Thread: How to properly flex your abs? Am I retarded?

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8 Hanging Knee Raise Alternatives

In a previous article we discussed the hanging knee raise and why it is responsible for abdominal development, gymnastics and bodyweight skills and movement, and enhancing core strength and aesthetics.

In the below article we discuss eight (8) hanging knee raises alternatives for coaches, athletes, and/or clients looking to diversify their fitness training.

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8 Hanging Knee Raises Alternatives

Below is a comprehensive listing of eight (8) alternatives to the hanging knee raise that coaches and athletes can use nearly anywhere, and with any level of athlete. While these are not in exact order from least demanding to most, they do follow somewhat of a linear progression as you go down the list, so be sure choose your hanging knee raise alternative correctly based on the level of your lifter/athlete.

1. Lying Knee Pull In/Raise

This is nearly similar to the hanging knee raise, however since the lifter is lying on their back on the floor, they don’t need to have the upper body strength to support their entire body weight as they hang or showcase body control and awareness (unlike having to hang from a bar). This regression is good for individuals who lack strength in upper body and are looking to isolate the core more in the hanging knee raise variation or simply those who cannot perform such hanging knee raise movements. Lastly, anyone with an overhead injury (such as shoulder issues) could use the lying variation to increase core strength without the need to place the hands overhead in the hanging variation.

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2. Hollow Rock Hold + Tuck

This alternative is a simple progression from the hollow rock hold, which then has the lifter perform a “double crunch”/leg pull in while in the hold position. This alternative is much more demanding than the previous exercise, primarily because the liter/athlete must also control their body in space.

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3. Bicycle Kicks

This can be done lying on the floor, which entails a lifter to elevate their legs and shoulders off the ground and pull one knee into the chest, while the other knee stays extended and off the floor (leg/heel off the floor), then repeatedly alternative legs (like riding a bike). This will increase abdominal, hip flexor, and unilateral core strength and can help to pattern similar movements like the lying leg pull in and ultimately hanging knee raises.

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4. Double Crunch

The double crunch is a basic bodyweight core exercise that entails a lifter to perform a crunch and lying knee pull in together. This is done by laying on the floor, with feet and hands starting fully extended and pulling both inwards toward the chest. This movement has some application and carryover to the hanging knee raise in that it engages similar movements patterns of the lower body and requires some body control and awareness.

5. Lying Leg Raises

Lying leg raises are performed by laying on the floor with the legs fully extended outward. This movement is slightly more challenging than hanging knee pull ins or tucks, as the longer the limbs are aware from the abs, the more stressful the movement is on the abs.

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6. Dragon Flags

Dragon flags are an advanced bodyweight movement, which is a combination between a lying leg raise/lying knee pull in and double crunch. This movement can build core strength and help increase upper body strength as well specific to the hanging knee raise.

7. Strict Toes to Bar

This movement is an advanced progression of the hanging knee raise, often requiring greater upper body strength, core strength, and flexibility. This can be done to progress a lifter towards the toes to bar exercise or simply to progress them from a hanging knee raise towards a more challenging core movement.

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8. Toes to Bar

Toes to bar, especially kipping, requires a great amount of core and grip strength, and total body awareness. Often seen in functional fitness workouts, this movement is an advanced progression of the hanging knee raise and can work many of the same muscle groups.

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More Abdominal and Core Exercises

Take a look below at some of the popular core training articles and ab exercise guide below!

  • How Often Should You Train Abs?
  • Core Workouts for Olympic Weightlifters, Powerlifters, and Fitness Athletes

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The Best 10 Pull-Up Bar Exercises for Abs

“Undoubtedly, the muscle group that regularly tops all of the ‘most wanted’ lists is abs,” writes fitness trainer Ray Klerck in his book Body Trainer for Men. “Even if you couldn’t care less about these lists, a solid set of abs is bound to get you a little more attention.” Klerck then notes that if aesthetics isn’t your goal, think about the other benefits: better posture, better sports performance, better back pain management, etc.

No matter your reasons for wanting a solid set of defined abdominal muscles, there’s no need to go to the gym and use fancy equipment. A simple pull-up bar, like the Pullup & Dip, is all you need to effectively work out your abs.

Try these top 10 best pull-up bar exercises and see the shredded physique and strength you need.

1. Leg Raises

Take the simple knee raise (where you hang from a bar and raise your knees up towards your upper body) and bring it to the next level with hanging leg raises. Because you’re hanging and also using one of your largest muscle groups (i.e. your legs and glutes), this ab exercise is a great way to burn extra calories while incorporating a full body workout. This means you slough off more body fat, helping to reveal your six pack quicker.

Hang from the pull-up bar. Relax so your body and arms form a straight vertical line. Without swinging, raise your legs forward as high as possible without bending your knees. Once you’ve raised them as far as you can go, pause, then lower them back down.

2. Knee Raises

Knee raises are a gentler form of leg raises. Incorporate them into your workout if you don’t yet have the full range of motion required for leg raises, either due to flexibility issues or strength issues. The movement is identical to leg raises. However, instead of keeping your legs straight and raising them upward, you can bend your knees and raise your knees up to your chest.

3. Around the World

Make your abs work for their next around-the-world vacation with the around the world exercise. It’s similar to a leg raise, but incorporates a wide range of motion to work every angle of your abdominal muscles for a well-defined six pack.

Hang from the pull-up bar with your hands spaced apart by the same width as your shoulders. While bracing your core, raise your legs up so your feet are a little higher than the height of the pull-up bar. While maintaining control rotate your legs in a circle in one direction. Pause, then rotate them in the opposite direction.

4. Toes to Bar

If you’ve ever visited a CrossFit box (their term for a gym), you’ll likely see the toes-to-bar workout on the workout of the day (WOD). Jump up and grab the pull-up bar with your hands spaced apart just a little bit wider than your shoulder width. Swing your feet back while tightening your glutes and core, then swing forward with your hips to bring your feet (and toes) up towards the bar.

Wanna perform all different kinds of pull-up bar exercises for your abs, back and arms?

5. The Dragon Flag

This is an ab exercise fit for celebrities. Literally. You might recognize it from the training montage in the fourth Rocky movie, and it was created by Bruce Lee himself.

With the Pullup & Dip bar anchored at a low height near the ground, lie down facing up and grab the bar over your head. Swing your legs up a few off the ground upward and, tightening your abs, raise your torso off the ground or bench. You are now elevated off the ground with your core strength. Slowly lower yourself back down.

6. L-hang

Hang from the pull-up bar, then get into the tuck position (knees raised up towards your chest with legs bent) and open your shoulder blades back and down. Then, initiate the pullup by pulling yourself up towards the bar. Maintain the tuck position with your core tight the entire time. Lower yourself back down, then untuck yourself back into a straight hanging position.

7. L-hang siders

Hang from the portable pull-up bar with your hands placed apart by a shoulder width. Raise your legs up in front of you to form a 90-degree angle at the hips. Without flinching or moving the angle of your hips, rotate your torso from side to side, first moving your legs as far to the left as possible, then as far to the right as possible. Try to limit how much your chest and upper body move.

8. Windshield Wipers

Your obliques are an often neglected part of your six pack, but they help to define and lean-down your torso for a stronger and more impressive V-shaped upper body. While the windshield wiper workout is often done on the ground, do it from the Pullup & Dip bar or our wall mounted pull-up bar for increased resistance due to gravity, which in turn helps you to burn more fat and work your abs harder.

Hang from the pull-up bar, then raise your toes toward the bar to get into a pike position. In this pike position, slowly and with control move your legs back and forth, similar to how a windshield wiper moves across your car’s windshield.

9. Hanging Crunches

This pullup bar ab exercise for abs is exactly what it sounds like: crunches done while hanging from the pull-up bar. Hang vertically in a neutral position, then tighten and bend your core just like you would in a traditional crunch. Bring your legs up and forward, bent at the knee. Pause, then straighten back into a hanging position. Avoid the urge to simply drop your legs. Instead, lower them slowly and with precision. Hanging crunches are one of the toughest pull-up bar exercises for abs!

10. Plank

Install the Pullup & Dip bar in a low dip position so the bar is located about 10cm above the ground. Place your feet on the bar, only letting your toes touch it. Your elbows should be beneath your shoulders and support the upper body. Your forearms should be parallel or run up to each other, hands touching each other. Now engage all the muscles in your body to increase tension by aligning your upper body, hips, abdomen, and lower body and remaining in this position for as long as possible.

Are you looking for a suitable pull-up bar to perform these exercises both indoors & outdoors? We at Pullup & Dip offer you various high quality and unique pull-up bars. Go check them out now!

Do you also want to do more pull-ups?

Then we recommend you our FREE eBook with the top 23 tips for more pull-ups.

Recommended articles:

How to achieve 20 pull-ups in a row – 7 tips

How to train biceps on the pull-up bar – 5 effective exercises

How to do the perfect muscle-up – Top 5 tips

10 HANGING Core Exercises

Last Updated on July 3, 2014

Crunches, planks and sit ups are usually our go to core exercises.

And all of them are core moves done on the ground.

BUT some of the best core moves can actually be done hanging from a pull up bar.

Want to blast those lower abs and work your back and lower body at the same time?

Then you need to try these 10 Hanging Core Exercises!

Most of these moves are more advanced and will require you to engage your lats (which is great if you are working on pull ups!) Beginners will want to start with moves one, two or even six before mixing it up!

1. Hanging Pelvic Tilt – If you do the pelvic tilt for activation, this is a great way to add some variety to the move! Grab a pull up bar with your palms facing away from you. Hang from the bar and bend your knees, bringing your feet back behind you. Then tuck your knees up and forward, drawing your belly button in toward the spine and rounding your low back. You aren’t trying to bring your knees up to your elbows, you are just focusing on tucking your hips forward to engage the abs. Feel the abs contract. Hold for 3-5 seconds then lower down and repeat. This move works those deep intrinsic core stabilizers best if you hold at the top instead of rushing through the move.

2. Hanging Knees To Elbows – This move can be done simply hanging from a bar or with an added pull up if you want to work on your back and pull ups while torturing your abs. To do the Hanging Knees To Elbows, hang from the bar with your palms facing away. Then pull down on the bar and draw your shoulder blades down and back as you tuck your knees up toward your elbows. You should really feel your lats engage as you bring your knees up toward your elbows. Then slowly lower your legs back down. Beginners may not be able to raise their knees all the way up to their elbows and that is ok to start. Just focus on engaging the lats!

If you want to add in the pull up, you will pull up to the top with your chin above the bar then tuck your knees in toward your elbows. After you tuck, straighten your legs and return to the bottom of the pull up. The more you pull up and then tuck, instead of tucking as you pull up, the harder the move will be!

3. Hanging Knee Circles – This is a great hanging core move to work the obliques. Hang from a pull up bar with your palms facing away. With your legs together, bring your knees up to the right then across the front and down to the left. Once you lower down on the left, bring them back up to the left and across the front then down to the right. Bring your knees as high up and across as you can, making as big a circle as possible. If you are using a doorway pull up bar, you will be limited in how big your circle can be.

This move is also a great one to add a pull up into. Pull up as you bring your knees up and around then lower down. Next time you pull up, bring your knees up and across the other way!

4. Hanging Knee Tuck to Kick Out – If you want to work toward an L-sit or the double leg raises, this move is a great place to start. Hang from the bar with both palms facing away. Then tuck both knees up to about hip height. When your quads are parallel to the ground, straighten your knees. Lift your legs out in front of you then bend your knees again before returning to the starting position. Don’t kick out quickly or go straight down from the legs out position. Kick the legs out then bring them back in before lowering back down.

5. Hanging Knee Tuck to Twist – Another great obliques exercise. For this move, while hanging, tuck the knees up toward the chest. With your knees up by your chest, twist them to the right. Then lower back down. Raise them back up center, then drop/twist your knees to the left. Lower back down and repeat on the right side. You can also vary this move up by bringing your knees up center then twisting right, center, left, center then lowering back down. However, it will be more challenging to keep your knees tucked the entire time.

This is another great move to add in a little extra lat and back work by adding in the pull up. Pull up to the top then tuck your knees up and drop them to the right. Lower down. Then pull up and tuck your knees up and to the left!

6. Hanging Bicycles – You can do a few different variations of hanging bicycles. You can pedal with your legs straight down, out in front of you or in reverse from either position. These may actually be easier to start with for many people since they don’t have to tuck both knees at the same time.

To do the hanging bicycles, hang from the bar with your palms facing away. Both legs should hang straight under you. Tuck one knee up toward your chest then alternate bringing the other one up. Keep alternating knee tucks.

If you want to make the move harder, pedal your feet with them raised at an angle in front of you instead of straight down. Even with your legs slightly raised in front of you, keep one leg straight while the other is bent then switch. You can also add in a pull up or chin up as you perform the bicycle “pedaling” motion.

7. Hanging Scissors – These are basically a straight leg variation of the bicycle and a great regression for the double straight leg lift. To do these, hang with your legs down straight. Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes as you raise one leg straight out in front of you. Then switch, lowering one leg and raising the other. Try to bring the leg up so that it is parallel to the ground. Move slowly and even hold with the leg raised for a second to make the move harder.

8. Hanging Double Straight Leg Lift – Exercises 9 and 10 on this list are probably the most advanced if you haven’t added in the pull ups to the others. And this move, move number 8, is a great way to work up to them.

To do the Hanging Double Straight Leg Lift, hang from the bar with your legs hanging straight down together. Then, with your legs together, lift them straight out in front of you. Do not let your knees bend as you lift. If you can’t lift them up to parallel to the ground, regress the move to the scissors or knee tuck to kick out. Move slowly so that you aren’t using momentum. Make sure to engage your lats as you lift your legs straight out in front of you.

You can make this move even harder by lifting your legs straight out in front, performing a pull up and then lowering your legs down.

9. Hanging Toes to Bar – The second hardest move on this list if you aren’t adding in the pull ups. A great full body exercise that really smokes the core. With this move you will raise your straight legs all the way up so that your toes touch the bar.

To start, hang from the bar with your legs straight and together. Then engage your lats and pull as you raise your straight legs up toward the bar. Raise them all the way up so your feet touch the bar. Then slowly lower down.

10. Hanging Wipers – This move is just plain old mean. It works your entire body and really tortures your obliques….actually it tortures everything!

To do the Hanging Wipers, you will hang with your legs straight down. Then like the Toes to Bar, you will raise your legs straight up. Once your legs are straight up, you will let them fall to one side. Then you will bring them back center and let them fall to the other side. Keep your legs straight the entire time and your toes close to the bar. Do not let your legs fall backward toward the ground.

If it is too hard to perform a wiper each way, lower down in between. OR if you want to make it harder, simply go back and forth in a controlled manner and don’t lower down until all reps are complete!

There are 10 Hanging Core Exercises that are great if you are looking to develop killer core strength and even improve your pull up!

What are your favorite hanging core moves!?

Hanging leg raises are an advanced core exercise that not only molds rock-hard abs, but also improves your upper-body strength and endurance.

So what exactly makes hanging raises so much more challenging than lying leg raises? For one, you need a baseline of upper-body strength to hang from the bar comfortably for an extended period of time. So while you are working you abs, you’re also challenging your grip, arms, and shoulders.

With your upper body locked on the bar, your abs and hip flexors are isolated and have to do the lion’s share of work against gravity to raise your legs. Your raises should be controlled, ensuring that all the work is coming from your core. It’s tempting to let your body swing like a pendulum, but using momentum defeats the purpose of this exercise, which is having a core and back strong enough to control both the ascent and the descent.

You also need superior flexibility and mobility to raise your legs past parallel to the floor. When your upper-body is not locked onto the bar, it’s a lot easier to compensate for inadequate flexibility. But attempting a toes-to-bar will quickly show you how flexible you truly are.

Geren Liles, Master Trainer at Equinox Fitness Clubs, shows you nine different ways to mix up your hanging ab raises for max results in the video above, but if you want step-by-step- instructions on how to perform the perfect hanging raise, check out this guide.

(For more workouts that will get you a shredded six-pack in no time, check out Anarchy Abs from Men’s Health.)

Your glutes do more than just round out the back of your pants. They’re the strongest muscles in your body, and the main engine behind lifting huge amounts of weight on the squat and deadlift. Your butt helps you run faster and jump higher, too, so when this workout, designed by Michael Schletter, C.P.T., brings up your backside, remember that it’s not just for the ladies (though she’ll definitely appreciate it).

How it works

We’ve added a little hamstring workout into the glutes training to strengthen both muscle groups, because they work in conjunction to extend your hips, but this will also sharpen the distinction between the two where they meet on the back of the leg.

Specifically, you’ll fatigue your hams with hip thrusts on the ball, then finish them off with hamstring curls—your glutes will be firing as well to stabilize you. The butterfly hip thrust provides another challenge. This one targets the gluteus medius, which is commonly underdeveloped and can lead to instability and weakness in the entire lower body.


Perform the paired exercises (marked “A” and “B”) as supersets. So you’ll do one set of A, and then B before resting. Complete all the prescribed sets for the pair before moving on.

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Struggling to fit strength work into your plan? Do this quick and easy circuit, which uses only an exercise ball.

Rear Foot Elevated Lunge

Stand on your right foot with your left leg extended behind you and the top of your left foot resting on the ball. Bend your right knee until your right thigh is parallel to the floor, keeping your torso upright and your weight on your heel. Now press your heel into the floor and return to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions and then repeat the exercise with your left leg.

Reverse Crunch

Begin in a prone position with the tops of your feet resting on the ball, your palms on the floor at shoulder width and your body forming a straight line. Now contract your stomach muscles, bend your knees and roll the ball toward your chest. Pause briefly and roll the ball back until your body forms a straight line again. Complete 12 repetitions.

Ball Pushup

Assume a modified pushup position with your feet together, your body forming a perfectly straight line and your palms positioned slightly more than shoulder-width apart on the ball. Bend your elbows and smoothly lower your chest to within an inch of the ball. Immediately press back upward to the start position. If you have difficulty doing a full pushup, do a half pushup, bending your elbows only to 90 degrees before pressing upward.

Hamstring Curl

Start in a bridge position, faceup, with your head and shoulders on the floor and your heels resting on top of the ball, your body suspended in a straight line between these points. Contract your hamstrings and roll the ball toward your rear end. Pause briefly and extend your legs, rolling the ball back to the starting point. Don’t let your hips drop. Complete 12 repetitions. If this exercise is too easy, do a single-leg version, elevating one foot above the ball and pulling the ball toward your butt with the other leg.

Abdominal Rollout

Kneel on the floor facing the ball, lean forward slightly and place your forearms on top of the ball. Pull your belly button toward your spine. Slowly roll the ball forward by extending your forearms out in front of you and allowing your body to tilt toward the floor. Concentrate on maintaining perfect alignment of your spine. Stop just before you’re forced to arch your back. Hold this position for a two-count and then return to the start position, exhaling as you do so. Complete 12 repetitions.

Ball Walk Out

Lie facedown on the ball with your palms on the floor. Begin with the ball supporting your pelvic area. Now use your hands to drag your body forward over the ball until it is underneath the tops of your feet, keeping your body in a straight line. Pause briefly and roll back to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions.

Elevated Pushup

Assume a modified pushup position with your palms on the floor, the tops of your feet resting on the ball and your body in a perfectly straight line between them. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the floor. Go as far as you can without strain; it’s okay if it isn’t very far. Now press back to the start position. Complete 10 repetitions.

Bridge Heel Raise

Lie faceup with your upper back supported by the ball, your feet flat on the floor about 12 inches apart, your knees bent and your body forming a “tabletop” from knees to chest. Contract your calf muscles and raise your heels off the floor without allowing your hips to sag. Now lower your heels back to the floor. Complete 12 repetitions. If this exercise is too easy, do a single-leg version, first crossing your left ankle over your right knee and then doing the reverse.

Lat Pull

Get into a plank position with your palms on the floor underneath your chest and the ball supporting your shins. Keeping your arms straight, press the heels of your palms into the floor and push your body backward so that the ball rolls up under your thighs. Go as far as you can and then pull your body in the opposite direction until you’re back in the start position. Complete 12 repetitions. If this exercise is too easy, start with the ball under the tops of your feet.

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Best way to flex ABS

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