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Side Leg Raises- Know All The Variations!
You would not want to miss your leg day knowing how great side leg raises are to up your fitness game to another level. By simply adding side leg raises to your routine, you will be strengthening and working on your backside, thighs, and hips altogether. Who wouldn’t want that in their fitness regimen?
If you wish to firm your butt, side leg raises are great workouts to get you the way you want to look. Whether from a lying position or standing position, these leg raises helps to work your glutes and hips, along with lower abdominals. Not only do side leg raises sculpt your body, but they also help improve your balance and posture.
If you feel balance is an issue for you while performing side leg raises, you can start with lying side leg raises as it makes it slightly easier to isolate the correct muscles.
Let’s see what side leg raises are and how you can easily perform them.
What is side leg raises?
Side leg raises exercises to include abducting or pushing away your leg from the midline. It is a simple yet effective way to build strength in the hip abductors and outer side which also includes the gluteus minimus and medius. You can perform side leg raises by standing or lying down using your body weight itself. This makes it quite easy to perform few reps pretty much everywhere.
When you perform side leg raises, many muscles are at work, let’s go through them for a quick understanding.
Muscles at work
The strongest and most well-known muscle of the derriere is called the Gluteus maximum. This means gluteus medius might sometimes get overlooked, even though it is important and plays a vital role as it is the muscle accountable for your hip’s stabilization.
Side leg raises are great to target this overlooked muscle primarily, which leads to many benefits, some are:
- use of muscles that are not normally active in people who sit for lengthened periods every day
- enhanced muscle endurance
- better scope of motion in the hips
- more reliable body stabilization
Strengthening all these muscles using side leg raises will also help prevent any pain and injury in the knees, hips, and lower back.
How To Perform Side leg Raises
There are many variations in this amazing exercise. You can either perform lying or standing side leg raises or go for other workouts that offer similar sort of benefits.
1. Lying side leg raises
If you are not good with doing standing raises, you can simply lie down and perform these.
- Lie on the right side keeping your feet and hips stacked. For this step you need to extend out on the floor straight, being the elbows to rest one hand on the lower arm. For your upper arm, either out it in front of you or use it for support by keeping it at your hips.
- If you are not feeling stable lying down in this position on the floor, try bracing the sole of your foot against the wall as it helps you feel more stable and secure. One more way to use for stability is to bend the lower knee keeping it at a 90-degree angle. But the leg you want to raise should be straight, this helps with more balance.
- Now lift the upper leg until you feel the hips are also starting to lift. Lift the leg slowly keeping control as high as you can with comfort without rolling forward or tilting your hips. Make sure your body remains in a straight line and you need to activate your glutes for lifting your legs, in this way it provides maximum results.
- Your focus should not remain on how high you are lifting your leg, instead to work the glutes, your hips should remain as straight as possible can keep. If you are simply rolling forward for lifting the legs higher, you are not going to see the results.
- Now lower your leg to the position of start. For this, pause for a second when your leg raises and then gradually lower it back. Control this movement by resisting your leg’s weight rather than simply allowing it to fall. Stopping your leg before you touch the other foot and leaving it simply hovering it in this position will keep your glutes activated in between the reps proving maximum results. If you are comfortable, you can do so.
- Perform 8 to 10 reps, then switch the sides for a single set. You have to continue raising your legal and then lowering it with controlled movements. Make sure you are not starting to tilt forward or get too sloppy with the form. Then roll over 180 degrees to perform the same reps with your other leg too. The number of sets you can do is based on your fitness overall. If you are a beginner. doing 1 set is fine. After a couple of weeks, you can add 2 sets and then gradually increase as per your level.
2. Standing side leg raises
If you wish to perform standing side leg raises, here’s what you need to do:
- Stand straight maintaining a distance of hip-width between your legs. the first step is to start with a good posture, your feet should be lined with your hips for this step. Point the right toe and slide the foot out until it reaches the level of your hips. When you doing this or lifting your leg, make sure you are not leaning over to one side just for the sake of completion, you have to stand straight.
- Raise the right leg to the side as high as possible for you. When you are lifting your right leg out, the motion should be controlled and slow until you see the oblique muscles don’t the side of the torso contract. You will also feel a good stretch down the back of the thighs. It is important to keep your torso straight while maintaining a great posture. If you are not finding it easy to maintain the right posture, use the back of a study chair or a table to gain stability.
- Now, return position. You need to hold your leg to the starting at the highest lift you have to achieve for few seconds or just one second and then gradually lower it. You must control e movement by resisting the weight of your leg rather than dropping it to the ground suddenly with a jerk. Keep the toes pointed when you bring your leg down. If you wish to make it a bit harder, stop when your toes hover just above the ground rather than reaching or touching the ground.
- same as lying raises, you have to complete 8 to 10 reps minimum on one side and then switch to another. Maintain a good posture while completing these reps, make sure you are not starting to tilt your hips too or leave over when working out. Square up your feet beneath your hips, point the left toes, and perform the exercise again with your left leg.
- If you are performing interval training, you may also add side leg raises to the routine and perform as many as possible for 45 to 60 seconds. Instead of performing all reps at one side and then switching, you can simply alternate between the sides. Just make sure you are maintaining the form and not losing it by leaning over.
Some important points to remember
- Do not forget to breathe during the exercise. You can breathe in while lifting the leg and breathe out as you lower your leg or the opposite way around.
- Know your boundary and stop when required.
- Take pauses and hydrate as required.
- Watch videos online that could help you improve your form or ask out the guidance of a trainer for in-person supervision and personalized tips.
A few Variations
To make the side leg raises exercise easier, you can also hold onto a sturdy surface or a chair. Also, do not lift your leg too high if you are not comfortable right now or just a beginner at this workout.
As you progress with both lying and standing leg raises, you might want to make it slightly more challenging by doing these:
- Use weights and resistance bands
- combine a side plank when you do the leg raises
- attach ankle weights
- use a resistance band or tube
A resistance band can be placed around your thighs and weights can be sued around the ankles for making the exercise more effective and harder to perform.
The Curtsy Lunge
This is an additional exercise that provides complimentary benefits when you perform side leg raises. It works on the same areas of thighs, buttocks, and hips along with inner thighs, making it a great complementary exercise with leg raises.
If you wish to perform a curtsy lunge, you can:
- Stand keeping your feet at a distance of hip-width apart and your hands on the hips.
- Now, shift the right foot behind you into a curtsy motion by bending the knees when lowering down.
- When you rise to get into your original position, either combine this movement with leg raises or return to the standing position. To add leg raises with this, lift your right leg to one side as you stand up and then move it behind again into a curtsy.
- You can complete 8 to 10 reps on one side and then go for another side with a pause. You may also perform this using your legs alternatively.
The Bottom Line
Adding side leg raises to your workout regimen be it standing leg raises or lying leg raises (supine leg raises) is a great and smooth way to strengthen and work on your backside, thighs, and hips together. This also helps support your posture, everyday activities, and balance.
If you have had any hip problems recently, or still have any, make sure you do not perform leg raises until you talk to your doctor about it or perform them under the supervision of a physical therapist or trainer who knows the form well.
This was all about side leg raises and a few variations. If you are interested in learning more about leg and hips workouts, you can have a look at these outstanding workouts to shape your legs.