Weighted bands you strap around your ankles to increase the intensity of an exercise, ankle weights range from 3 to 20 pounds. These fitness accessories create additional resistance for your lower-body muscles to work with and are marketed as calorie-burning and muscle-toning aides for the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes. Ankle weights are also associated with injuries. Discuss with your doctor any potential harm from using them before you add the extra burden to your workouts.
You have three calf muscles: the gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris. Together they make it possible for you to push yourself off the ground. Ankle weights create extra resistance for the calves when you have them strapped on while doing activities that flex those muscles, such as jumping, cycling and walking.
In your rear thighs are your hamstrings, a group of muscles that allow for knee rotation and flexing, as well as hip extension. When you engage in any of these movements while wearing ankle weights, you increase the resistance the hamstrings have to work through to complete the move.
The quadriceps are the four muscles -- rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and vastus lateralis -- on the front of your thighs that you engage when you extend your knees. The rectus femoris also extends over your hip joints, aiding in their flexing. Because of their location in the lower body, these muscles work extra hard to move when you strap weights around your ankles.
The glutes -- your buttock muscles -- are major players in your ability to move forward, sideways and up. Any exercise that involves forward bending, straight-leg raises or staying balanced in an upright position, such as when you walk, relies on the glutes. When you add ankle weights below them, you force these large muscles to push themselves harder to complete a move.