The ankles may seem like an obscure problem area, but if you've ever put on a pair of strappy shoes and found that the straps cut into your ankles, you know how uncomfortable and embarrassing it can be. Exercising your ankles directly will do nothing to trim them. This notion, known as spot reduction, is unfortunately a myth. There is no "best" way to trim your ankles, but a combination of exercises and diet can help you get your best ankles possible.
Work Up a Sweat
Cardiovascular exercise is the first step to trimming your ankles. Regular cardio will create a caloric deficit, which, over time, will lead to weight loss throughout your body, including your ankles. Choose exercises that work most of the major muscle groups at once, such as jogging, cycling, rowing, elliptical training, Zumba or kick boxing. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that those looking to lose weight engage in at least 150 to 250 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week.
Lift to Trim
Strength training your entire body two to three days per week can help to trim your ankles as well as the rest of your body. The American Council on Exercise notes that strength training helps build muscle, which is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest. Increasing your muscle mass can make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. Compound exercises such as deadlifts, squats, lunges, shoulder presses, chest presses and step-ups are the most effective for building muscle. Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
Target to Trim
As you know, working the ankle directly will not trim up the area, but working the muscles around the area, primarily the calves, can make the ankles appear more trim. Exercises such as the calf raise, in which you stand on one leg and slowly lift the supporting heel off the ground, will target the calf muscles. The calf raise can also be performed while holding weights and while sitting. Perform one to three sets of 10 to 15 reps with each leg. Jumping rope and squat jumps are alternative calf-targeting exercises that will also improve your cardio.
Blame Your Genes
While fat or thick ankles are generally caused by excess body fat, they may also exist simply because you have a genetic predisposition to store fat in your lower legs. Water retention can also lead to swollen-looking ankles. If you find that you're in good physical condition with a healthy amount of body fat but still have thick ankles, you're just going to have to embrace them. Other than the extreme of liposuction in the area, there's not much you can do if that's where your body chooses to store fat.
- Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images