I was introduced to leg lifts as an athlete in college, but I didn't truly understand the benefits of leg lifts until after I had my daughter. After a bit of research and the completion of my Prenatal/Postnatal Exercise Certification, I decided that leg lifts were going to be a part of my recovery routine. Leg lifts target the internal hip flexors, the "6 pack" part of the abs, and the quads. I started doing them about a week after my daughter was born and I was able to easily modify and adjust them to meet my needs in the moment.
I was consistent in doing leg lifts for the first two months postpartum and I saw tremendous benefits: decreased back pain, a diastasis recti that was closing, and a tighter, firmer core. After two months I figured I was ready to move and went on to harder exercises. However, as women we know that throughout any given month we experience a myriad of different hormones, and if one hormone gets a little overbearing, our physique and function can drastically change. Around my 9 month mark being postpartum, this started happening to me, and the back pain, pelvic pain, and gap in my stomach started to come back. Since that point in time (we are now at 15 months), I have done leg lifts nearly every day, and I have not had any issues since. Regardless of whether you are a mom or a woman simply looking to strengthen and tighten your stomach, these simple exercises make a huge difference!
While each version of the leg raises may be different, there are a few things you should keep in mind while you preform them.
1. Always keep your core tight. As you do these leg lifts, your opposite hip may start to come off the ground. Your goal is to keep your hips even the entire time.
2. Lift your leg about a foot off the ground very slowly. You should reach about a foot by the time you count to 3. Repeat the same method going back down to the ground.
3. Complete sets of 20 reps. Once you've mastered 20 reps and it becomes easy, either add weight (ankle weights are awesome) or complete another set of 20!
Toe Up - Lay on your back with your toe pointed up to the ceiling. Complete one leg at a time. To make this exercise harder, leave your other leg straight out on the ground.
Toe out - Lay on your back with your toe turned to the outside of your body. To make this exercise harder, leave your other leg straight out on the ground.
Toe In - Lay on your back with your toe turned to the inside of your body. To make this exercise harder, leave your other leg straight out on the ground.
Left Side-Toe Straight - Lay on your left side and keep your toe straight out in front of you.
Right Side-Toe Straight - Lay on your right side and keep your toe straight out in front of you.
Left Side-Toe Up - Lay on your left side and keep your toe pointed toward the ceiling.
Right Side-Toe Up - Lay on your right side and keep your toe pointed toward the ceiling.
Left Side-Bottom Leg - Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the ground in front of your body. Lift your left leg with your toe pointed the same direction you are facing.
Right Side-Bottom Leg - Bend your left knee and place your left foot on the ground in front of your body. Lift your right leg with your toe pointed the same direction you are facing.
On your stomach-Raises - Lay on your stomach and keep your toe pointed toward the ground. Lift one leg at a time.
Bent Knee Leg Raises - Bend your leg to 90 degrees. Lift your leg straight toward the ceiling and release back down.
It takes me less than 10 minutes to do all of these exercises daily. It's crazy what just 10 minutes of exercise a day can do for your body! If you struggle with finding time or staying disciplined with an exercise routine, a 12 week program may be a perfect fit for you. Learn how to incorporate exercises like leg lifts into your everyday life by joining my 12 Week Program: Moving Forward! Just fill out the following form:
If you would like other great tips and advice, join my Facebook groups: Cr3ation Fit Moms and Cr3ation Fit Women.