Leg lifts tone and improve the strength of your leg and hip muscles. You can perform leg lifts from various positions and use strengthening tools such as weights and resistance bands, but you don’t need any equipment to make the exercises effective. Leg lifts adapt to many locations, including home, work, outdoors and at the gym. Add variety to your fitness routine by varying when and how you perform leg lifts.
Performing leg lifts in a pool takes advantage of water resistance to strengthen and tone the muscles. Exercising in water also cushions your joints -- performing these from a standing position improves your balance. Rest your hands on a kickboard or hang on to the side of the pool when performing leg lifts if you worry about remaining. You can also sit on a kickboard or on the pool steps and lift one or both legs together. Add ankle weights or tie pool noodles around your ankles to increase the resistance and effectiveness of the exercise.
Exercise balls allow you to perform leg lifts in various ways and some options improve your balance. For example, sit or lie on the ball and raise one leg at a time or raise both together. A stability ring or base prevents the ball from rolling out from under you. Lie on the floor with the ball between your legs during your leg lifts. You can perform those lying on your back or side-lying. Alternatively, lie on your back with your feet pressing the ball against the wall and lift your legs perpendicular to the floor as you roll the ball up the wall. Add ankle weights to apply more resistance to these exercise variations.
Inexpensive resistance bands increase the effectiveness of your leg lifts. Place a resistance band loop or handle around the ball of your right foot and assume a hands and knees position with the other resistance band handle in your right hand. Straighten and lift your leg until it is parallel to the floor. Add more resistance by holding the handle in your left hand and extending and lifting your right leg and left hand parallel to the floor. For another option, sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor and place the exercise band across your instep. Hold the ends of the exercise band in your hands. As you straighten your knees and extend your legs, lean back to create a “V” formation with your body.
Sitting in a chair at the office can impede the circulation in your legs. Lift your legs up until they are parallel to the floor for three or four repetitions every hour to improve leg circulation. Wrap a resistance band across your instep and hold the ends in your hand to aid the lift and add upper body strengthening to the exercise.
- Age-Defying Fitness; Marilyn Moffat and Carole B. Lewis
- Exercise Ball for Weight Loss; Lucy Knight
- 101 Workouts for Women; editors of Muscle and Fitness Hers
- Fitday: How to Tone Your Body in the Pool
Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.