Lying Leg Raise Exercise
Lying leg raise is a basic exercise that targets your lower abs. To be more precise, when performed properly, they target the entire abdominal wall but emphasize the lower abdominal area.
Leg raises can be performed while lying on the floor (the easiest version) or seated (harder) or while hanging from a pull-up bar (the hardest variation).
Perfect Lying Leg Raise Technique
Lie supine (face-up) on the ground or on a flat bench, with your hips (buttocks) near the end of a flat bench and your legs straight out in line with your torso. Your toes are pointing toward the ceiling. Grip the corners of the bench next to your hips or grab the bench behind your head.
Keeping your legs straight and together, raise them until they are just short of perpendicular to the floor. Hold, feeling your abs crunch, then lower them to the starting (horizontal) position.
Lying Leg Raise Additional Tips & Key Points
- Always keep your upper body and head flat on the bench.
- Don’t raise your legs too high or your abs will relax.
- Do each rep slowly and deliberately.
- As you lower your legs, don’t let them go below the top of the bench, because this places too much strain on your lower back.
- Keep your legs together with you knees unlocked.
- You can bend your knees slightly if that’s more comfortable.
Primary muscles: Lower rectus abdominis, psoas major, rectus femoris
Secondary muscles: Upper rectus abdominis, internal oblique, external oblique
Lying leg raise (lying straight-leg raise) exercise has a few variations that targets your lower abs a little different.
- Incline Bench Leg Raise. Place your head at the higher end. Grab the top of the bench behind your head for support, then raise your legs together until they are parallel to the floor—this is the starting position. Bend your knees slightly to reduce stress on your lower back, then gradually raise your legs to form a 45-degree angle with the bench. Pause, then lower them back to parallel. Notice that you raise your legs only 45 degrees, not 90 degrees, as with flat bench leg raises. Because your upper body is at an angle, your abs don’t get any benefit by going higher than 45 degrees. Reduce resistance by lowering the bench and decreasing the incline. Increase resistance by raising the bench and increasing the incline.
- Variation: At the starting point, with your legs together and parallel to the floor, bend your knees and bring your thighs toward your chest as far as possible. Hold them there, feeling the crunch. Then extend your legs together back to the starting point. Don’t raise your legs overhead. Tilting the bench at a steeper angle makes the exercise more difficult.
- Weighted Lying Leg Raise. For additional resistance, fasten a weight around each ankle. You can also place a light dumbbell or a small medicine ball between your feet.
- Double-Leg Lowering With Bent Knees. Lie supine, palms down and neck in neutral position, with hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees. Keeping the knees bent, slowly lower both feet to the floor through eccentric hip extension. Do not let the lower back flatten out. Reverse the movement to return to starting position.
Lying Leg Raise With Hip Thrust. Raise your legs from a horizontal to a vertical position and then lift your pelvis by pushing your legs upward in a vertical movement, raising your lower back slightly with each contraction.