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Kiwi Gym Mum

New Member
Apr 30, 2022
4
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Sorry if this is a silly question, but I was just wondering what everyone’s thoughts were on using ankle weights for gymnastics training and conditioning? My daughter is 8 years old (9 in a few months) and has been asking me for ankle weights for a little while now as some of the girls on her team use them at training sometimes, but the thought makes me feel a bit uncomfortable with her being so young still. I was also talking to another mum, who said her physio expressed some concern about using ankle weights on young children, which added to my discomfort. I don’t want to hold her back if they would be beneficial for her, but I also worry about damage on her little growing body. So my question is, what age did you or your gymnasts start using them (if at all) and what was your experience with them?
 

Carly

Proud Parent
Jan 3, 2016
270
The gym asked the girls to get them at one point. It might have been level 4 or 5. I can't remember. I really did not want her to use them so I held out for a while but eventually gave in. However, I cut them open and let out some sand and sewed them back up. It took dd a long time to realize that they were lighter than everyone else's.
 

gymgal

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Proud Parent
Aug 22, 2008
4,569
personal opinion after doing research many years ago - not needed for any age for gymnastics training. The larger question is what are they using them for? If it's for running, stretching, some basic floor work, they can be useful but I wouldn't use them at all before puberty. If they are using them on equipment like the beam, bars (even strap) or vault, I would question the coaches reasoning and want back up research (and not just 'these elite coaches have programs that use them')
 

Aussie_coach

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Gymnast
Club Owner / Manager
Jan 4, 2008
3,866
The standard practices that have been used for many years in gymnastics are changing as we learn more about the body and physical development.

Years ago it was standard practice to push gymnasts down in splits, every day, often until they cry.

We now know that this is not only unsafe but not an effective way to improve flexibility in the long term. But many gyms still do it (I don’t allow it in my gym).

Years ago many gyms would have gymnasts train for hours in ankle weights but more recent research is showing negative consequences. Not just got kids, but especially for teens as they are going through so many physical changes and also for adults.

You put on a pair of ankle weights yourself and do a few things, you will feel the resistance in certain parts of your legs. A lot of use will cause muscles to develop in an unbalanced way. Some parts of the leg muscles much more than others.

This can pull things out of alignment and cause a lot of injury risk in a sport like gymnastics where there is a lot of load on the muscles.

You bones are soft until they fully ossify and that does not occur until growth ends and everything is more susceptible to injury in those cases.

If they are using ankles weights, hopefully they are light and they not using them too much.
 

BusyMomof2

Member
Feb 2, 2022
50
44
My daughter used 1lb ankle weights when she was learning her kip (the entire team did). She doesn't need them any longer but it seemed very helpful. I never even considered that it wasn't a good idea...
 
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Oopski

Proud Parent
Judge
May 25, 2012
472
Texas
Our gym used ankle weights last year for giants on bars, strap and regular. Never occurred to me that they shouldn’t. I’ll have to ask my daughter if they are still using them, she hasn’t mentioned it. Girls were age 9-11ish training level 7.
 
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YEMama

New Member
Jun 20, 2022
16
The only ones I've ever seen occasionally use ankle weights at our gym has been our oldest gymnasts, only during bars rotation, all level 9/10, who are over 14 years old. With that said, not all our level 9/10s are using them. Just some of them.
 

Coach Kate

Coach
Fan
Oct 13, 2021
142
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I would look into the world Dave Tilley is doing at Shift movement science. He has really looked into this question a lot. When I was doing gymnastics, it was common to use them for bar conditioning (especially leg lifts), and kicks. Now I don't use them at all with my athletes. When I was doing contortion (only as an adult), my coach had us do all of our kicks with them, and we would also hold them or other weights during a back strengthening exercise. We could use resistance bands as well, but using the ankle weights made class go more smoothly, as we could then just take them off and use them in our hands for the next exercise. Contortion uses some rhythmic gymnastics methods that really aren't necessary or helpful in artistic.
 
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PreciousJ

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Feb 16, 2021
446
USA
DD's team (currently training Xcel Gold) just recently started using them for conditioning, but from what I see they don't use them very long or at every practice (3 days/week). The girls are 8-11 years old. This thread has certainly given me a lot to think about, though, and I'll be monitoring the situation. The girls have about 2 lbs. in each weight.
 
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Jenny

Coach
Proud Parent
Sep 17, 2012
3,435
I think there is now a train of evidence that shows using ankle weights places excessive pressure on the hip joints and can cause issues. They should never be used for dynamic work like kicks and jumps. Even leg lifts and holds seems to be discouraged now.

I would avoid them. I have read the best way to weight the body for resistance is on the torso so they are best used strapped around the waist and not on extremities.
 

rlm's mom

Proud Parent
Aug 21, 2021
265
39
I would only use 1lb or lower. Anything else just applies extra pressure to the muscles and is unnecessary.
DDs use them on bars. When casting to handstands. Also when learning releases to teach them how to flip faster. They learn to use their power to flip with ankle weights on, then when they remove them the release becomes more natural. Same with casts
 

gymisforeveryone

Coach
Judge
Nov 16, 2012
894
Using resistance in conditioning isn't bad. It's actually very beneficial, when the conditioning exercises are getting too easy without resistance. But placing the wights on the legs can be too hard on the joints, especially the hips. And running and jumping them on can easily cause ankle sprains. Ask her coach if she could wear her ankle weights around her waist. You can easily make a weight belt out of two ankle weights, without even sewing or taping or anything. This adds resistance on press handstands, rope climb, chin ups, box jumps, squats. For leg lifts, we put a weight plate (or ankle weight for littles) between their knees. They have to squeeze the weight to make it stay in place. Even a very small weight makes leg lifts more difficult this way and activates more muscles. If you want to, you can secure a wight plate to stay in place by putting a resistance loop band through the hole in the middle, and put the legs in the loops. This way it doesn't drop.
 

MuggleMom

Proud Parent
Dec 22, 2016
772
Virginia
My kid is training level 9 and never used ankle weights. Many moons ago when I did gym we just used them for some conditioning stuff (pull ups and kicks etc) but reading above it looks like there are now safer ways to do the same thing.
 
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