If you’ve been working out at home, you may have limited space, which leads to a lot of bodyweight moves. If you can access ankle weights (which are compact and easy to store), doing ankle weight exercises are a great way to increase the difficulty of some of your favorite bodyweight exercises, says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., CEO and founder of TS Fitness in New York City.
That’s why Tamir created a series of ankle weight exercises that are non-impact and can be excellent for rehabilitation if coming off injury, says Tamir. Plus, they are unilateral exercises so each limb is working independently, which helps improve your balance.
“[These moves] can be used to increase muscular endurance to hit slow-twitch muscle fibers that are important for endurance exercises like cycling,” Tamir says.
How to do it: You’ll need ankle weights, a yoga mat, and a chair or other object you can balance on. Repeat each exercise for the recommended number of reps in each description. Repeat the circuit 2 to 3 times.
Lateral Leg Raise
Lie on your right side, supporting your head in your right hand. Bend your right knee at a 45-degree angle on the ground. Extend left leg and hold it off the ground. Keeping leg extended, lift toward the ceiling as high as you can then slowly lower to starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times. Then flip over and repeat on the other side.
Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees right under hips. Extend one leg up and back, lifting it to hip height with foot flexed. Press heel up toward the ceiling, making sure back stays flat and knee points straight down with core engaged. Lower back to hip height and repeat 15 to 20 times on each leg.
Lie faceup on the mat with arms straight out so body forms a “T” and extend legs straight up toward ceiling. Keep your abs braced and lower your legs to the right as far as you can without lifting your shoulders off the floor. Swing legs to the left and lower as far as possible without lifting shoulders. That’s one rep. Continue alternating from side to side with control. Repeat 10 to 12 times
Lie faceup with your hands underneath the small of your back to provide some additional support. Next, lift your legs up over your hips (90 degrees). Crunch your head and shoulders off the ground to engage your abdominals. Slowly lower your legs toward the floor.
From this position, focus on keeping your legs straight by flexing your quads. Lift one leg about 3 to 4 inches higher than the other, and then trade places. Using a moderate cadence, alternate your feet up and down in this position, all while keeping your core tight. Repeat 15 to 20 times.
Standing Hip Extension
Stand behind a chair or other object you can use for balance. Rest hands lighting on back of chair and shift weight to right foot. Lift left leg slightly off the ground. Slowly sweep leg behind you, as far as you can without compromising your posture, then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each leg.
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