Since we are all just hanging out at home, why not do some hanging leg raises to strengthen your core and get some rock-solid abdominal muscles?
It’s never been a better time to work on your hanging leg raise progression because you can do it right at home with some chairs and a pull-up bar.
In fact, when you are just starting, there is no real equipment needed at all. Just your abs, and those come attached. Oh, and maybe your legs too.
We already learned some great calisthenic workouts for our legs, and boy, do we have the glutes to show for it.
Now that those legs are nice and strong let’s put them to work to get our abs looking super sleek.
A friend once said that abs are made in the kitchen.
Before you groan, that is true. Diet is essential to weight loss and a muscular physique.
However, if you get some hanging leg raises going and watch your diet, you will get that six-pack that you have always wanted.
I Have No Clue what a Hanging Leg Raise Is
Good thing you came to calisthenics-gear to get your learn on.
A hanging leg raise is an exercise that strengthens both the front and back core muscles.
The idea is you hang from a pull-up bar and lift your legs, and in turn, your abdominals are tightening and strengthening.
In fact, studies have shown that hanging leg raises activated the rectus abdominis (the pair of abdominal muscles that run parallel to each other on the front of your abdominal wall) by 100% and activated the oblique muscles (the abdominal muscles located on the side of your body) by 88%.
Hanging leg raises are also more efficient for working your abdominals. More of the abdominals are engaged with just a few repetitions.
Can you say “hello” to leg raises and “goodbye” to standard crunches? Yes, you can.
Some crunches can actually cause back issues if not done properly. That’s not what we want!
Progression is Everything
The most difficult hanging leg raise is called a hanging v-raise.
Hanging from a bar pull, use your abdominals to lift your straight legs until your shins or toes touch the bar.
Basically, you fold yourself in half upside down, touching your shins to the bar as you hang from your hands. Pretty savvy.
However, this should be the result after a lot of progressions. Do not skip ahead.
Follow our hanging leg raise progression below, and you will get there. Also, like any other exercise, don’t just jump right in and start our first exercise.
You need to make sure that your muscles are nice and warm.
Start with some good stretches to get the blood flowing to avoid injury.
Okay, are you ready? Uploading the hanging leg raise progressions now.
Step 1 – Knee Tucks
Now I know that we said we would show you hanging leg raises, but you have to start small to get to hanging.
That means we are going to start by doing leg raises on the floor.
No hanging yet, but just “hang tight.” We’ll get there.
To perform a knee tuck, lie on your back in a relaxed position with your feet, arms, and upper back on the floor and your knees bent.
Contract your abs and pull your knees in towards your chest without jolting or using momentum.
Focus on keeping your lower back firmly into the floor as your knees come up, which will happen automatically if you are contracting your abs.
Pause at the top with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle, and then slowly lower your legs back down until your feet touch the floor again.
You have done one rep of a knee tuck. Lift your shirt and check your six-pack. Is it there yet? Don’t worry y’all. We will get it soon.
Try to do 3 sets of between 4 to 8 reps. Rest from 1 to 2 minutes in between each set.
When you can do 3 sets of 8 reps, you are ready to move on in your progression. See ya knee tuck!
Step 2 – Flat Knee Raises
A bit similar to the knee tuck, except now we are focusing on doing a leg raise with a slightly bent knee.
Lying on your back, bend your knees only slightly and lift them until your knees are above your hips.
Again, make sure you pause at the top and then slowly lower your legs back down.
Remember, the knees are only slightly bent here hence the name “flat knee raises.”
Contracting your core brings those legs up into the air, so watch your form and don’t use momentum.
We will repeat that a lot because you aren’t utilizing your abdominal muscles and capitalizing on strengthening them if you are using momentum. No swinging people.
Repeat this until you reach 3 sets of 8 reps, and then we are outta here.
Step 3 – Straight Leg Raises
It’s going down for real Flo Rida style now.
Did you know that Flo Rida is just the word Florida with a space in the middle?
We are learning so much today. Anyway, moving on to straight leg raises. Here, your legs are going to be completely straight.
Start with your legs up in the air directly above your hips. Keeping your legs straight and together, lower them to the floor slowly.
Without ever touching the floor, bring them back up, and that, my friends, was one rep. Not easy, we know.
Make sure you contract your abs in really tight to keep your lower back from arching off of the floor as your legs lower.
You can really strain your back if you aren’t careful on this one.
Step 4 – Hanging Knee Raises
Want to hang out and do knee raises?
The hanging has begun, and we love it. We have built up our core with some awesome floor work so let’s start hanging.
Usually, this is done with a pull-up bar, but you can also place your forearms on two chairs as well.
Make sure you have some cushion for your arms, so use a towel underneath or something similar.
Hang from the bar or chairs, bend your knees, and bring your knees up to your chest.
Pause at the top, then gradually lower them back down. Since you are hanging, it is a lot easier to let momentum take over but resist it.
Try to keep your body as still as possible by engaging your abdominals.
Use that superhero strength to bring those legs up and down. Man, you are rocking this.
Step 5 – Hanging Bent Leg Raises
Holy abs! Have you lifted your shirt to check your abs after every step?
We know you have, and you should. That six-pack is right around the corner.
With the hanging bent leg raise, hang from your pull up bar with your legs bent and your feet behind you.
Slowly raise your legs until your quadriceps are parallel to the floor and then lower back down.
This is getting intense, and you should definitely feel the progression increase here.
Again, watch your momentum. You are like, “We know!”
Step 6 – Hanging Frog Leg Raises
So we’re channeling frogs now? That’s super normal. It is, actually.
Hang from your pull-up bar with straight legs. You will lift your straight legs toward your core just a little and then lower them back down.
Keep doing this, but each time you lift your legs, go slightly higher before putting them down again.
The final rep should be bringing your legs completely parallel to the floor about waist high before you lower them back down.
I know we sound like a broken record, but performing this move can really cause your body to swing.
We are not 8 years old at the playground, people.
Resist the urge to swing and get the momentum going. Momentum will absolutely bring your legs up, but that won’t work your core.
The key to this is to really go slow and think contract, contract, contract your abs.
Step 7 – Partial Hanging Leg Raises
Don’t look at us like that. You can do this. This hanging leg raise is getting close to the ultimate leg raise.
Hanging from the pull-up bar, keep your legs straight but slightly lifted from the basic hanging position.
Slowly lift them until they are parallel with the floor.
Basically, you are doing what you just did at the end of the hanging frog leg raises. Then slowly lower your legs back down. Um…hello core.
Welcome to the party! Your core is on fire, and it feels so good, right?
Actually, don’t answer that.
Step 8 – Hanging Straight Leg Raises
The hanging straight leg raise is here—the last step before the ultimate challenge. Deep breath, and let’s power through this.
Grab that pull-up bar and hang with your legs straight. Utilizing that awesome core, do a basic hang with your legs straight.
Contract your abs and lift your legs until they are parallel to the floor and lower down slowly. You did it!
You did a full hanging straight leg raise. Can I get a hell yeah? Um…don’t get down. You aren’t done yet.
Step 9 – Hanging V-Raise
Shut the front door!
We are all ready for the ultimate hanging v-raise, aka the beast, aka core work to the max. We just like saying “aka.”
Get on that pull-up bar, and let’s get to it. Do your basic hang with your legs straight.
Engage your abs and lift your legs until your toes or shins are touching the bar.
Keep momentum low, folks. Really get those muscles working here. Then, slowly lower your legs back to a basic hang.
You are a master hanging leg raise champion: sign autographs and wave to the crowd.
Am I all done?
Heck no! Your progression does not have to stop there.
You can work up to many more hanging leg raises like the hanging alternating v-raises or a fan raise (bringing your shins up to the left and then down and then back up again to the right) or the windshield wiper raise (bring your legs up to the left, switch to the right and then bring them back down).
Get your core engaged and knock these killer exercises out.
I can’t do it!
First of all, don’t ever say that again.
Second, yes, you can do it.
If you have issues, it might be because you have relied too much on momentum during your progression.
Never be afraid of regression (going back a few steps).
When in doubt, always return to the basics. Get down on the floor and practice your knee tucks, and then your straight leg raises.
Work on them until you really feel that you have eliminated any momentum and focused on using your abs.
Once you are there, build up your progression again.
Before you know it, you are hanging from that bar doing windshield wiper leg raises like the beast you are.
Now lift your shirt and check out that six-pack. Boom!