Lateral Leg Raise – Excellent And Easy Exercise For Beginners

Lateral leg raise is an easy exercise for activating your hip muscles. It will also help you work the outer part of your thighs. You can do it by standing or laying down.

A standing version is easier and lying is harder to do. Both are pretty easy. If you are not a complete beginner just starting out or recovering from an injury you will have to use a resistance band or ankle weights to make it harder.

This exercise can be made even harder if you position yourself on your elbow and raise your hip from the floor.

What is the lateral leg raise good for?

Lateral leg raise can be great if you are just starting out. At the beginning of your fitness journey, it can be used to help you increase the strength of your glutes. It will also strengthen the outer part of your quads.

This exercise will also be great if you are recovering from an injury. After an injury, light exercises like this one will be of great help as a rehab tool.

It’s also great for improving the flexibility of your inner thighs.

You can use this exercise with a single leg front raise and single leg back raise. That way you will target your lower body from all angles with the same load. Those exercises will help you work your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and hips.

This will help you build a well rounded muscle base to help you work on more difficult skills.

Lateral leg raise muscles worked

Lateral leg raise will work your gluteus medius and minimus. Those muscles might be missed in other exercises. So, it will help you round up your lower body muscles.

Lateral leg raises muscles worked:


  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Hip flexors


  • Quadriceps
  • Obliques
  • Lower back

How to do standing lateral leg raise

Standing Lateral Leg Raise

Stand straight with legs close together. Place your hands on your hips. If you have trouble balancing, you can extend your arms in front of you and grab onto something sturdy.

Upward movement:

Raise your left leg to your side as far as you can.

Downward movement:

Lower your left leg down slowly until it’s back in the starting position.

Raise your left leg up and down for reps. Do the same with your right leg.

How to do a lying lateral leg raise

Lying Lateral Leg Raise

Lay on your left side. Place your head on your left palm. Place your right hand on the floor in front of your body. This will help you with your balance, so you don’t tip forward or backward. Your legs should be in line with your upper body. Point your toes in front of you. This will help you use your calves.

Upward movement:

Lift your right leg up in the air as far as it can go. The flexibility of your inner thighs might be a limiting factor to how far you can go.

If you are able to lift your leg so it forms a 90 degree angle to the floor, you have great inner thigh flexibility. If you can do this, you may be able to do a side split.

Downward movement:

Slowly lower your right leg until it comes down and rests against your left leg.

Continue lifting your leg up and then down for reps. Switch sides and repeat the same with your other leg.

How to do elbow lying lateral leg raise

Elbow Lateral Leg Raise

Lay down on your right side. Position your right arm so you are leaning against your right elbow and forearm. Lift your hip off the ground. Your right foot and your right forearm are on the floor. Your entire body forms a straight line from your head to your feet.

Upward movement:

Lift your left leg up in the air as far as it can go.

Downward movement:

Lower your left leg down slowly and with control.

Do the same moves for reps. Position yourself on the left side and repeat.


Lateral leg raises are easy to do. The standing variant is as easy as it can get. Lying versions will be harder.

When you are lying down you are lifting your entire leg straight against the gravity pull. It’s hardest at the beginning of the movement and is getting easier as your leg reaches 90 degree angle to the ground. At 90 degrees your leg will be pulled down directly to your hip joint and will feel lightest.

If you are looking for ways to make this exercise harder, you can apply more resistance to the movement. This resistance can be added weight, like ankle weights or resistance band designed for leg workouts.

The most challenging variant is the version performed on your elbow and with your hip raised above the ground. Your forearm and your foot are the only points of contact with the ground.

Of course, if you want more challenge, you can add more resistance to the hardest version of this exercise too. This can also be ankle weight or band.

Weighted Elbow Lateral Leg Raise

Here’s what a lateral leg raise progression would look like from the easiest exercise to the hardest:

  • Standing lateral leg raise
  • Lying lateral leg raise
  • Weighted lying lateral leg raise
  • Elbow lying lateral leg raise
  • Weighted elbow lying lateral leg raise

Key takeaways

Lateral leg raise is an easy exercise. It’s great for beginners and athletes recovering from injury.

This exercise is best used in combination with the front and back leg raises. Such designed exercise combos are excellent for preparing your body for more difficult skills. It’s ideal for building balanced lower body muscle strength.

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