With group workouts off the table for gym bunnies on coronavirus lockdown, ankle weights have re-emerged as the latest It accessory. Perfect for socially distant walks and at-home workouts, the latest iterations of wearable weights are designed to look sleek, bright and perfectly Instagrammable — and they’re everywhere.
Google searches for ankle weights have nearly tripled since this time last year.
The appeal of the accessories goes beyond the look: Fitness instructors say incorporating ankle weights into your daily routine — even just for a brisk walk — has real benefits.
“Adding even 1- or 2-pound weights can increase your heart rate by 30 percent,” says Aly Giampolo, co-founder of the Ness, a trampoline and muscle-sculpting studio in lower Manhattan.
And when worn on wrists, weights can “strengthen upper back muscles to improve poor posture,” she says.
Just skip using them for high-intensity workouts.
“Stay away from fast, vigorous movements,” urges Giampolo. “It is tricky enough to maintain safe and proper form when moving quickly. Combining extra weight with rapidly paced exercise can potentially result in pulled muscles or lower back strain.”
With ankle weights on both legs, lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of one another, toes pointed and your head resting on your bicep. Do each of these five moves for one minute, then switch sides.
- Lift and then lower your top leg slowly. “Think of lengthening through the outside of your upper thigh on the lift and engaging the inner thigh on the lower leg,” Giampolo says.
- Hover your top leg above your bottom leg at hip height and hold. Add pulses with each breath if you like.
- Bend the top leg so there are 90-degree angles at the hip and at the knee. Raise and lower the shape from the floor up to hip height while the bottom leg remains straight.
- With your top leg still bent at a 90-degree angle, place it on the floor in front of your body. Keeping the bottom leg straight, pulse it up and down, squeezing the inner thighs towards one another.
- Keep the top leg on the floor in front of you. Engage your core to stabilise the rest of your body. Raise the bottom leg a couple inches above the floor and slowly draw softball-size circles with your toes for 30 seconds. Then circle in the reverse direction for 30 seconds.
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