Looking for a new exercise to try come abs day? Leg lifts can be a great addition to the mix—just make sure you’re doing this move properly. Also known as leg raises, this exercise is ideal for strengthening your core—the lower abdominals—and it doesn’t take many of them to start feeling the burn. It’s crucial to mind your form with this one, though, as doing them incorrectly can put pressure on your low back. Here’s how to do them properly, as demonstrated by certified personal trainer Suki Clements.
If you’re looking to make this exercise easier, you could try something like knee catches or single-leg stretch variations. With knee catches, you’ll stack your knees over your hips at a 90-degree angle and then alternate hovering one foot down at a time while engaging the core. With single-leg stretch variations, you set up the same way you do for knee catches, but instead of alternating hovering the feet, you alternate extending the legs out straight at a 45-degree angle.
To make leg lifts more challenging, you can try V-ups, which add an upper-body challenge to the leg raise movement. As you lift the legs, you also perform a situp, extending your arms up straight toward your feet. If you have access to a workout bar, you can try hanging leg raises, as well.
You can also add ankle weights, to test your core strength even more. For a different challenge, you could place a block or a mini exercise ball between your thighs or ankles—this will help target and engage your thigh muscles, too, particularly your abductors.
Things to keep in mind to do this exercise safely.
We’re all for simple yet effective moves that don’t require any equipment, and leg lifts are certainly a standout exercise. With modifications to make them easier or more challenging, it can be accessible to everyone, and there’s no doubt you’ll see improved core strength with regular practice. (And for a routine that features leg lifts, try this 10-minute, full-body floor workout.)