Sept. 2013
Hanging Leg Raises
By Rick Wood, BS, CSCS

Hanging abdominal raises (hanging leg raises) are one of my core ab exercises! They can be performed with or without the straps. All you need is a bar. I suggest using the straps as your grip tends to give out before the abs do!

If you have never tried these before, I highly suggest that you only do half as many as you think you can. In other words, after your first rep or two, if you hypothetically think you could only do ten reps, stop at five reps for 3-4 sets. If you keep going and do three sets to failure the first time, you will be SORE!!! It will though convince you how effective they are.

When using the ab straps, slide the straps all the way into the arm pits. Hold loosely with your hands and support your weight with the straps under your arms. Without swinging wildly, lift your knees as high as you can. Parallel is your first goal. Try your darnedest to get your knees higher than parallel to the floor. Second goal is knees to the elbows. From there you can use straight legs instead of bent knees and start over at trying for parallel. A huge part of the exercise is controlling your legs down. If you can keep from swinging, your intensity is high!

Keep doing your other ab exercises. Until your knees break parallel with the floor, only your hip flexors are moving. The abs are extremely engaged but only isometrically. (Contraction without movement.) This is not the all encompassing ab exercise, just add to your arsenal!

Hanging Abs are a phenomenal ab exercise but you should know a little secret. The lower abdominal muscles that everyone talks about with this exercise… don’t exists! True, the stress is coming from the bottom instead of from the top (like crunching) but you cannot choose an exercise for the lower abs. Ask that trainer specifically for the anatomical name for the lower abs! (There isn’t one.) The rectus abdominus (six pack) is one long thin muscle from the sternum to the pelvis.
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