Hanging Leg Raises

Deep down, we all want to roam around with a six-pack body. If you want to attain the body of your dreams, then you have to put in the right amount of work. However, it is easier said than done. 


To get into your desired shape, you need to stimulate your abdominal muscles with a careful selection of targeted exercises during your gym time. Most exercises such as sit-ups etc. tend to focus more on the upper portion of the abdominal. This is where the hanging leg raises enter the picture. It is considered to be an extremely incredible and challenging exercise for building functional abdominal strength, focusing on both the upper and lower abdominal areas to fully cater to your needs. 

RELATED EXERCISES: Vertical crunches, hanging knee raises, captain’s chair hanging leg raises and roman chair leg raises. 


  • Rectus abdominis – commonly referred to as the abdominal muscle.
  • Hip Flexors – Assist your lower body movement.
  • Internal and External Oblique’s – Helps to stabilize and protect your spine.  
  • Forearms – Act as a stabilizer to keep your body in position and prevent unnecessary swinging.


  • A high bar at a height above your head that you can grip onto. It should be stable enough to support your full body weight and withstand the stresses added as a result of your up and down leg movements. 
  • A chin-up bar is also a suitable choice and is considered safe to use for the purpose of this exercise.  
  • Although a squared-off bar is not necessarily a bad piece of equipment for this workout, using a round bar is encouraged as it would be more comfortable. You can grasp the bar itself but it will be easier to perform the exercise if the bar has hooks or rings attached to it as it provides better grip. 


  • Tightly grasp the bar above your head. For better stability, ensure that you have an overhand grip with your thumb around the bar.
  • Slightly tilt your pelvis backward as you prepare for the legs lift. Engaging your abdominal and hip flexors, slowly lift your feet off the ground while keeping your torso stable. 
  • Raise your legs outwards bringing them in front of you, and keeping them in a straight position. At this points your legs should be at a 90 degree angle with your torso (parallel to the ground). 
  • Remember to inhale properly while preparing for the leg lift. Exhale while lifting the legs.
  • Slowly lower your legs and return to the original position to complete one rep.
  • Do at least 10 reps before taking a breather. 10 reps constitute as 1 set and you should perform minimum 3 sets in order to feel impact. 


  • Swinging Legs Upwards: Do not rely on your body momentum to raise your legs. Swinging your legs will not impact your abdominal muscles in the way you aim to, and makes the whole exercise useless. 
  • Hunched Shoulders: To maintain the right form, elevate your shoulders to keep the tension flowing through your back. 
  • Lowering Legs Fast: This relates to the rationale behind swinging. If you speed through the process, you are gaining no substantial benefit.   
  • Arched Back: If your back is not straight and pressed against the pad, you will be unable to properly perform the act. You might even end up hurting your back. 
  • Core Not Engaged Properly: Concentrate on the strength in your abs and hip flexors to raise your legs. If you are not completely engaging your core, you are losing out on the toning benefits associated with this move. You may also get injured due to not following instructions properly. 
  • Holding Your Breath: It’s highly likely to tense up during your leg lifts and forget to regulate your breathing movement. Always time your lifts with your breathing so your muscles have sufficient oxygen for an optimal performance.


  • Hanging Knee Raises: If the hanging leg raises seem a little tough for you, try bending out knees while raising your legs. Instead of discontinuing in the middle of the set, you can switch to this variation halfway as well if the exercise gets a little too exhausting.
  • Hanging Knee Twist: To practice this variation, start in the top position of the hanging knee raise. Slowly, twist your knees to right side and then back to center. Now twist them to the left side and bring them back to center. You can return to the original standing position by lowering your leg to continue one rep or you can keep repeating the aforementioned twisting motion to keep your abs and obliques working.
  • Hanging V-sit: If the hanging leg raise doesn’t seem too demanding, you can modify it further to make it more challenging. Instead of just keeping your legs straight at a 90 degree to your torso, raise them to the bar you are grasping to hang on. Move on to slowly lower yourself in the original position. If you are adamant on making it more challenging, you can also do a pull-up after this step to maximize the intensity. 


Avoid practicing hanging leg raises under the mentioned circumstances:

  • Pregnancy or recovering from childbirth
  • Abdominal Surgery
  • Have Diastasis recti – partial or complete separation of the rectus abdominis (six-pack muscles), meeting at your stomach mid-line.
  • Recovering from any injuries or surgery revolving around your back, neck, arms, or legs.

However, you may still be able to perform the move with some alteration under these scenarios as well. Make sure to consult your trainer or physiotherapist to seek proper guidance.

Michael Holding

Michael is an outdoor adventurer and a kayaking enthusiast who loves to share his experiences with others. He is the Chief Editor at XgearHub.

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