If you’re looking for a new killer exercise for your abs, try leg lifts.
What Are Leg Lifts?
Don’t let the name fool you. This exercise is all about your core.
Lifting your legs off the ground from a supine position targets the lower abs and gives you another tool to achieve that six-pack.
How to Do Leg Lifts
- Lie on your back with your legs straight, neck raised (or relaxed on the floor) and arms out to the sides (or under your butt for back support).
- Engage your core and press your back into the floor. Keeping your legs straight and together, slowly raise them until your legs are perpendicular to the ground.
- Pause, then lower your legs back to the floor, keeping them straight and your core engaged.
Variations On Leg Lifts
Perform leg lifts with a medicine ball or Swiss ball between your feet.
In addition to adding some extra weight, this presents the challenge of squeezing the ball with your leg muscles ensuring you don’t drop it.
Side-lying leg raises or side leg lifts give you a great hip workout.
You can also change the exercise’s difficulty.
How to make leg lifts easier
Lift and lower one leg at a time, or bend your knees as you raise your legs.
In this variation, you’ll end up with your lower legs parallel to the ground and your knees over your hips.
You can also place your arms out straight at your sides on the floor (so your body forms a “T” shape) for more support.
How to make leg lifts harder
Perform the leg lifts in a captain’s chair (what some call a leg lift machine) or while hanging from a bar, lifting your legs until they are parallel to the ground.
“The hanging aspect of the leg lifts adds grip strength, thus increasing the difficulty of the move,” explains Alexa Cohen, personal trainer at Crunch Union Square in New York City.
What Do Leg Lifts Do?
“Leg lifts build a strong core and hip flexors, while simultaneously increasing balance and stability.” Cohen explains.
The exercise targets the rectus abdominis—the “six-pack muscle”—and also works the hip flexors and obliques. “The abdominal muscles are used isometrically to stabilize the body during the motion,” Cohen says.
But it’s not just leg lifts for abs.
Your core is also your back. Since leg lifts increase core strength, Cohen adds, they also increase support for your back, which may lower the risk of back injuries.