There are many bodyweight exercises or workouts that can tone your abs to achieve the six-pack. These among others include crunches, planks, leg lifts, and more. However, if these workouts are not done properly, minus a healthy lifestyle, you most likely won’t see results any time soon. In this article, we are going to learn how to do leg raises properly to achieve toned abs.
Leg raises are fundamental and effective-core exercises. However, most people mess them up; which is the ultimate purpose of this article. We are going to share the common mistakes that people usually do while performing this workout and how to do leg raises perfectly. This will help you to optimize your abs routine and avoid wasting time at the gym.
How to do leg raises: Lie on the floor, face-up, with legs extended. Place your hands over your head. Begin to raise your legs toward the ceiling, pressing your thighs together and keeping the legs straight. Lift until your hips are fully flexed and you can’t go any higher with straight legs, then lower back down and repeat.
What mistakes do people normally do when performing leg raises?
Before jumping on to the purpose of this article “how to do leg raises”, let us first look at the wrongs or mistakes that people commit when doing these leg raises.
1. Working on soft surfaces
Soft surfaces normally compromise the position of your hips. The hips end up twisting or sinking instead of staying neutral.
2. Arching Your Back
When performing the leg raises, avoid arching the back. The back should be straight and pressed against the floor or exercise mat.
3. Moving the head and the neck
This is not right. Always keep the neck and head in a steady position
4. Not engaging the core
First of all, not engaging the core puts you at risk of injury, plus you will miss out on the toning benefits of this exercise regimen.
5. People normally rely on body momentum
This is mostly seen when you are lowering the legs back to the starting position. The proper form would be; to control every movement even when you are lowering the legs down. This helps to keep your abs engaged all through the exercise.
6. Holding Your Breath
As you engage the abs and getting ready to raise the legs, you may forget to breathe due to tension. This is very wrong. Your raises and breathing patterns must be coordinated or should work together. This is because; muscles require oxygen to work efficiently.
7. Taking the legs apart
This is wrong; always keep your legs together during the workout. This helps even distribution of weight to avoid injuries.
How to perform proper leg raises
Below is how to perform leg raises
1. Lie flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Keep the legs toe’s width apart.
- Maintain the hands down flat on the ground near your sides
- You can use a yoga mat for extra strength and comfort
2. Bend the knees and raise your legs such that the calves are parallel to the ground and thighs perpendicular.
- Keep the toes pointed as you assume this position
- Contract your abs to push the lower back into the floor so that there is no gap between them.
- Keep your eyes and face directed at the ceiling
- Do not strain your neck to look at your legs to avoid pain in the neck
3. Straighten the legs so that the feet point at the ceiling.
- Do not let your lower back arch off the ground
4. Keeping your back flat against the floor, slowly lower your legs towards the floor.
- Don’t use gravity to lower the legs. Engage the core and keep control.
- Hold your arms in the same place, but use them for strength and support as you lower your legs.
- Do not let the feet touch the floor if you want the best of your workout
- Keep your lower back pressed into the floor to engage your abdominals and protect your spine
- Don’t forget to breathe! Many people freeze up when it comes to this exercise.
5. Repeat 3 sets of 10-20 leg lifts. Start with 3 sets of 10 and upgrade gradually to 3 sets of 20 reps as you master the moves.
What are the different variations of leg raises?
Various modifications add more challenge to the leg raises for better results while others make the leg raises easier and affordable. These include;
1. Leg raises with a ball
- Lie flat on the ground with the arms at your sides and legs extended out in front of you.
- Hold the ball between your feet and lift your legs until they are perpendicular to the rest of your body. This adds some resistance to the workouts.
- Slowly lower the legs as low as you can. The slower you go, the more your muscles are forced to maintain control.
- Do as many sets of 5-10 leg lifts as you can. You can begin with fewer reps and gradually increase with time since this exercise is a bit challenging.
2. Side leg lifts
- Lie down on one side of your body and use your elbow to prop your head and neck while the other palm rests on the ground.
- Slowly lift your top leg high up to at least two feet.
- Keeping the body in the same position, slowly lower your leg
- Perform about 15 reps on one side and repeat using the other side of your body
3. Hanging leg raises
This involves the workout frame where your body weight is supported as you raise your legs. It requires enough upper-body strength to support the bodyweight on the frame.
- Hang from a bar with your arms at least shoulder with apart.
- Raise your legs until they are perpendicular to your body
- Slowly lower the legs to the start position
- Repeat 3 sets of about 10 hanging leg raise
What muscle parts do leg raises tone?
According to Wikipedia, leg raises are strength training exercises that target the following muscles.
- Iliopsoas (anterior hip flexor)
- Interior and exterior oblique muscles
- Rectus abdominis muscle
How many legs raise should I do a day?
Depending on a trainees’ consistency, one can adjust to over 100 leg raises if they train every day.
What are the benefits of doing leg raises?
1. Reduce back pain
Leg raises strengthen your core muscles, which can help prevent low back pain, according to the mayo clinic
2. Burns calories faster
Leg raises tone the body muscles mostly the abs. this increases the number of calories burned. As a result, fat is burned faster around the belly area and other body parts
3. Lowers risk of injuries
Leg raise also lowers the risk of back injuries. With leg lifts, back muscles are strengthened and more equipped to support greater weight.
4. Strengthens core muscles
Leg raises strengthen your lower abs. hanging leg raises work both lower and upper abs whereas floor leg raises burn fat in your lower abs
5. Improves flexibility
All leg raises involve constant joint movement. This improves the flexibility of the abdomen and the hips area. It also improves posture since the leg workouts add support to the mid-section.
6. Enhance balance and stability
Performing leg raises consistently increases balance and stability
What are the risks associated with leg raises?
The most common risk associated with leg raises is the lower back pain due to the stress they put on the lumbar spine.
How can we improve the leg workouts?
We can improve leg lifts exercises by;
- Using a workout bench instead of lying on the floor. This increases the range of motion and allows you to lift and lower the legs through a farther distance.
- Eat more lean protein, veggies, and whole grains. This lowers the fat percentage in your body and increases the muscle mass so that you can burn more calories.
- We can also add on wearable weights for example ankle weights or thigh weights to increase resistance to the leg workouts. The more resistance, the more calories burned and the more muscles are toned.
What equipment can we use for proper leg raises?
The equipment one can use includes;
If you find full leg raises too challenging for you, or if they cause lower back pain due to the stress they put on your lumbar spine, consider beginning with easier variations like knee tucks and single-leg raises. You can always upgrade to the proper leg lifts after mastering the movements.
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