- Target muscles: Iliopsoas
- Synergists: Tensor Fasciae Latae, Sartorius, Pectineus, Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis
- Stabilizers (not highlighted; see comments): Rectus Abdominis, Obliques
- Dynamic stabilizer: Rectus Femoris
- Mechanics: Isolation
- Force: Pull
- Hang from a bar using a shoulder-width pronated (overhand) grip.
- Straighten your lower back so that there is as little of an arch in your lower back as possible.
- Keeping your body still, lower back straight and legs together, exhale as you slowly raise your knees by flexing your hips.
- Hold for a count of two.
- Inhale as you slowly lower your knees to the starting position by extending your hips.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions.
Comments and tips
- Keeping your lower back straight is important because the muscles of the iliopsoas pull on your lower back, forcing it to arch. If you perform the hanging leg raise with your lower back arched, the extent of the arch will be exaggerated by the pull of the iliopsoas, increasing the risk of lower back problems.
- To support your lower back, instead of hanging from a bar, use a captain’s chair, which usually has lower-back padding.
- Keep the movement slow and under full control. Do not use momentum to raise your knees, and do not allow your legs to drop after raising them.
- To make this exercise more difficult, you can either straighten your knees or hold a dumbbell between your feet.
- If you find gripping on to the bar difficult, use a wrist/hook strap.
- As there is no flexion of the waist/abdomen, the rectus abdominis and obliques only act as stabilizers, which is why they are not highlighted in the illustration. This means that they are exercised isometrically instead of dynamically. If you want them to be exercised dynamically, flex your hips and your abdomen. This is known as the hanging leg and hip raise.
- Try also the seated leg raise.
Hanging leg raise video
Although technically not hanging by his hands, the guy demonstrating the hanging leg raise in this video displays decent form, keeping his lower back straight and body still.