Bench Press Leg Raise Crunches For
By Nick Nilsson
Tighten those lower abs FAST with this
extraordinary exercise. Not only does it hit the lower abs HARD, it
takes almost ALL the stress off the lower
back when you're doing a leg raise movement!
So who doesn't want to tighten up their lower abs...raise your hand. Not
a single hand went up...I had a feeling!
Well, I'm going to show you a leg-raise type of exercise that hits the
lower abs HARD. Working the lower abs will help you tighten up any
lower-belly protrusions you might have AND, if you've got fairly low
bodyfat already, get those diagonal lines down your side/lower abs
(technically known as the inguinal ligaments) that really catch the eye.
Here's the best part...not only does this exercise
hit the lower abs HARD, it takes practically ALL the
stress off the lower back while doing it (a common problem
with lying leg raises). The secret lies in the special way
in which it's set up and performed.
What you're basically going to be doing is holding the bar (or dumbells)
in the top position of a bench press while performing leg raises! It
sounds simple and, honestly, it really is!
We're going to be using that weight that you're holding in the bench
press top position to counterbalance the weight of your legs while
you're doing the leg raise.
I've found this to make the leg raise exercise even MORE effective for
the lower abs by anchoring your upper body, letting the abs really focus
on doing the leg raise exercise without the torque on the lower back.
How To Do It:
The set up is simple...all you need is a barbell or dumbells. If you're
using a barbell, I recommend doing the exercise in the power rack or on
a flat barbell bench press station. If you're using dumbells, you can do
this exercise just lying flat on the floor (you can just set the
dumbells on the floor when you're done).
If you're using the barbell and rack setup, set the safety rails in the
rack to a couple of feet off the ground. Lie down on the floor and grip
the bar with a medium to close grip - no need to use a wide grip. The
closer grip will be easier to maintain while doing the exercise.
As for the amount of weight to use, you don't need a tremendous amount
for the exercise and counterbalancing to be effective. For myself, I
just use 135 lbs on the bar and that works just fine. If you're using
dumbells, it will also depend on how much you can hold up in that
position when you're doing the exercise. Just experiment with what feels
comfortable to you and take it from there!
Hold the weight at the top of the bench press with your arms locked out.
Your legs will start out straight (or knees slightly bent) and
horizontal, just off the ground.
In traditional lower ab leg raises, this places tremendous pressure on
the lower back. Not here! The weight of the barbell counterbalances the
legs and takes the stress off the lower back. The position of your arms
(90 degrees to the body) also helps keep torque off the lower back.
Now do regular leg raises from there, keeping the legs stiff and
slightly bent, bringing them all the way up to vertical.
Squeeze hard at the top then lower down slowly, bringing the legs down
to a point a few inches from the floor. Keeping the legs off the floor
keeps the tension on the abs strongly.
In the traditional leg raise, this is where you would have the most
torque and pain in the lower back. When the legs are counterbalanced
with the barbell, this position doesn't put NEARLY the same torque on
the lower back!
This exercise hits the extreme lower abs like you just can't do with
regular leg raises because of the counterbalancing force of the barbell
held above you. The best part is, it can be done with barbells or
dumbells so all you need are some free weights and you're ready to go!
Bench Press Leg Raise Crunch:
Start position - legs are straight and held
a few inches off the ground. Barbell is held locked out at arms-length
with a medium-width grip.
Middle position - start raising the legs. Knees are slightly bent
but legs are held stiff as you do the raise.
Top position - legs are vertical. This
pictures demonstrates how you can bring your hips up and off the floor
for maximum contraction. Bringing the hips up and off the floor isn't
absolutely necessary, though. Watch the video to get the best idea of
the range of motion of this exercise.
Dumbbell Bench Press Leg Raise Crunch:
picture shows the crunching variation you
can use to get an added contraction
Videos of the exercise:
In Windows Media
In Apple Quicktime
(right click on link and choose "save target as")
1. Letting the feet touch
Normally, not letting the feet touch the ground in between reps is what
sends all the torque onto the lower back. With the counterbalance of the
weight, you don't have that problem and can really attack the lower abs.
Keep your feet 6 inches off the ground as you come down.
2. Not using enough weight
Be sure you have enough weight on the bar/dumbells that you effectively
counterbalance your legs. If the weight isn't enough, you won't get the
full benefits of the exercise. It's something you can experiment with.
Remembers, you're NOT pressing the weight, you're just holding it in a
lockout position so don't be shy to use a moderately heavy weight.
1. Add a crunch to meet in the middle
To really fire the total abdominal area, you can also do a crunch
(against the resistance of the barbell/dumbells) at the same time as you
do the leg raise. This double contraction against resistance will really
fire up the abs!
Try this movement with your feet on the floor first (knees bent 90
degrees) so you get an idea of how it's done. Basically, it's just a
simple crunch movement but done while holding the barbell in the lockout
When you include it in the with the leg raise (done simultaneously,
coming up into the crunch as you are raising your legs), it makes for
TREMENDOUS tension in the entire abdominal area.
This is an excellent exercise variation to use if you're interested in
working the lower abs HARD. It takes the vast majority of the stress off
the lower back and allows you to really dig in and work those lower abs
into the ground!
About Nick Nilsson
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of the online personal training company BetterU, Inc. He has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been inventing new training techniques
for more than 16 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding eBooks including “Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss,” “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of,” “Gluteus to the Maximus - Build a Bigger Butt NOW!” and “The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of” all available at:
Click Here To Visit Nick Nilsson's Website And
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