What Do Ankle Weights Do for You When You Do Crunches?

Increase the challenge of your ab workouts with ankle weights.

Increase the challenge of your ab workouts with ankle weights.

Strapping weights around your ankles increases the amount of load on your legs. If you utilize ankle weights the right way, you can increase the intensity of abdominal exercises and get in a more effective workout session. However, for the weights to make an impact on crunches, you’ve got to take them off your ankles and instead put them in your hands.

Increasing Load

When the weights are strapped around your ankles, the amount of resistance on your legs increases, and lifting up your legs becomes more difficult. However, during the crunch, your legs remain in a stationary position with your feet on the floor. It’s your upper half that crunches and lifts up off the floor. Therefore, wearing the weights around your ankles won’t make a difference on the difficulty of the crunch.


Taking the weights off your ankles and putting them into your hands moves the increased load from your feet into your hands. When you’re in the crunch position, hold the weights over your chest with your arms fully extended. Crunch straight up toward the ceiling until your shoulder blades are up off the floor and then control yourself back down onto the mat.

Bicycle Crunch

While crunches target the largest muscle in your abdominals, even more effective is the bicycle crunch exercise, notes a 2001 study by the American Council on Exercise. The bicycle crunch was the abdominal exercise that recruited the abdominals the best. You can wear ankle weights and increase the challenge of the bicycle crunch. The exercise involves crunching and twisting to one side while simultaneously bringing the knee of the opposite leg up toward your chest, and then cycling back and forth from side-to-side. The ankle weights will make pulling your knee to your chest more difficult and increase the workload for your abdominals.


You can keep the weights on your ankles and still develop your abdominals by completing reverse crunches or hip raises. To perform a reverse crunch, lie on your back with your feet off the floor and knees bent to 90 degrees. Keep your arms down by your sides. Pick your hips up off the floor, lifting them toward the ceiling, and then control your hips back down. A hip raise is an even more challenging exercise. Instead of bending your knees, keep them extended with your legs pointed toward the ceiling. Pick your hips up off the floor while keeping your legs erect and then control your hips back down.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by LIVESTRONG.COM
Brought to you by LIVESTRONG.COM

About the Author

Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images