You've Been Doing Leg Lifts Totally Wrong

Leg lifts, also called double leg lifts, are an excellent exercise for working your abs and hips. You don't need to go to the gym, and you don't need any equipment to do them. Plus, they seem easy enough, right? Just lie down and lift your legs a few times. It looks easy, but there's a little more to it than that. Doing any exercise incorrectly or without proper form can leave you with an injury and major pain. And doing leg lifts wrong can leave you with some serious back pain

There's one right way to do leg lifts, and it mainly involves where you put your arms. You've likely been told to put them at your sides or stretch them out in a T form. That position is what will cause your back pain because your lower back naturally curves outward against the floor while you raise your legs, called lumbar flexion. The more leg raises you do with this form, the more your lower back will hurt (via Women's HealthByrdie, and Popsugar). 

So what's the trick for doing leg lifts so you don't get any more back pain? It's a simple and effective method. 

The right way to do leg lifts

To do leg lifts the right way, lie down on your back with your legs out straight. Get your hands, palm side down, under your glutes and lower back for support. This is your starting position. Engage your core and lift your legs until they are at a 90-degree angle with the floor, pause, and then lower them until just before they reach the floor. Keep your legs together, inhaling when you bring your legs down and exhaling when you bring your legs up. It's best to start with 10 reps so you can control the movement slowly, and stop if you feel any pain or don't feel like you can maintain good form. You should strive to work your way up to three sets of 15 reps, resting for 45 seconds in between sets. A good rule of thumb? If doing the move correctly, you should feel it in your abs, hips, and legs.

And if you want to step it up a notch, add ankle weights or a dumbbell in between your feet for an added challenge.

Leg lift variations

If you're looking for a little more, you can try some leg lift variations, too. To start, get into your leg lift position with your hands tucked under your lower back and glutes like you're getting ready for single leg lifts. Instead of lifting both legs at the same time, you're going to alternate, lifting your right leg up until it's at a 90-degree angle while keeping your left leg at the starting position. Then, lower your right leg, and switch lifting and lowering your left leg in the same way (via Popsugar).

Another good variation is called bent knee leg lifts. Get into your normal starting position, and bend your knees as you lift your legs, so your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Lower your right leg down, keeping the knee bent, and tap the floor with your heel. Avoid kicking off the floor — just give it a light tap. Bring your leg back to a 90-degree angle, and then lower the left leg (via Byrdie).

Although these may seem relatively harmless, leg lifts are not for everyone. If you have back or hip problems, you should consult your doctor before trying leg lifts or leg lift variations.