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February 25, 2022 1 Comment
What neglected exercise trains grip strength, upper back strength, hip flexors, and a strong set of abs all at once? Well, the cat has already been let out of the bag considering you know the title of this post - it's the Hanging Leg Raise.
The hanging leg raise, which is one of the best core and ab exercises there is, is an exercise that will not only build physical strength but mental strength as well. Because if you’re doing it right, you’ll be hating life just a little.
Here we’ll go into a deep dive on the hanging leg raise:
The hanging leg raise is an advanced bodyweight exercise that builds strength in the hip flexors, abdominal muscles, grip, and upper back. The exercise involves hanging from a chin-up bar and raising your legs (which you will keep straight/extended) up and down while keeping your upper body perpendicular to the floor. Essentially, you are creating a 90 degree angle between your upper and lower body. To do this, you'll engage your grip, upper back, lats and core to keep your upper body fixed and stable, and then raise your legs up until they are parallel with the floor, then slowly lower them back down, and repeat. This movement is going to hit your abs and hip flexors like crazy.
A popular variation (or progression) of the hanging leg raise is to bring your feet up towards the bar rather than to just parallel with the floor. This will cause your hips to lift up and create a sort of reverse crunch. This version will increase range of motion and can allow you to create even more tension in your abs on the way down when going slowly.
Either way, both parallel and toes-to-bar hanging leg raises are great for your abs and core as a whole. Hanging leg raises put your hip flexors and abs in a battle against gravity - ultimately with you being the winner!
When you want to develop high levels of core, grip, and upper back strength, this is a great exercise for developing those muscle groups. Plus, the hanging leg raise is great for stabilizing muscles such as the lats and shoulders.
Hanging Leg Raise vs Hanging Knee Raise:
The hanging leg raise often gets confused with the hanging knee raise, but they are different exercises. With the hanging knee raise, you tuck the knees towards the chest rather than raising the legs straight up. This makes it an easier exercise to perform because the lever (legs) has been reduced. The hanging knee raises are a good alternative if you find the hanging leg raise too difficult.
Note: This exercise needs a bar that you can grip above your head and hang from (ideally a full hang so your feet don't touch the ground when your arms are extended). This bar must be stable and able to support your full body weight, plus the stress of when you raise and lower your legs. A proper pull-up bar is a great choice - using a door frame or ledge is not.
This is a difficult full-body move with a lot of moving parts. To get the most out of the hanging leg raise and to prevent injury please watch out for these common mistakes,
This is an advanced exercise, so it may be one that you need to build strength and work up to if you are a beginner.
OTHER THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
This is a movement will a lot of moving parts and total body engagement. Keeping you safe is of utmost importance. Please check the bar or hanging apparatus you’re using is stable and well-maintained. You may need to avoid hanging leg lifts if you:
The hanging leg raise need the muscles of the upper and lower body to work to flex and extend your torso. Here are the main lower and upper body muscles trained by the hanging leg raise.
CORE & LOWER BODY:
Hanging leg raises, while effective in building strength and muscle in your core area for vanity benefits have other important benefits too. Here are some advantages of performing hanging leg raises:
Hanging knee raises are a fantastic core exercise and a great accessory exercise for grip strength and chin-ups and pull-ups. Here are a few programming suggestions dependent on your fitness level:
You can perform the hanging leg raise in different ways, depending on your fitness level and to make it easier at the start and to give more of a challenge as you get better:
1. ROMAN CHAIR LEG RAISE
The Roman Chair (or Power Tower) leg raise gives your back and arm support to a trainee who has the required core or grip strength to do a hanging leg raise yet. The backrest prevents body swaying and the loss of grip allowing the trainee to focus on the leg raise part of the movement.
How to do The Roman Chair Leg Raise:
2. HANGING KNEE RAISE
If you’re having trouble bringing your legs up while straight to parallel, try the bent leg version. This shortens the lever (your legs) to make this exercise easier while still getting all the benefits of the hanging leg raise. Use your core and hip flexors to bring your knees up to waist level, so they are bent at 90 degrees. When your strength level increases, work on extending your legs when your knees reach your waist and then lowering the extended legs.
How to do The Bent-Leg Hanging Raise:
3. TOES TO BAR
To increase the difficulty of the hanging leg raise continue raising your legs up until your toes reach the bar. This increase in range of motion causes the rectus abdominis and hip flexors to work even harder. Only do this more challenging variation when you feel comfortable with your strength level.
How to do The Toes To Bar:
4. WEIGHTED HANGING LEG RAISE
When you're ready to progress the hanging leg raise with weight adding ankle weights or holding a light dumbbell or medicine ball between your feet will do the trick. When performing this variation, choose a weight that you are able to lift without sacrificing your technique and you are able and hold it securely between your feet.
How to do The Weighted Hanging Leg Raise:
5. HOLLOW ROCK
If you don’t have the required grip strength but still want to train your core and hip flexors the hollow rock will build up the hip flexor and ab strength while working on your grip strength to hang on to the bar for time. So, when you build up your grip and core strength you will crush the hanging leg raise.
How to do The Hollow Rock:
6. FARMER'S CARRY
You might be wondering why farmers carry is on this list. Simple nothing builds grip strength, shoulder stability, core strength, and conditioning as the farmers carry. Hanging leg raises requires you to be physically and mentally tough and so does the farmers' carry. When you need to build the grip, the strength required to hang from the bar, carry some heavy weights around.
How to The Farmers Carry:
NOTE: Some gyms have an attachment for a pull up bar called a sling strap where you can place your arms in and do hanging leg raises. It basically just removes grip from the equation. So, if your grip strength is lacking and your gym has it, you can use it, but be sure to work on grip strength in the meantime.
Other variations of the hanging leg raise involve side raises or windshield wipers, which are great if you want to incorporate more oblique work.
Aim to train your core 2-3 times per week using the above exercises and other good core exercises. If you aren't doing hanging leg raises, definitely add them into the mix. They are truly one of the best core exercises you can do for your abs and overall core strength.
If you can't do hanging leg raises even for a few reps per set, then work up to it with exercises like floor leg raises, Roman chair leg raises, and hanging knee raises. Eventually, you'll be able to do the hanging leg raise. The great thing about core strength is, it develops pretty quickly!
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September 21, 2023
September 21, 2023
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