6 Leg Lift Exercises To Strengthen Your Core

Are you on the lookout for a core-boosting train you are able to do in a matter of minutes with zero gear? Leg lifts maintain the ability to assist construct a powerful trunk as part of your abs routine. That can imply improved posture, much less again ache and extra energy to energy your exercises.

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“When you think of an exercise routine for your core, most people think of sit-ups or planks, which are great exercises for your ‘six-pack’ ab work,” says train physiologist Griffin Nykor, RKin, CPT. “Leg lifts are an important complement to that because they get at the muscles that make up the rest of your trunk — your lower back, glutes, hip flexors and your transverse abdominus (the muscle that sits under your six-pack).” 

Nykor breaks down methods to do conventional leg lifts, in addition to some variations on this exercise heavy-hitter.  

What are leg lifts? 

Leg lifts are precisely what they sound like — a sequence of workout routines the place you interact your core to raise your legs. Leg lifts are versatile workout routines. There are a bunch of how to do them, and so they can — and may! — be modified in accordance with your health stage and exercise targets.

The advantages of leg lifts  

Traditional leg lifts and their many variations goal the muscular tissues that make up your core. A robust core helps you stand straighter and retains your trunk stabilized throughout your exercise — and at the same time as you go about your day by day actions. Studies present that strengthening your core may also assist should you’re residing with decrease again ache.  

“Leg lifts are an important part of any core-strengthening routine,” Nykor notes. “For office-workers or other people who sit a lot, they can help to open up your hips to keep you limber to go through your day-to-day. For athletes, keeping your trunk strong will help prevent injury and increase your speed.” 

Leg lifts can strengthen your total core, which incorporates: 

  • Your stomach muscular tissues, together with the “six-pack” of abs within the entrance and the muscular tissues alongside the perimeters of your physique. 
  • The muscular tissues in your again, together with those between your backbone bones and those who run alongside your backbone. 
  • Your diaphragm
  • Your pelvic floor (the group of muscular tissues situated deep in your stomach that assist together with your below-the-belt bodily capabilities). 
  • Your hip flexors. 
  • Your gluteal (bottom) muscular tissues. 

How to do leg lifts 

There are a number of completely different types of leg lifts that help you get at varied muscular tissues with differing ranges of depth. Nykor stresses that making modifications that work on your stage of health and your targets is necessary to get probably the most profit out of your leg raise train routine. Start small, and work your means up. 

Traditional leg lifts 

Difficulty stage: Beginner and past 

  1. Lie flat on the ground or on a skinny towel or yoga mat.
  2. Firmly glue your again physique to the ground — out of your head to your bottom — ensuring there’s no house between the ground and your decrease again.
  3. Squeeze your legs collectively, out of your interior thighs all the way in which to your ankles. You can maintain your toes and toes relaxed.
  4. Inhale as you slowly raise each of your legs collectively, retaining your legs as straight as doable. (Your objective is to get your legs all the way in which vertical so your physique appears to be like like a capital L. This could take a while to attain.)
  5. Slowly exhale as you slowly decrease your legs. Lower them till they hover only a few inches above the ground. 
  6. Pause and full the subsequent repetition. Nykor suggests newbies begin by finishing about 10 repetitions per session — or 30 seconds should you’d reasonably comply with the clock. As you achieve energy, you may slowly start to extend the variety of reps.

Rule No. 1, Nykor says, is to maintain your total again physique actually pressed to the ground. Allowing your again to arch can rob you of the complete advantages of the train and might result in harm. 

“You want to imagine pushing your belly button to your spine,” he explains. “That keeps your abs activated. If you’re arching your back, your back muscles are the ones getting the bulk of the workout, and that can lead to lower back pain.” 

Form modification for newbies: Instead of retaining your legs straight, attempt bending your legs on the knees 90 levels and tapping your heels to the ground.  

Where do I put my arms when doing leg lifts? 

The placement of your arms will have an effect on the depth of your exercise, so use them correctly. 

“With any exercise, the farther you’re working from your center of gravity, the harder it’s going to be,” Nykor says. “So, having your hands tucked underneath your backside is one way to make leg lifts a bit easier. That can also help keep your back body stuck to the ground. If you place your hands behind your head, it’ll be harder because you’re moving your extremities away from your center of gravity.” 

Variations of leg raise trains  

There are many various leg raise workout routines that concentrate on completely different units of muscular tissues in your core. Beginners ought to follow conventional leg lifts (or the bent-knee choice), alternating leg lifts and aspect leg lifts. With time, you may transfer as much as a number of the extra superior types.  

Alternating leg lifts  

Difficulty stage: Beginner and past 

For the alternating leg raise variation, raise each legs till they’re perpendicular to the ground (keep in mind that capital L), then decrease them separately. Nykor suggests beginning with 10 repetitions per leg or about 30 seconds. 

As with conventional leg lifts, you may bend 90 levels at your knees to convey down the depth or maintain them straight to convey it up a notch. 

“As humans, we have discrepancies between the left and right sides of our bodies. One side will be stronger than the other,” Nykor factors out. “When you exercise using one leg at a time, your stronger side can’t overcompensate for your weaker side. Alternating legs gives your less-dominant side more chance to strengthen.”   

Watch the video to see alternating leg lifts in motion. 

Side leg lifts

Difficulty stage: Beginner and past 

For this variation, lie in your aspect. You can bend your backside arm on the elbow and put it below your head like a pillow. Raise your high leg, retaining it straight. Your physique ought to kind the letter Y. Switch sides after about 10 reps (for newbies) so each legs get a flip. 

Nykor says aspect leg lifts are one of the best at-home methodology for working your gluteus medius (the “medium” muscle in your bottom), which is accountable for stabilizing your trunk and gait if you stroll.  

Reverse leg lifts  

Difficulty stage: Advanced 

Because this variation requires a powerful again, reverse leg lifts (aka “reverse hyperextension”) must be reserved for extra superior exercisers. 

Lie in your abdomen. Stack your arms below your brow to offer your head a spot to relaxation. Raise one leg at a time, retaining it as straight as you may. Do about 10 reps with one leg after which change to the opposite. Build as much as extra reps and longer exercise instances as you achieve extra energy. 

Plank leg lifts  

Difficulty stage: Advanced 

Heat up your reverse leg lifts by beginning within the plank place. Plant your palms and elbows into the ground, shoulder-width aside. Engage your core to maintain your physique in a straight line from the crown of your head to your ankles. Lift one leg at a time. 

Kick it into a good increased gear by holding that very same plank place, however together with your arms straight and your palms on the ground as an alternative of your elbows. 

“Plank leg lifts are an advanced exercise that will strengthen your shoulders in addition to your glutes, hamstrings and abs,” Nykor says. “You’d want to incorporate a plank leg lift only after you’re really comfortable holding a strong plank position itself for a while before you add in the aspect of the leg lift.”  

Hanging leg lifts  

Difficulty stage: Highly superior 

This extremely superior model of a leg raise would require some gear. For a dangling leg raise, dangle from a pull-up bar (additionally known as a excessive bar) and raise your legs till they’re parallel to the ground.  

This may also be accomplished together with your knees bent so your toes are parallel to the ground. Uncurl your knees, then decrease your legs for every repetition.

Are leg lifts proper for everybody? 

Nykor describes leg lifts as a low-injury-risk train, however that doesn’t imply they’re the proper alternative for everybody. As a floor-based train, leg lifts is probably not the proper alternative if in case you have had a earlier hip harm or if in case you have hassle getting down on the ground (or if it’s onerous so that you can stand up off the ground). People who’re pregnant or lately gave start might also be suggested to not take part in core exercises for a while, particularly floor-based workout routines.

If you’re trying to increase your core, leg lifts is usually a well-coordinated accent to your normal routine. Talk to your physician or an train physiologist if in case you have questions on making leg lifts part of your core exercise routine.

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