Leg raises are an exercise used to strengthen the hips and abdominal muscles. The main muscles affected during leg raises are the lower abdominals, but the upper abdominals and intercostal muscles -- the muscles that are between the ribs and form the chest wall -- also receive a workout. There are ways to perform the leg raise, including lying, incline and hanging. These exercises may also be done with or without weights, resistance bands or medicine balls.
Lying on Ground
Lying leg raises are used by people who work out at home and have no equipment. Lie on the floor on your back with your legs together and fully extended. Slowly raise your legs from the hips, keeping your legs in a straight line. Keep your toes pointed up and your back flat on the ground with your hands at your sides. Raise your legs to a 90-degree angle, and slowly lower them back toward the ground without touching the ground.
Lying on Bench
For people with weight benches or who have access to a gym, the bench version of leg raises is similar to the lying leg raises but are performed on a weight bench. Lie on your back on a bench, and perform the leg raise movement exactly as if you were lying on a floor. You can hold onto the bench for additional leverage.
Leg Raise Machine
The leg raise machine is typically combined into a dip or pull-up machine. Step up onto the machine's foot rest. Place your back firmly against the back pad and your arms on the arm rests. Grab the hand grips for extra leverage. Slowly step off the foot rest, and let your legs hang. Using a controlled movement, press your legs together, and lift them to a 90-degree angle with your feet pointing out straight in front of you. Slowly lower your legs back down, and repeat.
Hanging Leg Raises
Use a high horizontal bar or pull-up bar, and grasp it in an overhand grip with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width. Hang with your legs straight down toward the floor. Flex your hips, and raise your legs to a 90-degree angle with your feet pointing out straight in front. Return to the starting position using a slow and controlled movement.