Hanging Leg Raises: Get A Leg Up On Strength!

This exercise is a hard one if you don't train it correctly, correct form goes without saying. I originally wrote this article because I was sick and tired of 'Gym Rats' doing thousand upon thousands of crunches.

This exercise is a hard one if you don't train it correctly, correct form goes without saying. I originally wrote this article because I was sick and tired of 'Gym Rats' doing thousand upon thousands of crunches, the infomercials of some weird machine that works your upper and lower ABS, neglecting the fact that your ABS are all one muscle.

I want people to learn to use what they have where they are. With a bit of imagination this drill can be done almost anywhere, there are plenty of trees. Not only will this drill help all of your pressing movements (overhead, bench, bent press) but your deadlift, squat and even pull-ups will increase. This movement really is for the hard-core guys.

Firstly let me start out by saying I love Janda sit-ups but there is a problem that I face with these. I cannot do them due to the simple fact of not owning an Ab Pavelizer and not having training partner. I know some of you out there also share this problem and you will have to revert to other exercises. This is fair enough but please do not follow the bodybuilding crowd and start doing CRUNCHES. I would like to introduce you to the Hanging Leg Raise.

First of all I will give you a few reasons as to why you should do Hanging Leg Raises. With a little imagination you can do them anywhere. The Hanging Leg Raise works all the muscles of the midsection and even your Lats. You only need a pull-up bar and Pull-ups are part of a staple diet (think Tactical Strength Challenge).

Pavel has said that Military and Law enforcement type people should do them. Hanging Leg Raises give you a strong grip (something we all need), and going back to the military theme, it is better to be prepared.

Now that I have given you a little bit of motivation let's get started:
  • Grab a bar and just hang, let the momentum disappear and do nothing until your body is still and the legs are straight.
  • Flex all your muscles especially your Lats, Abs, and muscles surrounding your elbows.
  • Slowly raise your feet up to the bar, remember to keep your legs straight.
  • Lower your Legs and Repeat.
  • The duration should be slow so as to use no momentum, try 5-8 seconds up, 5-8 down.

There we go easy... now get going and stop complaining that it's to hard or that you weigh too much. This exercise will make you strong, if it didn't what was it one of the only exercises that the Soviet underground lifters in the 1980's practice?

As Pavel explained in Power to the People!, Strong Hands + Strong Abs = Strong Body. This is another reason that you should give Hanging Leg Raises a go. Try 5 X 5 (Sets X Reps) three times a week or 3 X 3 five times a week. When you are capable of doing 5 X 5 try adding weight.

Helpful Pointers

Now a few pointers that should be of some help:

Keeping the arms locked: you really need to concentrate on this but you should not have to focus on this, as this is not the exercise. Here are two methods that will really help.

Number 1:

Really grip the bar and imagine that you are trying to bend it, this will also kick your Lats into motion.

Number 2:

Imagine that you are also pushing the bar away from you while pushing you body closer to your feet this might be hard to imagine but give it a bash and you should get it. This tip is from another Australian Party member Comrade Rick 'Raver' Ravensdale.

Adding weight:

I used to use a normal weight belt, a piece of chain and a padlock but now I got a good dipping belt from Bodybuilding.com but the idea is to add weight at your waist, not your legs. I find that this makes for more comfort on your lower regions (I will leave it at that), also if you had the weight at your legs this drill would turn into a leg drill rather than a midsection drill. If you do choose to add weight to your legs I have done this using a neck harness from Bodybuilding.com.

Increasing the stimulation in your nervous system: this tip is also from a strong guy known as Com. Raver (Australia). Try doing some weighted pull-ups a while before, or just before your Hanging Leg Raises, I do weighted pull-ups right at the beginning of my session.

The Leg Position:

Try elongating your legs; almost pull them out of their sockets. This, added to the above techniques, will make the exercise stronger and safer. Also try pushing your thighs together (use a plastic water bottle); this will create a more powerful contraction of the mid section, again I have said it before that Intra Abdominal Pressure (IAP) is important for added strength. Focus on creating as much IAP as possible.

There you have it, a Guide to Hanging Leg Raises. Now go and enjoy!

As you can see from the first instruction you will just hang, this is a great movement for spinal health, you will decompress your discs in no time and for you short guys, you will even grow a little if you do this drill all the time.

Again you can either do this at the end of your workout or you can choose to do it on an off or rest day, added strength and it will only take up less than 20 minutes if you do it on an off day you cant complain, added strength means heavier weights which translates into bigger stronger muscles.

About The Author

Simon Forsyth, RKC is an avid Australian kettlebeller hey has his eyes set to become the first Australian Girevik to reach their Master of Sport ranking. All thing being equal he is on the constant pursuit of strength. Simon is almost always available if you need to ask questions or you just want to talk to someone who likes strength you can reach him at simon_forsyth@hotmail.com.