5 Benefits of Side Leg Raises (Exercise Guide)

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Women exercising for the benefits of side leg raises.

The side lateral leg raise is a simple exercise that can provide a lot of benefit.

It activates muscle groups in the hips, glutes, and abs.

It also improves muscle endurance, balance, and stability.

This in-depth guide covers all the benefits of side leg raises, along with four different ways of doing them.

What Is the Side Leg Raise?

Side leg raises (or side leg lifts) are a lower body exercise that works your hips, butt, and outer thighs.

This is important because it helps to tone and strengthen the muscles in your legs.

Which can help improve your balance and stability.

Side leg raises also help to strengthen your core and improve posture.

In addition, they can help to relieve tightness in your hips and glutes.

By doing them regularly, you can also improve muscle endurance, functional strength, agility, and explosiveness.

What Muscle Groups Do Side Leg Raises Work?

Performing side leg raises targets the gluteal muscles, hip abductors, core, and lower back.

The gluteals are the largest muscles in the human body, and they make up the buttocks.

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the gluteal group, and it is responsible for extending and rotating the hip.

The gluteus minimus and gluteus medius muscles are responsible for abducting and medially rotating the hip, respectively.

5 Benefits of the Side Leg Raise

1. Side Leg Raises Are a Low-Impact Exercise

Unlike many other lower body exercises, side leg raises are low impact since they don’t put a lot of stress on your knee or hip joints.

You can easily modify the intensity of the move to fit your own personal workout level.

2. Improves Hip Abductor Strength

The hip abductor muscles, responsible for abducting the hip (moving the leg away from the body) make up the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae latae.

These muscles are the primary hip abductors.

They are important for stability and balance, and also for preventing injuries.

Strong abductors can help mitigate knee pain and keep you agile, which is vital for activities like running, skiing, and dancing.

3. Increased Range of Motion in Your Hip Flexors

Having a good range of motion in your hip flexors is important because it allows you to move easily.

When your hip flexors are flexible, it’s easier to do things like walk, run, and jump.

It also helps to improve your balance and stability, since your hip flexors are used to help stabilize the pelvis and hip joint when you are standing.

Plus, having a good ROM in your hip flexors can make daily activities easier, like bending down to pick something up off the ground or reaching up high into a cupboard.

When your hip flexors are flexible, these movements are much easier to do.

4. Improves Core Strength and Posture

Having strong core muscles is very important.

It helps you stay fit and healthy, which is important for everyone.

A strong core also helps you with activities like running, playing sports, lifting weights, and more.

It can even help reduce back pain and improve posture.

Plus it looks great!

Core strength also improves balance, stability, and coordination.

Building up your core muscles is a great way to increase your overall strength and become an all-around better athlete.

5. No Equipment Required

This is a great exercise for those of you who don’t have access to the gym or need to save some money by not buying any extra equipment.

They can be done anywhere – no excuses!

How To Do Side Leg Raises With Proper Form

You can perform each leg raise variation using only your body weight, resistance bands, or ankle weights.

1. Side Lying Leg Raise

  1. Begin the side-lying leg raises by laying on your right side with a straight line between your upper body and legs.
  2. Rest your right arm under your head and place your left hand on your left hip.
  3. From here, raise your left leg up while keeping your left foot pointed forward and your legs straight.
  4. Raise the top leg until it makes a 45-degree angle with your bottom leg.
  5. Then return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 reps.
  6. Switch to the right leg.

2. Side Standing Leg Raise

To perform the standing side leg raise:

  1. Stand upright with your body straight and feet hip-width apart.
  2. Grab onto a sturdy object with your left arm for balance.
  3. From here, raise your right leg out to the side while keeping it straight.
  4. Keep your right foot flexed and pointed outward.
  5. Raise your leg until it makes roughly a 90-degree angle with the lower leg.
  6. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  7. Switch to the left side.

3. Standing Side Leg Raise With a Resistance Band

  1. Loop a resistance band around your lower legs.
  2. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  3. Hold on to a secure object with your left hand for support.
  4. With your right leg straight, raise it out to the side until you feel a nice contraction in your hip abductor muscles.
  5. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  6. Switch sides.

4. Leg Bent Side Lying Leg Lifts

The final variation I will cover is the lying leg lift exercise.

Instead of keeping your legs straight, they’ll have a slight bend in them.

  1. For the side leg lift, lay down on your right side with your upper legs perpendicular to your torso.
  2. Have your feet stacked on top of each other, and your left hand on your hip.
  3. Now, raise your left leg until the side thigh muscles are fully contracted.
  4. Reverse the motion and repeat.
  5. Switch to the other side.

Sample Ab Workout That Includes Side Leg Raises

You’re looking for a way to get your abs in shape.

You’ve tried doing crunches before, but you don’t feel the burn like you want.

Try this high-volume ab workout that includes side leg raises!

This will help work your abs and tone your waistline.

  1. Hanging Leg Raises: 3×10-12
    • Try to bring your knees towards your chest.
  2. Bicycle Crunches: 3×10-15
    • Touch your hands to your ears and focus on using your abs to twist.
  3. Side Leg Raises: 3×15-20 on each side
    • Start out with just your body weight, and as you get stronger add ankle weights or resistance bands.

FAQs About Side Leg Raises

How Many Side Leg Raises Should I Do a Day?

It depends on what your goal is.

If you are looking to tone your legs, then three sets of ten repetitions should be sufficient.

However, if you are looking to build muscular endurance, then you may need to do up to six sets of fifteen repetitions.

Be sure to take a rest day if you feel sore.

Why Are Side Leg Raises So Hard?

There are a few reasons why side leg raises are hard.

First, they require a lot of balance and coordination.

Second, if your abductors are tight or weak, it can be difficult to get a full range of motion.

Finally, they tend to be quite a strenuous exercise, so they can be tough to do for a long period of time.

How Long Should You Do Side Leg Raises?

There is no definitive answer, as the amount of time you should spend doing side leg raises will vary depending on your individual fitness level.

However, aim to do at least 10 repetitions per leg, and gradually increase the number of reps as you get stronger.

Do Side Leg Raises Slim Thighs?

Doing side leg raises alone will not slim your thighs.

You’ll also have to be in a calorie deficit and burn fat or reduce water retention.

However, by strengthening the muscles in your thighs, you may see a slight increase in muscular thigh size over time.

Add Side Leg Raises to Your Workout Routine!

If you’re looking to add some variety to your ab workouts, or you’re just starting out and finding crunches a little too easy, side leg raises are a great exercise to try.

They work the abs as well as the hip abductors (the muscles on the outside of your thighs), and they can be done with no equipment required.

Plus, there are several variations that can make the exercise more challenging as you get stronger.

So what are you waiting for?

Add these bad boys to your routine today!

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/side-leg-raises

https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/biology-and-human-anatomy/item/what-is-the-strongest-muscle-in-the-human-body

https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Abductors

https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2014/02/01/prevent-knee-injuries-with-hip-abduction

Eric De Cremer
Eric De Cremer

Eric is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and competitively trained powerlifter. Feel free to contact him anytime at edecremer@wildnswole.com!