How To Do Prone Leg Lifts Correctly

“I started doing prone leg lifts to strengthen my core and lower back, but all I got was an aching back.”

If leg lifts lead to pain, you may be doing them improperly. Learn how to do prone leg lifts (also called prone leg raises) correctly with this 1-minute video from exercise experts at the renowned Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami. With maybe just a few minor changes in your form, you can eliminate the pain and begin to experience the gains.

From exercise physiologists Ivan Ferran, Jamie Costello, and Jackie Gavino at the Pritikin Longevity Center, get tips on strengthening your core, hips, and back.

The benefits of prone leg lifts

Do your prone leg lifts correctly, and you will begin to feel greater strength in your abdomen, hips, and back. Your hips will move with more ease and greater range of motion.

You’ll be able to stand and walk with greater confidence and grace. You’ll be able to stand with the crowd as long as it takes for your team to score the winning touchdown. You’ll likely be able to take longer walks on the beach or through the park, and simply enjoy the scenery without distracting pain or fear of injury.

And certainly, with prone leg lifts, as with all resistance exercises, you are increasing blood flow and burning calories. There’s more good news. Your body composition improves as you reduce fat and build muscle.

How to do prone leg lifts correctly

Motivated by these beneficial goals, watch and listen to the video from the Pritikin experts. Then imitate what you see on screen. Even better, have a highly trained coach like the Pritikin exercise physiologists observe your movements to ensure that they mirror those in the video.

Prone leg lifts | Step-by-step guidelines

Start by placing your hands and knees on the floor with your arms and thighs perpendicular to the floor and extended straight upward to your shoulders and hips. Keep your hips, spine, neck, and head aligned parallel to the floor.

Now, squeeze the muscles of your lower abdomen, lift one knee, and slowly extend one leg backward with toes pointed until the leg is nearly parallel to the floor.

How to do a Prone Leg Lift correctly

The prone leg lift is a superb all-purpose exercise for your lower body. It strengthens the lower back, glutes (the three muscles that make up the buttocks), hamstrings, and core.

Then, slowly return your leg to the original position with the knee touching the floor.

Throughout this exercise, keep your head, neck, back, and hips in the original alignment parallel to the floor.

Prone leg lifts | Recommended repetitions

Gradually build up the number of leg extensions on each side until you can do 12 to 15 repetitions (per leg) per set. Do not do so many repetitions that you get exhausted and break form.

Jamie Costello Shows You How to Exercise Without Pain

Jamie Costello, MSC, Exercise Director at Pritikin: “Many of our guests arrive with chronic pain, like back pain. Working out can be a challenge. The expert attention they receive here is a huge help.”

Do 2 sets per session. Repeat three times a week with 48 to 72 hours between sessions so that your muscles have a chance to recover.

Prone leg lifts | A greater challenge

When you become completely comfortable doing prone leg raises and want a greater challenge with enhanced benefits, move up to the Bird Dog. In this advanced version, as demonstrated in the video and photo, you lift and extend one leg and foot while simultaneously lifting and extending the arm and hand on the opposite side.

Remember to do only as many repetitions as you can do while maintaining form. If you feel your form falling apart, STOP.

Prone leg lifts | A final cautionary note

If you have any hip or lower back issues, check with your doctor or physical therapist before doing either version of the prone leg raise. If you’re free to proceed, keep lifting those legs! You’ll enjoy greater freedom of movement and freedom from pain.

Strength Exercises | Key Benefits, Recommendations

We tend to know the benefits of cardiovascular exercises like jogging or swimming. They improve heart function and circulation. They also help lower blood pressure and reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

But many of us don’t fully understand, or appreciate, the benefits of strength (also called resistance) exercises such as prone leg lifts.

Strength exercises are exercises that strengthen all the major muscle groups of the body. If you do them regularly, you’ll reap huge benefits:

  • You’ll feel your muscles grow firmer and more powerful as your endurance increases.
  • Your coordination, agility, and balance improve.
  • You can better perform a myriad of daily activities – like climbing stairs, getting in and out of your car, carrying groceries, playing golf, hiking the countryside, and rough-housing with the kids. You do them all with greater ease, confidence, and joy.
  • As you increase strength and agility, you reduce the chance of falls and injuries.
  • Your improve your body composition. That’s because as you build lean muscle, you reduce body fat. As you lower your percentage of body fat, you lower your risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
  • Finally, strength training helps prevent bone loss, even in those with osteoporosis.

Along with all the above, you’ll also look and feel better. There’ll be more pep in your step.

“And your body—from calves and thighs to butt and stomach to chest and arms—will definitely look fitter and trimmer,” encourages Pritikin’s Exercise Director Jamie Costello.

“But the key to all these benefits is not just doing strength exercises, but doing them right. If done incorrectly, they could create pain and keep you from exercising. They might even cause injury, which would also put you on the sidelines,” cautions Jamie.

To accentuate the positive benefits and eliminate the negatives, “we focus on one-on-one guidance here at Pritikin,” says Jamie. “Within a week or two, our guests are noticing that their muscles are automatically falling into correct form, and they’re feeling the benefits.”

Pritikin Basic 8

In addition to the prone leg lift, there are 7 other exercises that are part of the Pritikin Video Series for strengthening the body’s major muscle groups.

All 8 are:
1. Squat: When done correctly, the squat exercise not only helps you look better (who doesn’t want a nicer-looking butt?), it makes life better. That’s because squatting is a movement we use in all sorts of everyday activities.
Watch the How To Do Squats Without Knee Pain video »
2. Calf Raise: Calf raises are a great exercise for toning up legs. What’s more, calf raises train your body to maintain balance, which can help you avoid nasty falls. Watch the Calf Raises Video: How To Shape Up Your Legs Without Pain »
3. Chest Press: The chest press not only tones your chest, shoulders, and arms, it strengthens your core. But it’s really important to do the chest press correctly to avoid pain and injury.
Watch the Chest Press Video: Tone Your Upper Body Without Pain or Injury »
4. One Arm Dumbbell Row: This exercise builds a strong back. It also strengthens your shoulders, upper arms, and core. You’ll be able to walk and stand longer – at football games, at museums – without having to contend with an aching back. Watch the One Arm Dumbbell Row Video: Strengthen Your Back Without Pain or Injury »
5. 45-Degree Shoulder Raise: The 45-degree shoulder raise can power up your shoulder muscles. You’ll be able to do a lot of things more easily, like lifting your carry-on into the overhead bins of planes. Watch the 45-Degree Shoulder Raise Video: Powerful Shoulders without Pain
6. Reverse Fly – Scapula Retraction: The scapula retraction is a great exercise for improving your posture. The exercise experts at Pritikin recommend using bands. Essentially, you’re moving your shoulder blades (scapula) back toward your spine.
Watch the Scapula Retraction Video: Reverse Fly | Build Good Posture and Strong Shoulders Without Pain »
7. Standard Crunch: Here’s an important exercise for your core. Your Pritikin video will show you how to start with the simplest and safest movements, and from there progress to more challenging forms.
Watch the Standard Crunch Video: How To Do Crunches Without Hurting Yourself »
8. Prone Leg Lift: The prone leg lift is a superb all-purpose exercise for your lower body. It strengthens the lower back, glutes (the three muscles that make up the buttocks), hamstrings, and core.

At the Pritikin Longevity Center, the #1 priority is performing every type of exercise correctly to avoid pain and injury.

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