What Muscles Do Leg Raises Workout?

Do you want to know what muscles do leg raises work? Read on to find out how this popular exercise can help you tone your legs and improve your fitness.


Leg raises are a full-body exercise designed to strengthen and tone the hips, legs and glutes. They provide an effective workout to build strength in the lower body, with many additional health benefits, depending on the variation used. Leg raises can also be part of a comprehensive stretching regimen that helps increase flexibility. To better understand what muscles do leg raises workout, it is important to consider the anatomy of the hip, legs and glutes as well as how to safely perform different variations.

Anatomy of the Legs

Leg raises are a great way to tone and strengthen your lower body. To maximize the effectiveness of these exercises, it is important to understand the anatomy of the legs. Knowing which muscles are being targeted during a leg raise can help you modify the exercises according to your needs and goals. In this section, we will cover the anatomy of the legs and how leg raises target these muscles.


The quadriceps, commonly referred to as the quads, consist of four muscles located on the front of your lower leg — the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis and vastus intermedius. Collectively, these large muscles are responsible for bending your knee joint, hip flexion and helping you jump and stand up from a seated position. In order to effectively target all four parts of your quads with a leg raise exercise, ensure that you keep your knees slightly bent throughout the exercise.

Leg raises primarily work your quadriceps when performed with bent knees, but can also activate several other muscles in different combinations depending on how you perform them. Keep in mind that depending on which direction and how high you lift your legs during a leg raise workout affects which muscles get challenged. An incline or decline position may help to target different muscle groups than a flat surface would. Along with the quads, other main muscle groups worked during a leg raise exercise include: glutes and hamstrings that assists with hip extension; core muscles involved in stabilizing the lower back; calves used to push off during jumps; abductors used when raising side-to-side; adductors assisting when bringing legs together


The Hamstrings are a group of three muscles that are located at the back of the thighs, extending from the hip to just below the knee. They are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension when they contract. Common exercises that target these muscles include: bent-knee deadlifts, single-leg hamstring bridges, leg curls, and Romanian deadlifts. Leg raises are also very effective in engaging and strengthening the hamstrings as they involve you raising one or both legs off the ground against gravity while keeping your torso steady. This works your hamstrings by harnessing their power to support your extended legs, increasing strength and flexibility.


The glutes (or butt muscles) are one set of primary muscles that are engaged when performing leg raises. The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the buttocks and it helps to extend and rotate the hip. This muscle is engaged when doing straight-leg raises specific to the glutes and also when doing bent-legged raising such as the donkey kicks, reverse donkey kicks, bird dogs or any other exercise involving extension of one or two legs. Engaging of this muscle helps to build strength in your glutes for improved transfer with activities such as squatting, running or jumping.


The lower leg is made up of two main muscles: the gastrocnemius, which is the larger muscle, and the soleus, which sits underneath it. A leg raise workout targeting your calves involves exercises that specifically focus on these two muscles. Exercises like calf raises and donkey calf raises target both of these muscles as well as provide a deep stretch in the calf. Standing toe raises also help to target your calves while increasing balance. These exercises can be done anywhere with little to no equipment and will give you a good workout for those hard-to-reach lower legs.

Leg Raises

Leg raises are an effective core exercise that can be used to strengthen the core muscles and abdominal muscles. They are also great for improving balance and coordination. In this post, we will discuss what muscles leg raises target, how to perform them correctly, and the benefits of this exercise. Let’s take a closer look at leg raises.

Standard Leg Raises

Standard Leg Raises are a basic exercise that is often used to target the hip flexors and abdominal muscles. This versatile move can be performed with or without added weight, making it an effective and accessible exercise for beginner through advanced fitness levels. To do Standard Leg Raises, first lie on a flat surface with your arms at your side. After raising your legs up to a comfortable height, hold them in place for 5-10 seconds before slowly lowering them back down. For extra resistance or a more challenging workout, incorporate small, handheld weights into this move as you lift and lower your legs – this will work the abdominals as well as other muscles in the lower body.

Lying Leg Raises

Lying leg raises are a simple yet effective exercise to target the iliopsoas, rectus abdominis and hip flexors muscles. It’s done by lying on your back and raising your legs up to form a 90 degree angle with the floor or as high as possible. The arm should be placed beside the body for support or stretched out above the head to make it harder. By contracting the abdominal and hip flexors, you raise your legs until they form a 90 degree angle. Make sure not to move your upper torso, because this will shift the focus of work from abdominal and hip muslces to just using hips extension which might not have maximal muscle tension leading to decreased efficiency. Return back down slowly and repeat for desired amount of sets and repetitions according to one’s personal fitness routine.

Bent-Knee Leg Raises

Bent-knee leg raises target primarily the abdominal muscles, but secondary muscles of the hip flexors, lower back, and glutes are also recruited to stabilize the body. When performing bent-knee leg raises correctly, begin lying flat on the ground or another level surface with your legs out straight in front of you. With your hands pressed firmly against the floor for support, tighten your core and raise both feet up towards your hips while keeping them slightly bent. Lower your feet slowly and repeat. Choose a weight that is challenging but still allows you to maintain perfect form throughout each rep. An alternate way to perform bent-knee leg raises is by hanging from a chin-up bar with your legs slightly bent at the knee and raising them up toward your chest. This type of exercise helps build balance and strengthens ligaments providing stability when executing more advanced exercises.

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises are a challenging, compound exercise that primarily isolate and target your abdominal muscles. Additionally, they strengthen and tone your entire core, including hip flexors and lower back muscles. Properly performed leg raises can also provide multiple benefits to improving your overall fitness by helping to increase balance, posture and stability.

When performing hanging leg raises, it’s important to keep good form throughout the entire exercise. First, start in an upright position with your hands gripping a pull-up bar and feet off the ground. Then slowly raise your legs up by contracting your abdominal muscles until your legs are parallel with the ground or higher, if possible. Pause for a second then slowly lower them back down to starting position with control. Keep this momentum going for desired number of repetitions and sets according to personal preference or as outlined in training program.

To maximize the effectiveness of leg raises it’s important to include variations like unilateral or alternating legs as well as adding weight or resistance via weighted vests or ankle weights when appropriate. Not only will this help to increase muscle endurance but also encourage greater levels of strength gains over time. With traditional hanging leg raises being relatively difficult for most beginner/novice exercisers, it may be best to start with an easier variation such as bent knee hanging leg raises before progressing towards doing straight-leg versions without assistance of weighted apparatus in order to progress safely while minimizing risk of injury or overexertion

Benefits of Leg Raises

Leg raises are an effective exercise for strengthening the muscles in your legs and core. Not only do leg raises improve your balance, but they also help to target your lower body muscles and help to improve flexibility. Additionally, leg raises can help to improve your posture, increase your range of motion, and reduce the risk of injury. Let’s explore the benefits of leg raises in more detail.

Strengthens the Core

Leg raises are a great way to strengthen your core and develop abdominal muscles. This exercise requires the active engagement of numerous core muscles, which work together to keep your body balanced while you raise your legs off the ground. Performing leg raises can also help to improve posture and balance by strengthening supporting muscles. Leg raises activate the abdominals, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, particularly when paired with other exercises such as sit-ups or crunches that also involve abdominal activation. When done correctly with good form and technique, leg raises can be an excellent movement for strengthening the core and building a strong foundation for other exercises like squats or lunges.

Improves Mobility

Leg raises are a great exercise for targeting the muscles of your hips. Not only do leg raises help strengthen and tone these muscles, but they also improve your overall mobility. When it comes to performing leg lifts, there are several variations that can be done to target different areas of the hips.

The motion of the leg lift works your glutes, hamstrings, inner thigh muscles (adductors), and hip flexors. When done correctly, they can help alleviate tension in the lower back by engaging your abdominal muscles as well as strengthening your core stability. Leg raises also help improve coordination between your upper body and lower body by increasing their balance and allowing you to move in more fluid patterns.

By doing regular leg workouts through exercises like this one, you will not only become stronger but also increase mobility in these important joints and muscle groups throughout your body which will make everyday activities easier!

Enhances Balance

Leg raises strengthen the core muscles and can help to improve balance and bodily awareness. Balance exercises with leg raises engage a variety of muscle groups, including your abdominal muscles and hip flexors. Doing leg raises can help to further improve core strength, as well as lower body strength, specifically in the thigh muscles. Leg raise exercises challenge these muscle groups in different ways than push-ups, sit-ups or squats, giving more focus on stability as your body works both independently and together to keep all parts in sync during the exercise. Additionally, increased repetitions can also lead to greater balance and coordination by challenging your body’s ability to maintain stability. Improving balance can benefit those with pain or injury due to a decrease of falls experienced due to lack of balance. Finally, increased physical benefits such as improved joint health may be gained with improved balance via leg raise exercises.

Strengthens the Lower Body Muscles

Leg raises are a great exercise for strengthening and toning the muscles in your lower body. Leg raises target a number of different muscles, including the gluteus maximus (buttocks), the hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles.

By performing leg raises regularly, you can strengthen your lower body muscles and improve your posture. Doing leg raise exercises also strengthens your core and helps prevent injury. The challenge that you get from leg raises is suitable for any fitness level; however, it is important to pay attention to proper form for maximizing effectiveness and avoiding injury.

There are several variations of leg raises you can do to work targeted muscles around your hips, thighs and calves. These include squats, reverse-leg curls and single-leg squats. Each exercise targets different parts of your lower body so you can get comprehensive coverage from this type of workout. When done in combination, these exercises build strength in many areas of the lower body simultaneously.

Whether you are aiming for weight loss or just want to increase muscle tone, leg raise exercises are highly beneficial in achieving those goals. Leg raises help build endurance as well as give an overall sculpted look to the legs without much strain on other parts of the body.


In conclusion, leg raises are an effective exercise for targeting the lower abdominal region as well as the hip flexors and quads. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to improving balance, stability, posture and core strength. As a result, leg raises can help you make more progress toward your fitness goals.

However, it’s important to note that good form should always be maintained when performing this exercise. Improper form or overdoing it could result in an injury or unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints. Therefore always consider exercising safely with guidance from an experienced fitness professional whenever possible when performing any type of physical activity.

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