Straight Leg Raise – Quadriceps (Thigh Muscles)

Author: Lora Packel, PhD, MS, PT, Julia McGlynn, SPT
Last Reviewed: October 07, 2016

Disclaimer: You should discuss your health risks, previous injuries, and current treatments with your provider or physical therapist before starting any exercise program.


  1. Lie down on your back with one leg bent and one leg straight.
  2. Next, perform a posterior pelvic tilt to protect your back from injury. To do this, draw your umbilicus (belly button) toward the floor. If you are doing this correctly, your back should be flat against the floor/mat. You can also check your technique by putting your hand under the small curve of your back, and flatten your back so that your back is "crushing" your hand.
  3. With your toes pointed to the ceiling, keep your knee straight and lift your leg up to about 45 degrees.
    1. Don’t raise it higher than the bent knee.
  4. Slowly lower your leg back to the floor. This step is important! Don’t let your leg crash down onto the mat/floor.
  5. Repeat 12-15 times (repetitions), 3 times in a row (sets).
  6. Repeat with opposite leg.


  1. Perform the same exercise as described above with a light cuff weight around your ankle. Start with ½ to 1 pound weight.
  2. You are ready to add weight when you can do three sets of 12 repetitions for two sessions without difficulty or you rate the difficulty of the exercise as a 1-2 on a scale of 0-10.

The videos below demonstrate the straight leg raise without and with weights.

Straight Leg Raise

Straight Leg Raise with Weight


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