Leg Lift: Classic Core Exercise To Target Your Lower Abs

Are you struggling with achieving toned and sculpted legs? Are leg lifts causing you discomfort or pain? You’re not alone. Many people experience difficulty with leg lifts due to weak muscles or poor technique. But don’t worry, there’s an explanation for why this happens. It’s common for individuals to focus solely on their leg muscles when attempting leg lifts, ignoring the importance of core strength and proper alignment. The good news is, with a few adjustments to your routine, you can easily improve your leg lift technique and transform your lower body. In this blog post, we’ll explore some effective exercises and tips to help you achieve your desired leg lift results.

Leg Lift Summary

  • Primary Muscles: Iliopsoas (Psoas Major & Iliacus)
  • Secondary Muscles: Adductor Brevis, Adductor Longus, Pectineus, Rectus Femoris, Sartorius, and Tensor Fasciae Latte
  • Equipment: Flat Bench
  • Mechanics Type: Isolated
  • Force: Pull
  • Utility: Auxiliary
Graphic image of a fit woman performing alternate cable triceps extensions.

Leg Lift Instructions

  • Lay back down on the ground, preferably on a mat.
  • Raise your feet a few inches off the ground for your starting and resting position.
  • Now, lift your legs perpendicular to the ground. You can also rest in this up position.
  • Lower you feet back down to the starting position.
  • Continue your Leg Lift for 20-30 repetitions.

Video Tutorial

How to Do Leg Raises

Leg Lift Muscles

Target (Agonist)


  • Adductor Brevis
  • Adductor Longus
  • Pectineus
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Sartorius
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae

Dynamic Stabilizers

  • None


  • Levator Scapulae
  • Trapezius – Upper
  • Wrist Extensors

Antagonist Stabilizers

  • None
Image of the skeletal muscular system with the muscles used in the leg lift exercise highlighted in red and the rest in blue.

Benefits of Leg Lift

The leg lift exercise is an important part of any strength training or fitness routine as it targets the iliopsoas (psoas major and iliacus) muscle. The iliopsoas is the primary hip flexor, allowing the leg to lift. When strengthened, it helps to improve posture and reduce lower back pain. Additionally, the leg lift exercise strengthens the core, glutes, and hamstrings, providing a full-body workout. Finally, performing this exercise regularly can help to improve balance and coordination, which is beneficial for athletes of all levels.

Tips for Performing Leg Lift

If you’re seeking to take the leg lift to the next level, then you’re at the right place. Using these suggestions will allow you to take full advantage of this beautiful workout. You’ll have the ability to shape your core muscles, and minimize your chance of getting hurt. Let’s begin now and see what these tips may accomplish for you.

  • Make sure to engage your core – Engaging your core helps to protect your back and ensures that the right muscles are being worked. This will help you to get the most out of your leg lifts.
  • Keep your movements slow and controlled – Moving too quickly will limit the amount of work you’re doing, and increase the risk of injuring yourself. Moving slowly and with control will help you get the most out of your leg lifts.
  • Don’t forget to breathe – Focusing on your breathing will help you to stay focused on the exercise and help to keep your body relaxed. Regular breathing will also help you to stay safe during the exercise, and reduce the risk of injury.

Benefits and Tips Video

What Are the Benefits of Leg Lifts? : Fitness Tips & Techniques

Frequent Mistakes To Avoid

Avoiding common errors can mean the distinction between a productive workout and an injury when executing leg lift. Additionally, achieving optimal results from this exercise requires appropriate technique, and avoiding perform typical errors can help you to perform the exercise better and obtain optimal results. Not only can preventing these mistakes increase your strength, but also can assist in you feeling more confident and inspired when you hit the gym. So let’s get started on how to avoid those common mistakes and making this exercise a standard part of your fitness training.

  • Not engaging the core muscles: People often neglect to engage their core when performing leg lifts, which can lead to an ineffective workout and put strain on the lower back.
  • Allowing the legs to swing: If the legs are allowed to swing during the leg lift exercise, momentum is created which can cause the exercise to become less effective and can also lead to injury.
  • Not going slow and controlled: Going too fast when performing a leg lift will limit its effectiveness and could lead to injury from improper form. It’s important to go slow and controlled throughout the entire exercise.

Find More Bodyweight Exercises Here

Variations and Complementary Exercises

Leg Lift is an effective exercise that strengthens the muscles of your lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. To further strengthen these muscles and help maximize your fitness goals, here are some variations, complementary, or alternative exercises to Leg Lift.

L Sit Hold

Graphic image of L Sit Hold.

The L Sit Hold is a great exercise to do as an alternative or complementary exercise to the Leg Lift. It is an isometric hold that requires the participant to sit on the floor with their legs straight out in front and their hands on either side of their hips. The goal is to keep the legs straight and lift the body off the ground using only the arms and core muscles. This exercise not only strengthens the arms and core, but also works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The L Sit Hold can be done as a static hold or can be done as part of a dynamic movement such as a mountain climber or tuck jump. It is an excellent way to increase overall strength and stability in the lower body.

Hollow Bench Hold

Graphic image of Hollow Bench Hold.

The Hollow Bench Hold is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the Leg Lift. It strengthens the core muscles while also engaging the legs and glutes. The Hollow Bench Hold requires you to lay flat on your back on a bench or other flat surface with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. From this position, lift your legs off the ground, keeping your lower back pressed against the bench and your legs straight. Hold this position for as long as you can, up to 60 seconds. This exercise helps strengthen the core and engage the legs and glutes in a way that is different from the Leg Lift.

Cross Body Mountain Climbers

Graphic image of Cross Body Mountain Climbers.

Cross Body Mountain Climbers are a great complementary or alternative exercise to Leg Lifts. This exercise works on strengthening your core and lower body muscles, while also improving your balance and agility. Cross Body Mountain Climbers involve you starting in a plank position and then stepping one leg up and across your body while keeping the other leg straight. You alternate legs and continue this pattern as quickly as possible. This exercise will help improve your overall strength, balance, and agility while also giving you a great workout.

Check Out These Top Bodyweight Exercises

Scissor Kicks

Graphic image of Scissor Kicks.

Scissor kicks are a great alternative or complementary exercise to leg lifts, as they target the same muscles but in a different way. This exercise involves lying on your back with your legs straight up in the air and alternating crossing one leg over the other in a scissor-like motion. This exercise can be done with both legs at the same time, or you can alternate legs for more of a challenge. Scissor kicks work the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, just like leg lifts do. However, scissor kicks also target your inner and outer thighs, as well as your core muscles, giving you an extra workout.

Lying Knee Up

Graphic image of Lying Knee Up.

The lying knee up is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the leg lift. This exercise works the same muscles as the leg lift but with a different movement. In the lying knee up, you lie on your back and bring one knee up towards your chest while keeping the other leg straight and in line with your body. This exercise targets the lower abdominal muscles and hip flexors, providing a great workout for the core and lower body. Additionally, the lying knee up allows for more range of motion than the leg lift does, making it an ideal exercise for people who need extra flexibility and mobility.

Bridge On Knees

Graphic image of Bridge On Knees.

Bridge On Knees is a great complementary or alternative exercise to the traditional Leg Lift. It is a great way to strengthen and tone the core, glutes, and quads while also providing a good stretch for the hamstrings. Bridge On Knees can be done with both legs or one leg at a time, which allows for variation in intensity and difficulty. Additionally, it is a low-impact exercise that can be done with minimal risk of injury. Bridge On Knees is an excellent choice for those looking for an alternative to the traditional Leg Lift.

Find More Legs Exercises Here

Opposing Complementary Exercises

In order to properly balance the workout and increase the effectiveness of the Leg Lift exercise, it is important to incorporate exercises that work opposing muscle groups. This will help to create a balanced and symmetrical look while also helping to improve overall strength and stability. Below are some great exercises that complement the Leg Lift exercise by working the opposing muscle groups.

Straight Leg Cable Pull Through

Graphic image of Straight Leg Cable Pull Through.

The Straight Leg Cable Pull Through is a great complementary exercise to the Leg Lift. This exercise works the opposing muscle group, the hamstrings, which are essential for proper balance and stability. The Straight Leg Cable Pull Through is done by standing in a split stance with one foot slightly forward, holding a cable handle in both hands and keeping your back straight. You then pull the cable handle through your legs and back up, feeling the tension in your hamstrings. This exercise is great for strengthening the hamstrings and improving balance, making it the perfect complement to the Leg Lift.

Smith Machine Single Leg Deadlift

Graphic image of Smith Machine Single Leg Deadlift.

The Smith Machine Single Leg Deadlift is a great complement to the Leg Lift exercise, as it works the opposing muscle groups. This exercise targets the hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles, while the Leg Lift works the quads and core. The Smith Machine Single Leg Deadlift provides a balance to the Leg Lift, as it works the opposing muscle group. By incorporating both exercises into your routine, you can ensure that your lower body is receiving comprehensive and balanced training.

Smith Machine Hip Thrust

Graphic image of Smith Machine Hip Thrust.

The Smith Machine Hip Thrust is a great complement to the Leg Lift exercise. It works the opposing muscle group, the glutes and hip flexors, which help to balance out the muscles worked in the Leg Lift. The Smith Machine Hip Thrust forces the glutes and hip flexors to work in a controlled, vertical motion, which helps to ensure correct form while engaging those muscles. The Smith Machine Hip Thrust also allows for a greater range of motion than the Leg Lift, further developing strength and mobility in those areas.

Lift Your Way to Stronger Legs!

If you want to have stronger legs, lifting weights is a great place to start. By doing strength training exercises, you can improve the muscles in your legs, which can help prevent injuries and improve your overall fitness level. In addition, lifting weights can help you burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re not working out. So, if you’re looking to build strength and lean muscle in your legs, incorporating lifting exercises into your workout routine is a smart move!

References: Wikipedia | ExRx.net | PubMed.gov | Comprehensive List of Legs Bodyweight Exercises

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