Do Ankle Weights Help Tone Your Thighs?

Rehab after leg injury
Get slim, toned thighs with ankle weight exercises. (Image: kicsiicsi/iStock/Getty Images)

Lifting more weight than you are able to can strain the thigh muscles. Pain, tenderness, bruising and bleeding may occur from a strain. Exercising the thighs with ankle weights reduces the chance of muscle strains, because the weights are as light as 0.5 lb. Ankle weights increase from there, allowing you to choose the weight that fatigues your muscles within 15 to 25 reps. This range tones muscles and improves muscular endurance.

Bent-Leg Raises

Ankle weights tone the inner thighs when used in exercises such as bent-leg raises. People usually have stronger outer thighs than inner thighs; bent-leg raises help balance this out. To perform bent-leg raises with ankle weights, start wearing 1-lb. ankle weights and sit in a chair with your knees bent, feet on the floor. First, extend one leg straight and hold for 60 seconds. Then bend the knee 45 degrees and hold for 30 seconds. Finish by placing the foot on the floor. Work both legs. As you become stronger, increase ankle weights by 1/2 lb. at a time.

Chair Straight-Leg Raises

Chair straight-leg raises tone the quadriceps. The quadriceps are important muscles for supporting the knee joints. To perform this exercise, put on 1-lb. ankle weights and sit down in front of a bench. Place one leg on the bench in front of you. Then raise your leg 3 inches toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds. Do this exercise with both legs individually to tone your thighs. Only increase weights by 1/2 lb. at a time.

Knee Flexion

The knee flexion exercise tones the hamstring muscles on the back of the thigh. The hamstrings also support the knees. To perform the knee flexion with ankle weights, stand holding onto the back of a chair for balance, wearing 1-lb. ankle weights. Place all your weight into one leg and bend the knee of your other leg to kick the heel toward your buttocks. Keep the foot up for one second and then lower it slowly. Work both legs.

Considerations

Ankle weights may work the same way as other free weights for strength training, but they can place harmful stress on your joints when walking. Walking and similar exercises like hiking and jogging work the legs and burn calories, but doing so with weights is not worth potential benefits considering the possibility of injury. Walking up hills or increasing your time or distance is safer for toning your legs and for cardiovascular benefits.

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