The hanging leg raise is a highly effective abdominal exercise that targets the rectus abdominis. To perform this move, you must have a horizontal bar from which to hang — a chinup bar, free-standing exercise station or a beam in your home. If you do not have access to a high horizontal bar in your home or gym, or find this exercise too difficult, there are several alternative exercises you may do that will also target the rectus abdominis.
Tone With the Incline Raise
Lie on your back on an incline board with your body positioned so your head is at the top of the board. Grab the sides of the board by your head for stability. Flex your hips and knees, and raise your legs until your hips are fully flexed. Bring your knees up toward your shoulders by flexing your waist. This will raise your hips up off the board. Slowly return to the starting position. Do two sets of 15 to 25 reps.
Get Definition With the Jack-Knife Sit-Up
Lie on your back on your exercise mat or the floor. Keep your hands by your sides. Bring your knees in and raise your upper body simultaneously so that your knees come in to your chest. Return to your starting position to complete one rep. Do two sets of 15 to 25 reps.
Get Ripped With the Reverse Crunch
Lie on your back on the floor or mat. Put your hands out flat to your sides or beside your head. Cross your feet at the ankles, lift your feet up and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. Press your lower back into the floor and contract your abdominal muscles. This will cause your hips to rotate slightly and lift your buttocks up off the floor. Do two sets of 15 to 25 reps.
Add Oblique Definition With the Bicycle Maneuver
According to the American Council on Exercise, the most effective abdominal exercise you can perform is the bicycle maneuver. To do this, lie on your back on your mat or the floor. Press your lower back into the ground and put your hands beside your head. Bring your knees up to a 45-degree angle and slowly perform a pedaling motion: Bring your right knee in toward your chest and lift your left elbow up to touch it. Return your right knee back to the 45-degree angle and repeat with your left leg and right elbow to complete one rep. Do two sets of 15 to 25 reps.