How to Do Bench Leg Raises Properly

Bench leg raises are one of the many variations of the standard leg raise, a strength-training exercise that focuses on your core and your hip flexors.

Unlike the standard leg raise where you lay on your back on the ground, in the bench leg raise you lie on a bench.

If you are looking to strengthen your core while working your hip flexors, the bench leg raise could be your new favourite exercise.

Required equipment: Bench

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How to do them:

  • Lie on your back on a bench.
  • Extend your legs in front of you at the end of the bench.
  • Place your hands under your glutes or by your sides gripping the bench.
  • Keeping your legs as straight as possible, raise them until they are at a 90-degree angle with the ground.
  • Exhale and tighten your core while you are at the top.
  • Stay in this position for a second or two.
  • Now, inhale as you lower your legs back to the starting position in a slow and controlled motion.

As you advance, you can increase the challenge by holding a dumbbell between your feet.

WHAT MUSCLES DO BENCH LEG RAISES WORK?

ANTERIOR HIP FLEXORS

Your hip flexors work extra hard to support your legs as you lift and lower them. This exercise fires stretches and strengthens your anterior hip flexors to give you better stability and balance.

CORE

The muscles in your core isometrically stabilize your body as you move your legs. As a result, this exercise strengthens your rectus abdominis and your obliques.

BENCH LEG RAISES BENEFITS

BUILDS YOUR CORE

Crunches and sit-ups aren’t the only way to build rock-solid abs. Bench leg raises also build your core by working both your upper and lower abs.

Unlike other core-centric exercises which mostly just focus on the upper abs, the bench leg raise does not leave your lower abs out.

IMPROVES HIP FLEXIBILITY AND STRENGTH

Bench leg raises to strengthen your hip flexors hence enhancing the flexibility of your hips.

When your hips are flexible, you will find it easier to do a plank and you probably won’t mind taking the stairs if the elevator is not working.

IMPROVES STABILITY AND BALANCE

Leg raises provide extra support to your upper body so whenever are wearing high heels or you are on a balance ball, you will not stumble and fall.

They help you stay centred and develop better balance which becomes even more important as you grow older.

BURNS FAT

By activating and isolating muscles in your midsection, bench leg raises help burn the fat in your abdomen to give you that toned tummy you’ve been yearning for.

Aside from the aesthetic benefit of a toned tummy, it also stabilizes your spine and protects it from injury.

ALTERNATIVES TO BENCH LEG RAISES

BICYCLE KICKS

In this exercise, you will need to elevate your shoulders and legs off the ground and pull one of your knees into your chest while keeping the other extended. The extended leg should not touch the ground.

You will then switch to the other leg and repeat the same steps, making a movement that resembles riding a bicycle.

This exercise will increase your core strength and strengthen your hip flexors, just like the bench leg raise.

DOUBLE CRUNCH

The double crunch is a core exercise in which the lifter performs a lying knee pull in and a crunch at the same time.

You do the double crunch by lying on the floor with your hands and feet fully extended. Your limbs should be pulling inwards towards your chest.

Like the bench leg raise, this exercise works your abdominal muscles and your hip flexors to enhance your upper body strength.

LYING LEG RAISES

The lying leg raise is almost like the bench leg raise, except you do it while lying on the floor.

This exercise ensures your abs are fully engaged by keeping your limbs very far away from your core, which causes the abs to work harder to keep your upper body still.

WEIGHTED LEG RAISE

In this variation of the standard leg raise, you hold a sandbell or a dumbbell between your feet so that you have extra weight to carry as you lift and lower your legs.

Use a relatively lightweight to prevent slipping as you perform this exercise.

BENCH LEG RAISES MISTAKES TO AVOID

MOVING YOUR TORSO

Your torso should remain completely still during this exercise. This will enable your core muscles to work extra hard to provide energy for lifting your legs up and down.

If you move your torso, you will hinder the full engagement of your abdominal muscles which would make the exercise less effective.

LETTING YOUR HEELS TOUCH THE GROUND

When you let your heels touch the ground, your core muscles don’t get to work hard enough to keep your torso still.

Ensure your heels stay off the ground to achieve maximum stability.

TOO MUCH REST TIME BETWEEN REPS

When you are done with one rep, move to the next without taking too much rest time. This way, the exercise will be more effective than if you were to take long breaks between reps.

BENDING YOUR LEGS

Your legs should be straight and your knees together throughout this exercise. Bending your knees might deter full core engagement which could render this exercise ineffective.

CONCLUSION

Bench leg raises make for a very effective core-centric exercise that, unlike other ab exercises, works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles.

They also help you develop better posture by strengthening your hip flexors and back muscles.  This is especially beneficial to people who spend a lot of time sitting.

What’s even better, this exercise helps you build your core without hurting your spine since your torso remains still all through.

Try bench leg raises today for a stronger, sculpted core. Who knows, you might like it enough to add it to your daily core workout routine and get those toned abs sooner than you expected.