You either love leg lifts or you dread them! Regardless, leg lifts or leg raises are excellent exercises that target the lower portion of the rectus abdominus muscles, commonly referred to as ‘lower abs’. It is a great exercise to tighten and tone the infamous paunch, something that concerns both men and women. You must have heard the age-old adage ‘Your abs are built in the kitchen and not in the gymnasium’. Similarly, this exercise will tone and strengthen the lower abs muscles but you won’t see visible/cosmetic changes unless you burn fat that layers/ envelopes these muscles, by doing cardio and following a healthy (preferably good fat, low carb) diet. Having said that, let’s look at the benefits of leg lifts for abs.
What are the benefits of leg lifts?
Leg raises offer several benefits for your body, including:
1. Strengthening your core: As mentioned, leg raises target the lower abdominal muscles, helping to strengthen and tone the core.
2. Improves flexibility: Regular practice can enhance hamstring flexibility and range of motion in the hip joint.
3. Strengthens the hip flexor: They engage the hip flexor muscles, enhancing stability and flexibility in the hip joint
4. Helps build muscle endurance: Leg raises require sustained muscle engagement, promoting endurance in the abdominal and hip muscles.a
5. No Equipment Needed: Leg raises can be done without any equipment, making them a convenient and accessible exercise.
Incorporate leg raises into your routine for a well-rounded approach to core strength and stability.
How to do leg lifts?
1. Lie down on a mat in a supine position (legs up at a 90-degree angle).
2. Beginners can place their hands by their side (easy/ beginner version) and fitness enthusiasts can put their hands behind their head in a shooting position.
3. Keeping your feet flexed, and legs straight, slowly drop your legs down to a 45-degree angle from the floor as you inhale and lift them back up to a 90-degree angle from the floor as you exhale.
4. Ensure your lower back stays on the ground.
If this is too easy, drop your legs down further – closer to the floor; so long as your spine does not hyper arch and you feel the pressure on your abdominal muscles and zero strain on the back.
We also find individuals placing their hands below the hips. This position works more of the hip flexors and less of the abs; something we are not targeting to begin with.
Who should avoid leg lifts?
While leg raises are beneficial for many, some individuals should exercise caution or avoid them:
1. Lower back issues: People with lower back problems or conditions like herniated discs should avoid leg raises as they may exacerbate their discomfort.
2. Neck strain or pain: If you experience neck pain while doing the exercise (especially with the hands behind the head position), it is advisable to avoid leg raises. This could be a sign of strain or an underlying issue.3. Pregnant women: In the later stages of pregnancy, lying on your back for leg raises might cause discomfort due to pressure on the vena cava. Pregnant women should opt for pregnancy-safe exercises or consult their gynecologist before incorporating any exercises into their daily routine.
4. Recent abdominal surgery: Individuals who have undergone recent abdominal surgery should avoid leg raises until they receive clearance from their doctor.
Always listen to your body and consult with a fitness professional and a medical practitioner if you have any concerns or pre-existing conditions. Modify exercises as needed to suit your fitness level and health status.