Muscle group:   The abdominal muscles, the leg muscles, the butt muscles, complex exercises

Trained muscle:   All parts of the abdominal muscles, Adductors, Abductors, butt muscles

Focused muscle:   Oblique abdominals

Fitness level:   Advanced, experienced

Type of training:   Own body weight exercises


Side raises represent a highly effective exercise for the oblique abdominal muscles. We could either work out freely or with fixated legs. In some variations the adductors and abductors can be trained as well.

Side raises

Side raises start in lateral position. With stretched hips and knees we lift our legs from the ground. Keep the entire body stable and your abdominals tensed. To intensify this exercise you could lift the upper body from the ground as well. With lifted legs and upper body it is hard to stabilize the body. Feel free to lean against a wall or similar, if necessary. Performing side raises isometrically already is very effective. To intensify the exercise stretch your arms above your head. Small up and down movements further intensify the workout.

Side raises free

Side raises free

The variation with raised legs and upper body combines the exercises adductor side leg raises, abductor side leg raises, and side leg raises.

Side raises variations

Side raises with fixated legs are the most effective variation of this exercise for the oblique abdominal muscles. Here, you could have your legs fixated by a partner, the wall bars, a suitable machine, bench, or chair at the gym, or similar. The hips should be stretched. Either hold the upper body on the horizontal line or move it smoothly up and down by a few centimeters. Intensify this variation by stretching your arms above your head.

Side raises fixated legs

Side raises fixated legs

In both versions, with free and fixated legs, the obliques as well as the abductors of the upper leg and the adductors of the lower leg are being activated. Please note that working out with high levers (entire body in a horizontal line) is the most intense way to perform side raises. Especially these versions bear the risk of press breathing (exhalation against closed airways) what should always be avoided. There are also less intense variations with the upper body on the floor. Here, we can work out with bent knees or bend and stretch the knees alternatingly. It is also possible to open and close the legs like scissors.


Antagonist: Lower back muscle

Stretching: Abdominal stretches

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