Ankle weights are one way to increase the difficulty of basic body weight exercises. Using these weights is not necessary until the exercises by themselves have become too easy and do not present a challenge anymore. Aim to perform eight to 15 sets of an exercise and repeat those repetitions for two to three sets before you incorporate ankle weights or increase existing weight. While you may see people walking or jogging with ankle weights, Edward R. Laskowski, M.D., a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with the Mayo Clinic, advises that walking with ankle weights may alter your normal gait and could cause you to lose balance or fall while walking.
The knee extension is a simple movement that targets your thighs. Perform this exercise by sitting on a tall chair or weight bench so that your feet dangle a few inches above the ground. If you must use a chair that causes your feet to rest on the ground, you can still perform this exercise, but it will not be as effective. With ankle weights attached to your ankles, slowly lift one foot straight up to straighten your leg. Pause at the top of the movement for one to two seconds, and then slowly lower your foot to the starting position. Repeat the movement with your other foot to complete one full repetition of this exercise.
The hip extension works your butt and lower back muscles. Stand about one foot away from the back of a sturdy chair or a table while wearing ankle weights. Reach out with one or both hands and hold onto the chair to steady yourself. Lean forward at your waist with your feet flat on the floor so that your upper body is at a 45 degree angle. Slowly lift one foot behind you as high as you comfortably can without bending your knee or moving the rest of your body. Hold the foot in that position for one to two seconds and then slowly lower it back to the floor. Repeat this movement with the opposite foot to complete one repetition.
Single-Leg Calf Raise
The single-leg calf raise is a variation of the standing calf raise and targets the muscles in your lower leg. Stand about 6 to 12 inches away from a wall while facing the wall and wearing ankle weights. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and rest your palms on the wall in front of you to maintain your balance throughout the exercise. Lift one foot behind you so that your knee is bent at a 90 degree angle. Now, push up onto the toes of your opposite foot. Hold this position for one to two seconds and then slowly lower your heel back to the ground. Pause for a second and then push up onto your toes again. Complete all of the repetitions with one foot before you change positions and repeat the exercise with the opposite foot.