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Hanging Leg Raises: How-to, Common mistakes + FAQ

It may not be the most well-known exercise for the abs, but it is very effective: hanging leg raises. This abs exercise is definitely not for beginners, given the difficulty in its execution. You need to have fairly well-developed abdominal muscles if you want to perform this exercise properly.

On this page, we will explain the hanging leg raises in detail and also teach you how not to do it. We have also worked out some fun challenges and we answer several frequently asked questions about the exercise.

Which muscles do you train?

Of course, you do the hanging leg raises to train the abs. You indirectly train even more muscles with it. You will notice that the muscles in your upper leg also have to do quite a bit of work to be able to perform correctly. Now you will not immediately get very muscular legs, but nevertheless, your thighs are constantly used.

In addition, your forearms are also trained. It is important that you can linger during the exercise. For this you have to squeeze hard in the handles you hang on, with which your forearms are trained.

However, the most important muscles that are trained during the hanging leg raises are clearly the abdominal muscles. This makes it a perfect exercise if you want a strong and more developed core.

Hanging Leg Raises: How-to, Common mistakes + FAQ

Execution of the hanging leg raises

View the step-by-step explanation of the hanging leg raises here. As we wrote in the beginning, the exercise is quite difficult. So are you not yet advanced and not so strong in your abs? Then it might be smart to wait a little longer with this exercise. Try to strengthen your abs with other exercises and then get started with the hanging leg raises.

1. Stand under a pull-up bar

Choose a chin-up bar where you have enough space to hang with your legs straight. The rod should therefore not hang too low. Also, make sure that there is enough space around the bar so that you can perform the exercise without any obstructions.

2. Squeeze the bar firmly and let yourself hang

It is important that you keep squeezing the bar firmly throughout the entire exercise. So make sure that you have a good grip on the pull-up bar and that you can hang on like this for some time.

3. Tighten your abs and raise your legs

It is very important that you tighten your abs as much as possible. This way your body stays as straight as possible during the upward movement of the legs. Bring your legs up and tighten your abs throughout the movement.

4. Lower your legs and repeat

Try to lower the legs back to the starting position with a controlled movement. Then repeat for the desired number of times.

Are you not able to keep your legs fully stretched during the exercise at the beginning? Then keep your knees bent to make it a little easier. Doesn't that work? Then you can keep the knees completely bent to perform a hanging knee raise. This one is easier than the leg raises.

Most common mistakes

Of course, mistakes are regularly made while performing the hanging leg raise. Here we've detailed the most common mistakes so you can make sure you don't make them.


the body back and forth too much If the exercise is not performed in a controlled manner, you will eventually start to sway back and forth. This makes it increasingly difficult to perform the exercise correctly. This often happens when the abdominal muscles are not tightened enough. Do you notice that your upper body is moving too much? Then try to make sure that you come to hang still before you continue with the exercise.

Legs not moving up enough

When the exercise gets tough, the easiest solution is to move the legs less far up. However, this does not make a full movement, which of course you want. So try to get your legs at a 90-degree angle to your body on each rep.

Looking for more challenges?

It is also possible that you have such well-developed abs that hanging leg raises are no longer challenging enough. In that case, you can make the exercise more challenging. Try the challenges and see what works.

Hanging leg raises with extra weight

If you want to make the exercise a bit heavier, you can use ankle weights. These are easy to attach to your ankles to make the exercise a bit more difficult. In addition, the ankle weights can of course also be used for many other exercises.

Hanging leg raises with pause

The moment when your thighs are 90 degrees to your upper body is the moment when the exercise is the heaviest. Do you want to make it harder for yourself? Then try to hang in this position for a few seconds. How long you want to stay like this is of course up to you.

Hanging leg raises with a twisting motion

You also train the obliques during the exercise. As soon as your thighs reach the height position, you have to turn them to the left and then to the right. To do this, your obliques are put to work. This way you actually just give the hanging leg raises an upgrade.

Hanging leg raises and grip

The grip is a problem for many people when it comes to hanging leg raises. You should be able to hang around for a long time. Do you notice that the execution of the exercise suffers because your grip is not strong enough? Then you can basically do two things.

First of all, you can use straps to securely attach yourself to the chin-up bar. This makes it much easier to hang and you don't have to worry about your grip.

The second method is to strengthen your grip. You can do this by, for example, practicing with lingering for a long time or by doing exercises for your forearms. For example, you can hold heavy dumbbells until you can't anymore or add farmers' walks to your schedule. This strong grip can of course also come in handy for various other exercises.

Frequently asked questions about hanging leg raises

To conclude this explanation about the hanging leg raises, we will deal with a few more frequently asked questions. Is your question not included? Let us know and we may add your question to the list below.

What if hanging leg raises are too difficult?

Is the exercise too difficult? For example, try hanging knee raises first, so you don't have to keep your legs straight. Is it still too difficult to hang from the pull-up bar? Then do the exercise using the supports for your forearms.

Why do I get pain in my back with this exercise?

There can be tension on your lower back simply because there is pressure on your spine. If you notice that you often have serious problems with this, it is smart to go to a physio. He or she may be able to prescribe you good treatments and exercises that will reduce or disappear the pain.

What is a good alternative to hanging leg raises?

Do you have a chin-up bar anywhere where you can perform the hanging leg raises? Then you can perform the lying variant of the exercise: the lying leg raises.

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