leg raises progression

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The leg raise is a great exercise for your core, but it can also be a terrific way to build up your six-pack abs. The exercises are simple, and you can even do them at home!

Leg raises are one of the most underrated exercises in fitness. They’re not generic and more popular like your regular sit-ups and crunches, but leg raises are a great way to work your core, hip flexors and strengthen your back muscles without the risk of destroying your spine. 

Leg raise progressions are often overlooked as well, so we put together this definitive guide for all levels of fitness; from beginner to advanced.

Why do leg raises?

Stronger hip flexors

Are you feeling weak and tight in your weak flexors? While stretching might be able to help to some degree, strengthening this area using leg raises will provide a better result. Tightness is a manifestation of weakness which is why leg raises is perfect to address the issue.

Better 6-pack

Crunches and sit-ups have their place, but it’s mostly for beginners. You don’t want and need to do hundreds of those.

Leg raises offer a progressive exercise that’s always going to be challenging wherever you are in your fitness journey. The exercise targets your whole rectus abdominis in its full functions which are perfect for building bigger ab muscles.

Transferable core strength

The hollow body position at the bottom allows for maximum strength of the body line. Strength gains are transferable to many calisthenics movements that can lead to More advanced calisthenics workout.

Easy to progress

The hanging leg raise is by no means an easy exercise, but it’s easy to adjust the intensity to initiate progressive overload. Leg raise has many variations so you can get started implementing this to your routine at any level.

Scapula stabilization

Whether you choose hanging or the supported hold variation, you need to execute the movement with a depressed scapula. This trains the muscle which transfers to stronger pull-ups, dips, and other movement patterns.

Stronger grip

When you move to the hanging leg progression, you need to grip the bar for extended periods of time to be able to bust out the reps in your workout. You might not notice it, but your grip gets stronger over time which is perfect for your pull-up workouts.

General core strength development

As mentioned earlier, performing the hanging leg raises helps to develop a stronger core, and hips (and to an extent, the arms and legs). You also achieve the other health benefits of having a strong core such as better posture, a healthier spine, better balance, and so much more.

Good back health

Traditional ab training usually involves situps and crunches. Research shows that these popular floor ab trainers could wreck your back as well as develop the wrong muscle group.

Leg raises, without putting unnecessary pressure on your lower back, target, focus, and develop primarily our ab muscles.

Hanging Leg Raises vs Support Hold Leg Raises

The two exercises are very much related/similar. As you’ll notice, both exercises require you to raise your legs, engage your lower abs and hip flexor muscles. The movement pattern for the lower body is similar.

The main difference is the grip and the scapula action. For the hanging progression, you need to pull back your shoulders for depression. For the support hold progression, the scapula is depressed by pushing down with your shoulders.

Supported hold/dip leg raise is a viable option if you’re grip strength is limiting you when performing reps or if you are more interested in the pushing component with the given difference of the scapula position.

Perform the exercise that suits your goals.

Pull-up or chin-up grip

Your grip on the bar could slightly affect your workout especially when you begin the lifting motion.

A chin-up grip minimizes the swing backward so you can maintain a vertical body alignment when you’re raising your hips. But this grip is a bit more taxing on the shoulders and arms due to the forced external rotation.

A pull-up grip is a bit more comfortable on the shoulders and arms but is prone to leaning backward which takes away the demands on your abs and hip flexors and puts more load on your lats.

Choose a grip that lets you follow a strict form.

Lying raises

Beginners can start the journey in the lying position. Once mastered this exercise, you can move towards the hanging variation.

General rules for form

Performing any of the leg raise progression and variation, whether it be lying, dip, or hanging leg raises, requires a proper form. It’s the only way to get the most out of the exercise.

Take note of these tips below and focus on making it a point of avoiding the mistakes, and committing

  • Move slowly and with control. Avoid the use of momentum
  • Scapula depressed
  • Complete the full range of motion for specific progression
  • Avoid leaning backward with your upper body
  • Choosing a variation appropriate for your skill level
  • Keep posterior pelvic tilt at the bottom position
  • BREATHE! Inhale upwards then exhale downwards
  • Point your toes (unless you use your feet to hold a dumbbell for weighted variations)
  • For lying progression, keep your lower back pressed on the floor before lifting your legs.
  • Roll your hips forward.

About this Progression

This is a core muscle exercise progression which will build great strength, endurance and sweet muscular definition in your abdominal muscles. Leg raises hit your core muscles, so you gain a better athletic shape, more agile movement and perfect form. As you might know, core control is vital for every calisthenics move and skill work.

This is a lot better than doing your basic crunches that are too easy and can hurt havoc on your back. Time to level and do the best exercises for your abs.

Basic principles still apply to all of the exercise progressions. Breathe normally while performing controlled movements. Visualize the movements being executed by the abdominal muscles and you will be able to enjoy a 6-pack soon!

DOWNLOAD 10 STEPS LEG RAISES PROGRESSION!

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LEG RAISES PROGRESSION

Level:

Goal

Beginner

to master leg raises

Leg Raises Progression Exercise List

 

Step 1: Flat Knee Raises

Start by lying on the floor with your legs at a 90-degree bend and feet on the floor. Hands by your side. Lift your knees towards your chest. Pause at the topmost position for a second before lowering slowly again to the ground.

TMA Flat Knee Raises

Step 2: Flat Knee Raises

Start by lying on the floor with your legs at a 90-degree bend and feet on the floor. Hands by your side. Lift your knees towards your chest. Pause at the topmost position for a second before lowering slowly again to the ground.

TMA Knee Raises on Elbows

Step 3: Flat Bent Leg Raises

Lie on the floor again but with your legs just slightly bent about 6 inches from the floor. Lift your legs from this position until your thighs are perpendicular to your body. Lower back down to the starting position. By now you should feel your core straining to keep your legs supported off the ground.

TMA Knee Raises on Elbows

Step 4: Flat Straight Leg Raises

Lie completely flat on the floor. Begin by raising your legs. Hold your legs straight until they are perpendicular to your body. Lower with control on the way back down. The contraction of your abs occurs when you engaging your lower abs to lift up your legs and when you lower your legs. Keep your upper body rigid by pushing down with your hands.

TMA Flat Straight Leg Raises

Step 5: Hanging Knee Raises

Now that you’ve built good foundational core strength, we’ll move to the first of the hanging leg raise. Hang from a pull-up bar with a hollow body. Tuck your knees to your chest until your hips are past 90 degrees, then slowly lower them back down. Don’t let momentum sway you around.

TMA Hanging Knee Raises

Step 6: Hanging Frog Raises

Hang with your legs bent at 90-degrees and open. Lift your knees to your chest while keeping the “frog-like” position. The open leg position puts more strain on the thighs. Move your hips forward then lower your legs back to the ground then repeat for reps. 

TMA Hanging Frog Raises

Step 7: Partial Hanging Leg Raises

Raising the intensity further is done by extending our legs. Start by holding your legs straight and slightly raised from the basic hanging position. Raise them slightly until they are completely straight and parallel to the ground before returning to the original partially raised position. 

TMA Partial Hanging Leg Raises

Step 8: Hanging Straight Leg Raises

The ultimate goal of this progression. Start in the straight leg hanging position and raise your legs using your (now very strong) core muscles until they touch the bar. If you have worked through this progression, we are proud of you. If you think you have hit the skill ceiling, you can still make it more challenging by adding weights to your feet but make sure you can still perform with proper form. 

TMA Hanging Straight Leg Raises

How to add your workout?

Now that we’ve included the important tips and progressions, it’s time to move to how you can implement the exercise in your routine.

Here it is:

  • Choose the right progression for you
  • 3 sets of 10 to 20 rep range
  • 1 to 2 minute rest period
  • Do this at the end of your workouts
  • 2 to 3 times per week

 

To sum it up

Leg raise is an amazing movement pattern you need to include in your workout. It’s simple, easy to progress, and very effective in building your abs and overall health.

The move has a high skill ceiling and very low entry point so every level of fitness can enjoy the fantastic benefits of leg raises.

If you’re unsure where and how to fit the exercise into your routine, taking our assessment can massively help so you can know where to start your journey and you can also get a personalized workout that is more effective and more fun!

 

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