The hanging leg raise is one of the most intense ab exercises that you can crank out at the gym to tone your abs. The only problem is that they call for a pull-up bar, so you probably won’t be able to do them anywhere but at the gym.
So, we’re going to go over some of the best hanging leg raise alternatives that’ll hit your lower abs without needing a pull-up bar.
Table of Contents
1. Lying Leg-hip Raise
The lying leg-hip raise is the best alternative to the hanging leg raise because it works on the same exact movement. The only difference is that you’ll be lying flat on the floor, not hanging from a pull-up bar.
To keep better form, you might want to use a bench and hold onto the sides to keep you balanced. But, you can also grip a weight between your feet to add a little resistance too.
- Begin by lying flat on the floor with your toes pointed and your hands planted at your side.
- Curl your knees toward your gut and use your ab strength (not momentum) to continue the movement and bring your lower back off the floor.
- Lower your lower back to the floor and straighten your legs to your starting position.
2. Jack-knife Sit-up
The hanging leg raise is great for the lower abs, but exercises like the jack-knife sit-up let you hit all areas of your abs at once. That’s because you’re curling the body from both directions (from below and above).
Since this exercise can be a little tough on the tailbone, the only real equipment you need is some type of mat or cushion below your spine.
- Begin by lying flat on the floor with your arms resting at your side.
- Curl your knees inward toward your stomach and bring your upper body up like you would with a sit-up or crunch.
- Slowly lower the legs and upper body back down to the floor.
When the jack-knife sit-up just isn’t working your abs hard enough, the V-up is the next best thing. That’s because this exercise requires impeccable form, forcing you to keep your legs and arms both entirely straight.
Like the jack-knife sit-up, you might want to use a mat beneath your back to keep from irritating your tailbone and lower back. We like this extra thick mat by HemingWeigh.
- Lie flat on the floor with your legs together and pointed and your arms extended above your head.
- While keeping your legs as straight as possible, bring your legs up so that they’re perpendicular to the floor.
- At the same time, bring your upper body up and touch your toes (almost as if you’re folding your body).
- Lower both your legs and your arms back to the floor.
4. Incline Leg-hip Raise
So your gym or house doesn’t have a pull-up bar, but you’re much more likely to have access to an incline board anyway. That’s how you can do the incline leg-hip raise, which is nearly the same exact thing as the hanging leg raise, but just at an angle.
This is also a great starter exercise if you’re finding the regular hanging leg raise to be too difficult. And, all you need is an incline board and maybe a weight to grip between your feet if you want to add some resistance.
- Lie flat on your back on the incline board and grasp the grips with your hands.
- Like the lying leg-hip raise, curl your knees inward toward your stomach so that your lower back is also lifted off the board.
- Slowly roll the legs back down to the starting position.
5. Vertical Leg-hip Raise
It can be tough on the upper body hanging from a pull-up bar as you crank out hanging leg raises. Your hands and arms might even begin to go numb if you’re going for endurance.
The vertical leg-hip raise can add some support to your upper body when doing leg-hip raises. Plus, all you need are padded parallel bars or a “Captain’s Chair.”
- Use the side “step” supports to get up into the equipment.
- Rest your back on the back pad, plant your forearms on the arm pads, and grip the handlebars.
- Use your ab strength to bring your knees upward toward your chest and then lower them to your starting position.
6. Mountain Climber
Who says you can’t combine ab workouts with a little endurance exercise? Mountain climbers are incredible for hitting the abs and helping you to work up a sweat.
All you need is your own body weight and a timer (if you’re looking to do mountain climbers for a specific amount of time).
- Plant your hands about shoulder-width apart on the floor and get into a normal “push-up” starting position.
- Using a jumping motion, bring one leg inward and plant it closer to your body.
- Use another jumping movement to switch leg positions (jump the inner leg back out and jump the outer leg in).
Planks are the best exercises when it comes to building endurance in the ab muscles. The only reason it’s last on this list is that it doesn’t involve reps, meaning it’s much more effective at building endurance than strength.
What’s even better is that you can do modified planks on your knees to make them easier or add some additional weight to your back and make them harder. Grab your stopwatch and get that timer going.
- Plant your elbows on the floor right below your shoulders and rest your forearms on the floor in front of them.
- Plant your toes on the floor and keep your entire body completely straight.
- Hold this position for a set period of time.
Hanging Leg Raise Alternatives Conclusion
Just because you don’t have access to a pull-up bar doesn’t mean that you have to cut lower ab exercises out of your workout altogether. The exercises we just reviewed can help you to nicely sculpt the lower abs and are even a little easier for beginners!
And if you’re looking for more exercises to work your abs without having a gym, check out the Best Abs Workout with Kettlebells (9 Killer Exercises).