A Powerful Exercise for the Lower Abs

Lying leg raises, also called lying leg lifts, lying lateral leg raise, or straight leg raises, are a core-strengthening exercise that isolates the abdominal muscles. It is an easy bodyweight exercise that strengthens and challenges the entire abdominal muscles, especially the lower abs.

This exercise is basically a variation of the abdominal crunch that can help you develop massive core strength while also targeting a few of the lower body muscles. When done using the correct form and technique, lying lateral leg lifts target the rectus abdominis, lower back, hamstrings as well as hip flexor muscles.


How to Perform Lying Leg Raises Correctly?

Always do lying leg raises on an exercise mat. (Image via Pexels/Mikhail Nilov)

The flat straight leg raises help keep the lower abs under constant tension throughout the exercise, which, in turn, builds massive core strength and stability. Here’s how you can perform this powerful ab-building exercise:

Step 1: Begin by lying on the floor on your back. Keep your spine straight, your head neutral, and position your legs straight in the front. Tuck your hands underneath your lower back for stability and support.

Step 2: Now, with your legs straight and back pressed on the floor, lift your legs towards the ceiling as far as you can go while engaging your abs.

Step 3: Once your legs are up and your abs are fully contracted, lower your legs back to the floor and get into the initial position.

Aim to do the exercise at least 15 times for three sets and rest for a few seconds in between each set to relax and ease your muscles.


Common Variations to Try

When the standard lying leg raises feel easy, add a few variations to make the movement more challenging and productive. Try to perform the following variations to level up your core training:

Single-leg raises

Single-leg raises are an excellent beginner-level movement that’s performed using one leg at a time. You can either do this exercise using one leg for the desired number of reps or by alternating between both your legs. The remaining movements are the same as the standard lying leg lifts.


Weighted leg lifts

This is quite a challenging variation of the lying leg raise as it involves using free weights such as a dumbbell, kettlebell, or ankle weight. You can either hold the weight in your hands or place the weight in between your feet. The remaining movements remain the same. To make the exercise even more challenging, try holding a medicine ball between your feet.

When performing these variations, do not allow your legs to touch the floor. Instead, lift them as soon as they get near the floor at the end of the move.

You can use weights to make lying leg raises more challenging. (Image via Pexels/Pixabay)

Important Tips to Keep In Mind

While the lying lateral leg raise is an easy exercise, performing it incorrectly can put a strain on your lower back and even cause pain and injury. So, to avoid these, it is important to keep a check on your form and posture and also remember the following tips:

Take deep breaths

When doing this exercise, make sure you breathe deeply and hold the contraction for a few breaths to boost your muscle-mind connection.


Always keep your hands under your hips

Avoid placing your hands behind your head. This can cause strain in your neck and lead to pain. Instead, place your hands behind your hips and firmly push them while lifting your legs for extra support.


Do not lift your shoulders

When lifting your legs, avoid moving your shoulders and head. Always keep your torso pressed against the floor and move only through your lower body.


Lying Leg Raises Benefits

The lying leg lift is an excellent strength training movement to target the abdominal muscles, particularly the lower abs. This exercise not only works on the midsection, but it also strengthens some of the major lower body muscles, including the hamstrings and hip flexors, while also helping you build stronger and more defined abs.

Lying leg raises builds stronger abs. (Image via Freepik)

Practicing lying leg raises regularly will also improve your flexibility and stability, as well as your body balance. In addition to improving flexibility and stability, this exercise will ease lower back pain and stabilize the entire core muscles.

The best part about the lying lateral leg raise is that it’s a versatile exercise that can be easily practiced at home or in the gym. You can add it to your full-body strength training session or perform it as a part of your core-strengthening workout.

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