Are Leg Raises or Knee Raises More Beneficial?
Leg raises activate more of the abs as you are lifting the entire weight of your legs. Both do have their benefits and differences, which I will explain in this article.
How do you properly perform leg raises for your abs? Lie on your back on a mat with your legs extended. Placing your hands face down, out by your sides, push down against the floor. This will help keep your body from raising off the ground. Raise your legs up towards the ceiling while keeping your thighs together and bracing your abs. Once you can’t get your legs any higher, slowly return them back down. Hover them just above the floor and then raise them back up to keep constant tension on the abs. Make sure to keep your legs straight and do not arch your back.
Benefits? Not only are they a great lower ab and entire core builder, they also strengthen the hips and lower back. If you do the hanging leg raise, you’ll improve grip strength as you are holding up your entire weight. Also, your shoulder mobility and stability are strengthened. This helps realign your body posture and improves shoulder health. Many people struggle with back pain and hanging can help reduce this. This is because in a free hang position, your joints are in traction, relaxing your muscles, joints, tendons, and spine, which takes pressure off your back. The main muscles in your abdomen is the rectus abdominus. It is in the center of the abdomen and resembles the abs. Every time you shorten the distance between your hips and ribs, which happens when you lift your knees and legs.
Here are some variations to either make the movement easier or harder depending on your fitness level. You can do a single leg raise. Keeping one leg on the floor will help stabilize your body, making the movement easier. On the other hand, if the exercise is getting too easy for you, you can add weight. Either place a medicine ball or a dumbbell in between your feet. Be careful, make sure you have a good grip. Start with the lightest weight possible and work your way up. It doesn’t take a lot of weight to add intensity.
You can also do the hanging version, which adds the difficulties of stabilizing your body and holding your weight up. Hanging leg raises are another way to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Hanging from a pull up bar or anything that can support your body weight, you perform a leg raise while having to stabilize your entire body.
Start by gripping a pull up bar and hanging from it so that you are not touching the ground. Brace your abs and slowly raise your knees upwards towards your chest. Then slowly return your knees to the bottom. The benefits include targeting your entire core and improving stability. It requires a lot of stability to maintain stiff form while hanging. Your forearms will also get a good workout holding your body weight up, and it will increase your grip strength. Knee raises also strengthen the muscles that prevent your back from arching. This is huge as back arching during movements such as the squat and deadlift can lead to serious injury.
Back support? Using a back support pad makes the movement easier as you do not have to worry about stabilizing your body. Your arms will also not give out before your abs as they are holding up your body weight the entire time. You can also perform more reps since you aren’t stabilizing and holding yourself up at the same time. This results in more ab muscle breakdown and growth.
Mistakes to avoid while performing this exercise include arching your back as it deactivates your abs and will focus more on your hip flexors. Suck in your stomach and squeeze your abs to fix this. Swinging your legs is another mistake that can take away from your abs doing the work. Lift and lower your legs slowly to make sure your abs are doing the work, not your legs. When you swing your knees up quickly, your abs are not working very hard.
If you find that you can do past 15 repetitions with correct form, you may want to increase the difficulty of the exercise, so that you can work your abs more. The Supine straight-leg raise is where you start by lying on your back on the floor. With legs extended, lift your feet off the floor without arching your back and keeping your core braced. Keep your legs straight and move them up and down without touching the floor. This will keep your abs under constant tension and is not easy. At the top and bottom of the knee raise, your abs have half a second where they are rested. This exercise doesn’t not give them any rest. Ankle weights can be worn or a dumbbell held in between the legs to further increase the intensity.
Perform an oblique twist to hit the side of your abs, the love handle area. Begin the exercise the same way, lifting your knees up towards your chest. When your thighs are almost parallel to the floor, twist your knees to the right bringing them towards your shoulder. Return your leg back down and then do the other side. You should feel the burn in the side of your abs or your obliques.
So Which Is Better?
The knee raise is usually more of a beginner ab workout compared to the leg raise. The leg raise is a more advanced version where the lifter must raise the entire weight of the legs. It can be done lying on the floor or hanging from a pull up bar. Since a greater load is being lifted with the abdominals, the leg raise is considered to be harder. The hanging version of both exercises increases difficulty as opposed to lying on the floor as the body must be stabilized.