Basic abdominals: single knee lift

Basic abdominals: single knee lift

Level: Beginner, Intermediate

Single knee lift is the second basic abdominals exercise that suits beginner to intermediate exercisers on the roller. Make this exercise easier or harder by changing the amount of arm support you use on the floor. This exercise is often one where people start to see improvement in the muscle brain connection as they activate their core with a breath out and leg lift. Watch the video below which actually shows how Samantha needs to do a bit more practice. Can you pick how she could improve? I will tell you at the end of this exercise.

Set up:

  • Supine on roller, with feet and knees hip width apart, (see basic set up).
  • Low back in a neutral position.
  • Your chin should be slightly tucked and shoulder blade muscles slightly switched on.
  • Forearms resting lightly on the floor.
  1. Breathe in then as you breathe out, slowly lift the right knee above the right hip.
  2. Then breathe in and slowly lower the foot back to the floor,
  3. Breathe out, slowly and gently lift the left knee above the left hip, then breathe in and lower the foot slowly back to the floor.
  4. Continue to alternate the knee lifts.
  5. Repeat 10x each side. 2-3 sets.
basic abdominals single knee lift


  • Take care to place the foot on the floor directly in front of the same hip so that the feet don’t get closer and closer together and create a smaller base of support.
  • Your deep tummy contraction may already be starting to fire automatically without you having to think too hard. This will help keep your lower back in a neutral position throughout, ie your lower back shouldn’t lift or lower on the roller, especially as you swap legs.
  • Make sure you breathe with each movement ie lift the leg as you breath out, breathe in as you lower.
  • Don’t allow any excess movement through your trunk or pelvis or let your tummy”blow out” especially as you swap legs.
  • Keep neck and shoulders relaxed throughout.
  • There should be no back pain.

Make it Harder:

  • Progress to elbow support only on the floor,
  • Then try no arm support on floor, with hands resting lightly on stomach,
single knee liftsingle knee lift no arm support
  • Advance to the intermediate exercise – lifting right knee over right hip and then left knee over left hip then lowering right foot to the floor then the left (see toe taps).

****Video improvements****

Samantha stomps her foot on the floor several times, indicating a lack of core control. her left foot moves too close to the midline after she moves to elbow support only. She should do more practice with full arm support and concentrate on her breathing and core recruitment with her breath out. She rushed her foot to the floor when all arm support was removed because she did not have enough core control to be stable on the roller.