This is one of my favorite ab exercises! I call it my current favorite because I’ve been practicing it myself and with clients. You can’t do everything all the time, so I’ve been rotating this back in again. It is much more challenging than it looks and it is safe and effective.
The Banded Leg Lift
The banded leg lift is a variation on the leg lift where you are also working your upper body. Leg lifts are usually classified as “lower abs” but the addition of the band tension on your upper body works your entire core. You’ll be working your deep abdominal muscles, the transversus, your lats, serratus, and rectus abdominis (the 6 pack muscles).
How to do the Banded Leg Lift
First secure the band to something sturdy. Be sure it won’t slip off and pop you in the face. Please please. 🙏
From here, grab the band while you lay on your back. Don’t worry about the perfect set up distance. You can adjust in a second.
If you have a partner, have them hold the band while you lay on your back.
Extend your arms straight, but stop short of locking your elbows out.
Bring both your legs straight up toward the ceiling. It is ok if your knees are bent due to flexibility, but try to keep them fairly straight.
With your arms and legs straight up, exhale and press your low back into the ground. At the same time, use your lats ( squeeze your armpits) and think about pressing your ribs into the floor.
This is your start position. From here, shift your legs until your knees are over the bottom of your behind, not up toward your waistband.
Now hold your left leg in place and slowly extend your right leg toward the floor. Only extend as far as you can without your low back popping off the floor. Once your right leg is back next to your left, then do a rep with your left leg.
The hard part here is focusing on keeping your upper body tight and your low back on the floor during the whole movement of your legs.
You can see in the above video I lose my focus around rep 3 and start moving both legs out of pattern. Ha! Try to focus on pressing your whole back into the ground, and focus a bit better than I did. 🙂
How to Make This Ab Exercise Tougher
You can do this alternating legs, which is where I suggest you start. Once you get the hang of that, you can do both legs together. This movement is harder, and you might have to shorten your range of motion to achieve the goal of not letting your back pop off the ground.
I suggest doing both variations, though. Even if you practice enough that this one is easy, continue to do both. Moving one leg at a time is a very natural movement pattern that is worth continuing to practice, and doing both is a good challenge.
What Is Your Favorite Ab Exercise?
I’d love to know what your favorite ab exercise is! There are so many to choose from! There are a lot of ab exercises you can do at home, such as 5 of my favorites which I outline here. The others will allow you to load your abs a bit more with gym equipment. If you are in Austin and need a gym, check out my favorite Austin gyms right here.
Need some more core work in your life? Try this back extension machine, which is a fantastic complement to all the ab work from above!
About the author
Kathryn Alexander is a strength coach and personal trainer in Austin, Texas. She loves hiking, college football, and the feel of a perfectly knurled barbell. Read more about Kathryn here.