Hanging Leg Raises
Lower Abdominal Exercise

Hanging Leg Raises are a great lower abdominal exercise.

If you've read my page on lower abdominal exercise physiology, then you understand that working the lower ab muscles doesn't magically melt fat off your stomach.

Spot Reduction is the #1 Ab Exercise Myth.

Even though leg raises can't magically melt away fat, they are still an important motion to master, especially if you are an athlete.

When the legs are moving, the abs must stabilize the pelvis and pelvic stabilization is an important function of the abdominal muscles. In addition, the ab muscles help to posteriorly rotate or tilt the pelvis, which prevents the lower back from arching excessively.

Compared with crunches hanging leg lifts place a lot more pressure on the lower back, so leg raises are only recommended for people with good flexibility and good core strength. They are not recommended for people with lower back pain or lower back injuries.

Side Note: On my page finding the best abdominal exercise for you, I talk about a study that compared work to compression ratio between ab exercises.

Okay, here's the form.

Hanging Leg Raises

Starting Position: Use an overhand grip and grab onto a bar, while keeping your body in a straight line.

Form: Keeping your upper body still, lift your legs out in front of you. Hold briefly at the top of the motion, and then slowly lower to the starting position.

Personal Trainer Tips: Move in a slow and controlled manner so that momentum does not take over. Moving in a slow and controlled manner will also decrease how much you will sway.

Keep a slight bend in the knees to take a little pressure off your lower back.

Stop the set if you feel any discomfort in your lower back.

If your grip strength prevents you from holding yourself up, you can use ab straps to suspend your body.

hanging leg raises start hanging leg raises finish

Other Variations of Leg Raises

Hanging Leg Lifts are only one option to work your abdominal muscles.

If you are a beginner, I suggest starting with regular leg raises on the floor.

From there, you can try leg raises with ankle weights or decline leg raises on a slanted board.

In addition, you can do bent knee and straight knee raises on a roman chair (aka captain's chair).

And if your grip prevents you from holding yourself in place during hanging leg raises you can try using ab straps.

Remember, to always build up slowly if you're doing new ab exercises and stretch your hips and lower back after your ab workouts.

Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT

Return to Lower Abdominal Exercise Physiology from Hanging Leg Raises

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