If you’re looking to tone and tighten your lower body, I’ve got a simple solution for you. See, there’s a reason nearly every Brazilian booty blasting workout features some type of added stress around the ankles to work the hips, thighs, and glutes. Why? Because it works!
If you’re looking to get tighter, toned legs and a Brazilian-style backside, then ankle strap exercises are one of the best ways to do just that. Utilizing a wide variety of planes, you can add strength, size, and tightness to your legs and ass by using ankle straps and a cable pulley machine.
While there’s a bit more to it than simply strapping up and swinging your legs around, everyone can have better looking legs by incorporating ankle strap exercises into their weekly routine. So, let’s dive in.
What Are Ankle Straps?
Like the name suggests, ankle straps are a simple gym accessory that wraps around your ankle. The straps tighten around each ankle individually and comes with a hook on the side or back.
You can then hook the straps into a machine, like a cable pulley. This allows users to work their legs and abs in different ways and planes, as cable pulleys allow you to move freely. Due to the unique nature of ankle straps, many female gym goers prefer to train their legs with them.
What is Toning and Why It Matters?
We use the word a lot here and all we’re referring to is a well-developed muscle that is lean enough that you can see it’s true shape. Toning also usually refers to an exercise done for higher reps so that you have a chance to form a good mind muscle connection.
People often use the word with regard to the glute muscles because, well, we humans are kind of obsessed with them -- and the obsession isn’t necessarily something unique to this day and age.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the famous Greek statues depicting a naked person and you’ll find that damn near every one of them has a powerful looking butt!
It’s no wonder that we recognize the glutes as important muscles because they’re development is actually something that separates us from other primates.
Why is that?
Our glutes keep is upright when we are standing, meaning they have to be working constantly to keep our upper bodies from falling forward -- something that our knuckle-dragging primate brothers and sisters do not need. Even the great apes, our closest ancestors, spend most of their time on all fours.
Simply put, our proportionally large glutes are part of what separates us humans from the perspective of how we interact with gravity and our surrounding environment.
Someone with weak glutes is rarely going to excel in any athletic endeavor.
What You Can Learn From Instagram Fit Chicks
I know I just said that our obsession with asses isn’t new but in the strange case of Instagram, it’s worth mentioning.
Never in history have females in particular paid so much attention to training their butts.
Personally, I have no problem with it as lots of them look great. (Taking a hundred pictures of your ass every day and selling fit tea to the unscrupulous is another matter entirely but we won’t get into that.)
Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot you can learn from Instagram fit chicks and how they train.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed.
To hell with overtraining
The nonsense about overtraining has mostly subsided but most people still don’t know what it means to train like a deranged person. That’s a shame because it can be super effective. Case in point: Instagram fitness models.
These girls train their glutes like it is their job (oh wait, it is). I’m talking twice per week of dedicated glute training days MINIMUM. More often you’ll find that they train glutes 3 times per week, and that’s just lower body specific days.
They also do all sorts of accessory work on glute specific days and on off days.
This is where bands and ankle straps come in handy here.
I know of one particular bikini competitor that does 12 sets of band and cable sets to warm up her glutes and hamstrings before she does compound exercises and another half dozen sets when she’s done!
Here’s another example of why overtraining is usually crap and you should train more:
A three-time Ms. Universe winner once said that every single night she would put on ankle weights and do a couple hundred straight-leg kickbacks. This was on top of all of her other glute work during the week. She had amazing glutes.
How do you apply this knowledge?
If you’re looking to develop a muscle group, not just glutes but any particular muscle group, here’s how you do it:
Train the living daylights out of it.
Studies keep showing over and over again that volume is the main driver for hypertrophy. I even read a study where up to 40 sets per week increased muscle fiber cross-sections… 40 sets per week is a ton!
For the females out there looking to grow some strong, healthy, head-turning glutes: Train them multiple times per week.
Then get some bands and ankle straps and train them some more!
Now that I’ve convinced you that adding some muscle to your glutes is a good idea and you need to train them often to do so...
We can get into the actual article about ankle strap exercises that will help you achieve goddess-like glutes.
11 Ankle Strap Exercises to Trim, Tone, and Tighten
Enough with the ankle strap introduction, let’s get down to business and discuss how you can trim, tone, and tighten your lower body and core. Here are the 11 best ankle strap exercises we’ve found at Gunsmith Fitness:
Cable Lateral Lunges
Lateral lunges are an incredible way to train your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Add in a cable and you have an exercise that kicks ass in more ways than one.
Because you start the movement with lateral abduction against resistance your glutes are firing right off the bat- this is really important as a lot of people have trouble actively contracting their glutes and other body parts end up taking over. NOT GOOD. Cable lateral lunges can help fix that problem.
- Start by attaching an ankle strap to your left leg and hooking up the cable pulley on the lowest possible height.
- Once hooked in stand with your right shoulder (opposite the leg you have the ankle strap on) facing the cable machine.
- Make a large side step with your left leg. Your knee should bend into a flexed, lunge position.
- Hold this for one second.
- Repeat for 25 repetitions on each leg.
Cable kickbacks are one of the best ways to directly train your booty and speaking of weak glutes that don’t fire -- this is one of the best ways get your mind inside of your glutes because it’s the only muscle that should be contracting HARD when you do this exercise.
- Start by attaching a strap to your ankles and keeping the cable pulley on a low setting.
- Face the machine and hold it. Use your arms to help you balance.
- Extended the weighted leg backwards as far as you can.
- Hold for one second at the top before slowly lowering the leg back to the starting position.
- Complete 15 repetitions on each leg.
Remember, a lot of these exercises are not about lifting progressively heavier -- they are about isolating a particular muscle.
The goal of doing 30 cable kickbacks is to be laser-focused on your glutes, squeezing each rep as hard as you can. You should start to feel a burn by rep 20 and by rep 30 it should be downright painful. There’s no substitute for hard work!
Cable Hip Abductors
One of the best ways to give your hips and butt that perfect shape is through abduction exercises. The best one? Cable hip abductors. These are another really great isolation exercise that helps you get in touch with your muscles by directing your brain to contract just one of them at a time.
- Start by keeping the pulley machine on the lowest setting and attaching the strap to your ankle.
- Your shoulder should face the machine while the outside leg is weighted.
- Raise the outside, weighted leg to the side while keeping the other leg on the ground.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top for two seconds. Then slowly bring the leg back down.
- Do 15 repetitions on each leg.
Cable Hamstring Curls
There are better ways to progressively overload the hamstrings than with cables but, again, not a lot of people know how to contract just their hamstrings. Cable hamstring curls are perfect for the mind-muscle connection in the hamstrings so that you can get a good pump. These will help you build well-developed and toned hamstrings.
- As always, keep the machine on the lowest setting and strap one ankle in.
- Hold onto the machine while facing towards it.
- While balancing on one leg, pull the weighted leg upwards. You’re trying to have your heel touch your buttocks.
- Hold at the top for one second before slowly releasing.
- Complete 20 reps on each leg.
Cable Forward Leg Extensions
Cable forward leg extensions are a tough exercise, but the balance required ensures you’ll get a great toning workout.
- With the cable pulley on the low setting, attach the strap to one leg.
- Face away from the pulley machine. Lift the weighted leg slightly off the ground and make a 90-degree angle.
- Then slowly extend the leg until it is perfectly straight. You should feel pressure in your quads and hip flexors.
- Slowly let the straight leg release down to the 90-degree angle starting position.
- While staying on balance, try to get 10 reps. Then switch legs.
Weighted Leg Raises
Ankle strap exercises aren’t just for legs. You can train your core, too. Weight legs raises may be the best way.
- Grab a flat bench. Attach the cable to both your ankles at one time and keep them together.
- Lie on the bench with your weighted ankles toward the pulley machine.
- Grab the bench or another machine nearby for balance.
- Slowly lift both weight ankles straight into the air. Once your body makes a “L” shape, you can slowly lower the legs back down.
- This should be incredibly difficult on the abdominals.
- Do 20 reps.
Another great ankle strap exercise for abs are weighted crunches. Tight and toned abs made easy!
- Attach the cable to both ankles at the same time and keep your feet together. The pulley will be in the lowest position.
- Lie flat on the floor. While your back is on the floor, slide your fingers under your head and lift your legs on the ground. You are now in standard crunch position.
- Begin doing crunches, but over-exaggerate the leg movement. By stretching the leg movement out, the weight of the cable pulley makes the exercise 10X more difficult.
- Repeat for 25 reps.
You already know how important lunges can be to developing the booty. Cable lunges are even better!
- These cable lunges will essentially be backward lunges.
- Attach the ankle strap to one leg and keep the pulley on the lowest setting.
- Face away from the machine and walk until the pressure from the pulley is significant.
- Pull the weighted knee to the chest while your hands stay on your hips. Balance.
- Then slowly drop back into a backwards lunge.
- At the bottom hold for one second in the lunge position, then swiftly come up into the knee to chest position.
- That’s one rep.
- Repeat for 15 on each leg.
Inner Thigh Contractions
The opposite of hip abductors, inner thigh contractions work the inside of your leg through a unique plane.
- Stand in front of the pulley machine with your shoulder facing it. Attach the leg closest to the machine with an ankle strap.
- Lift the leg of the ground slightly and pull it to the side, away from the pulley machine,
- Once you can no longer raise the leg any higher, hold for one second and then slowly bring it down to the starting position.
- Repeat for 20 reps on each leg.
Get Tight and Toned Today!
There it is. The best ankle strap exercises on the planet! If you’re looking to get toned, tight, and trim while building a beautiful booty, then these lifts will help you do it. But don’t expect any ole’ gym to have perfect ankle straps for you…
Instead, grab a pair of Gunsmith Fitness Ankle Straps. Our wide-padded ankle straps were designed to fit any and every pulley machine you can find. The added padding ensures a comfortable workout, while the elongated adjustable velcro makes every ankle strap exercise a possibility.