Stability Ball Side Plank Leg Lift
How to Do the Fitness Ball Plank Side Leg Lift Hip Abduction Glute Exercise | In-Depth Guide [VISUAL LEARNERS] Beginner
Proper Form, Common Mistakes, & Variations | Home Resistance Training
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE?
MUSCLES THIS WORKS
MAIN MUSCLES WORKED IN Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts
GLUTEUS MEDIUS & GLUTEUS MINIMUS
These are the smaller glute muscles on the sides of our hips.
OTHER MUSCLES WORKED:
- Internal and external obliques
- Quadratus lumborum
- Rectus abdominis
- Erector spinae
- Transverse abdominis
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
Other names for this exercise: Side Plank Leg Raises, Side Plank Hip Abduction
ALL WE'RE DOING:
In a side plank on the ball, you'll lift one leg a few inches into the air, then back down. Done.
Stability Ball Side Plank Leg Lifts offer an engaging and effective exercise to target multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Strengthen your core, hips, and glutes, enhance your balance, and achieve your fitness goals with this dynamic exercise.
There are a few good reasons for choosing to use a stability ball:
1. If you have pain on the side of your hip right on the bony part at the top of the leg. This is most likely due to the bursa being irritated, lying on it can increase the discomfort and further irritate the soft tissue. Doing the side lying leg over the ball will eliminate this pressure.
2. The position is less stable than lying on the floor (meaning it's harder!) but more stable than the plank position. Because the torso is held still by the ball, the legs and hips will be doing most of the work to stabilize. This is a nice option if you want to challenge your leg muscles more but the side plank position is too hard on the shoulder or the core.
3. Using a ball changes where the muscles are most active. When you are lying on the floor, the downward pull of gravity on the leg is greatest in the beginning of the exercise, when the leg is parallel to the floor. Inclining the body on the ball changes the position of the leg relative to the body when the leg is parallel to the floor. That means the hip abductors will work hardest in the beginning of the movement when you are on the floor, and towards the end of the movement when you are on the ball.
HOW TO DO THE EXERCISE
HOW Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts SHAPE OUR BODY
Firm and toned waist, flat abdomen, toned outer hips (firm saddlebag region), toned inner thighs.
PROPER FORM: Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts
EQUIPMENT, SETS & REPS
SUGGESTED STARTING WEIGHT FOR WOMEN:
SETS & REPS:
1-2 sets of 8-10
Slow and controlled up and down
BODY POSITION FOR Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts
Lie over a stability ball - the side of your torso is on the ball. The ball supports the torso from underarm to hips (roughly - depends on length of torso and size of ball). You may have to play around with the exact positioning.
LEGS: Bottom foot - the side of the foot, is on the floor, top foot stacked on top.
BODY STANCE: Neutral spine. The ball helps to support the spine in a neutral position. Abdominals gently engaged. You should be able to draw a line down the side of your body through the earlobe, torso, hip, and down the top leg. Your shoulders should be stacked one on top of the other, your hips should be stacked one on top of the other - hips and shoulders squared.
ARM: The bottom arm is on the ball, in contact with the ball, elbow bent and resting head in hand. Top arm lying along the side of the torso, or placed on the ball in front of you to help stabilize.
NECK: Neutral and relaxed, head in line with body.
HOW TO DO
HOW TO DO Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts
CUE: You may need to play around with your position on the ball - keep in mind the goal is a neutral and stable spine, with controlled leg movements.
Lift your top leg up, out to the side. You should be able to feel where your hip movement ends and the pelvis begins to move.
Pause at the top and slowly return it back down.
Keep the top leg above the bottom leg, not touching the bottom leg in between reps.
This will keep the tension on the muscles.
Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
HOW TO SAFELY GET OUT OF THE EXERCISE
Lower your leg back to the other leg, bend your knees, lower your hips to the floor.
WHAT TO AVOID WITH Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts
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 lifting the leg too high
AVOID: Avoid lifting your leg too high. This is the most common error/cheat for this exercise.
- The goal of the exercise is to keep the pelvis still and isolate the movement to the hip joint while lifting the leg out into abduction.
- The most common error is moving the pelvis and low back to get the leg higher.
WHAT TO DO:
- Normal movement of the leg out to the side is halfway or less to being straight up.
- Lifting the leg higher is not the goal, the goal is to keep the pelvis still as you lift the leg.
- To use the correct muscles, the hip abductors must have a stable base to work off of.
- If the pelvis moves then the muscle cannot lift the leg, the quadratus lumborum and gravity (collapsing the spine into sidebending) would be causing the leg to rise up.
- The targeted muscles would not be working, and the spine would be moving. So no benefit, only risk.
- The muscles will be challenged the most when the leg is parallel to the floor, lifitng higher is easier.
2. Avoid Bottom hip sagging
AVOID: Avoid letting the pelvis sag or move.
- This will pull your low back out of the neutral position.
- This indicates that you are moving from your spine - repetitive spinal movement under load (weight of leg) ) can cause soft tissue/joint irritation or damage over time; and defeats the purpose of the exercise.
WHAT TO DO:
- Maintain a neutral spine position to prevent injury or muscle strain.
- In a side-lying position, the sides of the torso should be equal - both lengthened.
- You can use your top hand to monitor the pelvis for movement.
3. Avoid shoulder rise up towards the ear
AVOID: Avoid letting the shoulder of the working arm rise up towards the ear (no shoulder shrugging)
- This will decrease the activation of the postural muscles (mid and lower back, and core).
WHAT TO DO:
- Keep the shoulder blades retracted and depressed to strengthen the muscles of the shoulder and upper back.
VARIATIONS OF Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lifts
Ball Full Plank Side Leg Lifts
To progress this movement and make it harder, have your bottom leg supported from your foot rather than your knee. Be careful not to let your bottom hip drop when you do this.
WHAT WE'RE DOING TODAY
WHAT & WHY
BENEFITS OF TRAINING THE GLUTES
This group of hip exercises is done lying down on your side and lifting the leg up against gravity. No equipment is needed because the weight of your leg is the resistance the muscles will be working against. The main muscles used are two of the gluteal muscles - the gluteus medius and minimus, these are the hip abductors - muscles that move the leg out to the side, away from the midline of the body. These muscles will lift the leg up when you hold your pelvis still.
This movement can be a bit tricky to get right, but when you do, you can feel the muscle work after just a few repetitions. Side lying leg lifts are probably one of the most common exercises that are done wrong.
You may have seen people in classes lifting their leg up so high that the foot points to the ceiling. The movement of the hip joint taking the leg out to the side is 30 - 50 degrees, which means that if you are lying on your side, most people will be able to lift the leg less than halfway between parallel to the floor and pointing straight up in the air - that is normal motion.
When the leg lifts higher than halfway* - that means the movement is coming from your pelvis and low back, or it means that you have rolled back or rotated the leg, and are actually lifting the leg to the front.
This will not work the muscles on the side of the hip - do not make the mistake of thinking that higher is better. In fact, the muscles will be working the most when the leg is parallel to the floor, lifting the leg higher will be easier.
*Some people do have very lax ligaments and excessive movement in their joints.
Even though the side lying hip exercises focus on moving the leg, they are working the muscles that keep the pelvis stable. The focus of this exercise will be on holding the pelvis and low back very still and in a neutral position as you lift the leg. The series of leg movements work the outside, front, back, and inside of the hips - all of the muscles that help move and stabilize the hip joints. The exercise strengthens the lower abdominal and pelvic floor muscles. It is frequently used to treat and prevent pain in the sacral joints (back of pelvis) and low back.
WHY BOTHER DOING IT?
WHY DO WE EVEN CARE?
IMPROVE TIGHT HIP ISSUES
The hip is the second least stable joint, a large ball and socket joint, that is designed for movement. This is in contrast to the very stable low back and pelvis, which are designed for support and stability, to carry the torso upright as the legs move the body through space. Unfortunately, it is pretty common to have tight hips, leading to moving less through the hips and more through the back. This is probably due to our sedentary lifestyle, we don’t need to squat, climb, run, and walk on uneven surfaces as much. The days of having to squat to go to the bathroom or to eat are gone.
STRENGTHEN OUR OUTER HIP MUSCLES
When the hip does not move enough, the muscles of the outer 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, hip pain and back pain.
Strengthening the hip muscles and learning to move the leg in the hip socket while keeping the back and pelvis still can improve your balance, stability, posture, and can prevent back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot problems. Weak hip muscles have been associated with increased fall risk and poor balance.
LEARN HOW TO MOVE THE LEG & NOT THE PELVIS
This leg series is unique in that it targets all of the muscles surrounding the hip joint. The exercise is used to teach awareness of the concept of moving the hip while keeping the pelvis and low back still. The movements are carried out slowly and are very deliberate - teaching the body to control the movement.
The series version also moves the hip in all directions which trains the core muscles to stabilize against changing movement of the leg in all directions. This is consistent with how we use our bodies, as we move around throughout the day we are changing directions, pivoting, bending. The core muscles must be able to stabilize the spine during these movements in order to prevent injury or long-term damage due to wear and tear on the joints.
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 HIP ABDUCTION EXERCISES FOCUS ON STRAIGHT ABDUCTION 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
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.
SPIFFILICIOUS FACTS ABOUT MUSCLES & MOVES
The muscles that surround the hip joint work together in a coordinated pattern of muscle activation to stabilize and move the leg in the socket. The muscle and joint function and structure are very similar to the shoulder joint. The pelvic bone is analogous to the shoulder blade and the small deep muscles are analogous to the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. Establishing good control over the muscles of the hip joint will prevent injury and degenerative changes over time.
The function of the core muscles is to stabilize the torso against forces: rotation, flexion (forward bending) and lateral flexion (side bending), movement of the torso, and compression of the abdomen (pulling the belly button in towards the spine). They can help in moving the pelvis and ribs.
The gluteus medius and minimus muscles move the hip out to the side, away from the body (abduction). The two muscles lie on the side of the pelvis, slightly towards the back. The gluteus medius muscle originates from the top of the pelvis, most of the bulk of the muscle is under the gluteus maximus (towards the side of the pelvis). The gluteus minimus lies deep to the gluteus medius. The two muscles attach to the trochanter (bony prominence) on the femur (thigh bone). If you slide your hand down the side of your pelvis to the top of the thigh you should be able to feel a round bony protrusion, this is the trochanter - where the muscles attach. When the pelvis is held still and the muscles contract, the leg will lift out to the side. When the leg is held still (as in weight bearing - standing on one leg) the pelvis on the other side will sag down. This is the same as the support leg adducting, or moving towards midline. The gluteus medius and minimis will contract to abduct the leg to straighten the pelvis.
ALL MUSCLES & WHEN
ALL MUSCLES WORKING & WHEN DURING THE Stability Ball Plank Side Leg Lift
The core muscles (transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, obliques) are working to keep the trunk and pelvis in good alignment and balanced on the ball.
All of the muscles of the bottom leg will be working together with a combination of isometric, eccentric and concentric contractions to stabilize the body.
The gluteus medius and minimus are working concentrically to lift the leg and eccentrically to lower the leg.