You have to use a lot of different muscles to complete a hanging leg raise, which makes it a great move to add to your exercise routine. Find somewhere to exercise that has a pull-up bar, whether that’s at a gym or in the comfort of your own home, and get warmed up before starting your workout. Use your core muscles to bring your legs parallel to the ground while you’re hanging from the bar. Once you can do a single hanging leg raise. Keep practicing to add more repetitions to each workout.

EditSetting Up

  1. Use a pull-up bar at your gym if you have a membership. If you aren’t sure where to go, ask someone who works there for some help. Most gyms have sections for weight machines and pull-up bars. Find out if your gym has the right equipment for you to start working on your hanging leg raise.[1]

    • Working out at the gym has some great benefits—it’s easier to focus on your exercise because there are no external distractions, and you can pull inspiration from the other people who are there working out.

  2. Install a pull-up bar if you prefer exercising at home. If you’re going to buy and install a pull-up bar on your own, make sure to check the fine print. Pick a bar that can support your weight, and look for one that has good customer reviews. When you install it, follow the manufacturer’s directions to ensure it is installed safely.[2]

    • Working out at home can be great if you like the convenience of not having to travel to a secondary location. Plus, it’s free, minus the cost of whatever equipment you need.

  3. Warm up by doing 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio activity. Before doing any kind of physical activity, it’s really important to get your body warmed up to help prevent injuries. Do something like riding a stationary bike or completing several sets of jumping jacks. Whatever activity you choose, make sure to get your heart rate up and loosen up your limbs.[3]

    • Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 to 100 beats per minute. When you exercise, your heart rate can increase anywhere from 100 to 180 beats per minute, depending on your age and fitness level.

  4. Adjust the pull-up bar so it is slightly higher than your extended arms. Some exercise machines have adjustable bars, whereas others don’t. If you can, move the pull-up bar so that your feet will be off the ground by at least when you’re hanging from the bar with your arms fully extended.[4]

    • If the bar isn’t adjustable and is too high up for you to grab, use a sturdy stool or bench to safely reach it.

  5. Grip the bar so your hands are slightly wider than your shoulders. Use an overhand grip with your palms facing forward to give yourself a bit more flexibility for the leg raises. Avoid using a backward grip, where your palms face backward, which might strain your arms and shoulders.[5]

    • Try using fingerless exercise gloves if your hands get sweaty while you’re working out—you don’t want to accidentally slip off the pull-up bar!

EditCompleting a Hanging Leg Raise

  1. Keep your legs straight and your feet together. While you’re hanging from the bar, take a moment to make sure the rest of your body is in the right position. Place your feet together so they’re touching and don’t bend your legs. You’ll maintain this position for the entire leg raise.[6]

    • Try to keep your torso as still as possible. If you’re swinging back and forth, wait a few moments before you begin the leg raises.

  2. Flex your abs and thighs and begin raising your legs up. Keep your legs straight and your feet together. When you’re just starting out, you may not be able to raise your legs very high, and that is okay! Focus on bringing your legs as high as you can with slow, steady movements.[7]

    • If you need to, bend your knees and focus on raising just your upper thighs—this modifies the move and makes it a little easier to complete.
    • Don’t swing your body to gain momentum. All the movement should come through your core and your legs.

  3. Stop raising your legs when your thighs and feet are above your hips. Once you raise your legs as high as you can, pause for 3 to 5 seconds. This holding time really works your abs. Ideally, you’ll be lifting your legs so that the tops of your thighs are raised above your hips. If you aren’t there yet, keep working on it—you’ll get there![8]

    • You may be tempted to tense your shoulders so they’re near your head, but try to keep them down.

  4. Lower your legs back to the starting position slowly. After you’ve held the leg raise for a few seconds, slowly bring your legs back down so they’re hanging straight again. Continue using your core muscles to control the movements, and avoid just dropping your legs down. That could really hurt your back or arms.[9]

    • As is true of a lot of exercises, slow and controlled movements are better for your muscles. Focus on the quality of each leg raise rather than the quantity when you’re first starting out.

  5. Practice the leg raises until you can do 3 sets of 15 reps. Maybe when you first start out you can only do 1 leg raise, or maybe you can only lift your legs a little bit. Focus on getting incrementally better each time you work out. If you can’t get your legs high, try to move them up another each day. If you can only do a few repetitions, work on adding an additional rep every week.[10]

    • Remember, everyone starts at the beginning with fitness. You may not be able to do many reps right now, but if you’re persistent, you could be able to do a full set in several weeks or months.

EditVarying the Exercise

  1. Complete lying leg raises to strengthen your core. Lying leg raises are a great way to exercise those muscles you need to use for a hanging leg raise. Lay on the floor on an exercise mat or on a bench and place your hands beneath your lower ****ocks to help support your pelvis. Keep your spine neutral so that it is not arched or pressed flat against the mat or bench. Flex your core and lift your legs up while keeping your feet together and your legs extended straight. Lift your legs to a 60 to 70-degree angle, hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, and then lower your legs back down. Repeat the movement until you can do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.[11]

  2. Try doing knee raises for an easier variation that still uses your core. This move is very similar to the hanging leg raise, and it can be really helpful to work on if you’re struggling to bring your legs up far enough. Start in the same beginning position, but bend your legs at the knees as you raise them up. Bring your thighs toward your chest as far as you can. Hold the position for 3 to 5 seconds, then lower and straighten your legs back out. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions each.[12]

    • Extend your lower legs forward gradually so that you can see your feet. This is a good way to work towards the straight-leg position. Once you’ve mastered this move, you should find it easier to complete the hanging leg raise.

  3. Add weights to your ankles to make the move more difficult. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can start adding some more weight to your body to provide more resistance. Add ankle weights to each leg, or try gripping a dumbbell between your ankles as you do your sets.[13]Advertisement

    • Don’t attempt to add more weight unless you can already complete a hanging leg raise on its own—otherwise, the excess weight could strain your muscles, including the ones in your lower back, and cause an injury.

  4. Do a hanging crunch to work out your abdominal muscles even more. When your legs are parallel to the ground, bend your knees and bring them up toward your shoulders. Imagine you are “crunching” your knees toward your head with the goal of touching your shoulders with them.[14]

    • Be careful to not swing your body during the movement, as that could strain your neck and back muscles. Keep your torso as still as you can and focus on using your core and leg muscles.


  • Remember to stretch well after your workout to increase your flexibility and prevent injury and muscle strain.


  • Check with your doctor before beginning a new workout regimen if you aren’t already exercising regularly.


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