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4 Exercises to Build Unbreakable Ankles

4 Exercises to Build Unbreakable Ankles

Written by
July 7, 2015
Updated September 10, 2018

Onnit Mobility BandAnkle strength and mobility are often neglected. And that’s terrible because these small joints carry the entire weight of your body every day.

Most people don’t spend dedicated time training and strengthening the ankles, and as a result, they may run into issues of stiffness, weakness, and chronic sprains.

Here are some of my favorite exercises that will challenge your ankles in new and unconventional ways to make them strong, flexible, and unbreakable. Watch the video below to see how to do all the following exercises.

4 Exercises to Give You Unbreakable Ankles


These 4 exercises are probably a bit different from what you’ve spent a lot of time on in the past, but it’s well worth the effort to keep your ankles healthy and functional. Work on them one at a time to get some reps and practice in, then chain them together for an efficient and effective ankle workout.

1. Sissy Squat

Here you’ll use the squat to really target your ankles by coming up on the balls of your feet as you squat all the way down and stand back up. Use a handhold support if needed and go slow and steady in the beginning. Add speed and intensity as you improve and get stronger.

2. Duck Walk

This may be something you’ve done in elementary school P.E. But aside from that and in martial arts classes, I haven’t seen this widely used, which is a shame because it’s a great exercise that provides good resistance through your ankles’ full range of motion in the forward/back plane.

Since this requires good knee flexibility as well, start this just one stride at a time at first and use support as needed. A rolling chair or stool is great for that!

The key to doing this exercise properly is to keep your head at the same height the entire time.

3. Squat on the Sides of Your Feet

This squat variation takes the ankle through a different angle and range of motion than you generally engage in. Lifting the inner part of your feet, you’ll come on to the outsides of your feet, then squat down and stand back up.

The most common ankle sprain is rolling over the outside of your foot. Condition yourself to be stronger and more flexible in this position and you can save yourself some grief.

4. Walking on the Balls of Your Feet

This is a good challenge for the arch of your foot as well as the shortened range of the calf muscles. Come up on to the balls of your feet, lifting your heels off the ground, then simply walk forward and backward, keeping the rest of your body tall.

Walking like this is a great combination of active ankle balance and strength and pays good dividends the more you do it!

Learn to Flow and Bulletproof Your Ankles

Learn to Flow and Bulletproof Your Ankles

Once you get the hang of each of these exercises by themselves, you can combine them into a flow, moving smoothly from one exercise to the next. This continuous change of angles and stresses along the joint will help make your ankles more resilient and better conditioned for negative stresses down the line.

The flow sequence I show in the video is just one example. Play around with different sequencing, changing the speed and position as you see fit and as you feel your body can handle.

Be Unbreakable

If you want your body to be unbreakable (or as close to it as possible), you can’t neglect the joints that take the most force on a daily basis – your ankles. The stronger your ankles are, the more force they’ll be able to handle, and the more you’ll be able to do with your body.

Ryan Hurst is the Program Director for GMB Fitness, with over 20 years of experience in strength and movement coaching. He holds black belts in Kendo, Judo, and Shorinji Kempo, and he practiced for 10 years as a competitive gymnast. These days, Ryan spends most of his time playing with his kids and helping others move better.
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