Lying leg raises and partner leg throwdowns are often incorporated into an abdominal workout. Because you can feel the muscular pull at your lower abdominal area, you might think the two exercises are effective at developing the abs. But, it’s muscles in the front of your thighs that are primarily working during each of these exercises. If you’re looking to target all of the major muscles at the front of your thighs, you will want to supplement your workout with additional exercises.
Lying leg raises and leg throwdowns share similar techniques. Both are performed from a back lying position on the floor or a bench with your legs extended straight. Lying leg raises are done on your own. You lift your straight legs up off the floor until they’re pointed straight up towards the ceiling and then lower them back down. The leg throw down is done with the help of a partner. Your partner straddles your head and as you lift your straight legs up off the floor, they push them back down again. This adds resistance and makes the exercise more difficult.
While your abdominals are contracting during the lying leg raise and throwdown, they’re contracting isometrically. This means that they’re holding a contraction and not involved in the actual movement of your legs. It’s your iliopsoas, one of the major hip flexor muscles, that’s responsible for actually lifting your legs up off the ground. The iliopsoas originates at your middle spine and top of your pelvic bone, and then runs down the front of your torso where it inserts at the top of your leg bone.
Lying leg raises and throwdowns effectively strengthen your iliopsoas at the front of your thigh. You’ll be able to lift your leg up more easily and powerfully. The iliopsoas is heavily involved in sprinting. You’re better able to lift your lead knee up and thus have a longer stride length, so strengthening the upper thigh muscle will improve the performance of many female athletes. Kicking performance is also improved. The benefits that come from lying leg raises and leg throwdowns are related to improvements in physical performance and not visible muscular tone developments.
Targeting the Thighs
The iliopsoas is located deep in your upper thighs, so if you’re looking to build muscular tone in your thighs, lying leg raises and throwdowns need to be supplemented with other exercises. The quadriceps are also at the front of your thighs, running down from the pelvic bone to the knee cap. To tone and strengthen those muscles, incorporate lunges, squats and step-ups into your workout routine. You can target the hamstrings at the back of your thighs with leg curls and deadlifts.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.