Although ankle weights are popular with walkers, experts recommend against wearing them for cardiovascular exercise, because the weights can add extra impact and may change your gait. Instead, use ankle weights as an excellent aid for strength training the muscles of your lower body, including your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Yet as benign as ankle weights may seem, putting them on improperly, or not inspecting them carefully before each use, can put you at risk of injury.
Inspect the ankle weights before you put them on. Check that all seams are fully intact, and that any flaps or closures over pouches for adding extra weight plates are securely closed. If you have adjustable ankle weights, this is also the time to add or remove weight plates, rods or bags until the weights are as heavy as you like.
Wrap one weight around each lower leg. Ideally they should fit around your lower leg, snug enough to stay in place but not so tight that they feel uncomfortable or cut off your circulation.
Tighten the fasteners on the ankle weights so they don't shift around on your leg. Ankle weights come with a variety of easy-use fasteners, including hook-and-loop closures, or hook-and-loop straps that double back through O-rings, and D-rings.
If you feel uncomfortable with the ankle weights directly against your skin, wear tall socks underneath them, or put the weights on over the outside of your pants for an extra layer of protection.
Once you've got your ankle weights on properly, you can use them for exercises like leg curls: Stand facing a wall or chair for balance, then bend one knee, curling that heel up toward your buttocks against the weight's resistance. Remember to do the same number of repetitions with both legs.
As any other strength-training aid, you should set a target number of repetitions when you're using ankle weights. Once you can complete the target number of repetitions with good form, you're ready to move on to slightly heavier weights. A single set of 12 repetitions is a good target for a beginner or for anyone exercising for general fitness.
Never skip the step of inspecting your ankle weights. If the seams burst or one of the pouches holding individual weight packets falls open, the weights could fall on you and you could get hurt. Likewise, some leg exercises position the entire ankle weight over your head or your other foot, and if you don't fasten the weight to your leg securely, it might fall off and hurt you.