How To Do Hanging Leg Raises Correctly + A 3-Move Circuit

Certified Fitness Trainer By Danielle Gray
Certified Fitness Trainer
NASM-certified personal trainer and founder of Train Like A Gymnast.
How To Do A Hanging Leg Raise

Image by mbg Creative / Danielle Gray/Contributor

There are a number of exercises out there that can help you build a strong core. But if you're looking for a little extra challenge and a way to change up your usual floor routine, consider adding hanging leg raises to the mix.

This move will not only challenge your lower abs but also put your entire body to the test (think shoulders, back, and more). Before adding it to your fitness repertoire, however, it's important to understand the correct form—doing so will help you train your muscles properly and efficiently.

How to do hanging leg raises.

hanging leg raise

Image by Megan Doty / Danielle Gray

How to: Start by hanging on a bar with arms straight and shoulders by your ears; squeeze your legs straight and together with toes pointed. Using your lats, lower abs, and hip flexors, lift your legs until they're parallel with the ground. Then, if you're able, lift your legs as close to the bar as possible. Lower back down with control and avoid swinging.

Modifications: If this move is too challenging at first, try just bringing your knees as close to your chest as possible. Or lift one leg at a time, then bring legs together at the bottom.

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Benefits of hanging leg raise.

Yes, you'll certainly feel the burn in your lower abs when you do hanging leg raises. It's also a full-body exercise that exerts maximum effort. It's particularly helpful for building upper-body strength in your shoulders, back, and lats.

Hanging leg raises can also help build hip flexor strength, active flexibility, and functional strength. On the functional side, they're fantastic for improving grip strength, which is crucial whether you're lifting heavy weights or just toting groceries.

In order to reap all these benefits, it's important to remember you're better off doing fewer reps with proper form than more reps incorrectly, which could cause injury and hinder your progress.

Variations of hanging leg raises.

Classic hanging leg raise is a great total-body exercise, but there are also a number of variations to help target slightly different muscle groups. You can try:

  • Hanging windshield wiper: Bring your legs all the way up and move them from side to side in front of your face.
  • Around the world: Move your legs up and around in a circle.
  • Hanging wolf leg raises: One leg is bent and one leg is straight
  • Lying incline leg raises: Remove the bar, and do lying leg raises on floor.
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Hanging leg raise circuit workout.

Below, I've demonstrated three additional variations that you can combine into a complete workout. Simply do each exercise for the indicated number of reps, and repeat the circuit three times:

1. Hanging Leg Raises

hanging leg raise

Image by Megan Doty / Danielle Gray

How to: Start by hanging on a bar with arms straight and shoulders by your ears, squeeze your legs straight and together with toes pointed. Using your lats, lower abs, and hip flexors, lift your legs until they're parallel with the ground. Then, if you're able, lift your legs as close to the bar as possible. Lower back down with control and avoid swinging. Complete as many reps as possible (AMRAP) lifting your legs close to the bar.

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2. Hanging Tuck-Ups

hanging tuck up

Image by Megan Doty / Danielle Gray

How to: Start by hanging on a bar with arms straight and shoulders by your ears, squeeze your legs together with toes pointed, and bend your knees. From here, using your lats, lower abs, and hip flexors, lift your knees until they're parallel with the ground. Then, if you're able, lift your knees as close to your chest as possible. Lower back down with control. Complete 10 reps.

3. Hanging Oblique Tuck-Ups

hanging oblique tuck ups

Image by Megan Doty / Danielle Gray

How to: Start by hanging on a bar with arms straight and shoulders by your ears, squeeze your legs together with toes pointed, and bend your knees. From here, lift your knees until they're parallel with the ground, then as high as you can toward your left arm. Lower back down with control and repeat on the other side. Complete 5 reps on each side.

Whether you try this circuit or incorporate hanging leg raises into your go-to, full-body routine, this exercise is sure to challenge your body in the best way.

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