Muscles Targeted: The main muscle groups targeted by the flat bench abdominal leg raises are the rectus abdominis, the internal abdominal obliques and the transverse abdominis which are three of the main components of the lower abdominal group. If additional movements or angles are added to this exercise, then other muscle groups can be added. This exercise can be performed anywhere with a flat bench and its perfect for anyone looking for an ab exercise they can do at home.
Exercise Instructions: Lie flat on your back on a bench with your legs off the end, remaining parallel to the ground. Place your hands back next to your head and grab the edge of the bench. Keeping your legs as straight as possible, raise your legs as high as possible, making sure that your abs are doing the work. Lower legs back down to the start position and repeat.
Why This Exercise is Important: Flat bench abdominal leg raises are important because they are one of the few exercises that do not require the use of machines yet provide a targeted workout to a specific muscle group. This means that you can perform this exercise any place that you have a stable bench or exercise mat to work from. Another reason that this exercise is important is that it is targeted specifically to the abdominal muscle group, and does not require working any other muscles to get great results.
Having a powerful core is the key to unlocking your overall body strength. You can draw power from different exercises for other parts of your body such as the back and legs. Outside of the gym, a powerful core is necessary to do all of the lifting that we take for granted each day, from something as simple as picking up a child to lifting a heavy box. A strong core also contributes to a positive overall body condition which will reinforce the physical structures that allow you to walk and run. In essence, this exercise is crucial to improving the body structures that support the bulk of your body.
Things To Avoid: As with any type of exercise, form is absolutely the most important thing to focus on. You must ensure that your back is completely flat against the bench, otherwise your body will naturally try to draw strength out of your back muscles rather than your abdominal muscles. Another mistake that you must avoid involves the range of motion of your legs. When you come up to the top of the exercise, your legs should form a ninety degree angle with your body. At the bottom range of motion, your legs should be at one hundred and eighty degrees, meaning that they are stretched out straight rather than dipping below the bench. This will result in less work being performed by the targeted muscle group, meaning less strength gained overall. One more thing to avoid when performing this exercise is lifting or lowering your legs too quickly. The work portion of the flat bench abdominal leg raises happens during a steady, slow lift. By moving too quickly, your muscles will not be worked properly and you will not reap the benefits of this exercise. The final thing to avoid when doing this exercise is forgetting to breathe correctly. You must remember to exhale when you are lowering your legs to release the tension built up in your diaphragm.
Reps and Sets: Generally, there are two different ways to divide the reps and sets of the flat bench abdominal leg raises. One way is to do two sets of twenty reps if you have a moderately strong core. Otherwise, it is recommended that you do three sets of ten reps in order to build your strength while giving yourself adequate time to rest between each set. This will promote muscle growth while simultaneously avoiding injury.
Other Exercises To Use: While flat bench abdominal leg raises are among the best exercises for the abdominal muscles, there are other exercises that can be used instead. The first one is flat bench abdominal leg pull-ins, which also focuses on the abdominal muscle group, but provides a different range of motion. Another potential exercise to use instead of the leg raises would be the exercise ball abdominal crunches. These require the use of an exercise ball, but also provide a powerful workout for the middle abdominal region. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.