Isn't the double leg lift a great lower abdominal exercise?
No. The double leg lift is actually a very risky exercise. This movement requires that both legs be lifted at the same time. The problem here is that the exercise is not primarily a strengthener of the abdominals like many people think, but rather the hip flexors. Excessively strong hip flexors can lead to sway back and lower back pain. The reason behind this is that the hip flexors attach to the pelvis pulling it forward. Lower back muscles can be become fatigued in this position thus leading to lower back problems.
An alternative to this is the reverse curl. You lay on your back with shoulder and arms on the floor and pull the knees to your chest, slowly curling up which puts the work on the abdominals. The crunch would be an alternative as well.
Stephen D. Ball, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Thursday, December 04, 2008