Leg Lifts – How To Do, Benefits, and Mistakes To avoid

A woman lying on gray stretch mat and doing leg lifts with swiss ball.

Leg lifts are a great way to work your abs and lower body muscles. Try out different types and variations of leg lifts listed here while perfecting your basic moves.

Leg lifts are a type of body weight exercise that is incredibly easy to perform. These exercises normally do not require any equipment and can be performed from the comfort of your home.

These exercises help in toning your lower body muscles, including your thighs, hamstrings, and glutes. Additionally, unlike ab workouts, leg lifts are relatively easy to do and work effectively on abdominal muscles.

What are leg lifts?

Leg lifts are fitness routines designed to work your lower and upper abs and also build strength in the region. It improves your core strength and flexibility. One key thing about this workout is the form.

On the outside, it may look like an easy exercise, but it’s not so easy with all the muscles you’ll engage during the workout. If you sit all day or are hardly active, leg lifts will benefit you and prevent hip tightness and lower back discomfort from inactivity.

Depending on your fitness levels, choice or availability, you may decide to practice it with or without equipment.

Steps to do leg lifts with perfect form

 If you’re wondering how to do leg lifts [1]Cleveland Clinic: How To Do Leg Lifts Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide and in the proper form, follow these steps:

  • Begin by lying on a workout mat with your face up and legs straight. 
  • Let your arms rest by your sides.
  • Place your palms face down or under your glutes.
  • Tuck your chin and pelvic in while you exercise.
  • Brace your core as you lift your legs off the ground, pointing your toes away from your body.
  • Lift your legs away from the starting position about 3 to 5 inches away, and pause.
  • Then, slowly lower your legs to just above the exercise mat and stay for some seconds.
  • Lift legs again and repeat movements for desired reps.

Various methods to perform leg lifts 

Leg lifts can be performed with or without equipment. Here are different leg lift methods you may want to consider:

1. Vertical leg lifts

Target muscles: The lower abdominal muscles, the hip flexors, glutes, and quads. 

How to do

  • Begin by lying on your back with your legs straight on the floor and your arms at your sides.
  • Slowly lift both legs straight up towards the ceiling, keeping them together.
  • Pause for a moment at the top of the movement. Make sure your legs should form a 90-degree angle with your upper body.
  • Bring your legs slowly back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Summary: Vertical leg lifts are one of the most efficient ab-toning routines. Beginners can easily do this exercise. The activity activates the glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps. When done correctly, it can improve posture and relieve back pain.

2. Side-lying leg lifts

Target Muscles: The abductors – the muscles on the outside of your hips.

How to do

  • Lie on your side on an exercise mat or floor. Let your body be straight and extend your legs, stacking one on top of the other.
  • Place your arm under your head straight on the floor or bend your elbow under your head for support. Place the other arm in front of you, palm down, or rest it on your hip or leg.
  • Exhale as you slowly raise your left leg off the right leg to flex your lower back and oblique muscles. Stop flexing your legs when you feel the muscles flex.
  • Inhale as you lower the leg back on the other.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 to 12 times and switch to the other side.

Summary: Side leg lifts work to tone the muscles on the sides of your hips. They can also help improve your balance and stability. This exercise is ideal for beginners. 

3. Single leg lift

Target Muscles: The rectus abdominis, the obliques, and the glutes.

How to do

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides.
  • Raise your legs up towards the ceiling until they are perpendicular to the floor.
  • Slowly bring one leg down until it touches the floor, keeping the other leg up towards the ceiling.
  • Pause for a moment, then lift your other leg while bringing the other leg down.
  • Continue to alternate legs with each rep. 
  • Do 10-12 reps on each leg.

Summary: Single leg lift works your abs and obliques. They also help to strengthen and tone the muscles in your lower back and glutes. This exercise is also a good way to improve your balance and coordination. Beginners can also try this exercise.

4. Hanging leg lifts

Target Muscles: The rectus abdominis – the large muscle group that runs down the front of your stomach. 

How to do

  • Start by hanging from a chin-up bar with your palms facing forward and your legs extended straight down.
  • Slowly raise your legs up towards your chest, keeping them together.
  • Pause for a few seconds at the top of the movement, then lower your legs back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Summary: Hanging leg lifts is one of the advanced level exercises. It works to tone your abs and improve your grip strength. This exercise can be challenging, so make sure you warm up properly before attempting it. 

5. Leg lifts with a ball

Target Muscles: The rectus abdominis and the obliques – the muscles on the sides of your stomach.

How to do

  • Begin by lying on your back with your legs extended and a stability ball between your feet.
  • Place your hands behind your head or make them rest by your sides
  • Press your lower back to the floor and lift your legs and the ball up towards the ceiling.
  • Slowly bring your legs and the ball back down to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 10-12 reps.

Summary: Leg lifts with a ball are a great way to work your abdominal muscles and obliques. It also helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your lower back. This exercise is also a good way to improve your balance and coordination.

6. Double leg lifts in pilates

Target Muscles: The rectus abdominis, the obliques, and the glutes.

How to do

  • Lie on your back with your legs extended straight and up towards the ceiling.
  • Keep your arms at your sides or behind your head.
  • Slowly lower both legs by keeping them together. Avoid touching the floor/mat.
  • Repeat the exercise 6-8 times.

Summary: Double leg lifts in pilates are a great way to work your abdominal muscles and obliques. This exercise is also a good way to improve your balance and coordination. You are advised to perform this under the guidance of a pilates instructor.

Calories burnt with leg lift exercises

The question “How many calories do I burn during my workout?” is a common one. The majority of exercises will burn around 100 calories every 10 minutes you work at a higher intensity for an hour.

The number of calories you burn with leg lifts depends on your weight and the intensity of your workout. The more effort you put in, the more calories you’ll burn. Leg lifts specifically help to build muscle in your lower body, making for better metabolism and increased calorie burn throughout the day.

Benefits of leg lifts

Leg lifts are a great form of a full-body workout. There are many benefits that come with doing leg lifts regularly. The best of them are listed below:

1. Improves core strength

One of the primary benefits of leg lifts is that they help to improve core strength. By working the muscles of the abdomen and lower back, leg lifts help to build a strong and stable core. This can lead to better posture, reduced back pain, and enhanced balance and stability.

2. Tones the lower body

In addition to improving core strength, leg lifts also help to tone the muscles of the lower body. This includes the hips, thighs, and buttocks. With regular practice, leg lifts can help to give your lower body a lean and toned appearance.

3. Reduces back pain

Another benefit of leg lifts is that they can help to reduce back pain. This is because they help to strengthen the muscles of the lower back, which can take some of the pressure off of the spine. If you suffer from back pain, leg lifts may be a helpful exercise to add to your routine.

4. Enhances balance and stability

Another benefit of doing leg lifts is that they can help to enhance balance and stability. This is because they work the muscles of the core, which are responsible for stabilizing the body. With stronger core muscles, you will be less likely to fall or lose your balance.

5. Improves flexibility

As we age, our bodies tend to become less flexible. This can lead to reduced range of motion and mobility. Leg lifts can help to improve flexibility by stretching the muscles of the lower body. This can lead to a better range of motion and reduced risk of injuries.

6. Improves coordination

Leg lifts are also beneficial in improving coordination. This is because they require the use of multiple muscle groups at the same time. By working on coordination, leg lifts can help to improve overall balance and coordination.

7. Improves circulation

Finally, leg lifts can also help to improve circulation. This is because they work the muscles of the lower body, which helps to pump blood back up to the heart. Improved circulation can lead to overall better health and wellness.

Common mistakes to avoid with leg lifts

Mistakes are common with exercise routines but can be dangerous for your health and safety. These are common mistakes to avoid:

1. Not using proper form

One of the most common mistakes with leg lifts is not using the proper form. The leg raise mistake that is commonly made includes not keeping the knees together, not keeping the feet flexed, and not keeping the back straight. This can lead to injury and ineffective results. It is important to focus on maintaining good form throughout the entire exercise.

2. Not warming up properly

Another mistake that is often made with leg lifts is not warming up properly. This can lead to injuries, such as pulled muscles. Make sure to warm up for at least 5-10 minutes before starting your leg lift routine.

3. Not cooling down properly

After doing leg lifts, it is crucial to let your body cool down properly in order to avoid injury. If the body is not allowed to cool down well, it can lead to dizziness and lightheadedness. It is crucial to cool down for at least 5-10 minutes after your leg lift routine. 

4. Overdoing it

A common mistake that is often made with leg lifts is overdoing it.  This can lead to severe injuries and even muscle strains. Start with a lower number of repetitions and increase it gradually as your body gets used to the exercise.

5. Not breathing properly

Another mistake that is often made during leg lifts is not breathing properly. If you do not breathe properly during the exercise, you may feel heavily breathed and lose energy sooner than actual. It is important to focus on taking deep breaths throughout the exercise.

6. Arching your back

Another common mistake with leg lifts is arching your back [2]Havering London Borough: Common exercise mistakes . This can lead to injuries, such as strains and sprains in your bones, joints, and ligaments. It is important to maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. So, maintain form and ensure you push your back into the ground.

7. Pulling up Head or Neck With Arms

You might be tempted to use your arms to pull up your head or neck while doing leg lifts. However, this can result in bone, joint, and ligament injuries. It’s critical to maintain your head and neck in a neutral posture throughout the workout. You can use your upper abs to maintain the lift of the chest.

Not everyone can perform leg lifts. You may want to take it slow with leg lifts if you have chronic back pains. You should also consult your doctor before proceeding.

Thankfully, the exercise can help with your back pain and improve stiffness, lack of balance, and strength. You can do the exercise with the help of a certified personal trainer for more coordination. 

Conclusion

Leg lifts are beneficial to improve your flexibility, strengthen your core and muscles, and help you lose some weight. They’re also easy and don’t require equipment or gym visits.

However, you should be careful with your form and prevent worsening your joints and causing pain. You can switch up the exercise with variations and alternatives and choose exercise based on your goals.

References

References
1 Cleveland Clinic: How To Do Leg Lifts Properly: A Step-by-Step Guide
2 Havering London Borough: Common exercise mistakes

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