Lying Leg Extensions

Strengthen Your Core

A woman performs a lying leg extension exercise with a twist.
A woman performs a lying leg extension exercise with a twist. Jamie Grill / Tetra images / Getty Images

Lying Leg Extension Exercise

Core strengthening exercise programs almost always include some type of lying leg extensions. Lying leg extension exercises work both your abdominals, (and to a lesser extend your hip muscles.) In particular, the transverse abdominal, and the internal and external oblique muscles are affected. Strong abdominals help stabilize your back, while strong hips help support it.

The lying leg extension is an easy exercise that works these muscle groups most beginners can do with safety and success.

Here's How

  1. Start Position of Lower Body and Legs: Lie on your back on a hard surface, preferably the floor. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. If you're wearing socks, remove them, as wearing them may make your feet slip. You want your feet to feel firmly planted on the floor. Take a nice deep breath and let it all out. Take a moment to sense your body weight as it sinks into and is supported by the floor or bed. Let any tension release.
  2. Start Positions (and Variations) of Arms And Upper Body: Your arms should be down by your sides at first. As you get stronger, and you want more challenge to your abs, you can try putting your hands behind your head with your elbows bent. And to make this exercise even more challenging, lift your head and shoulders off the floor. If your shoulders can handle it, add challenge to the exercise by reaching your arms over your head to the point where they are resting on the floor behind you. If you are tight in the shoulder area, but you still want to try this variation, prop up the floor space behind you (where the arms will land) with blankets and/or pillows. This will make it so you don't have to take them all the way back.
  1. Lift One Leg Up: Leaving one foot on the floor, flex the other leg toward your body. It should bend at the hip and knee joints.
  2. Return to Start Position: Slowly place the bent leg back down on the floor. The more slowly you do this, the more you will challenge your ab muscles.
  3. Repeat and Progress: Repeat with the other leg.

    Progress this exercise by lifting the other leg up before you finish placing the bent leg back on the floor. In other words, at some point, you'll have both feet off the floor, which will challenge your abdominals more.


    • Lie on a firm, level surface
    • Experiment with other ways to prop with pillows to make this exercise comfortable, if you feel the need.

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