Standard leg lifts – also know as leg raises or knees raises – performed on a Roman chair require you to bend your knees as you raise your legs toward your chest. This exercise squarely targets the abdominal muscles; in fact, it encourages more muscle activity in the obliques – or outer abs – than any other ab exercise, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Position your back flat against the backrest of the Roman chair and place your forearms on the arm pads. Grasp the handles firmly with your palms facing each other. Allow your legs to hang freely, completely extended with your feet together. Inhale before you begin the motion of the exercise.
Exhale as you bring your knees toward your chest as high as you can. Engage your abdominal muscles as you lift your knees. Hold for a count at the top of the motion.
Inhale as your return your legs back to their extended starting position. This completes one repetition of the exercise.
- Focus on slow, controlled movement rather than high speed throughout this exercise. High-speed reps build momentum in your legs, making it easier to bring your knees into your chest. This takes some of the workload away from your abs, making for a less effective abdominal workout.
- Keep your back straight at all times.
- Once you're able to perform an entire set of Roman chair leg raises without challenge, add weight to the exercise by holding a dumbbell or a weight plate between your feet. You can also use ankle weights to increase the challenge.
- Don't worry if at first you can't lift your knees very far. Simply lift as high as you can and gradually increase your lift each time you perform the exercise as part of your ab regimen.
- If a Roman chair isn't available, you can also perform leg lifts while hanging from a pullup bar or parallel bars.
Dan Ketchum has been a professional writer since 2003, with work appearing online and offline in Word Riot, Bazooka Magazine, Anemone Sidecar, Trails and more. Dan's diverse professional background spans from costume design and screenwriting to mixology, manual labor and video game industry publicity.