According to the American Council on Exercise, leg lifts are more effective at working your abs and obliques than traditional crunches. The key to shedding stomach fat and getting a flat tummy is to burn more calories than you consume. Doing ab exercises like leg lifts burns fat and builds muscle, but you can't spot-reduce stomach fat. In other words, you lose fat evenly on your body, no matter which muscles you work. However, getting rock-solid abs builds muscle under the fat so you have a nice flat, toned tummy once you lose the excess fat.
How To Do Leg Lifts
To do lying leg lifts, lie down on your back on a yoga mat or a soft bench. With your palms facing down, put your hands beneath your lower butt to reduce the curve in your lower back. Keep your legs straight and lift them by tightening your abs. Slowly lower and repeat.
To make legs lifts a little easier for your abs and gentler on your lower back, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle and bring your knees toward your head, allowing your spine to curl. Hold the position for a second, pulling your abs in toward your spine. Then, straighten your knees and touch your heels to the floor to complete one rep
To keep getting weight-loss results and to get the abs you want, it's important to challenge yourself as you improve at the exercise. To make it harder, do the exercise on an inclined board or bench. This puts more of your body weight on your abs. It's a lot safer than trying to balance dumbbells or other weights on your ankles to add resistance. However, adding weights can be a safe option if you have someone to help you.
Reps and Frequency
According to BodyBuilding.com, beginners should start at two sets of 20 reps, and work their way to three sets of 30 reps. An advanced athlete does five sets of 50 to 100 repetitions of leg lifts in one session. To get and keep a flat stomach, continue increasing your number of repetitions as you become stronger. The American Council on Exercise recommends doing an exercise at least twice each week to get results. Give yourself at least 48 hours of recovery after doing leg lifts. Over-training can cause injury and setbacks in your progress.
Tips for Optimal Results
If you need to lose excess stomach fat and flatten your stomach, you need to burn more calories than you consume. This helps by varying your exercise routine; don't expect to get results from doing just one exercise move. Do 30- to 45-minute cardio workouts by running, cycling or doing any other aerobic activity on a machine or outdoors. You also want to strength train your other large muscle groups as well to get rid of stomach fat faster. Large muscles give you more muscle mass, which makes you burn more calories faster at all times. For example, do squats for your glutes and leg curls for your hamstrings, which are some other large muscle groups besides your abs.
- Exercise Directory: Lying Straight Leg Raise
- American Council on Exercise: Supine Reverse Crunches
- Exercise Directory: Weighted Lying Leg Raise
- American Council on Exercise: New Study Puts the Crunch on Ineffective Ab Exercises
- The Diet Channel: Successful Weight Loss: Top 10 Tips On What Works and Why; Kathleen Goodwin, RD
- StrongLifts.com: How to Lose Fat with Cardio - Long Duration Cardio vs HIIT
- BodyBuilding.com: Ab Workouts
- American Council on Exercise: Strength Training 101
Lindsay Haskell enjoys writing about fitness, health, culture and fashion. She is a contributor for "Let's Talk Magazine" and "The Wellesley News." Haskell is completing her B.A. in philosophy at Wellesley College. She's also a fiction writer whose work can be read online.