Leg Lifts < The Dragon Flag!
I often get asked to submit articles for different fitness publications, so why not share them on my blog?
Pick one amazing ab exercise that strengthens and tones your entire core
With all the great abs exercises out there, the leg lift usually gets overlooked; yet nothing is as effective at strengthening and shredding your entire core than the humble leg-lift and the kick-butt variations.
Basic Leg Lift: Laying flat on your back with your arms fully extended and palms down next to your hips, straighten your knees to fully extend your legs and rest your head back on the floor. Point your toes and raise both heels off the floor 6 to 8 inches by contracting your abdominal muscles. Keep your left foot in position and raise your right foot an additional 6 inches, hold that position for 5 seconds, then raise your left foot 6 inches while lowering your right foot to 6 inches from the floor. Breathe in a slow and controlled manner and work your way up to 10 reps with each foot before attempting the Advanced Leg Lift.
Advanced Leg Lift: Laying face-up on an incline exercise bench with your feet closest to the floor and your head at the apex, reach behind your head and securely grab on to the bench to stabilize your body. Straighten both knees and fully extend your legs. Keeping your butt on the bench, contract your abs and raise both feet up until they are parallel with the ground with toes pointed. Keeping your right leg in that position, raise your left leg 12 inches while focusing on keeping your knee straight. Hold for 3 seconds and switch legs by lowering your left leg back to parallel with the floor and raising your right leg. Breathe in a slow and controlled manner throughout the exercise and work your way up to 10 reps on each leg before even thinking about trying the extreme leg lifts.
Extreme Leg Lift: Any time you can say "Bruce Lee used to do this exercise all the time" then you know it's pretty darn advanced. The Extreme Leg Lifts are also called "The Dragon Flag", or "that exercise that makes me wimper after one set" - you choose what you want to call it! Caution, this is an extremely difficult exercise to master and the nature of the move can cause injury if you flip over backwards or slip off the bench. Perform this exercise with a spotter until you are comfortable and secure in trying it yourself. Lying on your back on an exercise bench, reach behind your head and grasp the bench for balance. Extend your legs straight out by straightening your knees and pointing your toes. In one swift motion, swing your toes up towards your head and use the momentum to raise your butt off the bench. When your feet are perpendicular to the floor, press your hips forward so that your entire body is 90 degrees in relation to the floor and only your shoulders and back of your head are on the bench, and your hands still gripping the bench tightly. Keeping your body extended and flat from sternum to toes, slowly lower your body as one piece as low as you possibly can before dropping your hips and lowering your back to the bench. As you progress, try and hold your body at 45 degrees in relation to the bench as long as possible, it's a doozy. For most people, 1-3 reps is all they can handle, but this move strengthens your entire core (abs, obliques, lower back and hips) like no other! Just to keep it in perspective how amazingly strong Mr. Lee was; he used to do sets of raises and lowers with perfectly flat body position and we're only focusing on the descent!