How To Do Double Leg Lifts Properly

The double leg lifts are a popular core exercise that works both the upper and lower abdominal muscles, as well as the hip flexors.

It is a classic Pilates movement often done to build abdominal strength, but it also enhances your lower body strength by working some of the lower body muscles.

What you need: A mat (optional)

How to do it:

  • Lie on your back on the floor/mat.
  • Extend your legs toward the ceiling, rotating them slightly and keeping your heels together.
  • Point the toes upward and place both of your hands behind your head, with your elbows wide and your chest open.
  • Inhale deeply.
  • Exhale, and then pull your abs down. Allow this motion to press your lower back onto the floor as your torso curls off the floor. Your torso should remain in this position throughout the movement.
  • Inhale once again and press your back onto the mat as you maintain a tight core and lengthen your legs.
  • Start lowering your legs slowly. This lowering motion should take longer than the lifting motion.
  • Go as far as you can while maintaining alignment and control, then pause for a few seconds.
  • Exhale and then lift your legs to an upright position. This motion should be done in a slow and controlled fashion, with your abs tight.
  • Repeat these steps as many times as you desire.

WHAT MUSCLES DO DOUBLE LEG LIFTS WORK?

Double leg lifts work your upper and lower abs, and the Sartorius muscle which helps rotate your hips during the movement.

It also activates and recruits your quadriceps and your glutes.

Additionally, this exercise works small stabilizing muscles around the sides and front of your neck which are responsible for holding up the weight of your head.

DOUBLE LEG LIFTS BENEFITS

NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED

The best thing about this exercise is that it requires no equipment to execute, which means you can do it anywhere, any time.

This makes it ideal for people who are traveling and those who prefer home workouts to train in the gym.

However, you can always choose to use a mat for extra comfort, but there’s no harm if you don’t use it either.

CORE STRENGTH

Double leg lifts extensively isolate and strengthen the entire core – from the rectus abdominis and internal obliques to the external obliques and transverse abdominis.

STRONGER HIP FLEXORS

As much as this exercise is designed to work your core, it also fires up your hip flexors as you lift and lower your legs.

Stronger hip flexors will improve your performance in movements that require hip mobility such as running, sprinting and squatting.

ALLEVIATE LOWER BACK PAIN

If you suffer from lower back pain, double leg lifts can help alleviate it by strengthening your core, which in turn stabilizes your back muscles and relieves the pain.

ALTERNATIVES TO DOUBLE LEG LIFTS

SQUATS

Squats are primarily designed to target the quads and glutes, but they also work your core and lower legs.

There are many variations of the squat, but here’s how to do to the basic one:

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Turn your toes outward.
  • Press your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Pull the shoulders down.
  • Straighten your back and tighten your core.
  • Hinge your hips back and bend the knees.
  • Lower your hips slowly until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your knees should be above your ankle.
  • Pushing into your heels, stand up to get back to the starting position.
  • Do 2 sets of 10-12 reps each.

REVERSE LUNGE

Like the squat, the reverse lunge tones and strengthens your quads and glutes while also working your core and hamstrings.

Steps:

  • Stand straight, with your feet side by side.
  • Take a step back with your right foot.
  • Lower the right knee to about 90 degrees.
  • Drive the right foot into the floor then get back to the starting position.
  • Repeat these steps with your left leg to complete a rep.
  • Do 10-12 reps for 2-3 sets.

WAIST CINCHER WITH SINGLE LEG LIFT

This movement is an alternative way to work your core effectively and safely while recruiting your deep core muscles.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Extend one leg forward as you flex that foot.
  • Place one of your hands on your core, over your belly button.
  • Inhale and then exhale as you draw your belly button towards your spine and lift the extended leg some inches off the floor.
  • As you draw in your belly button, draw your chin towards your chest too. Note that your shoulder blades should remain in contact with the mat/floor through these motions.
  • Inhale once again as you return you head and leg to the starting position.
  • Do 2-3 sets of at least 10 reps each.

DOUBLE LEG LIFTS MISTAKES TO AVOID

LIFTING YOUR LOWER BACK OFF THE MAT

You should only go as low as you can while maintaining good form and control.

Don’t let your back arch from the mat as you are lowering your legs. You can keep them on the floor by pulling in your abs to stabilize your upper body.

PULLING UP YOUR NECK OR HEAD WITH ARMS

You might be tempted to hold yourself up by pulling on your neck and head with your hands and elbows – don’t do it.

Instead, use your upper ab muscles to maintain the chest lift.

HOLDING YOUR BREATH

Like in every other that recruits your core, you need to breathe through the double leg lifts so that you are able to fully activate your core muscles which then help stabilize your body as you exercise.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Double leg lifts are a sure way to work your core alongside other muscles that are responsible for lower body mobility and strength.

They require minimal equipment to execute, which means you can do them outside the gym and get the same results, as long as you use the correct form.

Add this movement to your routine today and watch your core grow stronger.