The hanging leg raise is a GREAT lower abdominal exercise. But it does have a few disadvantages – the most prominent is that it can put a fair bit of pressure on the lower back at the bottom of the rep.
This variation of the leg raise is one I came up with for increasing explosiveness in the abs and hip flexors but also serves to overcome the issue of tension in the lower back – you basically blow past that point in the range of motion!
Here’s the exercise – you grip a chin-up bar – it has to be of a height where you can have your feet on the ground while gripping the bar (or you can set the bar in a Smith machine to a height where you can reach it with your feet on the ground).
The reason for this is that you’re going to “take a run” at the leg raise exercise.
So first, grip the bar like you normally would for the exercise (a little outside shoulder-width apart). Take a step back from being directly under the bar.
Now take a quick step forward and LAUNCH your legs up into the air using explosive power in your core and hip flexors.
This is a powerful movement – you want to explode up HARD.
Use momentum to launch yourself as high you can go, tucking your knees in towards your chest as you come up.
Now swing yourself back down then launch yourself back up leading with the OTHER leg this time.
Keep going until you can’t get your legs all the way up anymore. Then you’re done – this trains the VERY high-power explosive muscle fibers of the core.
You’re not going for tension (like you normally do with ab exercises). You’re going for POWER, which is a whole different animal. End the set when you can’t get your legs past the halfway point.
You’ll see in the demo video how I fade out towards the end then end the set.
This one is great for training for explosive core power (also increasing leg speed by training the high-speed muscle fibers in the hip flexors).