Most ab exercises consist of fairly straightforward movements when looking at them from a general perspective. They tend to be equipment-free exercises that just need a simple floor-based movement, and that’s awesome. One exercise that isn‘t always so simple though is leg raises. They have a lot of variation, and they take a good deal of ab strength if you want to use them to their full potential.

As with all exercises, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind if you want to be able to perform them at an expert level, both in your set-up and in the exercise itself.

Set-up

group of people stretching with their leg to their chest

Before you can even try to nail your technique with leg raises, you need to be looking at your set-up. Since you’re only moving your body weight in a natural motion, you don’t have to worry about injury too much, and the lack of equipment means the set-up doesn't take too much time.

Stretch your abs, legs and lower back

Any exercise needs your muscles to be in a good state to perform before you begin moving a lot of weight, even if it is your body weight. Leg raises are no different, and they affect a range of different muscles. Make sure that you’re stretching your hip muscles, as well as your abs and your lower back to make sure that you aren’t going to sustain any injuries.

Lay flat on your back, palms down

How you position your body is the next step in the set-up. Hanging leg raises are the best method for effectiveness, but if they are too tricky, then lay down on your back with your arms by your sides, palms down.

Technique

The technique is where the focus really needs to be for leg raises. There are a few common issues that a lot of people face. Here are some tips for making sure that you’re performing the exercise in the most effective way to get the results that you are looking for!

Breathe through your nose, core engaged

First, you need to brace your core before you start the movement. You should be breathing through your nose and keeping your middle tight all the way through the motion, especially when hanging. This is the only way your core will see the benefits.

Legs above hips

This is one of the biggest issues that occur with leg raises. It’s vital that your legs are coming above your hips at the end of the movement. If they aren’t, then it’s your hips that are doing all the work, and that isn’t much use for an abdominal exercise.

Hold the contraction and go down slowly

Finally, like with most strength and muscle building exercises, it’s always important that you are holding your contraction for the best results. When your legs are at their peak, hold the movement for a second before slowly lowering yourself back down. This stops you from building up momentum and ensures that your abs are doing all the work that they need to be doing.

Overall, if you don’t slip into any of the pitfalls of the exercise like we’ve listed above, you should see progress. It’s not too difficult once you do know what it is that you’re doing, and it will have a significant impact on your core strength and your lower abs.

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