Leg Raises with Stability Ball

Incorporating leg raises into your workout can yield many benefits to different muscle groups and your overall strength. Different types of leg raises can be performed to emphasize different muscle groups and gain more definition.

The very top of your legs at the point where your hips and thighs meet is strengthened through side leg raises. You exercise your leg abductor muscles of the gluteus medius and gluteus minimum with or without the use of a resistance tool. Your abductors respond with improved strength and tone from the repeated contractions during the exercise and a day of rest following the workout.

To get the most out of your leg raises, make sure to perform them slowly. Swinging your legs back and forth creates momentum rather than working the focus muscle groups, so avoid swinging. Also, follow the leg raises in your abdominal and core workout with exercises that work the opposing muscle group — the lower back specifically — and stretch before moving to the next part of your workout.

Muscle Groups Worked: Hips, Thighs, Core Muscles, & Lower Back Muscles.

Standing: Standing side leg raises are performed without additional resistance and use the weight of your leg to challenge the abductor muscles. Stand tall with your feet directly underneath your hips. Shift your weight onto your left foot and slightly lift your right foot off the floor. Keep your body tall and your right leg straight as you raise your right leg to the side. Lift your leg as high as possible without leaning to your left. Aim to lift your leg until it is parallel with the floor. Lower your leg with control and repeat eight to 12 lifts on your right leg. Complete an equal number of lifts with your left leg.

Resistance Band: Increase the challenge of your standing side leg lift by adding an exercise resistance band to the workout. Secure one end of the band to a low, stable object such as a chair or table leg. Wrap the band around the base and pull one handle through the other to form a secure loop. Stand with your left hip closest to the base. Place your right foot in the open handle. Stand tall and lift your straight right leg out to the side as it pulls against the resistance band. Complete eight to 12 leg lifts on each leg.

Side Lying: Lie on your left side. Stack your hips over each other and straighten your legs. Bend your left elbow and rest your arm on the floor for support underneath your head. Place your right hand on your right hip. Raise your straight right leg as high as possible without shifting your hips forward or backward. Slowly return your right leg to start position. Complete eight to 12 repetitions on each leg.

Stability Ball Leg Raises (Advanced): Lie on your left side on the stability ball, legs extended straight out and feet stacked. Position your left hand in a comfortable spot on the ball, and life your hips so that your body forms a straight line. Keeping your body in that position, slowly raise your right leg. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position. Do as many as you can in 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Check out these references:
Visit www.livestrong.com, www.menshealth.com, and www.shape.com for additional information.

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-Eric & Maleka Beal

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*Before beginning any fitness program, always see a qualified healthcare provider for advice and to address any questions or concerns. The exercises presented on this website are for suggestion only and should not be substituted for medical diagnosis or treatment. Participate at your own risk and stop if you feel faint or experience shortness of breath.