Are Leg Weights Safe to Use on an Exercise Bike?

Ankle weights can increase the intensity of your bike workout.
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Vigorously pedaling an exercise bike is an effective way to build the muscles in your legs and also burn hundreds of calories. If you find your exercise bike workout isn't challenging enough, you might wish to strap ankle weights to your body to increase the resistance of the workout. Although you can safely use ankle weights during several types of aerobic exercise, they aren't completely without risks.

Using Ankle Weights

Ankle weights are available in a variety of weights and are often allow you to customize their resistance. The added weight strapped to your ankles increases the challenge of your aerobic exercise, regardless of the activity. The American Council on Exercise reports ankle weights between 1 and 3 pounds can boost your heart rate by as many as five beats per minute and your oxygen capacity up to 10 percent.


Ankle weights can increase the impact of activities such as running and aerobics, which are already classified as high-impact, and could result in making them unsafe. For cycling, a low-impact sport, the risk of using ankle weights is related to your mechanics, rather than impact. In an article in the "Los Angeles Times," UC San Francisco professor Anthony Luke cautions against using ankle weights as they can negatively affect your mechanics as you make physical adjustments for the added weight. When you change your mechanics, you risk injury. Additionally, the bulky weights can get caught in the pedals of your exercise bike, leading to injury.

Workout Considerations

Instead of increasing the challenge and risk of your bike workout by strapping ankle weights to your body, give yourself a challenge by tweaking the bike’s settings. One of the perks of using an exercise bike is the ability to instantly boost the challenge of the workout. By raising the level, the pedals become more challenging to turn, which helps you build muscle and burn calories without assuming the risks of added weight.

Wrist Weights

Instead of using ankle weights during your bike workout, consider using wrist weights. The American Council on Exercise notes wrist weights provide more benefit than ankle weights; wearing 1- to 3-pound weights can elevate your heart rate up to 10 beats per minute and increase your oxygen consumption up to 15 percent, both of which are slightly higher than using ankle weights. It's common to keep your arms stationary during a cycling workout, and by wearing wrist weights and pumping your arms, you can build muscle and burn even more calories.

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