If you are looking for a way to strengthen your core, you might have heard about hanging leg raises. This is a great exercise that will help you massage your hip flexors, targets your abs, and even strengthen your quads. How do you perform this exercise, and how can you get the most out of it?
Why Do Them: What Are Hanging Leg Raises?
During hanging leg raises, you will start in a free hanging position from a bar, similar to a pull-up. Then, you will lift your legs, keeping them parallel to the ground and straight. You will raise your legs slowly from the ground, and then lower them once again. Even if you cannot raise your legs fully, you will still give your abs a great workout. The goal is to keep your body straight during this process, performing an exceptional isometric movement with your abs.
This is a great exercise that will place your abs and hip flexors in a disadvantageous position against gravity. By forcing these muscles to battle gravity, you will strengthen and stabilize those muscle groups. In addition, you will also target your lats (which are in the lower and middle back) as well as your forearms (which are responsible for gripping the bar during the workout).
Trainers’ Guide: How To Do Hanging Leg Raises
In order to perform hanging leg raises properly, there are several steps you need to follow. These include:
- 1. Find a sturdy, stable overhead bar. These are typically found in a gym; however, you can get one for your house as well. Remember that this bar has to support the entirety of your body weight.
- 2. Use an overhand grip to grab the bar. Allow your body to hang from the bar. Make sure the bar stays in place.
- 3. Fire your ab muscles. Lift your feet off the ground.
- 4. Keeping your legs straight, lift your legs to a 90-degree angle with the rest of your body. Exhale during this motion.
- 5. Hold your legs at a 90-degree angle for a few seconds.
- 6. Lower your legs back down to the ground slowly. Inhale during this motion.
Repeat this repetition several times to complete your ab workout.
Common Mistakes During Hanging Leg Raises
There are several common mistakes that people make during hanging leg raises. They include:
- Swinging the Legs: The goal is to use your abs to raise your legs. If you swing your legs and make the workout easier, you don’t get as much benefit. Lift your legs slowly.
- Dropping the Legs: When you lower your legs, you should do so slowly, providing resistance against gravity. That is where the exercise comes in. Don’t simply drop your legs.
- Bending the Knees: Do not bend your knees during the workout. While this might make the workout easier, it also removes stress from your abs, reducing the benefit of the exercise.
Avoid these common mistakes when you perform hanging leg raises.
The Benefits of Hanging Leg Raises
There are numerous benefits of performing hanging leg raises. These include:
- Build Core Strength: Of course, the biggest benefit of performing hanging leg raises is that you will be improving your core strength. You will isolate your abs and force them to fight against gravity to complete every repetition, which will drive the workout.
- Shoulder Stability: Next, hanging leg raises will increase your shoulder stability and mobility. Lots of people spend their days with their shoulders dangling by their sides. Therefore, you need to increase your shoulder mobility and stability by placing them in a hang position. While you will strengthen your shoulders, you also open up the joints with this exercise, giving them a chance to breathe.
- Back Pain: If you suffer from lower back pain, this is an exercise that can help you address this issue. In a free hang position, all joints get a chance to breathe and lengthen, which takes a lot of stress off your lower back. In this lengthened position, you can strengthen muscles in your lower back that are traditionally vulnerable, helping you address back pain.
These are just a few of the many benefits of performing hanging leg raises.
Variations of Hanging Leg Raises: Ski Exercises
There are several variations of hanging leg raises. A few basic variations include:
- Consider attaching weights to your feet to make the workout harder.
- You can lift your legs all the way up to your face and back down again for a slightly different exercise.
- You can also add a pull-up or chin-up during each repetition to make the exercise more challenging, adding more upper body to the routine.
Another popular variation is an exercise performed by professional skiers. This is weighted leg raises with a twist to engage additional muscles. To perform this exercise, you will:
- 1. Start in the same position. Grab the overhead bar.
- 2. Next, place a medicine ball between your legs. Hold the ball with your ankles.
- 3. Lift your body off the ground. Make sure your feet hold onto the medicine ball.
- 4. Perform your leg raise. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible. You might need to bend your knees slightly to keep the medicine ball from slipping. That is okay.
- 5. When you raise your legs, twist your legs from side to side with each repetition. This will engage your lower body, adding another level of control that targets the obliques.
This could be a way for you to take your hanging leg raises to a new level.
Alternative Exercises to Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises are a great way for you to target your core. There might be additional core workouts you want to try. A few examples include:
- Sit-ups and crunches
- Rollouts with an ab wheel
- Leg lifts and flutter kicks
- Planks and hollow holds
You may want to diversify your workouts to include these exercises. Make sure you get the most out of each rep.