Leg Swings (How To, Muscles Worked, Alternatives)


Leg Swings

Leg Swings are a simple, yet very effective warm-up movement. As the name implies, Leg Swings is basically swinging your legs front to back and side to side to warm-up the hamstrings, hip flexors and groin.

In this guide, I’ll teach how to properly do Leg Swings, what muscles they work and provide a couple alternatives.


How To Do Leg Swings


Equipment Needed

  • None (although something to brace yourself against is helpful)

Step-by-Step Instructions

Front to Back

  • Find a sturdy object to that you can lean your arm against for balance. (A squat rack or wall are both great options)
  • Start with front to back leg swings.
  • Stand perpendicular to the wall (or rack) and use the hand closest to wall to brace against the wall.
  • On the foot furthest from the wall, raise up onto the ball of the foot. This will give the other leg room to swing back and forth without hitting the ground.
  • Stay as tall as possible and reach the leg closest to the wall as high as you can in front of you.
  • Now let the leg swing back behind you. If the knee bends, that’s okay, but focus on reaching back with the hip.
  • Continue swinging back and forth until all reps are completed and then switch legs.

Side to Side

  • Once all front to back swings are completed, turn and face the wall.
  • Side to Side Leg Swings work exactly like front to back except they are… side to side.
  • Raise up onto the ball of one foot and begin to swing the opposite leg side to side.
  • Remember to stay tall and do not bend forward at the waist toward the wall.
  • Continue back and forth until all reps are completed, switch legs and repeat.

Coaching Points

On the Side to Side Leg Swings when swinging the leg out away from the body, keep the toe pointed toward the wall. This will place the emphasis on the groin. If the toe turns and points up the stretch is then shifted to the hamstring.

This has already been mentioned but I’ll mention it one more time because it’s the biggest mistake I see with Leg Swings. Stay as tall as possible throughout the movement. Bending at the waist limits the range of motion achievable and therefore limits the stretch.


Muscles Worked


As you might expect each direction works a different set of muscles. Front to Back Leg Swings will focus more on the hamstrings and hip flexors. Side to Side Leg Swings focus more on the hip abductors and groin.


Leg Swing Alternatives


If, for whatever reason, you need an alternative to Leg Swings – here are a few exercises you may be able to use as an alternative.

Supine Straight Leg High Kicks

Supine simply means lying on your back and straight leg high kick is pretty similar to a Front to Back Leg Swing. Lay on your back with one leg bent, foot flat on the floor and the other leg straight on the ground. Lift the straight leg (under control) as high as possible and then lower back down.

Iron Cross

If Supine Straight Leg High Kicks are a replacement for Front to Back Leg Swings, then Iron Crosses can replace the Side to Side Leg Swing.

Lay on your back with legs straight on the ground. Lift one leg up to 90 degrees and then reach it across the body. Tap the toe to the floor and then reach the leg to outside of the body and tap the foot against the ground there as well. Follow the same path back to the start and then repeat.


More Links and Info


Head over to the Warm-up Section in the Exercise Library to find more step-by-step instructions.

Ryan Horton

Horton Barbell was created by Ryan Horton who has served as a Sports Performance Coach for almost 20 years. My mission is to create a training resource to help as many coaches and athletes as possible maximize athletic potential.

Recent Posts