Benefits of side leg raises: Why You Need to Do Them

If you want to reduce lower back pain, knee pain and make everyday activities easier then do some leg raises. They are just a couple of the benefits of side leg raises. Plus they'll also make your legs and bum toned and pert. 

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If you want a simple exercise that gives you huge benefits, think about doing side leg raises. Or side leg lifts as they’re also called.

I know right, it’s such a basic movement, but when it comes to strength training, or any kind of training really, keeping it simple is best.

There’s not really any magic formula, or any special movement that you can do that will fast forward you to your goal. There’s no hack.

It’s about doing the work.

And side leg raises, are a fantastic exercise to do.

Want to learn more?

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What are the benefits of side leg raises?

Benefits of Side Leg Raises: What Are They?

Yes, side leg raises are a great exercise, but what exactly are they?

Well, to explain, I’m going to have to tell, roughly, how to do them.

Please remember, with any exercise, doing them with proper form is going to give you the best results. And will help prevent injury. If you’re unsure about whether you have good form, please consult a personal trainer. You can always contact me for a chat if you don’t want to see a personal trainer locally.

Ok, so side leg raises are done when you’re lying down on your side, and you lift your top leg. So, if you’re lying on your right side you’ll lift your left leg. And when you lye on your left side you’ll lift your right leg.

There are different variations of the exercise, for example standing side leg raise, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

The idea is you lift a single leg at a time to the side. Hold it for 5-10 seconds and then return to the starting position.

Benefits of Side Leg Raises: Why You Need to Do Them

So, let’s get on with the good stuff, why you need to be doing them. Why you should include them in your workout routine.

As I mentioned above, for such a simple exercise, side leg raises pack a punch when it comes to benefits.

But that’s what you like right?

In fact at Mamas that Move, that’s what we love.

Making the most of any time we have to workout. Doing exercises that have various advantages. It’s what I live for.

So, what are some of the benefits.

What are the benefits of side leg raises? There are quite a few. Which is why you should be doing them.

1. They’ll Improve Your Leg Strength

Ok, this one might be stating the obvious, but leg raises are going to improve your leg strength. Yeah, I know, mind blown.

But do you know why strengthening your legs is important?

They give us the power to do, pretty much everything. All of our daily activities are powered, at the core, by our legs.

So, if you’ve got strong legs, everything you do will be that bit easier.

2. They’ll Reduce Your Lower Back Pain

Seriously, side leg raises can help to reduce lower back pain.

Hear me out.

Your lower back does a lot of compensating when muscles in your lower body aren’t strong enough to do their jobs properly.

That’s particularly the case with your gluteal muscles.

You gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, aka your bum.

Yeah, if your bum isn’t doing it’s job properly your lower back compensates. And your lower back muscles aren’t as big or as strong.

So, if you’re suffering from lower back pain, start by strengthening your bum. And yeah side leg raises are a great way to do that because they target all of your bum muscles as one unit.

3. They’ll Reduce Your Knee Pain

Painful knees are a bitch.

The pain seeps into everything you do. Because you need your knees a lot. Especially if you’ve got kids your running around after. Picking up after. Carrying when they’re too tired to walk any further.

As with lower back pain, most knee pain, not all but most, happens because your knees are compensating for weaknesses elsewhere in your body. Particularly your lower body.

Whether it’s your glutes, your thighs, your hips, something is not working quite as it should. So, it stands to reason that addressing that source of weakness could be the answer to your problems.

The problem is, if you’re suffering from knee pain, the traditional lower body strengthening exercises, squats, lunges, may not be an option for you. You might not be able to do them.

That’s where side leg raises come in.

They can help to strengthen your legs without you having to bend your knees.

4. They’ll Improve Your Balance

A side effect of stronger legs and a strong bum is that you’ll have better balance.

You might not be too worried about your balance at the moment. I mean we don’t often go around standing on one leg do we?

But, the thing is, as we get older our ability to balance deteriorates. And that makes everything harder. Believe me.

I suffered from daily migraines and the pain affected my balance. I found just walking to the bathroom a bit of a chore.

But keeping your lower body strong will help you keep your balance longer.

5. They’ll Target lots of your Muscles in One Go

Why are side leg raises so good? Because they target so many muscles

I’ve talked about functional and compound movements before, but essentially they’re the best type of exercise.


Because they work lots of muscles in one movement. Which means you don’t have to spend as long working out.

They also work your body in a functional way. They way we do when we’re going about everyday activities.

Those movements get stronger, which means you get stronger, and our every day gets a bit easier.

Just in case your interested here is a list of all of the muscles side leg raises target:

  • Hip flexors – These play a major role in walking, your posture, joint mobility, flexibility and balance.
  • Gluteus Medius – This has an important job to do, balancing your hips and stabilising your pelvis when you’re walking and running.
  • Gluteus Maximus – This is the strongest muscle in our body. When these are weak walking, standing, climbing the stairs, they all become tougher.
  • Abdominal muscles – Yep, you read that right, side leg raises also target your core muscles and are great to improve your core strength.
  • Adductor Muscles – These are also really important for standing, walking and good posture.

Benefits of Side Legs Raises: Different Variations and How to Progress Them

How do you progress leg raises? Make them harder? Do the differently?

I think we’re all agreed that the leg lift exercise is a fantastic exercise and one you should definitely be doing.

But, are they all you should be doing? And what do you do if you can’t lie on the floor?

You’ll be happy to know that there are lots of variations of side leg raises. Just leg raises in general. And they are all just as beneficial, and easy to do.

If you struggle getting down on the floor, you could try them in a standing position.

Hold onto something if you need to, a wall, a chair, or a park bench.

For best results you could even try taking your leg out to the side, to the front, behind you and then the other side. That will make sure all of your leg and your hip movement is being targeted.

If you can lie on the floor you might try a double leg lift.

That will target more of your abdominal muscles.

Once all of those become ‘easy’ you could try adding in a resistance band, ankle weights or even a medicine ball squeezed between your feet.

Slowing down the movement will also give you more of a challenge.

There are always ways to make an exercise more challenging.

Benefits of Side Leg Raises

So, have I enticed you with these benefits of side leg raises? Are you going to include them into your exercise program?

If you’re struggling to fit them into your training plan, then please do get in touch. I’m always happy to help.

And remember, if you want fun but quick home workouts delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter.

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