What are leg raises?

If you are aiming at building six-pack abs or strengthening your core, chances are that you would have heard of leg raises. 

Leg raise exercise, also known as leg lifts, lying leg raises or straight leg raises, is a simple yet effective bodyweight exercise to challenge and strengthen your abdominal muscles, especially the lower abs. 

If you follow the correct form, leg lifts target these muscles:

  • Rectus abdominis
  • Hip flexor muscles
  • Lower back muscles
  • Hamstrings

How are leg raises done with the correct form?

Merely doing the leg lifts exercise is not sufficient. You need to do this exercise correctly to gain its benefits.

Here is a step-by-step variation of the leg up exercise:

  1. Lie on your back comfortably keeping your legs straight.
  2. Your arms should be by your sides. Keep your palms facing down.
  3. Engage your core and lift your legs a few inches off the ground. Remember to keep your legs straight.
  4. Keep your chin tucked inwards throughout the exercise. 
  5. Raise your legs until your knees are directly over your hips and make a 90-degree angle with your torso.
  6. Hold this position for 4-5 seconds.
  7. Keep your core engaged and bring your legs down slowly.

Sets and reps of leg up exercise: If you are a beginner, you can start this exercise with 2-3 sets of 10-12 reps. Gradually build up your practice. 

Which are some variations of leg raises?

There are several variations of the leg raises workout that make it harder or easier. Here are some of the most effective leg raises variations to include in your workout regime:

  1. Single leg raises: As the name suggests, single leg lifts are done using a single at a time. This is a great variation for beginners or those who have problems raising both their legs at the same time. You can either do this as alternating leg raises or by finishing all the reps on one side.
  1. Weighted leg raises: This is a challenging leg raises variation and includes the use of weights such as a sandbell or a dumbbell. Since in this exercise you need to raise your legs, remember to use lighter weights.
  1. Hanging leg raises: This is a challenging variation of the leg raises exercise that requires you to hang from a gymnastic ring or a pull-up bar and simultaneously raise your legs till they are parallel to the ground. 
  1. Medicine ball leg raises: This is a challenging variation of the leg lifts exercise and involves holding a medicine ball between your feet. The remaining movements remain the same as the traditional leg raises.
  1. Standing leg raises: This leg raiser, as the name suggests, is done while standing. To do this exercise, stand with your hands resting on your sides or out in front. Lift your left leg off the floor while flexing your foot. Exhale and bring the foot leg down. Do alternating leg raises with the right leg.
  1. Side leg raises: In this workout leg raises are done while lying sideways on the floor. Keep your body in a straight line and stack your legs on top of each other. Your arms can be placed under your head. Or, you can bend your elbow to hold your head for support. Gently raise your right leg off the other leg till you feel a flex in your lower back. Lower the leg back down to stack it again on the left leg. Repeat on the other side. 

What are the benefits of leg raises?

Though leg raisers are a simple exercise, they have tremendous benefits for your overall health and fitness. 

Here is a roundup of some of the most important leg raises benefits:

  1. Leg raises work by isolating your rectus abdominis, making this one of the best exercises to tone your abdomen. 
  1. By helping you lose abdominal fat, this works as a great weight loss exercise. In the long run, it not gives your body an aesthetic shape but also saves you from obesity-related health problems.
  1. By building strong hip flexors and strong abs, the leg lifts workout improves your posture. This exercise is especially beneficial for people who lead sedentary lives and helps reduce lower back pain and stiffness.
  1. By strengthening your lower body, the leg raises workouts improve your workout and functional efficiency. 

  1. Leg raises help you stay centred and improve your balance and stability. This leg raises benefit becomes even more important not only as you age but also if you are a runner, gymnast, or tennis player. 
  1. Leg raises tone your thighs by activating your adductors and abductors. This improves your functionality and lets you do other workouts easily.
  1. This exercise doesn’t require any equipment and can be practically done anywhere. This makes it easier to include it in your regime of workout at home. 
  1. Leg lifts workout has several variations that not just make it progressive but even easier. This makes leg raises for beginners especially doable. 

How to do leg raises safely while avoiding injuries?

Though it seems like a simple exercise, leg raises require you to focus on the proper form. This is essential not just to get the benefits of this exercise but also to avoid muscle strain and injuries. 

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Never start doing this exercise on your own. It is important to learn the correct technique from an experienced trainer, especially in leg raises for beginners.
  • In your workout leg raises must not be included if you are pregnant or have a history of pain or injuries.
  • Stop exercising immediately if you feel any pain or dizziness.¬†
  • Before starting any form of exercise, it is advisable to get a complete physical check-up done to rule out any health risks.


Leg raises are a great exercise that can be done by anyone to work on their core. The key is to rotate between different variations. This creates progress over time, reduces the risk of injury, and keeps you engaged. 

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