With your busy schedule, simply fitting in a workout often feels like a challenge. When you hit the mat, make sure you are getting the most out of your time. Certain moves, such as the straight leg raise, are great multitaskers that target multiple muscles simultaneously. In just one move, you’ll be working your way to firmer hips, thighs and abdomen.
While the lying straight leg raise uses 10 different muscles, one muscle—the iliopsoas, part of the hip flexors—reaps most of the benefit. This muscle actually has two heads, which means it begins in two different locations, before inserting into your femur. One head starts from your lower ribs while the other heads starts from your pelvis. Both muscles engage to help you flex your hip joint.
Six muscles assist your iliopsoas to complete the lying straight leg raise. Found in your hip joint, your hip flexors assist with flexing your hips. (Ref 3 & 5) Running down the front of your thighs, your sartorius and rectus femoris also assist with flexing your hips. (Ref 4 & 6) Your sartorius, which has the distinction of being the longest muscle in your body, runs diagonally across your hip and down your front thigh. Your rectus femoris is part of the better known quadriceps muscle. Located along the insides of your thighs, your adductor brevis and adductor longus also engage to help with flexing your hip. (Ref 7)
In the straight leg raise, you move your thighs away from your hips. During the straight leg raise, several abdominal muscles work to stabilize your pelvis, including rectus abdominis, which runs along the front of your stomach, and your obliques, which run along the sides of your torso. The other heads of your quadriceps help stabilize your hip and knee joints during straight leg raises.
To do the lying straight leg raise correctly, begin lying face up on a bench or a mat. Place your hands under your buttocks to support your pelvis. Keep your legs straight and pressed together as your raise your legs up toward the ceiling by flexing your hips. Raise your legs until your hips are completely flexed, return to the starting position and repeat. To make this move easier, bend your knees as your bend your hips. To increase the intensity, don’t let your heels touch the floor after each repetition, add ankle weights or perform it on an inclined bench.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.