Seated Hanging Leg Raises
- A new approach to an old favorite.
By Nick Nilsson
The hanging leg raise is an
excellent abdominal exercise. This variation is not only
easier on your lower back but helps to remove the hip
flexors from the movement, all the while increasing the
contraction on the abs.
This exercise targets the abdominal muscles with an
extremely intense contraction. The range of motion of the
exercise is short but the tension on the abs is excellent.
|For this exercise,
you will need a bench or chair (a bench will work better)
and a bar with adjustable height. This can be a regular
Olympic bar on a power rack, a Smith Machine bar, or any
other set-up you can think of.
Put a bench inside the rack. Set a bar on the racks at
about forehead level when you're sitting on the bench. Sit
on the bench and grasp it with an underhand grip. Your
legs should be slightly bent with your butt and feet on
Pull your butt
off the bench and raise your knees up into your chest. Hold
your breath while doing this short movement to help
stabilize the abs and improve the contraction.
The movement itself looks like the top bit of a hanging leg
raise. Squeeze hard at the top then lower your legs and set
yourself back down on the bench. Release all tension on the
abs as you exhale then do another rep.
This exercise results in a very hard contraction in the abs
for several reasons:
First, the position of the legs at the start of the rep is
already near the maximum contracted position of the abs.
Second, your abs start the movement in a mechanical
disadvantage because they are already shortened. This means
they must work harder in order to achieve the contraction.
Third, releasing all the tension on the abs between reps
means you dissipate all the elastic tension that the muscle
normally builds up in a regular movement.
Put these three points together and you can see that the abs
have to start from scratch at a mechanical disadvantage near
their peak contracted position. The results: major burn!
Another advantage this exercise has over regular hanging leg
raises is that it primarily targets the abs. Normally, when
you do hanging leg raises, the first part of the movement
involves a lot of hip flexor action. This variation starts
the movement with the hip flexors already almost fully
contracted. The tension in this position goes primarily to
Even better, this version greatly reduces stress on the
lower back by eliminating the first part of the movement.
Generally, pain in that area occurs due to the torque on the
lower back as you raise your legs from hanging directly down
to bringing them up about halfway. Skip that range of motion
and you skip the pain.
If you are looking for an exercise to really bring out the
washboard in your abs, give this one a try. I would
recommend also doing a set or two of
Small Ball Crunches to hit the stretched and
middle ranges of motion of the abs. The Seated Hanging Leg
Raise is perfect for finishing the abs off.
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About Nick Nilsson
Nick Nilsson is Vice-President of the online personal training company BetterU, Inc. He has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been inventing new training techniques
for more than 16 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding eBooks including “Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss,” “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of,” “Gluteus to the Maximus - Build a Bigger Butt NOW!” and “The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of” all available at: www.fitstep.com
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