10 seconds. Lower your arms to the side for a quick break. Repeat this for the number of desired reps.
I would do 10 reps for 10 seconds each in both directions totally 20 seconds. I would do 4-8 reps total for 1-2 sets.
9. Bird Dog
This exercise got it’s name from the hunting dogs that point at the birds out in the field at a stand still. This exercise is something everyone should do and you can do this literally every morning. A lot of physical therapist use this for people who have back issues because it is so effective in strengthening your lower back muscles.
Start on all fours with ankle weights on your ankles and can be added to your wrist. Raise your right arm straight out in front of you. Raise your left leg straight back behind you. Hold for 1 second and return your leg and arm back to the floor. Make sure to engage your core when you raise your arm and legs.
You can make this really difficult by starting in plank and then execute each movement.
10. Single Leg Bridge Hip Thruster
Last up is the single leg bridge to work on gultes, core upper quads and lower back muscles. I made a choice on the single leg which is difficult and might be too much for many of you. You might have to start out with a regular 2 legged bridge hip thrust to start out.
We will start out laying on the floor with our feet flat on the floor with our knees bent. Weights are on the ankle. Engage your core, flex your right butt muscle, straighten your left leg out and press up on your right leg.
You want to raise up to a level where your back is flat at the angle of your leg raised. Make sure you left hip is not twisting down to the left. You want your hips even. Now slowly lower your butt to the ground with you left leg out and touch the floor. Now repeat the repetition again for the desired number of reps and switch legs.
This is an advanced exercise. I would shoot for 8 reps per leg and 1-2 sets. Increase that as you get stronger and make sure you form is perfect before you move up in reps and sets.
To end this I wanted to include a few regular ankle strengthening exercises you can do without weights. You can add them in if you like. Check out the video below.
Hopefully you were able to get an idea of what type of ankle weight exercises you can do. Honestly, think of any leg exercise you can do and you could literally add them to it. If you could share this with your friends who would enjoy this, would be much appreciated. You can also read our review on ankle weights here for more information on what types there are to buy.