Master the Hanging Leg Raise 10-Step Exercise Progression System

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Learn how to properly perform Hanging Leg Raises, the holy grail of core training and an awesome bodyweight abs exercise.

You will:

- Gain Gruesome Grip Strength

- Upgrade Your Upper Body

- Bulletproof Your Back

- Develop Freakish Flexibility

- Sculpt the Six-Pack of a Super Hero

One of the most amazing benefits of this exercise is that it trains all of the muscles that support your spine while simultaneously unloading and decompressing your spine. This is a stark contrast to a lot of other abdominal movements like crunches and sit-ups – and even core-intensive whole body exercises like squats, deadlifts, and swings – that compress your spine.

I. HOW TO DO IT

Follow these five tips to master this midsection move today:

1.) Use a Hook Grip: A hook grip involves gripping the bar with a slightly flexed wrist and wrapping your thumb over your index or middle finger. This allows you to create more external rotation torque in your shoulders making you stronger and more stable throughout the movement. It will also help your keep your ribs down (see below).

2.) Pack your shoulders down: Almost every exercise tells you to keep your shoulder blades down (called scapular depression) but here we just want you to keep your shoulders down (called glenohumeral depression). In fact, your upper back should be slightly rounded and your chest slightly tucked. This will put your shoulders in the safest position (avoiding unwanted impingement, strains or tears) while also allowing you to best be able to push down against the bar (see below).

3.) Keep your ribs down: If your ribcage elevates as you raise your legs it will create an anterior pelvic tilt that hyperextends your lumbar spine causing strain in your lower back. Keep your ribs down and directly aligned over your pelvis and then brace your core (like if you were about to get punched in the gut) to set this position. This will ensure that most of motion occurs at your hips and not your lower back like it’s supposed to.

4.) Push down against the bar: This is a high-tension tactic that helps engage all of the big and strong muscles under your arms and along your ribcage. This will accomplish two key things. One, it will make it easier to raise your legs and compress your upper and lower body together. Two, since your lats attach to your spine and the opposite hip they are actually core muscles that help stabilize your spine when properly fired.

5.) Exhale at the top of the movement: Breathe through your belly, not your ribcage. Breathing through your ribs causes your ribs to rise thus creating the hyperextended lower back position we discussed in tip #3. In addition, forcefully exhale at the top of the movement when you’ve raised your legs as high as you can without leaning back too much. This will fully compress your abdomen and cause the greatest muscular contraction. Inhale on the way down.

Bonus Tip: After you smoothly raise your legs to max height, engage your glutes before lowering them back down. This nifty little trick unloads your spine and takes pressure off of your lower back.

Here’s a brief instructional video of how to perform the hanging leg raise:

II. PREP YOUR BODY

It’s critical to note that before you embark on this stomach-shredder, you need to prep your body with a slew of corrective exercises including self-massage drills and targeted stretches and mobilizations that will:

- Open up your hips and hamstrings
- Make your lower back more supple
- Improve overhead positioning and posture for the hanging component

That’s why I’ve put together 2 unique corrective exercise videos that you can instantly start streaming today. These will get you ready to safely hammer your mid-section like never before.

Video#1- Corrective Exercises for Hanging Leg Raises: Self-Massage Drills

https://www.streamfit.com/video/361

Here’s an outline of the exercise list:

- Hamstrings: Seated on Lacrosse Ball on Box, Seated Toe Touches on Lacrosse Ball
- Lower Back: Foam Roll, Single Ball on Low Back to Upper Glute, and Double Lacrosse Ball (Pelvis to Ribcage)
- Quad/Hip-Flexors: Foam Roll and Lacrosse Ball
- T-Spine: Foam Roll and Double Lacrosse Ball (Overhead Reaches)
- Lats/Rib Cage: Foam Roll (Overhead Reaches)
- Armpit/Posterior Shoulder: Lacrosse Ball (Overhead Reaches)

Video#2- Corrective Exercises for Hanging Leg Raises: Stretches and Mobilizations

https://www.streamfit.com/video/360

Here’s an outline of the exercise list:

- High Hamstrings: Lying Leg Raises/Swings, Standing Leg Raises/Swings, Lying or Standing Hamstring Mobilizations with Band Distractions
- Hip Capsule Mobilization for “Flexion Wall”: Double Kneel -> Single Knee with ER (add band distraction)
- Hip Flexion: 2-Leg: Lying or Deep Squat, 1-Leg: Lying or Standing with Foot on Step/Box
- Hip Extension: 2-Leg- Cobra -> 1-Leg- Kneeling Quad/Hip-Flexor Stretch
(add band distraction)
- Overhead Positioning: T-Spine Wrap on Med Ball, Wall Lat/Triceps (Facing/Side Facing), Band Shoulder Flexion with ER Bias
- Global Flexion/Compression Stretches: Seated Toe Touches, Seated Leg Raises (Wall), Lying Back Bend
- Pelvic Reset: Push-Pull with Hands –> Ball Squeeze (5 s squeezes)

III. PROGRESS LIKE A PRO

Now that you know how to properly perform and prep your body for this killer core exercise, here’s an unmatched 10-step exercise progression system to follow. It even includes ground zero and super hero options to accommodate newbies, veterans, and everyone else in between.

You can stream the complete instructional exercise video for all 10+ steps at StreamFIT.com here:

https://www.streamfit.com/video/374

Ground Zero

Lying Leg Raises

Start at ground zero with floor-based leg raise variations to ensure that you have the adequate hip mobility and core stability for the hanging leg raise. Only progress to Level I once you can perform these drills pain-free and through a full range of motion. These equipment-free variations also make for a great anytime, anywhere equipment-free substitute for when you don’t have access to a bar to hang from.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/362

Level 1- Alternating Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Alternating Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Learn how to perform the alternating bent-knee hanging leg raise to start building a six-pack from hell! Alternating legs makes it easier to raise your legs and also provides some much needed hip mobility work. Plus, it helps even out strength or flexibility imbalances between sides. This drill can also be regressed further by keeping one foot on the ground while still hanging onto the bar.

Perform 3-5 sets/side of 3-5 reps/side at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds/side at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps/side or hold the L-position for 60 seconds/side, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/363

Level 2- Alternating Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Alternating Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Now straighten your legs to increase the resistance and get some serious hamstring flexibility work going. If your hamstrings are really tight, you’ll tend to feel your lower back straining when your raise both legs simultaneously. However, raising each leg separately makes it easier on your lumbar spine with the added benefit of stretching your hamstring with the opposite leg hanging in full hip extension. This has a great carryover to walking and running.

Perform 3-5 sets/side of 3-5 reps/side at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds/side at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps/side or hold the L-position for 60 seconds/side, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/364

Level 3- Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Amp up the abdominal intensity with the bent-knee hanging leg raise. This is the classic variation that most people think of when it comes to hanging leg raises. The true challenge here comes with raising your knees above hip-level which fully activates all of your hip flexor and abdominal muscles. Focus on getting a little more range of motion every session while keeping the reps low. Every extra inch counts and makes all of the difference as you progress through this series.

Perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps or hold the L-position for 60 seconds, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/365

Level 4- Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Lengthen the lever and crush your core with this intermediate exercise variation. This progression builds on the strength and flexibility you’ve gained in the previous levels. Since the focus is first on getting your legs parallel to the floor and next on getting your toes or shins all the way to the bar with minimal trunk lean back, you’ll probably spend more time at this stage than any other on this list. Take the time and own this move to lay the foundation for the serious tummy twerkers to come.

Perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps or hold the L-position for 60 seconds, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/366

Level 5- Close-Grip Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Close-Grip Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Now test your shoulder mobility and core stability with the close-grip bent-knee hanging leg raise. This progression begins to bridge the gap between performing hanging leg raises on two arms versus one arm. You shouldn’t be too challenged from leg raise standpoint so focus on gradually narrowing your grip from session to session until ideally your thumbs are touching.

Perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps or hold the L-position for 60 seconds, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/367

Level 6- Close-Grip Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Close-Grip Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Once you’ve locked-in the overhead positioning with your hands close together, it’s time to straighten your legs to really challenge your entire upper body. You’ll really have to focus on pushing down on the bar with your arms to compress your upper and lower body together. Again, take your time and focus on getting full range-of-motion above all else.

Perform 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps or hold the L-position for 60 seconds, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/368

Level 7- Uneven-Grip Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Uneven-Grip Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

The uneven-grip gets you one step closer to the cornerstone exercise performed on one arm only. The concept here is that the arm holding the bar does the vast majority of the work while the arm holding the towel provides just enough assistance and stability to get the job done. Seek to use less and less assistance from the towel arm over time and be sure to take enough rest between sets since both arms are involved on every set.

Perform 3-5 sets/side of 3-5 reps/side at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds/side at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps/side or hold the L-position for 60 seconds/side, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/369

Level 8- Uneven-Grip Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Uneven-Grip Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Just like before we straighten your legs to make it harder. You’ll instantly see how much more difficult it is to raise your fully extended legs without full contribution from both arms. Pay close attention to tightening up your whole body to fight the rotational forces around you. This will keep you from swaying and spinning all over the place.

Perform 3-5 sets/side of 3-5 reps/side at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds/side at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps/side or hold the L-position for 60 seconds/side, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/370

Level 9- One-Arm Bent-Knee Hanging Leg Raises

Single-Arm Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

There are few things as challenging to the average adult as hanging from one arm at a time. Now couple that with raising your legs and you have what might be one of the most challenging fitness feats in existence. Really pack that shoulder of your hang arm into the socket, get your ribs down, and squeeze your legs together to assume a suspended plank position. If holding onto the bar is the limiting factor, incorporate some one-arm hangs throughout your training week to build up your grip strength.

Perform 3-5 sets/side of 3-5 reps/side at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds/side at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps/side or hold the L-position for 60 seconds/side, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/371

Level 10- One-Arm Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Single-Arm Straight-Leg Hanging Leg Raises

Everything you’ve worked for up until this point has prepared you for this task. It’s going to be really, really hard to get your extended legs parallel to the floor at hip level. It’s going to be even harder to raise them above hip level and towards the bar. Advanced trainees may spend as much as 6-12 months at this level as they try to do on one arm what they could do on two arms in the previous levels. Focus on owning the movement and gradually inching your way up towards the bar without using any momentum. Congrats, you can now do something that 99.9% of the population could only dream of!

Perform 3-5 sets/side of 3-5 reps/side at a slow, controlled tempo with full rest between sets to build strength. You can also perform isometric holds for up to 30-60 seconds/side at a time. Once you can do 10 total reps/side or hold the L-position for 60 seconds/side, progress to the next level.

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/372

Super Hero

Advanced Hanging Leg Raise Exercise Variations

Here are some elite-level hanging leg raise variations to keep your body working and your abs twerking once you’ve mastered all 10 levels of the exercise progression system. Options include:

- Holding a med ball between your legs

- Changing tempo and range of motion

- Moving your legs/knees from side to side

- And much more!

Stream this workout video here: https://www.streamfit.com/video/373

Well, there you go- a tried and proven step-by-step system to take you from ground zero to super hero with the single best abs exercise there is.

As you can imagine, a ton of time and resources went into putting this article together for you. It would be amazing if you could please share this blog post on facebook and twitter to help us spread the word. Thanks in advance for your help!

Get StreamFIT!

BJG

PS- Become a FREE member to StreamFIT.com to access streaming workout videos on web, mobile, and tablet:

http://www.StreamFIT.com

PPS- You can view all of the hanging leg raise exercise videos under our PERFORMANCE category at StreamFIT.com:

https://www.streamfit.com/performance

 

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