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I've been doing pilates recently and we often do a lying leg raise, either with or without bent knees:

Lying leg raise

Bent knee lying leg raise

Doing a singular leg is fine for me, I have no issues. However doing a double leg raise and I start to really struggle and can't hold the position long (It's not painful, just difficult).

My lower back muscle has been known to be weak and prone to damage, so I'm aware it needs work on. Are there other exercises I compliment to help strengthen that muscle without doing the lying back raise?

I would like to be able to do the exercises as we do many repetitions with different things, like with a pilates ring between the legs, holding balls in our hands and moving our arms back and forth, and so on. Not being able to hold the position for a long time does make it difficult to keep up with the class.

  • You say it is difficult, but you don't elaborate on why it is difficult. What is happening? You just can't keep your legs up? You feel something else? As it stands, this could be any number of things. – JohnP Jun 25 '18 at 20:34
  • It feels like my muscles are giving up, I'm lying there and it takes great effort to hold the position. – Draken Jun 26 '18 at 1:22
  • Is it your abdominal muscles that are "giving up"? When I hold this position for a while, my abs start getting tired. – J. Heller Jun 26 '18 at 2:57
  • I find it's more my thigh muscles feel tired, but it's difficult to tell. My legs are definitely the ones to shake and feel like they are struggling – Draken Jun 26 '18 at 5:30
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    Yeah leg raises really work the hip flexors and to a lesser degree the abdominals, but really you have to get your butt off the ground to get them involved. Where do you get lower back from? You even say "thigh muscles" in the comment. Try the superman exercise for that one if you think you are safe. Otherwise, well, the best way to get good at something is to repeat it. If you want to get better at leg raises, do leg raises more often. Btw, them feeling hard is a good thing, it challenges you - unless of course there is pain and so on. If they were easy, there was little point in doing them. – Raditz_35 Jun 26 '18 at 6:28
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You can use some bands to decrease the load or target the muscles being activated in this exercise. There are definitely stabilizers being used along with the core. Hip flexor workouts and stretches, hip thrusts, hanging ab raises, weighted crunches, side leg kicks etc. are all exercises you can do to get smoother reps in on this workout.

At the end of the day if what you want to do is improve reps on this exercises, do a solid good one throughout the day and grease the groove. Just taking a break after a bit of work? Lay down and try to do a clean rep. Aim for 5 reps over the course of a day and progress as you wish. If you can't yet hit that clean rep, cheat and bring your legs to your core with your knees bent. Then proceed to straighten your legs out and hold them perpendicular to your abs for a set amount of time. Hold them at various positions and apply the same greasing the groove technique by doing it throughout the day. Greasing the groove is a technique that isn't meant to tire you out. It's just priming your nervous system and musculature to get used to the movement without exhausting you, allowing you to hit more reps throughout the week.

In the beginning it might be rough but sticking with it will definitely result in results. As they, nothing easy is worth doing.

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