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Tone Abs & Leg Lifts – How to Use Your Legs to Show Six-Pack Abs

Leg lifts tone abs

How do you tone your abs with leg lifts? Leg lifts are one of the most effective exercises you can do to tone your abs – period. If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly, no-equipment movement, you can do it at home, in a hotel room, in the gym, or virtually anywhere else, then leg lifts are for you. What’s more, this exercise has a fantastic overloading potential, and you can use it to challenge yourself for months, even years.

Today, we’ll go over the ab musculature and how to tone your abs with leg lifts.

Let’s dive in.

How do leg lifts tone your abs so effectively (and what are some mistakes to avoid)?

Thanks to the unique anatomy and function of your ab muscles, doing leg raises train them. To lift your legs toward the ceiling, your abs need to exert a lot of force.

Leg raises are one of the best bottom-up exercises for the abs, but you need to do them the right way. You see, leg raises are relatively straightforward, but several minor errors can take away the tension from your abs and force your hip flexors to work overtime.

First, make sure that, as you lift your legs, your heels never go over your chest or head. By doing that, you will make the most challenging portion of the leg lift much more straightforward. Instead, raise your legs until your heels are straight up from your hips.

Second, avoid using momentum and do your best not to rock on your lower back, butt, and pelvis. Sure, you can do more work like that, but it takes away the tension from your abs and defeats the exercise’s purpose.

And finally, avoid resting your legs on the floor between repetitions. Again, it may allow you to do more reps, but you’re trying to develop at the expense of removing tension from the muscles.

How to tone your abs with leg lifts

The most important thing you need to do is get the proper technique down. Meaning:

  1. Lie on the floor and place your arms to your sides with palms planted firmly.
  2. Ensure that your head, butt, and heels contact the floor and that your legs are straight.
  3. From there, lift your feet off the floor and begin raising them toward the ceiling. Make sure to keep them straight throughout the entire range of motion.
  4. Once your feet point toward the ceiling, hold for a second. Then, start lowering them in a controlled fashion until your heels are a couple of inches off the floor.
  5. Repeat.

Aside from the classic leg lift exercise, you can also do these:

  • Lying knee lifts – a more comfortable variation if you don’t have the ab strength yet
  • Scissor leg lifts – move your legs up and down like they are scissors cutting paper.
  • Halfway leg lifts – do it as you typically would, but drop your legs only halfway and then lift them again.

A weekly sample routine you can use to tone your abs with leg lifts.

One of the most effective ways to tone your abs with leg lifts is to do them more frequently. That way, you’ll also be able to build up your ab strength much quicker.

So, before we wrap this up, here is a simple routine you can use to strengthen and tone your abs:

Day 1 (e.g., Monday)

Lying leg lifts – 4 sets of 15 to 25 reps

Day 2 (e.g., Wednesday)

Halfway leg lifts – 4 sets of 10 to 25 reps

Day 3 (e.g., Friday)

Lying leg lifts (with a longer pause at the bottom) – 4 sets of 10 to 20 reps


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