How to Do a Side-Lying Leg Raise

Side-lying leg raises are great in that they can be performed almost anywhere and do not require any additional equipment. This exercise targets one of the strongest yet often overlooked muscles in the body, the gluteus maximus. You’ll also benefit from stronger hip adductors and outer thighs.

Performing this exercise on a regular basis can help you to have a better range of motion through the hips and reduces the overall risk of injury to the hips, knees and lower back.

How To

  • To perform the standard side leg lift, lay down on either side on the floor or a mat. Your body should be in a straight line with legs fully extended and one leg stacked on top of the other.
  • You can either lay your head on your outstretched arm, or place your elbow on the floor and support your head on your hand. Your other hand can support you by pressing into the floor, or anywhere that feels comfortable. Make sure this hand is not doing the work for your abs, though.
  • Contract your abdominals and exhale as you slowly lift the top leg upward until you feel the muscles in your lower back or obliques (the sides of your abdominals) contract. Make sure to keep your abs engaged during the entire maneuver.
  • Once you feel those muscles flexing, inhale and slowly lower the leg back to rest on your bottom leg.


Aim to do 10–12 repetitions on each side. If you feel your abs starting to slack and not wanting to work, take a break.


Standing: Standing side leg raises can be done anywhere anytime. If you are confident in your balance, you can place your hands on your hips, but otherwise use a chair or railing to steady yourself. Stand up tall and make sure to keep your leg straight as you lift it out to the side and then lower it back down.

Weighted: If you’re ready for a challenge, consider using ankle weights, or a resistance band placed around the thighs for added difficulty. This can be done whether lying down or standing.

Planking: Do you really want to take it up a notch? Consider performing side leg raises while in a side plank position. This can be done while supporting yourself on your elbow or with your arm fully extended. This requires a lot of extra stabilization from your core muscles, so go slow and really concentrate on your form.

Cautionary Notes

Make sure not to rotate your knee as you lift your leg. You want to keep your leg straight and fully aligned during the movement to avoid stressing the knee joints.

Slow and controlled is important, to reap the full benefit of this exercise. Wrenching your leg up as high and fast as you can go will not do you any good and may and up pinching a nerve or muscle instead.

If you experience hip pain while lying on the floor, try placing a towel or blanket under your hip for additional support. If that doesn’t help, standing leg raises may be a better choice.

Anyone recovering from or dealing with an abdominal hernia should consult their doctor or a fitness professional before attempting this exercise.

More Side-Lying Leg Raise Related Resources

Side Lying Leg Raise : Glutes, Hips, Obliques – MSN Health & Fitness
Side-Lying Leg Lift Video – Watch Proper Form, Get Tips & More | Muscle & Fitness
Side-lying Leg Lift
Side Leg Raises Two Ways with Variations and Tips
What Muscles Do Side Leg Raises Work? |

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