Lying Leg Raises

Lying Leg Raise

Fitness pro, Julie Lohre, demonstrates how to do a lying leg raise for abdominal strength.

Lying Leg Raise Abdominal Exercise

Lying leg raises are one of my favorite movements to work your hip flexors and are one of the best exercises for tightening and strengthening the abs. Growing up as a gymnast, bodyweight abdominal exercises helped me develop core strength needed for advanced tumbling and bar skills in particular. As I got older, this kind of ab work gave me the six pack ab definition that helped me become a fitness model as well. If you are looking for a straight forward movement to add into your core exercise routine, this is it! I include lying leg raises weekly to keep my core tight and abs defined.

How To Do Lying Leg Raises

  • Begin the abdominal lying leg raise by lying down on your back and place your hands at your sides for support. Hands should be flat on the floor next to the hips.
  • Keep the lower back pressed firmly into the ground or mat and begin lifting the legs straight bringing the heels off the ground. Make sure your abs stay flexed throughout the movement.
  • Keeping your legs as straight as possible, use your core and hip flexors to elevate your legs and bring them up and overhead.
  • For a regular lying leg raise, you can stop when your feet are straight up, perpendicular to the floor. To make the movement more challenging, continue your lying leg raise by bringing your feet up over your head to tap the floor.
  • In a slow and controlled manner, as you inhale, begin lowering your legs slowly back to the starting position and stop just about 1 inch off of the floor. This will allow you to use the abdominal muscles to lower the feet back down toward the floor. Repeat for a desired number of reps.

Julie’s Lying Leg Raise Tips

  • Find that your back arches off the ground as you are lifting your legs? Place both of your hands under the hips to elevate them and press firmly into the ground with your lower back. This engagement should help avoid any back pain or excessive arching with the ab exercise.
  • Shoulder blades or butt-bone getting sore? Use a yoga mat, ‘ab mat’ or other cushion if you will be doing the lying leg raises on a hard surface.

What Muscles Does The Lying Leg Raise Work?

Abdominal lying leg raises are an exercise that really focuses on the anterior hip flexors. That said, throughout the entire ab exercise, the rectus abdominis muscle primarily along with the oblique muscles as accessories, fire as they work in an isometric contraction to hold the rest of your body steady.

Lying Leg Raise Ab Exercise

What Are The Benefits Of Doing Lying Leg Raises?

A strong core will benefit your body, no matter if you are primarily working to chisel abs or be better at general life movements. When you go for a run, work through heavy lifts like leg press and squats, or jump for the basketball, the hip flexors engage and help you though the movement. By adding in ab exercise like lying leg raises, you stabilize your core, adding strength overall, and decrease the likelihood that you will suffer from lower back pain.

How Often Should You Train Abs?

While it might seem reasonable to work core exercises everyday if you want amazing abs, that is not necessary. Your ab muscles function like any other muscle in your body and it is important that you balance your exercise. If you overwork the abs, you will limit growth and leave yourself vulnerable for overtraining.

Instead, I recommend adding ab exercises like the lying leg raise into a well rounded strength training regiment two to three times per week with a variety of core exercises. Like other muscle groups, you want to vary the intensity and specific movements that you do for your ab work.

Lying Leg Raise Variations

If you are ready to take lying leg raises to a new level, give some of my favorite variations a try: Bench Press with Lying Leg Raise, Ab Curl Ins, or Hanging Leg Lifts.