If, like me, you’re looking for a defined midsection, leg lifts are an exercise that can help. Personally, I incorporate leg lifts into my gym routine once a week. I’m definitely not a slave to them, but on the other hand, I could definitely push myself to do more in my abs workouts.
Leg raises are pretty much exactly what they say on the box – this is an abdominal workout that involves lowering and raising the legs, using the core muscles as well as the flexors of hip. From my understanding, there are three different types of leg raises. – lying leg raises, hanging leg raises, then leg raises performed using the Captain Chair frame – that weird machine you’ve probably spotted in the gym.
In an attempt to really focus on movement and work my abs, I chose to do 50 leg lifts a day, for two weeks. In the name of good journalism, I mainly focused on the hanging leg lifts, as these are the most difficult variations. Read on to find out what happened.
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How to do a leg lift
Let’s start with leg lifts that are done on the ground, lying on a mat, arms along the body and legs together. To do the leg raise, slowly raise your legs up to the ceiling, keeping them straight, until they form a 90 degree angle to your body. As you do this, keep your back supported on the ground by tilting your pelvis upwards. Then slowly lower your legs.
There are also hanging leg raises. As the name suggests, it’s all about hanging up – usually grabbing onto a high bar – and lifting your legs out in front of you. The key here is to maintain a tight core and back, keeping the torso still, as the core pushes the legs (which remain straight throughout) upwards. I usually have my legs up to a point where they form a 90 degree angle with my torso, although to be honest I find them hard so often my knees are bent when I lift my legs.
Finally, the leg raises on the captain’s chair frame – the majority of my leg raises for my experiment were done on this. Here, your forearms rest on the arms of the chair, supporting the body, your back is pressed against the Bosu ball, and you engage your core to drive your legs up. It’s much easier to maintain control with this machine, and if you don’t have good grip strength, it allows you to work your core, without worrying about hanging on to the bar.
I Did 50 Leg Lifts A Day For 14 Days – Here’s What Happened To My Abs
Is 50 leg lifts a day the secret to the six-pack of my dreams? Here’s what happened when I made the move for 14 days.
My hip flexors felt stronger
Hanging leg raises are great for working the hip flexors — the muscles at the front of the hips that help you bend your leg toward your body. During leg lifts, especially if you manage to keep your legs straight throughout, the hip flexors kick in as you lift your legs.
Doing 50 leg lifts most definitely lifted mine, and I found my weighted dumbbell lunges to be a little easier at the end of the two weeks – an exercise that requires hip flexion strength.
Leg lifts are not easy
Do floor leg lifts – very good. Hanging leg raises – a completely different story. After just a few reps, my legs struggle to stay straight and my hands are screaming at me as I grab the bar. If you’re new to the world of hanging leg raises, I recommend that you don’t jump straight in with 50 a day. Instead, if you have the option, opt for captain’s chair leg lifts – while still difficult, they’re not nearly as uncomfortable.
You can launch many variants
To be bored? Try mixing things up with some leg lift variations, like around the world (where your legs stop at different points up and down), hanging wiper (legs move side to side in front your face) and toes to the bar (where your legs come up to the bar) are just three examples.
They’re all brutal – I can handle about three hanging wipers before my body wants to collapse. The other two variations are totally off limits in my eyes, but if you’re up for a challenge, give them a try.
My grip has improved
When performing hanging leg lifts, both hands need a solid grip around a bar. To increase gripping power, many people use chalk, which is placed on the palms of the hands to keep them dry. My gym didn’t have chalk handy, so I just grabbed the bar with my bare hands, eventually earning a few calluses in the process. But, after a week, I noticed my grip strength improved and it was easier to hold the bar.
To start, I would do about six leg lifts before I had to drop down and give my hands a break. This meant that 50 leg lifts took quite a long time, so the captain’s chair became very useful at this point. By the end of the two weeks, however, I was doing 12 hanging leg lifts without a break.
My lower abs jumped out
I don’t usually train my abs every day, rather I do a few ab moves at the end of my workouts once or twice a week. Going all out and doing leg lifts every day fired up my core muscles, tremendously.
After only a few days, I noticed that my abdomen was noticeably more toned. However, I will add that my body fat percentage – although it may be lower – is about low enough that some of my abdominal muscles are already showing. (Here is how to calculate your body fat percentage and why it matters).
I Did 50 Leg Lifts A Day For Two Weeks – Here’s My Verdict
This was one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever accepted, mainly because I could only manage about 10 hanging leg lifts before I had to drop down and reset. Since I didn’t want to stick to lying leg raises, I alternated between hanging leg raises and captain’s chair raises, so 50 reps a day took a while.
That said, the hard work has paid off – my abs have definitely woke up and I feel like I’ve strengthened other parts of my body, like my grip strength.
Would I recommend this challenge? 100% – you will definitely see the benefits in your heart. That said, if hanging leg raises are too tricky, I recommend starting with lying leg raises and starting one or two repetitions of hanging leg raises at the end of the session. Or, if your gym has one, the Captain’s Chair will be your best friend.
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