What are Side Leg Raises? 

Side leg raises is a bodyweight core and leg exercise that involves you lying on the floor, on your side, and abducting your leg (pushing them) away from the midline. You can also perform this whilst standing up. This exercise is great to develop strength and endurance in the core, thighs, and hip abductors.

The hip abductor muscles play a significant biomechanical role in humans and are a crucial point in the mobilization of body weight. A weakening of the hip joints could cause impairment in the deep core muscles

What Muscles do Side Leg Raises work?

The side leg raise is a great way to develop strength in the outer thighs and hip abductors, with the primary muscles being targeted are the abdominals and obliques. The secondary muscles targeted are the hip adductors, glutes, and quadriceps. Strengthening these muscles through this exercise can also help avoid injury and with the knees, hips, and lower back. You can perform this whilst lying down on your side or standing on your feet using only your body weight, which will reap the same benefits.

What level is the Side Leg Raises?

This exercise is great for beginners as they are simple to do, and are very effective in targeting the midsection and lower body. You will need to increase the volume in your workouts to feel the burn in the targeted muscles. Moreover, you can also superset this workout with other side leg raise variations such as side leg circles, and side leg kicks to target all angles of the working muscles.

How to do Side Leg Raises? 

1. Lie On Your Side

Lie down on the floor on your side. Rest your head on your right hand and place your left arm in front of your stomach or on your side for additional support. Your body should be in a straight line with feet stacked on top of each other. Engage your core. This is your starting position.

2.Lift Your Legs

Exhale as you lift your top leg vertically upwards until it reaches 45 degrees or above. Count 2 seconds as you do this. Keep your legs straight and core engaged. Pause for a second at the top position. Ensure your hips are squared and forward.

3. Lower Your Leg

Inhale as you return back to the starting position, counting 2 seconds as you do this.

4.Repeat

Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps for 4 sets. Practice on both sides in a single set.



Side Leg Raises Workout

Beginners should perform between 5-8 reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

The intermediate level should perform between 9-20  reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

The advanced level should perform between 20+ reps for 4 sets, 3 times a week.

Side Leg Raises benefits

Build Core Strength 

The side leg raises develops strength in your hips, glutes, and abs, which assists you in building a solid core that can improve functional strength and stability Moreover, you will obtain the physical benefits of getting sculpted abs.

Improve Range of Motion 

When performed with proper form, side leg raises will develop flexibility through a range of motion which helps to prevent injuries in the lower body such as the hips and knees. This is due to the hip abductor muscles being accountable for driving your leg away from the midline.

Tone Your Legs 

Side leg raises can help you increase lean muscle mass which will give you a toned lower body. A combination of mechanical tension and metabolic stress will stimulate the release of testosterone, which is a hormone that builds and grow your muscles. 

Improve Muscular Endurance 

Side leg raises will develop your muscular endurance as you will be performing many repetitions for a period of time. The more reps you perform, the more time under tension on your muscles. This will improve the aerobic capacity of your leg muscles, therefore, enhancing the ability to perform daily functional activities such as walking or running. 

Variations of Side Leg Raises

Standing Side Raises

The standing side leg raises is a great exercise for developing strength in your hips, glutes, quadriceps, abdominals, and obliques. It is simple to do and all you will need is a sturdy object in front of you, or on your side such as a rail or a chair for support and balance. To perform this, you will:

  1. Stand tall in front or adjacent to the sturdy object, with your hands holding onto it as a support. Engage your core to keep your body straight, and your toes are pointing forward. This is your starting position.
  2. Exhale as you raise your legs off the floor to your side until it’s at a 45 degrees angle or further. Keep your core engaged, hips squared, and leg straight. Count 2 seconds as you raise and, hold at the top position for a second.
  3. Inhale as your return your leg back to the starting position.
  4.  Repeat between 8-20 reps for 4 sets on each leg. Practice on both legs in a single set.

Curtsey Lunge

The curtsey lunge is a beneficial, functional, and compound exercise that targets the glutes, quadriceps, hip abductors, and core. This exercise will fire your core away as they act as a stabilizer for your body. To perform this, you will:

  1. Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and arms down by your sides.
  2. Inhale as you draw an anti-clockwise semi-circle with your left foot back and around your right foot. Lower into a lunge until your right thigh is parallel to the floor. Bring your arms in front to help with balance. Engage your core to keep your torso straight.
  3. Exhale as you return back to the starting position, and repeat this movement on the opposite side.
  4. Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps for 4 sets.

Side leg kicks

This variation automatically recruits your core muscles to execute the movement, which is called reactive core training. Instead of raising your leg up, you will kick your leg forward in front of your to until it’s at a 90 degrees angle in relation to the torso. To perform this, you will:

  1. Lie on your right side with your head resting on your right hand. You can place your left hand on your side or in front of your stomach for support. Keep your body straight, and your feet stacked on top of each other. This is your starting position.
  2. Lift your top leg up at hip height and sweep the left leg in front until it forms a 90 degrees angle with your torso. Keep your leg straight and core engaged throughout this movement.
  3. Inhale as you return back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat this movement between 8-20 reps for 4 sets.

Side Leg Circles

Single leg circles target your core, hip abductors, and hip adductors. From a side-lying position, you will draw circles with your top leg either clockwise, anti-clockwise, or both! To perform this, you will:

  1. Lie on your right side with your head resting on your right hand. Your left hand is either on your side or placed in front of your stomach for support. Keep your body straight with legs stacked and toes pointed. This is your starting position.
  2. Lift your top leg up and draw circles with this leg. Count 2-3 seconds to complete a single circle.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side, and perform this movement between 8-18 reps for 4 sets.

About the Author

My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.