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man performing toe to bar hanging leg raises

Hanging Toes To Bar Leg Raises – Forge An Iron Core With This Excellent Abs Workout

Don’t be fooled by the toes to bar exercise’s outward simplicity; elevating your feet from extension to your head may forge iron-like abs. There are few exercises that are more demanding than the hanging leg raise when it comes to abdominal training. This exercise improves your ab muscles by opposing spine flexion and extension.

There are numerous other benefits to include this exercise in your ab training routine. You’ll gain core strength to help you brace during large lifts, learn a CrossFit must-know skill (which is important if you’re a CrossFitter), and the toes to bar can be done pretty much anyplace there’s a power rack — whether it’s your big box gym or your home gym.

What Is A Hanging Toe To Bar Leg Raise

The hanging toes-to-bar workout involves the lifter touching their feet to a pull-up bar. This activity can be done in a variety of ways (strict or swinging, arms entirely straight or slightly bent, legs straight or bent), each with its own set of rewards and problems. It may be tough to complete for a single rep at first, but if you have developed the necessary core, lat, and shoulder strength, it can be performed for higher reps.

However, there are some details to be aware of when it comes to the toes to bar. And we’ll go through them in detail in our handy guide, along with exercise variations, alternatives, and programming suggestions.

Types Of Hanging Toe To Bar Leg Raises

Strict toes-to-bar

While pressing down on the bar with your lats engaged, focus on tucking your pelvis under and using your lower abs to drive your feet up to the bar. Strict is a great method to strengthen your entire body, from your core to your grip.

Kipping toes-to-bar

Kipping toes-to-bar is similar to the strict, but you add a kipping action to help give yourself momentum to get your feet to the bar. This keeps you in a continuous flow. Kipping adds speed and tends to consume more energy.

How To Do Toes To Bar Hanging Leg Raises

woman performing toe to bar hanging leg raises

  • Hang from a chin-up bar with your knees and feet together, using an overhand hold that is slightly broader than shoulder width (palms facing away from you). 
  • Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle and move your upper legs forward so that your calves are perpendicular to the floor and your thighs are parallel. This is where you will begin.
  • Exhale and pull your legs up until your shins almost contact the bar above you. While at the peak, try to straighten your legs as much as possible.
  • Slowly lower your legs until you reach the starting position.  You must avoid swinging and leveraging momentum during the entire movement.
  • Repeat for the recommended number of reps.

Tip: To make it more difficult, you may do this exercise using ankle weights.

Benefits Of Hanging Toes To Bar Leg Raises

Improved Core Strength

Kipping, tight, knees bent or straight – lifting your legs up and down from a hanging posture can strengthen your core. Hanging forces your core and all the stabiliser muscles around your abs to work extra hard to maintain your body stiff. Then, your rectus abdominis, or six-pack, flexes to lift your legs.

Improved Scapular Control

The toes to bar exercise is touted as a core exercise, but your back, notably the shoulder blades, plays an important role as well. Your shoulder blades, or scapula, must be pressed back and together in order for your shoulders to be put in position for optimal stability. You’re reinforcing proper posture by retracting your shoulder blades – and keeping them retracted.

A Stronger Grip

As you hang from a pull-up bar, the muscles in your forearms and hands will work hard to support your complete body weight. The toes to bar will undoubtedly improve your grip.

Muscles Worked by the Hanging Toes to Bar Leg Raises


The abdominal muscles are in charge of spinal flexion as well as assisting in hip flexion. Both activities occur during the toes to bar. When performed at a faster speed, the toes to bar can have a strong eccentric component, which increases muscle damage and subsequent growth.

Hip Flexors

The hip flexors are in charge of flexing the hips and assisting the abdominals during movement. Toes to bar may not be the greatest option for people who have difficulty isolating their abdominals. Instead, a regression like the knee rise, which lowers hip flexor engagement, may be a better option.


Because your forearms serve as a link between your hands and the rest of your body, they are directly involved in this movement.


The lats are responsible for maintaining appropriate alignment and shoulder stability throughout the range of motion.

Take Away

Toes-to-bar is an abdominal strengthening exercise that also improves back muscle stability. It is one of the most advanced core strength exercises available, necessitating flexibility, mobility, and core, back, and shoulder strength. This also means that there are a series of progressions you should go through before attempting this exercise to guarantee you’ve built the requisite strength.


Rahul is a sports and performance consultant. Over the course of his 15-year career in the fitness sector, he has held positions as a strength and conditioning instructor, gym owner, and consultant. He is deeply committed to assisting people in finding happiness and feeling good about themselves. Rahul has a master's degree in exercise science and is a certified NSCA CSCS and CISSN.

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