Adding light weights to a workout is a great way to increase intensity and improve strength. Whether you’re doing Pilates, yoga, cardio, strength or a stroll — wrist and ankle weights are a hands-free way to feel the burn. Another perk? They don’t take up much space in your bag or home gym.
But as you know, there are dozens of options on the market. That's where I come in. I used my experience as a certified personal trainer, spin instructor and yoga teacher; tapped my peers; and spent hours researching and poring over dozens of reviews on some of the highest-rated weights in the market. Use the links below to get my professional advice, answers to your top questions, and of course, my 16 top picks.
Benefits of wrist weights | Benefits of ankle weights | Before you start | Best budget | Best for beginners | Best overall, wrists | Best overall, ankles | Best overall, wrists and ankles | Best adjustable | Most unique | Most comfortable | Best cult-favorite | Best over 5 lbs. | FAQs | Meet our expert
What are the benefits of wrist weights?
Using wrist weights while exercising improves upper body strength and, maybe more surprising, your cardiovascular health. Studies show that walking with handheld weights or wrist weights increases your oxygen uptake (how much oxygen you’re able to take in) and heart rate, compared to walking without weights. The short of it: Exercising with wrist weights leads to greater calories expended (read: burned). Just be sure to show your wrists some love to prevent injury.
Personally, I love adding wrist weights to shadow boxing workouts, arm movements and core exercises — exercises you do with a high number of reps using light weights, versus those performed with a low number of reps using heavy weights.
Eliza Shirazi, founder of fitness website Kick It By Eliza, feels the same. “There are so many benefits to adding light weights (like well-fitting wrist weights) to cardio workouts, but my favorite reason is that you are building muscle endurance ... building stamina and improving our cardiovascular health" thanks to the added resistance, she explains.
What are the benefits of ankle weights?
Ankle weights offer plenty of benefits, especially when it comes to building strength in the lower extremities. Using ankle weights for exercises like leg raises, donkey kicks and even some cardio exercises can help increase muscle mass and improve balance.
Notable studies regarding ankle weights show significant benefits in older populations (though all of us can take notes here). One study of nearly 100 participants aged 66 to 76 years showed significant increases in lower-limb circumference (i.e., muscle mass) after three months of wearing ankle weights, for at least two 20-minute outdoor walks per week.
Another study of healthy older women showed that using a resistance band and wearing ankle weights three times per week for three months achieved significant improvement in lower body strength and mobility.
Before you start with ankle and wrist weights, a note of caution
Muscle imbalances occur when we repeat the same exercises often without training other areas of the body; these can then cause aches, pains and injuries to the joints (specifically knees and hips) and your back.
For example, wearing wrist weights while walking and pumping your arms — without also training muscles in the shoulders, triceps, biceps, back and core — might cause an imbalance.
Similarly, walking with ankle weights requires the quadriceps to work harder than the hamstrings . Doing so regularly without also training every other muscle in your legs movements can also cause muscle imbalances in the lower body.
So make sure to prioritize supplemental training to other parts of your body once you decide to start using ankle and wrist weights.
Best budget wrist and ankle weights
SPRI Wrist Weights with Thumblock
Material: Neoprene, sand | Weight: 2 lbs. each | Length of each band: About 10-11 in. | Accessories included: N/A
These SPRI wrist weights with a thumb lock are best if you’re looking for an option that stays in place. These versatile 2-pound wrist weights don’t slide around as you punch, power walk or pulse your arms. They’re one of my top picks if you’re looking for something specifically for the hands or wrists and don’t care for dual-purpose weights that also work around the ankles; these are best for walking or boxing workouts.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Specific for the wrists, may be too bulky if you're looking for a more subtle option
Ankle Weights Set by Pinc Active
Material: Neoprene, Velcro, iron sand | Weight: 0.5 lbs. each (up to 8 lbs) | Length of each band: 14 in. | Accessories included: N/A
If you have smaller wrists or ankles and have trouble finding weights that don’t loosely hang, this set from Pinc Active is a great choice. They wrap around your ankles fully without feeling loose, and they come in a range of sizes depending on how hard you’re trying to go during your next Pilates class.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some users with wider ankles say they might just barely fit
Best wrist weights for beginners
BalanceFrom GoFit Fully Adjustable Ankle Weights
Material: Nylon | Weight: 1 lbs. each | Length of each band: Not listed | Accessories included: N/A
These ankle weights have a whopping 19,000-plus reviews on Amazon and are ideal for anyone who is just getting into the workout groove. They come in an array of weight options (from 1 to 5 pounds) and are very easy to put on and take off.
One reviewer who uses these weights for mobility, strength and balance noted, "The weights fit great, are adjustable and comfortable, and the material is very soft on my ankles!"
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Velcro could rub more against skin if you have smaller ankles
Best overall wrist weights
Material: Neoprene | Weight: 0.5 lbs. each | Length of each band: Not listed | Accessories included: N/A
If you’re looking for a wrist weight to add extra burn to your shadow boxing workouts, try a set of weighted gloves from Piloxing, a boxing-Pilates-dance fusion class. They fit like a fingerless glove with a Velcro band around the wrist to keep them in place.
Each glove is only half a pound, but don’t let that deter you. If cardio boxing workouts are a part of your workout routine, these gloves will have your arms and shoulders burning after a few jab-hook-crosses.
Speaking of boxing workouts, there’s a great alternative to wrist weights that you might already have at home: your boxing wraps, boxing gloves or light hand weights. If you have any of this equipment at home, give them a try during your next shadow boxing sesh while you shop around for the best wrist weight for you.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Specific for the wrists, great for walking or boxing workouts, may not be enough resistance for intermediate practitioners
The DB Method Dreamlets
Material: Neoprene, Velcro | Weight: 2 lbs. each | Length of each band: Not listed | Accessories included: N/A
These sleek-looking 2-pound weights have comfortable thumb locks to keep them secure on your wrists during intensive strength training or cardio workouts.
The product description suggests that they can be worn as classic ankle weights — one review even says, “They feel really secure when wearing them — both on my wrists and on my ankles. I actually may use this product primarily on my ankles!”
Also, if you’re on the hunt for some new virtual fitness classes to try, check out the DB Method’s app and socials featuring workouts from Jillian Michaels and a host of other renowned trainers.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Can also be used as ankle weights, may not be snug enough for smaller wrists
Best overall ankle weights
P.volve Ankle Weights
Material: Neoprene. sand | Weight: 1.5 lbs. each | Length of each band: 11 in. | Accessories included: N/A
The P.volve workout has gained a cult following among its devotees, where ankle weights are a necessity for multiple workouts. These ankle weights are available in 1.5- and 3-pound versions, are filled with sand, and won’t leave you feeling that “bulky” feeling you might get with other ankle weights. One reviewer (who echoed many others) noted, "You end up feeling the (best) burn from them!"
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some users with smaller ankles say they could be more snug
Gaiam Restore Ankle Weights
Material: Neoprene, polyester, mesh, sand | Weight: 2.5 lbs. each | Length of each band: 9-11 in. | Accessories included: N/A
With more than 4,200 verified five-star ratings on Amazon, these picks from Gaiam are a great addition to add to any workout routine. They come in two weights (2.5 and 5 pounds) and will make for some seriously toned legs, whether you're doing proper aerobics or just dancing in your home.
Many reviewers say that these ankle weights are very comfy and the Velcro doesn't rub the skin, unlike other options they've used.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: May fit loosely on those with very small ankles
Best silicone wrist and ankle weights
Ahpagoo Wrist Weights
Material: Natural silicone, Velcro | Weight: 2 lbs. each | Length of each band: 11 in. | Accessories included: N/A
If the Bala Bangle color you've been ogling is out of stock, or if you’re looking for a more affordable option, Ahpagoo has an equally stylish alternative with impressive reviews. Customers reference the pair's strong Velcro, soft material and fun colorways. One review even reported, “Just like the Balas!”
A major perk, and something the Balas don't offer, is the adjustable 0.33-lb pieces to change the weight of each band.
These weights work great for both the wrists and ankles; and the many references to “super sticky velcro” in the Amazon reviews means you can rest assured that their durable and will hold firm during your workouts.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some users report that the straps sometimes slip
Best adjustable wrist or ankle weights
Sportneer Adjustable Ankle Weights
Material: Neoprene, sand | Weight: Max 5 lbs. each | Length of each band: 14.56 in. | Accessories included: N/A
Amazon reviewers love these ankle weights so much that they're the No. 1 bestseller in the retailer's Wrist and Ankle Weights category. It's easy to see why; for starters, they’re durable and have strong Velcro closures.
The weight can be adjusted to however heavy you’d like them to be — they have little sand bags in the pockets of the ankle weights that are removable. Fran Sales, Shop TODAY associate SEO editor, bought a pair on a whim to elevate her low-impact workouts and yoga practice. "I really dig how easy it is to adjust the weights on this, even mid-session!" she raved.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Adjusting the weights take a little getting used to
Henkelion Adjustable Ankle Weights
Material: Neoprene, cotton, Velcro | Weight: 1-2.5 lbs. each | Length of each band: 13-14.4 in. | Accessories included: Reflective strips
With a glowing 4.6-star rating from over 8,000 Amazon shoppers, these ankle weights from Henkelion come in five fun colors and three different weight variants (2, 3 and 5 total pounds). They're also made with a moisture-wicking premium neoprene-cotton blend and have removable sand bags, if you'd like to customize how easy or difficult you'd like your cardio to be.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Some users say the material, while breathable, isn't very soft
Most unique wrist weights
LaceUp 16-Ounce Wrist Weights
Material: Foam, coated metal | Weight: 12 or 16 oz. (0.75-1 lbs.) each | Length of each band: 18 in. | Accessories included: N/A
This pick is a bit different from the rest but is also one of my favorites for its versatility. These LaceUp bendable bars come in 12-ounce or 16-ounce (1-pound) sets and are bendable, so you can wrap them around your wrists and ankles, or stretch them straight to use for biceps curls, tricep dips, or specific yoga or Pilates movements.
Reviews show some creative uses of these LaceUp weights, including wrapping them on kettlebells for a couple of extra pounds, putting them on lacrosse and hockey sticks for handling drills, or wearing them while checking off chores on your to-do list or even walking the dog.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Flexible weight that bends around wrists and ankles
Most comfortable ankle weights
TheraBand Ankle Weights
Material: Neoprene, terrycloth interior | Weight: 2.5 lbs. each | Length of each band: 10.3 in. | Accessories included: N/A
While you may know the brand for their bands, look no further than TheraBand's ankle weights if you’re looking for options that are super comfy. Designed with a soft, nonabrasive terrycloth interior that won’t irritate the delicate skin around your ankles, these Amazon's Choice weights are available in sizes ranging from 1 to 2.5 pounds.
One rave review: "[I'm] having to go through physical therapy, and they're really worth the money that I paid for them. They're made very well and they're helping me with my exercises."
SOMETHING TO NOTE: May sag a bit mid-workout if you have smaller wrists
Best customer-loved wrist and ankle weights
Material: Silicone-wrapped steel | Weight: 1 lbs. each | Length of each band: 13 in. | Accessories included: Color-matched carrying case
There’s just no other ankle weights that are trendier and cooler-looking than the Bala Bangles. These babies can be worn on your wrists or ankles, come in an array of fun colors like Blush, Sage and Sea, and are only one pound each (though you can buy a set of 2 pounds each, too).
Two fun facts: Though they're not meant to be waterproof, a lot of customers do use them for water activities "without any issues," according to Bala's reps. Plus, 10% of proceeds from sales of the Blush bangles go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Pricier than many other picks, some users say stones sometimes hit ankles
Prodigen Adjustable Ankle Weights
Material: Neoprene, cotton, Velcro, iron pellets | Weight: 1 to 7.5 lbs. max each | Length of each band: 14 in. | Accessories included: N/A
With five colors and five weight options to choose from, this set from Prodigen features adjustable bags that can be inserted and removed depending on your weight preferences. Amazon reviewers particularly love them for post-rehab exercising and surgery recovery.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: The heavier weights may be too bulky for some, some users advice being gentle with the Velcro closure
Best ankle weights over 5 pounds
Lekfit Ankle Weight
Material: Neoprene, iron, sand, Velcro | Weight: 6 lbs. each | Length of each band: About 14 in. | Accessories included: N/A
Busy Phillips is a big fan of these ankle weights, especially when she’s doing her dance-inspired, high-intensity, low-impact cardio workout with Lekfit. This pair is said to be sleek and easy to strap on.
One long-time user shared, "I like the quality, even though they started losing the filling … it happened after years of use. I didn’t want to be without them. They are easy to strap on and fit me well."
SOMETHING TO NOTE: Only one color available
Cap Barbell Adjustable Ankle Weights
Material: Polyester, sand | Weight: 10 lbs. max each | Length of each band: 10.5 in. | Accessories included: N/A
Not made for the faint of heart, these ankle weights weigh a whopping 10 pounds each (that’s 20 pounds total!) and will get you sweating in no time. Removable weights are included, and they work particularly great for leg lifts and glute toning.
One intermediate user, an Amazon reviewer, said they're versatile: "I had been using leg extensions on a weight bench for years, but felt due to the last injury [to] my knees, [I now do] a wider range of motion with lighter weights. In my case, it is working well. Takes a little longer to strap on and off, but worth the effort. As a bonus, they provide enough ballast for my sit-ups, so no longer hooking my feet under barbells. For under $25, well, well worth the price."
SOMETHING TO NOTE: May be too bulky for some, not ideal for beginners
Questions about wrist and ankle weights, answered by pros
Do wrist weights actually work for building muscle and toning my arms?
A wrist weight is akin to a handheld weight — adding resistance to any kind of exercise is a great way to strengthen muscles and build muscle endurance over time.
“The muscle endurance we are building in classes, utilizing light weights, contributes to everyday movement patterns,” explains Shirazi. “Those movements include constantly lifting up your kids, putting your heavy carry-on in the overhead bin and picking up something off the ground.”
Remember that not all the wrist and ankle weights listed above have adjustable weights — so if building strength is your primary fitness goal, you'll want to choose the ones that will let you increase resistance over time.
Are ankle weights good or bad for walking?
Wearing ankle weights while walking outside or on the treadmill is a great way to increase leg strength — as long as your walking pace is moderate and smooth. Typically, I’d recommend ankle weights for older populations concerned with bone density and maintaining muscle mass, not for the average moderately healthy and fit person looking to strengthen muscles.
For the latter group, I’d recommend walking briskly for cardio (without weights), then adding strength exercises on the side (using either bodyweight or ankle weights).
Can I run with ankle weights?
No, I don’t recommend running in ankle weights because of the excess stress it puts on the joints, especially if the weights aren’t a snug, secure fit. If you’re looking to wear ankle weights during your workouts to increase the intensity, try low-impact cardio like walking, high-energy yoga or Pilates, and the elliptical.
If you’re hoping to burn more calories on a run, try adding speed intervals or hill repeats, or opt for a walk-run workout.
What weight should I start with if I’m a beginner?
If you’re new to using wrist and ankle weights, start with 1- or 2-pound weights or a set with adjustable weights; then, as you get stronger, you can add on the pounds.
Start by incorporating them into two to three workouts per week — ideally workouts that are already part of your routine. For example, if you do Pilates weekly, start by wearing the weights for half the class. If you go for a daily morning walk, wear your new ankle or wrist weights for two out of seven of those walks.
Meet our expert
Eliza Shirazi is a fitness expert and founder of Kick It By Eliza, a fitness brand founded on a type of training she describes as "a 13-round fitness method that is music-driven, sweat-inducing and kickboxing-inspired." The brand currently involves more than 400 instructors, has partnered with the likes of PopSugar and New Balance, and has been featured in major outlets like Glamour and SELF.