Ankle weights and ab exercises are an excellent way to tone the lower stomach, more commonly known by many women as the "pooch". The pooch can be tough to get rid of and difficult to tone, however, it is doable if you are consistent with stomach exercises and control calories. I was in my early 30's when I first noticed a slight pooch just below the belly button and I remember thinking I can't allow this thing to get any bigger, so I have to do something right away and I did.
At the time I was using ankle weights for walking, which was a big mistake, as I found out later. I didn't know that ankle weight exercises could be hard on the joints, since there wasn't much information about them back then; this was back in the 80's. Luckily for me I was using very light weight and no damage was done. I did notice, however, that the ankle weights kept moving around and weren't as effective as I had hoped. For this reason, I began to use them more for core body work.
Core body work is where it's at when it comes to toning the stomach, whether it's lower in the pooch area or what many people refer to as upper abs. In reality, there are no upper and lower abs it's all one big muscle, however, you can target the upper or lower area of the abdominal muscle with different types of ab exercises, but it's good to know that they are connected.
When you work the other core muscles such as thighs, hips, back and butt the abs are worked as well and are hit at various angles, consequently, the abs get a more thorough workout. The more variety the better, especially when it comes to twisting, then you are more than likely going to be targeting the hard to reach oblique stomach muscles at the sides aka love handles.
Many of us have done stomach crunches of all types and they still have their place as far as I am concerned. I haven't stopped doing them, but they should be a part of the ab workout not THE ab workout. In fact, I do crunches with ankle weights they're just reverse ab crunches. Reverse ab crunches with leg weights are an excellent way to tone the lower part of the abdominal muscle and you can do them at home or in the gym. Just be sure to press the small of the back into the floor when lifting feet and legs and not allow the back to arch or you risk back injury.
Another simple ankle weight ab exercise is the bicycle. Most of us have done bicycle ab exercises since grade school, so doing them with leg weights should feel kind of natural. There are a couple of changes though to keep the back safe. Do not straighten legs completely, but keep the cycling motion short and close to the body and focus more on the twisting motion in the upper body. Once again, always press the small of the back into the floor or ground and not allow back to arch.
To change it up do some standing knee lifts. Simply lift the knees, one at a time, in a knee to chest motion with the back up against the wall. Do two sets, one set alternating left right left right to a count of thirty and then do 15 reps with one leg and 15 on the other. Maintain good posture with shoulders back and to intensify hold the knee up for 10 seconds before setting it down. You can also modify this ab exercise by sitting down in a chair and lift knees.
Leg lifts are another effective ankle weight ab exercise. It is easier on the back and lift legs one at a time unless you have a very strong back as well as strong abs. You can also crunch the upper body with arms behind the head as you lift the leg, which is my favorite way to do them. Do not lower the legs all the way down or the back will arch. Start with a lower weight and work your way up to a heavier weight. This is easy to do with adjustable ankle weights.
While you're down there, between sets, you can work the obliques with an easy twisting motion by bringing knees together, bent at a 45 degree angle, feet flat on floor, hands clasped behind head then move knees together from side to side touching the floor on each side, while the upper body remains motionless. The twisting motion is done by the lower body only.
It's a good idea to invest in a good exercise mat for ankle weight ab exercises and other body core exercises. Exercise equipment mats last for years even when you use them every day. By the way, abs respond well to being worked every day unlike many other muscles groups. If they get excessively sore, however, you may need to give them a break.
Keep in mind that you can work abs every day, but without proper diet you will not achieve optimal results. A nicely flat toned stomach isn't easy to get or keep.