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Despite their name, 6-inch leg lifts - commonly known as leg raises or floor raises - actually target the abdominal muscles. Leg lifts require a simple movement, and you can perform this exercise with no additional equipment. However, you'll need more than ab-crunching exercises to get that six pack; a flat, defined stomach results from a combination of a balanced diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, both of which shed fat and allow the lean, toned abdominals to shine through.
Begin lying flat on your back on the floor or on an exercise mat. Fully extend your body so your legs are straight and your arms rest at your sides with your palms flat on the ground. Keep your toes pointed upward. With your feet and legs together, lift your legs at the hip until they are 6 inches off the ground. Hold this position for two or three counts, return to the starting position and repeat.
In Your Regimen
вЂњStackвЂќ magazine recommends performing 10 to 15 repetitions of the 6-inch leg raise in two to three sets twice weekly. Perform this exercise as part of your abdominal regimen, alongside other ab-focused exercises such as stability ball crunches, hanging knee raises and planks. Allow your abdominal muscle group at least 24 hours of recovery before targeting it again.
To alleviate exercise boredom and prevent your body from getting acclimated to a specific movement, you can add variations of the 6-inch leg lift to your regimen. Try alternating legs rather than lifting both at once, or for a more challenging leg raise, start with your legs straight up in the air and lower them toward the ground by 6 inches. Return them to the vertical starting position and then pull in 6 inches toward your abs. For another intense variation, perform the standard 6-inch lift with your torso up off the ground at about 45-degrees, your hands resting behind your neck. Like the regular 6-inch leg raise, these variations work the upper abs.
Tips and Considerations
Breathe regularly throughout the exercise, inhaling as you lower your legs and exhaling as you lift them. Focus on a smooth, controlled motion throughout the exercise. Because the psoas, or hip flexors, drive the motion of leg lifts, вЂњTo Burn or Not to BurnвЂќ author Dr. Len Lopez contends that leg raises may lead to lower-back pain. Consult your doctor before adding this exercise to your regimen if you have a history of back issues.