How to Do Captain’s Chair Hanging Leg Raises: Techniques, Benefits, Variations

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The captain’s chair leg lift is great for building abs and hip flexors. They claim to use the same frame as a chair. If you have access to this equipment, this exercise can be a useful addition to a strength training routine that works multiple muscles at once.

Also known as: Vertical bend, knee raise, Roman chair leg raise

Target: Abdominal and hip flexors

Necessary equipment: Captain’s chair or Roman chair

Level: Intermediate

How to make a Captain’s Chair Raised Legs

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stand in the captain’s chair frame and rest your forearms on the padded armrest. Grab the handle, if available. Check that your arm position is firm (arm stabilizers allow you to raise your legs with proper posture). Your back should be straight.

  1. Inhale and work your abs to prepare for the leg lift.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and raise your legs until your quads are parallel to the ground.
  3. Lower your legs in a controlled motion, exhaling as you go, until you return to the starting position. Keep your core interactive.

Captain’s chair or Roman chair is a training frame found in many gyms. Standing in the frame, you use the arms of the chair to support your body weight as you raise your legs.

Benefits of the captain’s chair Suspension leg lift

This exercise targets the abdominal muscles, producing more than 130% of maximum voluntary contractions (MVC) in the rectus muscle and 88% of MVC in the external oblique muscle. It also works the hip flexors (iliopsoas).

The hanging leg lift is based on the isolation technique. Isolation exercises target a specific area of ​​the body or muscle group, giving you the opportunity to strengthen certain areas that may be weaker or would benefit from a strength training program.

In everyday life, many different muscles are used to complete tasks like climbing stairs or carrying groceries. These muscles must coordinate and work together and the raised captain’s chair leg helps prepare for this.

In a 2018 study involving participants with multiple substance dependence (depending on several substances), those who performed this exercise as part of a circuit training routine reported improvements in physical fitness. mood and a short-term decrease in cravings.

Other variations of the captain’s chair Suspension leg lift

The captain’s chair lift can be performed in a variety of ways depending on your fitness equipment accessibility and fitness goals.

Leg lifts without a captain’s chair

Lying hip lift can offer a similar exercise if you don’t have access to a chair frame or other equipment to hang the leg lift. To do this, lie on your back, bend your knees slightly, and lift your legs so that your toes point toward the ceiling. Focus on your body and lift your hips up.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Bent-Knee Raised Leg Lift

To make the move a little easier, try doing the lift in the chair frame with your knees bent instead of straightening your legs. Your body needs less core strength for this hanging leg lift variation. It also relieves stress on your lower back.

Pull up hang the raised leg

Add another element of challenge to leg lift using a pull bar instead of a chair frame. Grip the bar so that your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, palms facing away. Allow your body to hang loose while raising your legs. Keep your back straight and focus on your core.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Captain’s Chair Kicks

Doing the one-legged captain’s chair lift requires you to use more core strength. That makes this exercise good for more advanced exercisers. To do this variation, follow the same steps as the standard hangover leg raise, but lift each leg one at a time. This movement looks like a kick, hence the name.

Captain Twist chair

This variation targets your obliques. As you lift your legs, twist your body so that your knees are at a slight angle to your body. Do a twist to the right and to the left so that you even work on both sides of the abs.

Common mistake

Avoid these mistakes to keep your captain’s seat leg lifts safe and effective.

Curved back

This exercise puts a lot of pressure on the spine, causing the spine to compress. As you do the leg lift, keep your back straight (not arched) and press against the pad. Your head and neck should be stable.

Do not engage your core

One of the keys to doing a leg lift with good form is to engage your core before you lift your leg. If you lift your legs before your abs are fully engaged, not only will you miss out on the strength-boosting benefits of the move, you’ll also risk injury.

Based on Momentum

Control your movement. Relying on momentum prevents you from enjoying the maximum benefits of this exercise.

Hold your breath

When you’re working your abs and preparing to lift your legs, you may be so tense that you forget to breathe. Timing the rise to the rhythm of your breathing will help you avoid holding your breath. Remember: Your muscles need oxygen to function optimally.

Safety and Precautions

Movements like the captain’s chair lift require a lot of work on your upper body and core. You may need to avoid them if you:

  • Pregnant or recovering from childbirth
  • Recently had surgery on your abdomen
  • Having a condition called diastasis recti (separation of the abdominal muscles, such as after pregnancy)
  • Are recovering from an injury or surgery involving your back, neck, arms, or legs

If you have any of these or other health conditions that affect your ability to exercise, check with your doctor before starting an exercise routine or adding something new. into your workouts. And always stop if you feel pain. (Discomfort is normal; pain is not.)

Try to complete 8 to 10 lifts before resting. As you get stronger, do up to three sets of 10 lifts.

If you have any questions about whether the captain’s chair leg lift is safe for you, ask your trainer or physical therapist for a recommendation.


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

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