The back leg lift is a single- joint exercise that strengthens the glutes and improves hip mobility.
It is also very easy for those with a beginner level of physical fitness and exercise experience as one does not need any equipment to perform it- just a mat for your knees and some space.
Additionally, the back leg lifts do not only work on your core, rather, they also work your hips and low back, making them a great move to master for improved general strength.
Unlike other muscles such as the abs which work your abs, the back leg lifts will also recruit other stabilizing muscles.
If you want to include the back leg lifts into your routine, read on to get a deeper understanding of them.
TIPS FOR BACK LEG LIFTS
This exercise will require you to raise your leg as high as possible. In order to do this, consider slightly rotating your hip and knee.
Engage your muscles throughout this routine and don’t swing your legs as this will make the move less effective.
Consider making the move more challenging by employing the use of equipment like bands to add resistance.
HOW TO DO BACK LEG LIFTS PROPERLY
Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under the hips. Extend one leg behind you and lift it to the hip level and then slowly lower it back down. Repeat with the opposite leg to complete one set.
PROPER BREATHING PATTERN AND FORM OF BACK LEG LIFTS
When it comes to the back leg lifts, proper form and breathing are important to help you avoid injuries and engage your muscles respectively throughout. Here is the right way to have it.
When performing the back leg lift, be keen to maintain your spine in a neutral position and keep your head in line with your neck.
Also, ensure that you engage your core, keep the working leg straight and tighten your abs. As you lift your leg, breathe out and squeeze your glutes as you slowly return to the starting position.
This simple routine will ensure that you are doing your back leg lifts properly and effectively.
WHAT MUSCLES DO BACK LEG LIFTS WORK?
Despite the simplicity of this exercise, it works the three main hip abductor muscles: Gluteus medius, Gluteus maximus and Gluteus minimus.
These muscles work together to facilitate the movement around your hip joint and as so, making them stronger will come in handy in protecting this critical lower body joint and help you to move better.
Although it is mostly overshadowed by the gluteus maximus muscle, the gluteus medius is responsible for keeping your pelvis stable, hips level and also maintaining a balance when you are standing on one leg.
The gluteus medius is the muscle that suffers greatly when you are in a prolonged poor sitting position.
Strengthening this particular muscle through back leg lifts will help prevent cases such as the dead butt syndrome and other problematic conditions from happening.
Despite its small size, the gluteus minimus is an important part of the gluteus muscle group that helps to keep your pelvis in position as you take strides while walking or running.
It is also the one that is found deep inside the muscle and works together with the gluteus medius to help rotate your leg and raise it during the back leg lifts routinely.
TENSOR FASCIAE LATAE
This muscle, TFL is the core actor in hip rotation.
Additionally, it also helps in other key functions of the other two hip abductors, stabilizing the hip and knee joints with the gluteus maximus.
Although you might not have heard of this muscle before, fitness experts have come to note its importance and have therefore devised ways to target it in fitness routines.
BENEFITS OF THE BACK LEG LIFTS
The back leg lifts routine is a good exercise especially for beginners. It targets both the glutes and the quads.
The exercise also helps to lengthen and tone your muscles. You will also be able to perform daily activities with ease since it strengthens your core.
This exercise routine is also great, especially for those people sitting behind a desk all day. This is because it will increase the strength and flexibility of your hips and lower back.
ALTERNATIVES TO BACK LEG LIFTS
Some of these alternatives may require you to use equipment such as Swiss balls.
HIP RAISE WITH FEET ON SWISS BALL
This alternative will work towards increasing stability and balance in your hips while improving the strength in your glutes, lower back, and hamstrings.
HIP EXTENSION AND CROSS
This alternative is an isolation exercise that targets your thighs and glutes while increasing stability throughout your core.
STANDING REAR LEG RAISE
This exercise will increase strength in your lower body, putting more emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings. Additionally, it will also improve your core stability and balance.
FIRE HYDRANT IN AND OUT
This alternative will increase flexibility and strength throughout your core and hip regions. You can also use it as a warm up to prepare your lower body for physical activity.
INCLINE REAR LEG EXTENSION
Just like the back leg lifts, the incline rear leg routine too does not require any equipment. It is similar to the back leg lifts, only that your body will be inclined a bit high up.
This alternative will build strength and coordination through your hips. Since each leg is trained individually, muscular balance is also achieved on both sides.
COMMON MISTAKES TO AVOID
Avoid going too far and hyperextending your back at the top of the exercise as this could lead to injuries.
Avoid bending forward at the torso during the routine to make it more effective.
The back leg lifts are a great routine especially for those who sit for long hours.
Feel free to do as many reps as you want, according to your workout plan or routine, as this will come in handy in strengthening your lower back muscles.