Straight Leg Raises (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)
Straight Leg Leg Raises is a great core exercise that emphasizes the lower abs. It’s a bodyweight movement (no equipment needed), which makes it extremely versatile. They can fit perfect either in a warm-up, as a superset or along with other ab exercises as part of a full core routine.
In this guide, I’m going to teach you how to properly do Straight Leg Leg Raises and give you some alternatives you can try out as well.
How To Do Straight Leg Leg Raises
- Rectus Abdominis
- Hip Flexors
- Lay on your back, feet together, legs straight.
- Arms can either be at your side or underneath your low back as support*.
- Start by raising the feet to six inches off the floor.
- Now, using the core, raise the feet until they are straight up (perpendicular to the floor**)
- Finally, lower the legs under control back to the starting position – feet six inches from the floor.
- Repeat for the designated number of reps.
*Some will find that Straight Leg Leg Raises puts an uncomfortable strain on the low back. Placing both hands under the low back will alleviate this strain for most. If you still find the exercise uncomfortable then I suggest trying one of the alternatives below.
**If you find yourself struggling with being able to get your legs perpendicular to the floor while keeping them straight, then I would highly suggest working on your hamstring flexibility. You should be able to achieve at least this level of range of motion.
Don’t rush through the movement. The eccentric portion of the movement (lowering the legs) is just as effective at working the abs as the concentric portion.
Straight Leg Raises are a great exercise for improving core strength and stability. In addition to working the core, Straight Leg Raises also challenge the hip flexors and quadriceps.
Because no equipment is needed, Straight Leg Raises are an extremely versatile exercise that can be done pretty much anywhere at any time.
Straight Leg Leg Raise Alternatives
Suitcase Crunches are another one of my favorite bodyweight core exercises that focuses on the lower abs.
Balance sitting on your butt with your feet and shoulders up off the ground. Crunch in, bringing your knees and shoulders together – like closing a suitcase – and then extend back out.
Knees to Elbows
Want to ramp up the challenge? Try Knees to Elbows.
For Knees to Elbows you’ll need a sturdy pull-up bar. Grab the bar with an overhead grip and flex the elbows.
Now crunch up, bringing the knees up and lightly touching the elbows. Control the legs on the way down to keep yourself from swinging uncontrollably back and forth.
More Links and Info
Looking for more core exercises? Our Exercise Library has dozens of Core Movements, all with complete instructions and coaching tips.