Hanging Leg Raises: What They Are, and Why You Should Be Doing Them

hanging leg raises

What is hanging leg raises?

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Hanging leg raises are a type of exercise that primarily targets the abs. They are done by hanging from a bar with your legs straight and then raising them towards your chest.

Why should you do them?

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Hanging leg raises are a great exercise for targeting the abs, and they can be easily modified to make them more challenging. Despite them primarily targeting the abs, hanging leg raises also work the shoulders and arms.

What are some other names for Hanging Leg Raises?

Hanging leg raises are sometimes called knee to chest or just plain old leg raises. Some other common names include Knee Raise, Straight Leg Raise, Bent Leg Raise, Incline Sit-Ups, Straight Up Abs, and Vertical Crunches.

How to do Hanging Leg Raises?

To perform a hanging leg raise you must first grab a bar with an overhand grip followed by your legs straight out in front of you. Once in position, slowly raise your legs until they reach your upper abdominals before lowering them back down again. To increase the difficulty of this exercise you can hold your legs over the bar for a count before lowering them down.

What muscles do Hanging Leg Raises work?

Hanging leg raises primarily target the abdominals (abs). However, they also work the shoulders and arms.

A more in-depth look at how hanging leg raises work your abs:

When you raise your legs towards your chest you are contracting your abdominals, or what many refer to as “the six-pack.” To fully contract the abdominals you have to pull them up towards your ribcage while keeping both of these areas tight. This is done by contracting your abdominal muscles at a rate of more than one contraction per second. The more muscle fibers that contract within a given amount of time means the greater intensity of pressure is exerted on the muscle. This more intense pressure will make the muscles fatigue at a faster rate because it takes more energy out of them to perform. This also means that as you work harder, your abs will become fatigued and not be able to raise your legs as high as they normally could.

Hanging leg raise from a V-sit:

To do this variation of hanging leg raise, sit on the ground with your legs outstretched in front of you. Bend your knees and then lean back while supporting yourself by placing your hands behind you. Once in position slowly perform a standard straight leg raise while keeping your shoulders off the floor. To increase the intensity of this exercise hold your legs over the bar for a count before lowering them down. This can be done anywhere from three to five seconds before returning your feet to the starting position. If holding for longer periods becomes too easy, then try holding them for shorter periods.

Is Hanging Leg Raises better than Sit-Ups?

There are certainly different types of exercises that you can do to help strengthen the abdominals, but hanging leg raises and sit-ups both work the abs. The consensus throughout most fitness circles is that doing sit-ups is a safer option compared with hanging leg raises because your back will be resting on the floor and there will be no risk of falling off (if using an overhead bar). However, if done correctly, either exercise is acceptable. With this being said it is important to keep proper form when performing any abdominal exercise to avoid injury. If you experience any sharp pain while performing these exercises then immediately discontinue.

Hanging leg raises are an excellent way to work your abdominals. It is beneficial to start with beginner-level variations of this exercise before proceeding on with more advanced moves. Performing these exercises every day will help strengthen the abdominal muscles, which in turn will have you performing stronger reps during planks, sit-ups, crunches, and countless other ab-building exercises.


Hanging leg raises are a great way to work your upper abs, lower abs, and obliques. Make sure that when doing the proper form is being used so as not to injure yourself. If you are new to this type of ab exercise then try starting with beginner-level variations before progressing on with harder ones. if pain occurs while doing this exercise stop immediately.

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