How to do Hanging Leg Raises

What is a Hanging Leg Raise?

As a former rock-climber in college, I had a selection of exercises that I would use in the gym to strengthen the muscles needed for climbing. Hanging Leg Raises were one of my go-to exercises, as this movement targets the core muscles needed to control your legs during a climb while also developing your grip strength. And you can get a brutal workout just by doing this exercise alone (try doing 100 of them with your legs straight).  Consequently, this has been one of my favorite exercises for years. 

The Hanging Leg raise is a dynamic movement and is an excellence exercise for your core. The movement forces you to stabilize your core while hanging from an elevated platform. Your forearms will also be heavily engaged in this exercise, as your hands will hold your body’s weight while performing the movement. 

The following muscle group is engaged by the Hanging Leg Raise:

  • Core

How to Do a Hanging Leg Raise (Instructions):

Start by hanging from an elevated bar (monkey bars, pull-up bars, etc…). With your legs straight and together while hanging from the bar, bend your knees and use your core to raise your knees until they are just at or just above your waist line. Lower your legs with your knees bent, with control, until your knees are pointing at the ground. Repeat.

Trainer Tips for the Hanging Leg Raise: 

  • Progression (make harder)
    • Perform the movement with your legs straight
    • While hanging from the bar with your hands, use your core to raise your toes all the way to touch the bar.
  • Regression (make easier)
    • While hanging from the bar with your hands, use your core to raise your knees only to 45 degrees above the ground.
    • Perform Reverse Crunches while lying on your back. 
    • Perform Flutter Kicks while lying on your back.
  • Application:
    • Do 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of Hanging Leg Raises as a part of your core workout.
    • For a brutal workout, try to do 100 Hanging Leg Raises with either your knees bent or your legs straight as quickly as you can with good form.
Hanging Leg Raises are used in the Layman’s Fitness 12 Week Bodyweight Program, which you can learn more about here.