Leg workout with ankle weights: 6 moves for toned legs

Ankle weights may scream of the 1960s, but they are so effective. Try this leg workout with ankle weights, featuring 6 effective exercises to shape and slim your lower body while burning fat…

Related: Legs, bums and tums home workout plan (with weights)

Adding weights to your workout provides a great extra challenge, and ankle weights are a compact, portable and versatile option. They conveniently strap around your ankles to create more resistance without you needing to worry about having to hold, pick up or put down a handheld set of free weights, such as dumbbells or kettlebells.

Getting started with ankle weights:

To purchase a pair ankle weights, try the Onyx Ankle Weights from Shreddy (£22), then do these moves. This workout alternates between high-energy exercises and isolation (single-muscle) moves that require you to lie on the floor, engage your core and focus on smaller movements that will bring your heart rate down.

These slower-paced isolation moves act as a form of active rest to give you the energy to tackle the next high-energy move, so you are working at all times. You’ve got this!

How to do this leg workout with ankle weights:

Perform these exercises in the order given to help strengthen your calves, quadriceps and glutes while also targeting your core and getting your heart rate up. Do one round on one side, then rest for a minute and repeat on the other side. Complete 2-4 rounds.

Leg workout with ankle weights

bridge with leg lift part 2

1. Bridge with leg lift

Glute bridges target your hamstrings and glutes, but a single-leg bridge is even better because it isolates the glute muscles, activates the core and lower back, and makes the move more intense.

Reps: 15 (each leg)

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your left leg so it’s straight up in the air, foot flexed and over your hip (A).
  2. Keeping your upper back on the floor, engage your glutes, drive through your right heel and raise your hips off the ground until your knee, hips and shoulders form a straight line (B). Keep your core engaged the entire time.
  3. Pause at the top, squeezing your glutes for 1-2 seconds. Lower down to the start and repeat, then switch sides.

squat to side leg raise leg workout with ankle weights squat to side leg raise leg workout with ankle weights

2. Squat to side-leg raise

This move will work into your glutes and hips whilst getting your heart rate up. You’ll definitely feel this move burning both sides of each leg, as you have to balance with one and lift with the other.

Reps: 15 (each side)

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and feet parallel. Place your hands on your hips for balance.
  2. Bend your knees, lowering your hips deeply so your thighs are parallel with the floor, keeping your weight back in your heels (A).
  3. Rise back up, straightening your legs completely and lifting your right leg out to the side, squeezing your outer glute (B).
  4. As you step the foot back into shoulder-width distance position, squat down again, then stand up and do a side leg lift with your left leg.
  5. Lower back to the starting position and continue alternating sides, squatting and lifting up.

inner thigh leg extension part 1
inner thigh leg extension part 2

3. Inner-thigh leg extensions

This move will take your heart rate back down, rest your outer thighs and instead hit your inner thighs. It is great for strengthening and lengthening your adductor muscles.

Reps: 25 (each side)

  1. Lie on your right side, supporting your head with your lower arm. Extend your right leg and point the foot. Bend your left leg over the right and place it on the mat in front of you (A).
  2. Lengthen your right leg as much as you can then lift it high, until you feel the inside of your thigh working (B). Hold for a second, then lower your leg. Repeat, then switch sides next time.

lunge with knee drive 1
lunge with knee drive 2

4. Lunge with knee drive

This move is great for getting you back on your feet and targeting the entire lower body as well as your balance and coordination. Your heart rate should shoot back up, too.

Reps: 15 (each side)

  1. Standing with your feet together and core engaged, take a large step back with your right foot, bending both knees 90 degrees so your back knee hovers off the floor (A).
  2. Extend your left leg to stand back up. At the same time, lift your right foot into the air in front of you, bringing it to chest height (B).
  3. Return your right leg to the floor, going immediately back into the lunge position. Repeat, then swap sides next time.
  4. As you get fitter and more confident with this move, add a small jump as you bring your knee to your chest.

outer thigh leg lifts leg workout with ankle weights

5. Outer-thigh leg lifts

This move provides a breather, as you slow down and lift your upper leg to target the outer thighs, glutes and tiny stabilising muscles in the hips. Expect a deep burn on both sides.

Reps: 25 (each side)

  1. Start by lying on your right side with your legs extended and feet stacked. Rest your head on your right forearm, and place your left hand on your hip.
  2. Engage your core and raise your top leg as high as you can, keeping it straight and the foot flexed, then return to the starting position, lowering the leg slowly with control.
  3. Repeat, then swap sides on the next round.

side lunge with leg sweep leg workout with ankle weights side lunge with leg sweep leg workout with ankle weights

6. Side lunge with leg sweep

This side lunge will not only work into the thighs, calves and glutes, but sweeping your leg in and over will also hit the inner thigh and core muscles because you have to balance your body throughout.

Reps: 15 (each side)

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, then take a big step to the side with your right foot.
  2. Lower into a lunge position (A). Your right knee should be behind your toes, your back straight and your tummy lifted.
  3. Pushing through your right heel, return to the starting position. Immediately cross your right leg in front of your body without touching the floor (B). Focus on squeezing your inner thighs as you cross your leg.
  4. Swing your leg back to the starting position and repeat, then switch sides on the next round.

Model and writer: Lucy Miller | Photography: Eddie Macdonald | Clothing: Gym Shark Vital Seamless 2.0 Leggings and Lululemon Classic Cotton Blend Tank

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