It is easy to add variety to your core workouts with all the exercises out there. Find out how to do leg raises and what their benefits are.
Lying leg raises are an exercise where you lie down on your back and raise your legs.
To mainly work your hip flexors, you would keep your hips in the exact same position. If you want to grow your abs, you want the movements to come from your hips.
This article will mostly look at lying leg raises as an ab exercise since this is the most popular purpose.
Lying leg raises are a challenging ab exercise that can be helpful for advanced lifters who want to create a lot of resistance without that much equipment.
Ab workout beginners likely want to start with one of the easier alternatives to work their lower abs.
One potential downside is that it is easy to do lying leg raises in a way that targets your hip flexors. To get used to the different feeling, an exercise like reverse crunches can be a good place to start.
How to do lying leg raises
A yoga mat or another soft surface can make lying leg raises more comfortable. That aside, take the following steps to do the ab-focused version of lying leg raises:
- Lie down on your back with your legs together and stretched. You can put your arms next to you for balance.
- Slowly turn your hips and move them toward your chest as far as comfortable. In theory, your legs should not move in relation to your hips.
- Lower your legs back to the ground in a controlled motion.
Your ab muscles are responsible for tilting your hips and moving these toward your chest.
If you want to work these muscles, you mainly want to implement these movements.
People who don’t feel their abs fatiguing are likely implementing a suboptimal technique
Muscles worked with lying leg raises
The main muscles worked with lying leg raises are your abs (more specifically the lower part) and hip flexors.
By now it should be clear that which of these you work the most depends a lot on your lying leg raise technique.
It is worth mentioning that you still want to be able to do resistance training exercises for enough repetitions to see optimal training results.
Since lying leg raises are relatively challenging, they are not for everyone.
If you want to grow your abs and are not able to complete at least 6 repetitions for 3 to 6 sets, you should likely start with one of the easier leg raise alternatives.
On the flip side, people who want to train muscle power or strength or are more advanced could consider one of the weighted lying leg raises.
Lying leg raise benefits
If you are strong enough to do lying leg raises in nice amounts of repetitions and sets, they can offer nice benefits. Some of these include:
- Stronger muscles: Lying leg raises make it easy to work your ab muscles. In turn, this can lead to growth and strength progress.
- You can do them basically anywhere: All you need to do lying leg raises is your body and some space to lie down. This means you can easily do lying leg raises at home or when traveling.
- Offer a lot of resistance without equipment: Lying leg raises are very challenging even without fitness equipment. This can be great for stronger individuals who need a lot of resistance to see their desired results.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Lying leg raises can strengthen your abs which can in turn reduce back pain and prevent it (1, 2). People who have issues in this area may want to talk to an expert before doing the exercise.
- Better balance and coordination: Lying leg raises are not that challenging in terms of balance and coordination but enough to say that you could potentially see improvements in these skills from doing the exercise.
These benefits make lying leg raises a great option when it comes to ab exercises at home for more advanced individuals.
Lying leg raise alternatives
At the same time, it is also true that many people will need to start with easier movements to prepare their lower ab muscles.
Additionally, you may prefer the different muscle focus of some of the lying leg raise alternatives below.
- Reverse crunches
- Bicycle crunches
- Hanging knee raises
- Plank exercises
What your training goals and strength level are will influence what leg raise alternatives are the best choices for you.
Are lying leg raises a good exercise?
Lying leg raises can be a good exercise for advanced lifters who want to grow and strengthen their abs, more specifically the lower parts, without a lot of equipment.
One potential downside is that it is easy to do lying leg raises in a way that targets your hip flexors.
You may need some practice and really focus on only moving your hips to avoid this.
Additionally, ab training beginners and intermediates likely want to stick to easier exercises. Lying leg raises are often too challenging to do in optimal repetition ranges.
What are lying leg raises good for?
Lying leg raises are good for working your abs and/or hip flexors relatively hard without equipment.
How many leg raises should I do?
For something like muscle growth, you would do 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and even up to 50) leg raises with a challenging amount of resistance.