How to Do Hanging Leg Raises: Proper Form, Variations, and Common Mistakes

man demonstrating how to do hanging leg raises

Hanging leg raises—a difficult, core-shaking, mobility exercise that focuses on the abs and hip flexors—is one of the most powerful abdominal workouts that may be missing from your routine.

If I asked you to imagine what a hanging leg raise exercise is about, the first thing that comes to mind is your legs. Despite the fact that this exercise does require you to hang and raise your legs, the core is the star of the show. Hanging leg raises is a high-level isolation exercise that primarily targets the abdominals and hip flexors, and is an excellent way to add core strength, spine health, and mobility to any workout. All you need is a high bar to perform this move. It may be added to your more advanced core workout with little effort.

How To Do Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg lifts necessitate the use of a bar that you may grasp above your head. This bar must be sturdy and able to support your entire body weight as well as the tension generated when you lift and lower your legs.

A pull-up bar is an excellent option. A round bar is more comfortable to grasp than a squared-off bar or a wooden beam with square corners. Use caution when using a door frame or ledge since this isn’t safe.

Use an overhand grip and wrap your thumbs around the bar to increase stability. You don’t have to hang at this point, but your hands should be holding the bar well above your head.

  1. Exhale as you bring your legs up in front of you, straightening them outward. To assist with the motion, tilt your pelvis back and engage your abs and hip flexors.
  2. Raise your legs to a level that is difficult yet still allows you to maintain good form. If possible, strive for them to be parallel to the ground (with your hips bent at 90 degrees) or higher if this is feasible.
  3. Lower your legs back down slowly until they reach the starting position, breathing while you do so. Maintain your posterior pelvic tilt at all times throughout the exercise.

Benefits of Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises, while efficient in developing core strength, have a variety of additional advantages. They’re a good choice for boosting grip strength because they allow you to hang freely—held up by nothing more than your hand, wrist, and forearm strength.

The sartorius and the iliopsoas are the primary hip flexors, and both of them work hard when doing hanging leg raises. The sartorius is the longest muscle in the body and helps with hip and knee flexion. The iliopsoas flexes the hip to draw the legs toward the trunk, aids in side bending, and flexes the lumbar spine.

The rectus femoris, tensor fasciae latae, pectineus, and adductor longus are muscles that work together during the hanging leg raise. The rectus abdominus and obliques provide support during this activity.

Hang positions also help to enhance shoulder mobility and stability. If you spend the majority of your day with your arms below your head—perhaps at a keyboard, wheel, or using a phone—a hang position allows your shoulders to elongate, strengthen, and breathe. This is an effective technique to restore excellent posture in the upper body and enhance shoulder health.

There’s also good news for those of us who suffer from back pain—hanging leg raises can help to alleviate the pain. All of your joints are in traction in a free hang posture, allowing the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs in your spine to lengthen and relax. The back is relieved of strain as a result. Strengthening your back in a stretched posture is one of the strategies for battling back discomfort.

The hanging leg raise, which is a bottom-up movement that works the abs differently than many other exercises, may be used by more advanced exercisers to add variety to their ab routine.

The benefits you obtain from this workout are determined by how far you can lift your legs, but you’ll feel your abs working hard at any level. A powerful core makes it easier to lift big things while also supporting a healthy posture.

Hanging Leg Raise Variations

Hanging Knee Raise

The hanging leg raise is a difficult exercise, so if you’re having trouble with the full version, bend your knees as you lift your legs to make it a little easier. If the full hanging leg raise begins to be too difficult, you may also switch to this variation halfway through a set. It’s far better to bend the knees and go on than to have to stop mid-set.

Toe To Bar Leg Raises

If you’re tired of performing the same old hanging leg raise, there’s no reason you can’t push your legs higher for additional ab-building advantages. Keep your legs straight and raise them to the bar above you, touch the bar with your toes then slowly lower them. If you’re able to do that, why not perform a pull-up between each repetition to up the ante eh?

Hanging Knee Twist

For this variation, start in the top position of the hanging knee raise, with your knees tucked up against your chest. Then twist your legs to the side slowly, bringing them back to the middle before taking them out to one side and then coming back to the center. You may lower your legs before raising them for another rep, but if possible, keep your knees up throughout to maintain tension on your abs. Swinging your legs around focuses on the obliques, which will be neglected if you do only up-and-down ab exercises.

Hanging Knee Tuck to Kick Out

This movement is a great place to start if you’re working toward an L-sit or the double leg raises. Both palms should be facing away as you hang from the bar with your elbows tucked in. After that, tuck both knees up to about hip height. When your quadriceps are parallel to the ground, straighten your knees. Raise your legs in front of you then bend your knees before returning to the beginning posture. Don’t just drop down from the legs out position. After spreading the legs out, bring them back in before lowering them to their starting position.

Hanging Bicycles

Hanging bicycles may be done in a variety of ways. You can pedal with your legs straight down, out in front of you, or in reverse from either position. For many individuals, these are going to be both simpler and more comfortable to begin with because they won’t have to tuck both knees at the same time.

Hang from the bar with your palms turned away to do the hanging bicycles. Both legs should dangle straight below you. Tuck one knee up near your chest then raise the other leg. Keep alternating knee tucks.

If you want to make the process more difficult, raise your feet at an angle in front of you rather than straight down. Keep one leg straight while the other is bent and switch legs. You may also perform a pull-up or chin-up as you perform the bicycle motion.

Hanging V Sit

Hang from the bar with your legs hanging straight down together to perform the Hanging Double Straight Leg V Sit. With your legs together, raise them straight out in front of you. Do not let your knees bend as you lift till slightly beyond parallel so that your body makes a ‘V’ shape. Hold for a count of 10 and build it up to 30 over time. Make sure you don’t use momentum by moving slowly. Make certain to engage your lats as you straighten your legs in front of you.

Weighted Hanging Leg Raise

After you’ve mastered the exercise, you may add ankle weights or hold a dumbbell or medicine ball between your feet when doing hanging leg raises. If you utilize this variant, pick a weight that you can lift without compromising your form and keep it in place between your feet.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these common form mistakes to get the most from this exercise.

Swinging

Don’t try to generate momentum by swinging your legs. Instead, concentrate the effort in your abs and hip flexors to help control the motion and engage your core.

Rounding Back and Shoulders

The most common mistake while performing a V-sit is to round the back and shoulders at the top of the exercise. A V-sit ab workout should create a V with the back and legs at the top. Bending your back forward takes attention away from the core and places a strain on the lower back, leaving less ab control work for you to do.

While doing this makes the movement easier, it may be more harmful to your back. Instead, keep a straight line from your lower back up through your back, neck, and head. Your body should remain straight from the starting position all the way through the movement.

Lowering Legs Too Fast

The lowering phase of this movement is intense for your core muscles. If you try to lower your legs too quickly, you will lose out on this benefit. Maintain a slow and controlled descent in your legs, again avoiding any swaying or swinging while maintaining excellent form.

Take Away

If you want to build and show off a six-pack, you’ll need to put in the effort – mostly outside of the gym. This means you’ll need to eat a well-planned diet that will assist you to reduce your body fat percentage. You’ll also need to get enough rest and recuperate, especially if you think about how sleep deprivation is correlated with weight gain.

The hanging leg raise is an advanced isolation exercise that targets the hip flexors and abdominal muscles. When done correctly, it is one of the most effective abdominal workouts around. All you need is access to a high bar, and this exercise may be easily incorporated into your advanced core workout.

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