How To Do The Hanging Leg Raises: The Complete Guide

When it comes to getting a six-pack, most of the work is done outside the gym. You need to follow a strict diet and get down to single-digit body fat percentage for your abdominal muscles to show. With all that being said, your core strength is of huge importance apart from the aesthetic side of bodybuilding. You will commonly find sit-ups, crunches and their variants in many people’s programmes, but these moves tend to focus mainly on the upper abs. You neglect the lower portion at your peril. That’s where the hanging leg raise comes in.

How To Do The Hanging Leg Raises: The Complete Guide Image

Learning The Hanging Leg Raise

  1. Grasp a pull-up bar with your hands shoulder-width apart, using an overhand (pronated) grip.
  2. Engage your abdominal muscles and while keeping your torso stable, slowly raise your legs, keeping them straight(or bent, if you are new to this movement) and driving through your glutes, until they are about 90° or above with your torso.
  3. Slowly lower and return to the start position.

Tips & Mistakes To Avoid

  1. Grip – Having a strong grip while doing this movement is extremely necessary. Grab the bar in a pronated grip and then wrap your thumb around. Your weak grip should not be the reason that you are unable to perform this movement to your full capability.
  2. Shoulder Position – Due to gravity your shoulders are bound to touch your ears or go near them. Pull your shoulders down as far away from your ears as possible as it will put them in a more stable position, reducing the risk of injuries. It will also round your upper back a little bit and your chest will cave in.
  3. Lower Back Movement – When you lift your legs, the movement should occur at your hips—not in your lower back. Make sure this happens by keeping your ribcage down and in line with your hips throughout the entire move. If your ribs elevate during the movement, your hips will tilt forward causing strain in your lower back.
  4. Pull Down On The Bar – Don’t just hang there. Instead, create tension in your arms and throughout your core by pulling down on the bar as hard as possible. This engages all of the big muscles under your arms and along your ribcage, which stabilizes your spine and makes it easier to raise your legs to your chest. 
  5. Breathe Through Your Belly – When your legs are as high as they can go, forcefully exhale through your belly. (Breathing from your chest causes your ribs to rise, which defeats the purpose of tip number 3.) This will contract all your abdominal muscles and force you to brace your core. Keeping your abs in a fixed, contracted position increases the time they’re under pressure, and results in a greater muscle-building stimulus. Plus, a braced core helps your torso stay upright and ensures you aren’t using momentum to lift your legs, which is one of the most common mistakes. Inhale when you lower your legs.

This is everything you need to know before attempting this movement. If you are extremely new to it and your core or grip strength is not enough for this movement, try performing this movement on the captain’s chair with your knees bent. It will take off a lot of load from your abs and you do not need to hang from a bar which will be easier on your arms. Progress this way to the ultimate movement. First do the movement on captains chair with bent knees, then with straight legs on the captains chair then on a pull up bar with bent legs and finally straighten your legs to perform the ultimate move.


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