We’re seeing weighted at-home workouts more and more, especially during the best-laid plans to stay at home during the peak of COVID-19. Wrists and ankles are being bulked up so that we may be slimmed down, but it’s not a new look. In fact, it’s decisively, totally, retro.
Celebrity personal trainer Ricardo Riskalla calls it out. “Ankle weights have been around since the ’80s. I remember people using them like the latest gym fashion accessory. The fitness industry has those moments where things come and go, and ankle weights are back in fashion.”
But just because they’re back in a big way doesn’t mean they are for everyone, according to Riskalla. Just like any trend, they have their pros and cons to be aware of.
Riskalla understands that ankle weights are used in hopes of toning the legs and butt muscles. In fact, many women use them to grow a rounder bum and not necessarily to bulk up the legs, but in the end, they will increase muscle mass. “I am always very careful when training my model and actor clients because the whole body needs to be in proportion. Especially the legs.”
Proportion comes to play with how the ankle weights are used, and how often. This can be visually crucial if one is working out to achieve a specific look, and not simply to gain muscle mass in whatever way possible. “Legs that are toned and proportionate to the whole body can even create the illusion of height,” Riskalla explains.
“If we are very simplistic and divide the legs into three parts—front, internal, and back part of the legs—we need to be very careful with the front part. A female leg that is overdeveloped in the front part will create an illusion that the person is shorter and squarer.
“So the rule here is to not use ankle weights when exercising the quadriceps and front part of the legs. In my 20 years of experience, I’ve learned that the front part of the legs should be only exercised lying down and with no weights to create better results and avoid any bulking.” Of course, this only applies if bulking is not your thang.
If you’re looking to add tone to your inner thighs, Riskalla recommends the lightest weight on the ankle, and the secret is high repetition. “I like to exercise that area for a minimum of five minutes nonstop.” You’ll really feel the lactic acid burn here. In the opposite scenario, when a client wants to de-bulk the inner thigh, the same exercise is executed with zero weight.
Don’t be afraid of a little muscle gains, but do be aware of your goals. Not all workout equipment equals the svelte model physique, so heed carefully before layering on the weights. Leotards and leg warmers over leggings are still hot though. We back that look.
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