Standing Side Leg Lifts
How to Do the Standing Side Leg Lift | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS]
Proper Form, Common Mistakes & Variations | Home Resistance Training
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MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN the Standing Side Leg Lift
GLUTEUS MEDIUS & GLUTEUS MINIMUS
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Internal and external obliques
- Quadratus lumborum
- Rectus abdominis
- Erector spinae
- Transverse abdominis
HOW Standing Side Leg LiftS SHAPE OUR BODY
Firm and toned outer hips (firm saddle bag region).
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
Other names for this exercise: Standing Hip Abduction
ALL WE'RE DOING:
Step sideways, with a mini-band around your ankles.
Standing side leg lifts will work both hips at the same time. When you are standing, the leg muscles of the weight bearing leg (the one that is on the floor supporting the body) will work to hold the leg in good alignment and very still. When you lift the other leg out to the side, the pelvis of that sidef (the side of the lifting leg) will drop down (relative hip adduction of the standing leg). The hip abductor of the standing leg will contract to hold the pelvis level. Adding a band to the exercise will work the standing leg muscles even more. When the “working” leg moves out to the side, away from the body, the band will pull the standing leg into adduction. The hip abductors will work to hold the hip in neutral to keep the pelvis level. This exercise will work the standing leg to hold the body still and the muscles of lifting leg to lift the leg up and control the movement as the band pulls it back in.
PROPER FORM: Standing Side Leg Lift
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
The standard mini-bands are about a 12" loop- which is actually too big for a lot of exercises to be effective (I mean, they'll do, but if you can....)
These are better & you'll be less annoyed:
10" loop mini-bands
9" loop mini-bands
9" loop mini-bands
If you buy 1 set, get the 9" size. I honestly recommend getting both. They're affordable & give you a lot of versatility to find the right stretch & resistance for a variety of exercises.
If these aren't currently for sale, you will need to search specifically for 9-inch or 10-inch mini bands. If you just search mini bands all you'll ever see are the 12" ones.
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
Moderate to Heavy.
SETS & REPS:
2 sets of 8-10
Slow controlled out and back (don’t let the band snap the leg back to the starting position.
BODY POSITION FOR THE Standing Side Leg Lift
BAND: Around both thighs, just above your knees (a mini band or tie a band). When your feet are about 4 inches apart, the band should be taut. Can wrap the band around your ankle or tie to achieve this. Or around both ankles (with no history of knee pathology or pain), or around the bottom of both feet (keep the ankles in neutral) (this allows for a larger band)
BODY STANCE: Stand with a neutral spine (including neck). The pelvis and shoulders should be level and squared. Lift sternum.
FEET: Feet about 4 inches apart, toes pointed forward.
STANDING LEG - knee slightly bent. Knee aligned over 2nd toe, not pronated or supinated (foot not rolling in or out).
WORKING LEG: knee bent - in order to clear the foot from the floor as your leg moves out and back. Thighs in line with each other. If you have one leg shorter than the other it can be helpful to stand on a slightly elevated surface, even something as low as a yoga mat can be helpful, or if you need more, sideways on the bottom step, a book, stool.
ARM: Hands on your hips to monitor for movement.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Standing Side Leg LiftS
CUE: Concentrate on maintaining alignment of the standing leg. You should be able to draw a line down through your hip joint, your kneecap, your shin, and your ankle. You should feel “lifted” out of the standing hip - not collapsed into it. A mirror helps.
Lift the leg out to the side while keeping the pelvis level.
Slowly bring the leg back in.
Repeat for the desired number of reps.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
Remove the band.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH THE Standing Side Leg Lift
Guess what? Good news! Many avoids are the same for most movements. Once you learn the basics, there's really only a few extra avoids for each individual movement.
1. avoid tilting hips pelvis
AVOID: Avoid letting one side of the pelvis drop or sag, or raising up the side of the hip of the working leg.
- Letting one side of the pelvis drop down lower than the other side means that you are not using the hip abductor on the other side of the pelvis.
- Raising the hip of the working leg will make it so that you are not working with a neutral spine.
WHAT TO DO:
- An important part of this exercise is keeping the pelvis level.
2. avoid hip sagging out
AVOID: Avoid leaning the body when you step/lift the leg.
- This is using gravity to help out - leaning over to one foot to take the weight off of the other foot as it moves.
- This will decrease the effectiveness of the exercise (less work by the hip abductors).
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the knees slightly bent and move from the hips. The standing and stepping/lifting leg can be bent.
- For standing leg lifts- if you have one leg shorter than the other it can be helpful to stand on a slightly elevated surface, even something as low as a yoga mat can be helpful, or if you need more, sideways on the bottom step, a book, stool.
- Keep the torso upright - try doing this exercise with a book balanced on your head.
3. Avoid toeing out
AVOID: Avoid toeing out. Keep the toes of both feet pointed forward.
- This is a common cheat that happens without you even realizing it - be mindful.
- The quadriceps are much stronger than the gluteus medius and minimis, rotating the thigh out is an attempt to use the stronger quads.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the toes of both feet facing forward or even toe in a bit to make sure you are using the gluteals.
4. avoid moving leg to front
AVOID: Avoid moving your leg front or back.
WHAT TO DO:
- Keeping the leg coming out directly to your side will get the best glute medius muscle activity.
5. avoid momentum
AVOID: Avoid momentum.
- Using momentum won't work the muscles as well.
WHAT TO DO:
VARIATIONS OF Standing Side Leg LiftS
band around ankles
band around ankles side leg lift
Around the ankles can make the movement either feel easier, or may be more comfortable if the band being under your feet causes you any pain (you might feel too much stress on your knees with it under your feet).
Band Above Knees
Band Above Knees Side Leg Lift
Above the knees will be easier.
USE CHAIR/STOOL TO STABILIZE
Use Chair/Stool to Stabilize
Place a chair in front or to the side of you to help balance.
STAND on ELEVATED SURFACE
Stand on Elevated Surface
It can be helpful to stand on an elevated surface (a small floor mat is sufficient) so that it is easy to clear the moving leg from the floor. This is especially useful if you have one leg that is longer than the other leg. For this variation, the working leg (moving leg) can be held straight. The pelvis should be level. It can be easier to let the pelvis drop on the side of the unsupported leg. When you stand with one leg unsupported and “hanging” from the hip socket (as opposed to holding it up to clear the floor), there can be a tendency to let the pelvis drop on that side. It may be helpful to stand in front of a mirror and/or to put your hands on your hips to monitor the position of the pelvis.
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE glutes
This group of hip exercises is done standing up and moving the leg out to the side. These exercises will work both hips at the same time in different ways. The muscles of the standing leg will be working to hold the leg all lined up - foot, ankle, knee, hip and pelvis, and very still, and the moving leg will be pulling out against the resistance of the band. This works the hip abductor muscles (the muscles that move the leg out to the side and also hold the pelvis level) for both of their main functions.
When standing, the hip abductors of the weight-bearing leg (the one that is on the floor supporting the body) will work to hold the hip in neutral. When one leg is lifted up the pelvis of that side will drop down (relative hip adduction of the standing leg). The hip abductor muscles will contract to hold the pelvis level. Adding a band to the exercise will work the standing leg muscles even more. When the “working” leg moves out to the side, away from the body, the band will pull the standing leg into adduction. The hip abductors will work to hold the hip in neutral to keep the pelvis level.
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
In most exercise programs we tend to focus on moving the legs forward and backwards. This can cause muscle imbalances by making the muscles of the front and back of the leg strong but not working the muscles on the outside and inside of the thigh. These muscles are equally important for keeping the knees, hips, pelvis, low back, and even ankles, feet, shoulders and neck properly aligned.
So much emphasis is put on working the large muscles - the gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings, while the smaller muscles are neglected. Over time, these muscles will not be able to keep up with the larger muscles that have been getting all of the attention. This can result in poor form with exercises, making the imbalance even greater. Learning to do the right exercises with correct form, and mindful movement, helps to wake the neglected muscles up, making them more involved (active) and stronger.
Our modern-day lifestyle has really reduced the variety of our movement. Even walking on fairly even sidewalks, running on treadmills, walking on paths, instead of walking on uneven terrain, has contributed to the inside and outside of our thighs being less active and weaker. When the hip muscles are not used in a lot of different ways, the joint can get tight and the muscles on the outside and inside of the hip can get weaker. When the hips are weak and stiff it changes the way the leg is used. The knee can begin to collapse inward, causing knee pain, pronation (ankle rolling in), bunions, and foot problems. Weak hip muscles have been associated with increased fall risk and poor balance.
EVERYDAY LIFE &
HOW WE USE OUR glutes MUSCLES IN EVERYDAY LIFE
1. MOVES THE LEG OUT TO THE SIDE WHEN THE PELVIS IS HELD STILL
- Stepping sideways
- Lifting the leg to the side to get into a car
2. IN STANDING, THE MAIN FUNCTION OF THE HIP ABDUCTORS IS TO HOLD THE PELVIS HORIZONTAL (PREVENT IT FROM SAGGING) DURING GAIT/MOVEMENT
- Balance and stability when walking or standing
- Weak hip muscles have been associated with increased risk for falls and poor balance
- Especially on uneven surfaces, or across a slope
- Climbing stairs
3. THE STANDING LEG LIFT EXERCISES FOCUS ON KEEPING THE PELVIS LEVEL, BUT IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
- The gluteus medius can contribute to flexion and internal rotation (anterior fibers) and extension and external rotation (posterior fibers) [this is similar to the actions of the different parts of the deltoid muscle]
- The gluteus minimus can help with flexion and internal rotation
How to Feel What Muscle is Working
This can be a tricky muscle group to feel because most of the gluteus medius is underneath the large gluteus maximus, and the gluteus minimus is underneath the gluteus medius. Lying on your side with the legs stacked and straight down in line with your torso. Feel the top of your pelvis with the palm of your hand on the side of the hip. Slide the hand back so the palm of the hand is about where it would be if you were putting your hand in your back pocket. Keep your pelvis still and lift your top leg up. You should feel the muscles deep, around the back side of the hip joint. Try to keep the gluteus maximus relaxed and soft.
ALLLL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Standing Side Leg Lift
The core muscles are working to stabilize the spine in neutral alignment. The standing leg: the gluteus medius and minimis work to hold the pelvis level; the leg muscles work to keep the hip/knee/lower leg/ankle and foot aligned and stable.
The gluteus medius and minimus are working concentrically to lift the leg and eccentrically to lower the leg.