Are Hanging Leg Raises Enough For Abs?

leg raises hanging
July 12, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “are hanging leg raises enough for abs?”. Hanging leg raises are a common movement for working the abs through a full range of motion.

They are a staple exercise in my routine and one that I feel many people could benefit from doing. Are they enough for abs? This is what I will be exploring in this article.

Are Hanging Leg Raises Enough To Get Strong Abs?

You can get strong abs with hanging leg raises if you execute the movement properly and aim for progression, by going for more reps.

If you perform the movement with good form and add reps as time goes on, your abs will become stronger. You can also progress on the movement by doing reps in a tempo fashion.

This will make the exercise harder and will put more tension on the abs. To add weight to the movement you can use ankle weights. There is enough progression that can be built into the movement to get your abs stronger.

Having said this it is also good to incorporate at least one other ab specific isolation exercise into your routine. I like the decline sit up but it is a personal choice. Heavy squats and deadlifts will also be helpful in strengthening the abs.
leg raises hanging

Good For The Rectus Abdominis

Hanging leg raises work the rectus abdominis as well as targeting the hip flexors to a degree. What I like about the hanging leg raise is that it works the abs through a full range of motion.

They are really easy and fast to setup, you can easily add them into every workout that you do in the gym. The problem is that some people butcher the movement.

They will use too much momentum and swinging in the bottom position. This takes tension off the abs, instead it is better to be more deliberate and controlled with your repetitions.

You will put more tension on the abs in this way. You can do leg raises hanging from a pull up bar or with your elbows propped up on a Roman chair. By hanging from the bar you will add a gripping component to the exercise and get a better stretch.

Progression Is Well Built Into The Exercise

One of the great things about the hanging leg raise is that progression can be built into the exercise well.

You should start by executing the exercise with the correct mechanics. It is better to perform the hanging leg raise with control to ensure that you keep good tension on the abdominal muscles.

You can aim for more reps as time goes on. As you get stronger you can use ankle weights and progress from there. Keep the reps fairly high and do the movement consistently every week.

Hanging Leg Raises Are Not Sufficient

Whilst hanging leg raises are a great way of isolating the abs, they are not sufficient in building strong abs.

For this you need to use heavier compound movements that require you to stabilise the weight. A good example is the squat or deadlift. Beltless farmers walks are also an incredible exercise for strengthening the core muscles.

Previously I have discussed whether beltless squats will make your abs stronger.

Decline sit ups are another one of my favourite ab isolation exercises. The benefit that decline sit ups have over leg raises is the loading component. You can use a lot more added weight on the decline sit up.

The decline sit up also allows you to work your abs through a full range of motion. It targets similar muscles to the hanging leg raise. But you will find that your upper abs are worked more.

Therefore, doing decline sit ups and hanging leg raises for isolation work gives you the best of both worlds. Leg raises target the lower abs to a higher degree and the opposite is true of decline sit ups.

Solid Strength Training Program

As I have already alluded to before, squats and deadlifts will help you to build stronger abs.

If you want to get your abs as strong as possible then you really need to incorporate strength training principles. Very heavy farmers walks, squats and deadlifts will force your abs to get stronger over time to stabilise the loads.

If you are lucky enough to have access to some strongman equipment, a yoke will be an amazing tool for building stronger abs. Doing heavy yoke walks beltless will tax the core to a very high degree.

On this site I have talked about concurrent periodisation. This is a great way of building strength. Having a max effort and more dynamic effort training on separate days and progressing on each individually will give you some impressive strength gains over time.

Training full body compound movements that work the most muscle mass will help to get your core stronger. Your core has to work hard when lifting heavy weights. Over time as you get stronger, all the other stabiliser muscles will get stronger too.

The key as always is consistency and paying attention to the fundamentals. You have to ensure that you train with good technique. Never sacrifice your technique for the sake of lifting more weight.

Keeping a workout log and logging each session with comments about how the weights felt, will help you to keep track of your progress. 

kk deadlift

Alex Leonidas’s Views On The Hanging Leg Raise

I have mentioned Alex a lot on my site, many times I agree with his views. Other times we have slightly different views.

When it comes to the hanging leg raise, we are both aware of the fact that many people use too much momentum.

When you use too much momentum on this exercise you will not be getting enough tension on the abs. The focus should be on performing quality reps with the correct form.

Alex also brings up some harder variations of the hanging leg raise like the c raise. This is for more advanced lifters. It involves bring your knees up as you would with a normal leg raise, then kicking your feet out from this position.

This is harder than a standard leg raise but will provide an additional challenge. One of the big benefits of the leg raise is the variations and progressions that are built into the movement.

Final Thoughts

Are hanging leg raises enough for abs? The answer is they can be in terms of isolation exercises. This is due to the variety and built in progression possible with the hanging leg raise.

However, in my view they are best complimented with an isolation exercise like the decline sit up. The decline sit up will work the upper abs harder, leg raises work the lower abs harder. In this way you get the best of both worlds.

It is important not to forget to train your abs indirectly through using heavy compound exercises and aiming for progression with strength training principles. 

The key with all this is consistency and mastering the fundamentals. Proper exercise mechanics really are critical for making the right progress.

>> Are Decline Sit Ups Better Than Cable Crunches?

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