How To Do Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises are a great core exercise that work almost all of the muscles in your body.

Naturally this makes hanging leg raises pretty difficult.


Hanging Leg Raises More Than Lifting Calisthenics Foundation Course Image


This exercise will help you build up so much strength in your core that you absolutely must be doing it, no excuses.


Hanging leg raises work:


  •         Wrists and grip strength
  •         Scapula and rotator cuff strength
  •         Shoulders and Deltoid muscles
  •         Trunk muscles, core back and obliques
  •         Hip flexors and quads
  •         Anything else you fancy squeezing at the time


The main focus of this exercise is your core.


How to Start Hanging Leg Raises


Step One – Leg Raise Progressions


Because hanging leg raises are hard, you will probably need to progress up to the full leg raise. Almost everyone will need to do this so don’t be hard on yourself for having to.


Exercise 1 – Tuck Raises to 90


More Than Lifting Hanging Leg Raise Tuck 

Tuck hanging leg raises are Step 1


The first exercise is tuck raises to 90. Simply hang from a bar, activate your scapula, and pull your legs up to 90 by activating your core.


Do this for reps.


Focus on minimising the swing to make sure you are really working your muscles and not kipping.


Exercise 2 – Straight Leg Raises to 90


The next exercise is the same but with straight legs. Again, keep your scapula activated the whole time, so you aren’t at a full dead hang and remember to keep your arms straight.


This variation will cause you to swing a lot more than the tuck variation, so really work on keeping still, do your reps slow and controlled.


Step Two – Isometric Progressions


Pretty soon you will be able to get up to the 90 quite easily, it is now time to tackle Isometric holds.


More Than Lifting Hanging Leg Raise L Sit Isometrics 

Hanging L Sit is an isometric exercise that will build stability and develop your breathing technique


Exercise 3 – Tuck Isometrics


For the tuck isometric, in the hanging position, activate your scapula and raise your knees to 90 and hold. Remember to breathe when you are doing isometric exercises, this is the only way you will be able to hold it for an extended period of time.


Exercise 4 – Straight Leg Isometrics


The straight leg variation is the same as the tuck version, but with straight legs.


When you are doing this make sure you have stretched your quads, the amount of time I have got cramp doing this is stupid, having to drop off the bar because you haven’t stretched properly is a pain in the arse.


Step 3 – Full Leg Raises


The next step is to get right up to the bar. Tap it, and return to the hanging position, this is a full leg raise. Full leg raises will work your grip and rotator cuffs a lot, so be prepared to get achy.

You will only be able to pull your legs up so high with your core, about head height I find, so you will need your shoulders to do the rest.


This is one of the reasons why activating your shoulders is so important. You aren’t going to get your feet up to the bar unless you are levering with your shoulders.



More Than Lifting Hanging Leg Raise Tuck Toe Tap 

When doing tuck leg raises get as high as possible, ideally tapping the bar with your toes


Exercise 5 – Tuck Raises


Tuck raises are like the tuck to 90’s, only you are going all the way up. This takes a lot of shoulder strength, but is much easier than the straight leg variation so start with this variation to build up the rotator cuff muscles before tackling the full leg raise. Aim to tap the bar with your toes, this will put you further up than a full leg raise, but it will help you progress to other exercises like the tuck lever and inverted hangs, so it is well worth doing.


Again, minimise swing, and keep your scapula activated so your shoulders are squared off, not rubbing your ears.


Exercise 6 – Full Hanging Leg Raises


The final step is getting the full hanging leg raise down. This is the same as the tuck variation above, but your legs are straight.


This should be one fluid movement up to the bar, make sure you are keeping it controlled so you aren’t swinging in or out of it, this will slow your development and waste your training time.


More Than Lifting Full Hanging Leg Raise 

Full hanging leg raise, legs straight tap the bar with your toes


Keep The Scapula Engaged


As I have already mentioned, it is important to activate your scapula for this exercise. You need to be using your shoulders; and keeping them activate has the added bonus of working your back solid too.


If you struggle with levering from your shoulders, work on your scapula pulls. When you are doing your scapula pulls, practice levering your back up to increase your range of motion and develop the strength and coordination to do it with the leg raise.


More Than Lifting Hanging Leg Raise Engaged Scapula 

Always engage your scapula when doing hanging leg raises or you wont get to the bar and risk injury


Using This Exercise


This is one of the 5 Foundation Exercises which means you need to be doing them to build that solid foundation to progress onto the other extreme exercises like the back lever.


Work on these leg raises and you will develop a solid core and lower back, get it done.


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