Seated leg raise exercise

Seated leg raise

Exercise details

  • Target muscle: Iliopsoas
  • Synergists: Tensor Fasciae Latae, Pectineus, Sartorius, Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Force: Pull

Starting position

  1. Sit on the edge of a bench with your legs extended in front of you.
  2. Grasp the edge of the bench for support.
  3. Lean backward and raise your legs a little off the floor, keeping them straight and together.


  1. Exhale as you lean forward and raise your knees toward your chest.
  2. Inhale as you lean backward and return your legs to the starting position.
  3. Repeat.

Comments and tips

  • Keep your back straight and your feet off the floor.
  • Make the seated leg raise more difficult by holding a dumbbell between your feet.
  • Many people, including personal trainers, think that the seated leg raise targets your rectus abdominis. In fact, this is a hip-flexion exercise, so the targets are your iliopsoas (hip flexors). Your rectus abdominis isn’t even a synergist. Along with your internal and external obliques, your rectus abdominis only acts as a stabilizer of your waist and pelvis. Your rectus abdominis and obliques will become synergists only if you flex your abdomen, which is impossible if you keep your back straight.
  • You might even hear people saying that the seated leg raise and similar hip-flexion exercises target your “lower” abs. There’s no such thing as your lower abs! Your rectus abdominis is a single muscle. When it contracts, it does so in its entirety. There are no upper and lower sections.
  • Also known as the seated knee-up or seated knee tuck.
  • See also the crunch with leg raise, the frog crunch with leg raise, and the hanging leg raise.

Seated leg raise video


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