Updated: June 4, 2015
Wrist and Ankle Weight ReviewsFor people looking to get more out of their workouts, one thing to look into is ankle and wrist weights. What are ankle weights and how do they work? Ankle and wrist weights come in a variety of styles and shapes, but as their name implies, they are weights that you strap onto your wrists or ankles (usually filled with steel shot, sand, or some other heavy material). Some look like donuts, some look like neoprene bands, some have pouches or pockets for adding or removing additional weight. You either slip your hand or foot through them, or wrap them around your ankle or wrist and then tighten them in place with a velcro band or some similar mechanism. Since your body is accustomed to lifting and moving its own natural weight, the addition of extra weight, especially at the end of your arms and legs, combined with gravity, really makes your muscles work overtime. This guide will take a look at some of the leading brands of ankle and wrist weights, and give you some tips on what to look for when buying these weights, and how much you can expect to pay.
Why Use Wrist Weights?
For doing real strength building exercises, most people use heavier handheld dumbells to get the resistance they need. But dumbells, even small ones, are difficult to use when you are doing other cardio related exercises. With strap-on wrist weights your hands and arms are free to move around without having to hang onto anything. So everything from jumping jacks to punching and kicking exercises are a lot easier. The added resistance from the weights increases the effectiveness of your workout on your shoulders (mainly), biceps, and triceps. A good wrist weight will fit snugly, but not too tight, around your wrist. You want it to stay in place and not slide around when you swing your arms around -- if it moves around you can get a nasty whiplash effect as you straighten your arm quickly and the weight pops against the base of your hand. When shopping for wrist weights, keep in mind you probably do not want or need a lot of weight. Given that your arm only weighs 8-14 pounds, just adding 1-3 pounds via a wrist weight at the end of your arm makes a big difference when it comes to how much resistance you feel when you exercise. You'll see a lot of wrist weights that are only 1-3 lbs. I often incorporate 2 lb weights into my cardio routines, and I can tell you that after 20+ minutes of swinging those arms around, my shoulders are tired. How much do wrist weights cost? They are pretty affordable - you can buy a pair of 1 lb wrist weights for around $10, while the 2 or 2.5 pounders might be $12-$20. Ankle weights often come in heavier sizes, ranging from 2-8 pounds, since most peoples legs are stronger than their arms and can handle a little more weight. When shopping for these weights, watch out for how they are labeled - a website, box, or packaging might say "5 lb wrist weights", which usually means 2 x 2.5lb weights, not two 5lb weights. Browse the bestselling weights here.
Best Ankle WeightsAnkle weights are great especially if you are doing some kind of kenpo or kick boxing or karate type workout that involves a lot of leg lifting and kicking. They also work well with things like step aerobics. A lot of athletes (runners, sprinters, hurdlers) use ankle weights for training, getting their bodies used to lifting and accelerating the extra weight -- once they take the weights off, they feel light and powerful. While 2 pounds might be enough for wrists, you might want to look into 5lbs or more for your legs -- you may also want to consider adjustable ankle weights that allow you to take some weight out (so even if you buy heavier weights, you don't have to use all of it, or you can start light and build up to the maximum weight over time as your strength increases). Personally, we've found some of the adjustable weight sets to be a little more bulky and less comfortable when it comes to working out, so consider that, but ultimately you have to decide which ones feel best and fit best on your body. Again, Amazon is a good spot to start when it comes to finding the most popular ankle weights.
Where to Buy Ankle and Wrist WeightsYou can find these weights all over the place - even stores like Target and Walmart carry them in their sporting goods departments. Target.com carries some of the Reebok adjustable weights (pair of 5 lb for $21). All sporting goods stores (online and offline) carry these products as well. SportsAuthority.com, for example, has an adjustable set of 5lb ankle weights made by Cap Barbell that lets you remove metal rods to lighten the weight if you want to -- $15. They also make a more comfortable fitting style that has a soft neoprene exterior, $10 for a pair of 2.5 pounders. Nike also makes wrist weights, with a style that has a hole for your thumb in addition to the normal wrist wrapping action to help hold them in place when you swing your hands around -- $20 for a 2.5 lb set. TKO makes another nice neoprene model with a velcro closure, $15 for for a pair of 2.5 lb wrist weights. Altus is another maker of exercise equipment, and their ankle and wrist weights are also good. They make some of the larger ankle weights, with a pair of 10 pounders going for just under $50 bucks (these are adjustable as well, so you can reduce weight as needed).
As noted above, you can also check out Amazon.com. They carry, in stock, weight products from Valeo (pair of 5lb adjustable weights for $17, pair of 1lb wrist weights $13, etc.), Bell Fitness, Danskin, Altus, Weider, Everlast, TKO, SPRI, etc. If you haven't used weights like this before, we recommend you try some on at a sporting good store before deciding what to buy. Some fit better on certain people, and again, you want to find a set that stays in place pretty firmly and doesn't slip around much when you exercise. So look around, try out a few different makes, weights, and styles before deciding which ones to buy.