You can choose from many movements to get in better shape. Discover how to do raised leg circles and what benefits they offer.
Raised leg circles are an exercise where you lie down on your back, raise your legs off the ground, and make circles with your feet in the air.
If you do them right, raised leg circles mainly work your abs and hip flexor muscles.
Besides that, raised leg circles also engage your obliques, inner thigh, and outer thigh muscles to some extent.
That being said, because you work your abs in an isometric (static) way and your hip flexors in a small range of motion, this is typically not the most effective exercise.
Additionally, making sure you actually work your abs requires some extra attention to exercise technique.
So unless more dynamic core exercises are not an option and/or you implement the right technique, raised leg circle alternatives are likely better.
How to do raised leg circles
To make this exercise more comfortable it can be helpful to get a yoga mat or find another soft surface.
That aside, take the following steps to do raised leg circles that work your abs:
- Lie down on your back with your body in a straight line and your legs together. You can hold your arms next to you for balance.
- Push your lower back against the ground and if needed, raise your legs slightly more so you have enough room for the next step.
- Make circles in the air with your feet. Bigger circles are generally more challenging.
- Repeat the same number of circles in the other direction.
While the risk is not that big, you typically want to do the same number of raised leg circles in each direction to avoid muscle imbalances.
Besides that, the main thing to highlight is that you want to push your lower back against the ground to work your abs.
If you only move your legs, raised leg circles become more of a hip flexor exercise.
This is not necessarily bad but many people are interested in this as a core exercise.
Raised leg circles muscles worked
If you really push your lower back against the ground, raised leg circles mainly work your abs and hip flexors.
If not, this becomes mainly a hip flexor exercise.
Besides that, you can also say raised leg circles work your obliques, inner thigh muscles, and outer muscles to some extent.
You should not expect too many results in these other muscles.
Even for the main muscles, your abs and hip flexors, raised leg circles are not the most effective exercise due to the small range of motions.
One way to make raised leg circles somewhat more effective is by putting more pressure on your muscles.
You can do this to a tiny extent by making the circles bigger and doing them faster.
However, your most effective options will be wearing a pair of ankle weights or clamp weights like a medicine ball or dumbbell between your legs.
Free weights are less ideal because you can potentially drop them on yourself.
Raised leg circle benefits
Raised leg circles may not be the most effective exercise but they can still offer helpful benefits. A few examples include:
- Stronger muscles: Doing enough raised leg circles with enough weight can help you grow, strengthen, and improve endurance in your abs and hip flexors.
- Balance & coordination: Raised leg circles require some amount of balance and coordination. In turn, this could benefit your skills in these areas.
- No equipment or location required: While a yoga mat is helpful, you could theoretically do raised leg circles without investing in exercise equipment and while staying at home.
- May reduce or prevent back pain: Making your ab muscles stronger with raised leg circles can help reduce and prevent back pain (1, 2).
- Could be more comfortable: More dynamic core exercises tend to be more effective but the more static aspect of raised leg circles could be more comfortable for your spine.
Raised leg circles are not the only exercise that offers these benefits but they can be a good choice if you like the movement and its results.
Raised leg circle alternatives
By now, you may want to know about some of these more effective or just different alternatives to raised leg circles. A few examples are:
- Reverse crunches
- Standing knee raises
- Hanging sideways knee raises
- Regular crunches
- Ab wheel V-rolls
- Plank variations
- Flutter kicks
What muscles you want to work and what your body is comfortable with will influence what raised leg circle alternatives are the best for you.
Are raised leg circles a good exercise?
With good technique, raised leg circles can be a decent exercise for working your abs and hip flexors.
That being said, core training beginners may find it challenging to do raised leg circles in a way that engages their abs.
Even if you manage to do this, raised leg circles still engage your abs in an isometric (static) way and your hip flexors in a small range of motion.
In turn, more dynamic exercises tend to be more effective than raised leg circles.
At the same time, it is worth mentioning that raised leg circles can still offer some results if you do them enough times and with enough weight.
If you really like raised circles more than alternatives in terms of comfort and fun, you could still do them more often.
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What is a raised leg circle?
A raised leg circle is an exercise where you lie down on your back, raise your legs slightly, and move your feet in circles.