This $20 Amazon buy made my ab workouts more intense

a photo of a flat lay of gym kit including some ankle weights
(Image credit: Getty/FreshSplash)

Forget your Peloton, and keep your slightly bizarre workout mirrors — I’ve hacked the home workout game, and it only cost less than $30. "How?" I hear you cry. Well, reader, after two years of home workouts, I finally invested in a pair of ankle weights, and it’s seriously intensified my ab workouts. 

I’ll caveat this article by saying, like many others, I spent a small fortune on dumbbells, a workout step, a Pilates ball, and some resistance bands during the pandemic. Luckily, these days the best adjustable dumbbells and the best resistance bands have returned to their pre-pandemic prices, but if you don’t have the space or the budget for much equipment, shopping for the best ankle weights is a good option. 

While there are definitely nicer-looking options on the market, I opted for a 6-lb pair of Sportneer ankle weights that weighed 3 pounds each. Since then, we’ve written a best ankle weights guide on Tom’s Guide, and I wish now I’d spent a little more time researching and gone for ankle weights with adjustable weight options, which would have allowed me to increase the weight for lower body workouts, while keeping it lighter when working on my core. 

It's also worth noting if you're a complete beginner, it's best off starting with a lighter weight and working up, especially if you're not used to the exercise. It's important to get your form right without adding weight, and if you're in any doubt, it's a good idea to get a personal trainer to watch your form first. 

Sportneer ankle weights: $15-$23 @Amazon

Sportneer ankle weights: $15-$23 @Amazon
The Sportneer ankle weights come in a number of different weight options, from 1lb to 5lb, and in three different colors — black, pink, and purple. The weights have a velcro strap that allows you to secure them tightly around the ankles during workouts, and they come in pairs, so you’ll only need to buy one set. 

I added ankle weights to my home workouts — and I was surprised with the results 

My workout routine is pretty basic — I run around 20 miles a week, I strength train, and I do Pilates. I’m not one for lifting weights in the gym; instead, I’d rather come up with weird and wonderful fitness challenges and write about them for work. (Read what happened when I did 100 dead bugs a day for a week, or 30 sit-ups a day for 30 days.) I wasn’t expecting to find ankle weights useful and felt a bit like I was in a '80s Jane Fonda workout video when I first velcroed them up. 

Instead of looking for specific ankle weight workouts, I simply added the weights to my normal strength sessions and Pilates workouts. I know that running or walking wearing ankle weights isn’t a good idea, as it can put a strain on your knee and ankle joints and lower leg muscles, so I opted to leave them at home during my usual runs and dog walks. What I found, however, was that the weights really increased the intensity of my workouts, especially my Pilates sessions. 

Of course, it’s not rocket science — adding weights equals adding resistance, which means your muscles are working harder. Yet, I didn’t expect what I considered to be a relatively light weight to really make such a difference. My core ached after Pilates sessions with the weights on, and I found my legs got more of a workout, too. 

Maybe it was the novelty of wearing the weights, but I like to think the extra weight forced me to think more about my form — the exercises were harder, so I had to make sure I was keeping my lower back pressed into the floor during toe taps and dead bugs

A month later, my ankle weights are now a part of my home workout routines and even if I do end up returning to the gym now that Covid-19 restrictions have eased, I’m pretty sure I’ll rock them there, too. If it was good enough for Fonda…right? 

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.