Leg Raises for Lower and Side Abdominals

leg raises for lower and side abdominals

Enter any gym in America, and there is no doubt you will see someone training abs. Particularly, upper abs. In most every gym in the country, at any given moment, you will see several people doing crunches, either on a bench or on a machine, in hope of building a spectacular midsection. Crunches are king. They are the default choice. Yet oddly, crunches only train half of the abdominal muscles.

Crunches emphasize the upper abs. Of the eight individual raised ridges, crunches only address the top 4. The bottom four remain untrained and neglected by most trainers. Fortunately, if you are one of those people who neglect them, it’s not too late. The lower abs is incredibly responsive to training. Hanging leg raises are a great way to train your lower abs. Let’s learn more about the exercise for bringing out this often-neglected muscle group.

Completing hanging leg raises is simple. Grab an overhead chinning bar with your hands and pull yourself off the ground. While hanging, keep your upper body completely still. With your feet together, knees straight, and legs extended, slowly bring the legs up so that your body is in an “L” shape.  This exercise works the lower abs. You will likely experience some serious soreness in the days following your first time doing this exercise.  Enjoy it as a sign of growth!

Additionally, you can employ twisting leg raises as a way to bring out detail in the side abdominals, another area often neglected by bodybuilders. Starting in the same position as with hanging leg raises, keep the feet together, but allow the knees to bend as you bring the weight up. Instead of bringing the legs up to move your body into an “L” shape, bend the knees and bring your right knee so that it comes up to your left hip. Then, bring up your left knee so that it rises to your right hip. You will be working the lower abs, the intercostals, and more importantly, the obliques. They are the side abs, a group that is neglected in so many bodybuilding routines.

Experiment with different leg raise movements to see which are most effective for you in brining up your particular weak areas. Abdominal training should include more than just crunches.  You should focus upon hitting the lower and side abs each week, and hanging and twisting leg raises are a good way to do this!