For some people, working out with ankle weights is a great way to improve your vertical height and general jumping skills by adding resistance to your lower leg workout. A recent study at Texas Tech University found good evidence for added-weight training, including a 13 percent improvement in maximum vertical jump height after three weeks of added-weight training. Ankle weights aren't for everyone, though. Using added weight places more stress on your joints and may not be right for people with a history of ligament or tendon injuries. Your doctor can help you determine whether ankle weights are appropriate for your exercise program.
Ankle weights can be a great way to add to your workout by providing additional resistance to any exercise related to lower body strength, similar to how you can add weight to a bench press bar for an upper body workout. Of course the additional weight that your body carries requires your muscles to work harder at any body weight task, including jumping. Over time, the muscles you work while using ankle weights will grow stronger and your jump height will increase, as long as you strengthen the entire range of muscles that contribute to your ability to jump.
Jumping may be the first exercise that comes to mind when working on your vertical, but be sure to also do complementary lower body exercises to maximize benefits and minimize the risk of injury. Box jumps -- jumping on and off of a securely placed stepper or box -- is one way to work muscles that provide vertical explosiveness. Traditional leg exercises such as calf raises, squats and knee bends are also great for training the muscles that provide kinetic power and support for the jump. Adding ankle weight-free jump rope sessions to your workout will add to your overall lower body strength and boost your cardio. As you work out with ankle weights over time, you'll see steady boosts to your vertical jump and overall leg strength.
From weight machines to dumbbells, workout equipment is only effective and safe if used properly. Ankle weights are no exception, so attach the weights securely before use. Make sure the weight fits snugly to your ankle and that it does not bounce or shift when you jump or run. If you have trouble securing the device, refer to the manual that came with your ankle weights.
Ankle Weight Dangers
Ankle weights add to the burden that your lower body bears during a workout, which can increase the chance of knee and ankle injury. It's normal to experience lower leg soreness in your first week of ankle weight training. The potential for ligament or tendon injury is of greater concern, since your joints bear a greater brunt of the added weight until your muscles are used to exercising with the added weight. You can minimize the chance of serious injury by only adding ankle weights to exercises that your body is used to doing without weights, and doing all exercises in your regimen without added weights at least once a week.
Dan Howard is a sports and fitness aficionado who holds a master's degree in psychology. Howard's postgraduate research on the brain and learning has appeared in several academic books and peer-reviewed psychology journals.