The Lying Leg Raise exercise targets the lower abs, but also involves the hip flexors to a large extent.
If you have any lower back problems it may be wise to avoid this exercise as it can place torque on the lower back, especially if done incorrectly. The thrust part of this movement involves the lower abs in a different function...basically supporting and stabilizing the legs as you push the legs upwards.
How To Do Lying Leg Raises:
Lie flat on your back with your hands palms-down underneath your glutes to cradle your pelvis during the movement. Your upper back, arms, and hands will be all that is in contact with the floor throughout the exercise.
Keeping your legs stiff and straight, raise them up off the floor until vertical.
Thrust your legs upward as though trying to put footprints on the ceiling.
Lower your legs until your lower back is back on the floor then lower your feet down almost to the floor (don't touch the floor to maintain tension in the abs).
These are much more effective than simple lying leg raises as the thrust up further works the lower abs.
Tricks for Performing Lying Leg Raises:
1. Making it harder
To make the exercise harder, try to crunch your chest up at same time as you thrust your legs up.
2. The double thrust
Try doing two thrusts up for each leg raise.
Common Errors in the Lying Leg Raise Exercise:
1. Using momentum
Swinging the legs up will not effectively work the abs and can put excessive torque on your lower back. Always do this exercise under control.
2. Letting the feet hit the ground between reps
The feet should only touch the ground at the beginning and end of each set. It is important to maintain constant tension in the ab muscles and letting the feet touch the ground releases the tension in the abs.
3. Raising the legs too far back
The goal is not to get the legs back over the head. Only raise them until they are vertical, then thrust them up towards the ceiling.
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