Use Ankle Straps When Exercising

Tamsen Butler
Attaching clip to exercise ankle strap

Ankle straps are most commonly used as attachments to pulley machines at the gym. The straps allow for resistance from the lower body while doing strength exercises and look like ankle-sized belts.

Using Ankle Straps

Placing an ankle strap on your ankle is quite simple - while some are Velcro, others feature a mechanism similar to a buckle. Each strap features a hook or loop to connect it to the end of a cable on a cable pulley machine, which provides resistance at the weight you set and allows for controlled, fluid movements.

An Accessory for Glute Work

Though ankle strap exercises can be used to help strengthen the adductors and abductors (the muscles of the inner and outer thigh) and for stretching, most of the time they are used for exercises specific to the glutes.

Cautions for Ankle Strap Exercises

As with any other type of strength work, it's important to not overload the weight. With ankle straps, there is a distinct possibility of injury if the weight is too heavy and you lose your footing as the cable yanks back. Never attach both ankles to the pulley machine when performing standing exercises - one foot should remain unstrapped for stability and movement.

Ankle Strap Exercises

Plenty of ankle strap exercises are available; if you're unfamiliar with using the pulley machine you may want to speak with a personal trainer or someone well-versed in these exercises to help you attain proper form. Stay away from gimmicky exercises put forth by people online who purport to be fitness professionals yet have no credentials to back up their claim. The number of reps and sets you do depends largely on your goals and other workouts, but three sets of 10-12 reps is an excellent start.

Cable Squats

Though there are several varieties to squats with the cable pulley machine, this side squat involves an ankle strap.

  1. Attach the ankle strap to your right ankle. Your left foot will remain unstrapped to provide balance and stability. Position yourself to where your right leg will pull away from the machine when you move laterally.
  2. Drop into a squat position.
  3. Draw your right foot out laterally as you drop lower into the squat. Weight should be evenly distributed between both feet.
  4. While maintaining your squat position, bring your right foot back in and then repeat.
  5. When the right side is complete, switch to the left.

Cable Lateral Lunges

Similar to the cable squats above, the difference with lunges is the weight is not evenly distributed between the two feet.

  1. Attach the ankle strap to your right ankle. Your left foot will remain unstrapped to provide balance and stability. Position yourself to where your right leg will pull away from the machine when you move laterally.
  2. Lean to the right and push your right leg out laterally, dropping into a lateral lunge position while pushing your hips back and keeping your chest up.
  3. Your weight should be pushed into your right leg while your left leg is extended.
  4. When you're finished with the reps on the right, switch to your left leg.

Cable Hamstring Curls

You will hold on to the cable pulley machine as you do this exercise designed to strengthen your hamstrings.

  1. Face the machine. Place the strap on your right ankle.
  2. If you need more stability, place your hands on the machine.
  3. Draw your right foot up toward your glutes by bending your knee.
  4. Control the movement the entire way up and down, not allowing momentum to take over.
  5. When your reps are complete, switch to the left ankle.

Cable Crunches

This is one of the exceptions - you will strap both your ankles for this exercise that targets the abdominal muscles.

  1. Lie supine on the ground with your feet facing the pully - attach ankle straps to each ankle.
  2. Draw your upper body up off the ground (don't strain your neck!) and pull your knees in toward your chest in a crunch.
  3. Slowly release, resisting the pull of the cable.
  4. Repeat.

Cable Hip Abductors

Though this is a small movement, it can be quite challenging.

  1. Attach the strap to your right ankle. Your left side will face the machine.
  2. Slowly raise your right leg laterally.
  3. Hold for a moment, squeezing your glutes.
  4. Resist the decline of your right leg as your slowly lower it back down to the ground.
  5. When your reps are complete, switch legs and repeat.

Exercise Effectively and Safely

Ankle straps, when combined with a cable pulley machine, can provide an effective workout that will strengthen your lower body. Look for straps featuring padding for maximum comfort and inspect the straps before use to ensure they don't snap apart during your workout. Always make your movements slow and controlled for best results.

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Use Ankle Straps When Exercising