How to Do a Hanging Leg Raise: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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The hanging leg lift is a high-level isolation exercise that builds hip flexors and abs. All you need is access to the barbell and you can easily add this exercise to your advanced core workout.

Target: Hip stretcher and belly patch

Necessary equipment: High bar or pull up bar

Level: Advanced

How to do a hanging leg lift

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Hanging leg lifts requires the use of a bar that you can grasp overhead. The bar should be stable and able to support your entire body weight, as well as withstand the pressure created when you raise and lower your legs.

A pull-up bar is a good choice. Round bars are more comfortable to hold than square bars or square wooden bars. Do not use door frames or ledges as this is not safe.

Some bars have hooks or loops that you can grasp. Others have attached ab straps, which support your upper arms while you grip the bar with your hands.

Grasp the bar with an overhand grip, wrapping your thumb around the bar for improved stability. You don’t have to hang at this stage, but ideally your hands should be holding the bar higher than your head.

  1. Exhale as you lift your feet off the ground, raising them straight out in front of you. Tilt your pelvis back slightly and work your abs and hip flexors to support the movement.
  2. Elevate your legs to the point where it feels difficult but still helps you stay in good shape. Try to keep them parallel to the ground (so that your hips are bent 90 degrees) or slightly higher if you can.
  3. Slowly lower your legs until you return to the starting position, inhaling throughout this exercise. Maintain your posterior pelvic tilt, even when at the bottom of the motion.

Benefits of hanging leg lift

Both major hip flexors – the sartorius and iliopsoas – are active during the leg lift. The longest muscle in the body, the sartorius supports hip and knee flexion. Iliopsoas flexes the hips to draw the thighs into the torso, supporting the lateral flexion and lumbar spine flexion.

The rectus femoris, tensor fasae latae, pectineus, and adductor longus muscles are synergistic muscles that are also activated during the suspension leg lift. The stabilizing abs in this exercise are the rectus and obliques.

While the traditional crunch and its variations provide a top-down approach to working the abs, the hanging leg raise is a bottom-up approach that works in a different way from many exercises. another set. Advanced exercisers can use this move to change up their ab routine.

The effect you get from this exercise depends on how well you can lift your legs — but you should feel your abs working hard at any rate. The sturdy core makes lifting heavy objects easier while supporting healthy posture.

Other variations of the hanging leg lift

You can do this exercise in a variety of ways, depending on your fitness level, making it easier at first and more challenging as you progress.

Bent-Leg Treo Raise

If you have trouble bringing your leg up while straightening, try the bent leg version. Use your abs and hip flexors to bring your knees up to waist level, so they are bent 90 degrees. As your strength increases, do a leg extension when your knees reach your waist, then lower the extended leg.

Leg Lift Captain’s Chair

Another slightly easier version of the suspension leg lift is the captain chair leg lift. This chair has back and arm cushions to help you keep your posture. Place your forearms on the handrails, grab the handles, and raise your outstretched legs in front of you before lowering again.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lifting legs hanging at shoulder height

To increase the difficulty of this exercise, continue to raise your legs to shoulder height. This causes the rectus abdominis (six pack) to work harder. Only do this more difficult variation if you can keep proper form.

Lifting legs hanging weights

When you’re ready to progress, you can also add ankle weights or hold a dumbbell or medicine ball between your feet while doing the leg lift. If you use this variation, choose a weight that you can lift without affecting your form and keep it between your feet.

Hanging leg lift with bend and extension

Extending and flexing your knees while in an advanced position provides an extra challenge. Raise your straightened legs to waist level and hold, bending your knees before straightening them back. Then lower your straight legs back down.

Lifting a leg hangs an arm

The one-handed leg raise (with the leg straight or the knee bent) is another version of the elevation. The steps are the same, you are only suspended with one arm versus two. If this puts too much pressure on your arm or wrist, you may want to skip this option.

Common mistake

Avoid these mistakes to get the most out of this exercise and prevent muscle strain or injury.


Don’t sway when trying to raise your legs to gain momentum. Instead, focus your efforts on your abs and hip flexors to help control the movement and activate your core.

Shoulders hunchback

Keep your shoulders down to help protect them in this exercise. To get them in place, while hanging, move your shoulders as far away from your ears as possible.

Lower your legs too fast

Your core muscles work hard during the lowering phase of this exercise. If you rush in this phase and try to take them down too quickly, you will miss out on this benefit. Again, keep the foot down slow and controlled, avoiding swaying or swinging while staying in good shape.

Safety and Precautions

Make sure the rod or suspension device is stable and well-maintained so you can hang it safely. If you have certain health conditions, injuries, or are recovering from surgery, you should check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine or adding new content to your workouts.

You may need to avoid hanging foot lifts if you:

  • Pregnant or recovering from childbirth
  • Have recti diastasis
  • Recently had surgery on your abdomen
  • Are recovering from an injury or surgery involving your back, neck, arms, or legs

In such cases, ask a personal trainer or a physical therapist for suggestions on what exercises would be a better alternative. Stop this exercise if you feel any pain.

Set a goal to do 10 reps in a set — or as many times as you can manage. As you gain more strength, try to work your way up to 30 reps total.


Incorporate this and similar moves into one of these popular exercises:

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