The 6 Hardest Hanging Ab Exercises That Will Put Your Core Strength to the Test

Take your core workout to the next level with these hanging ab exercises.
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You can only do so many leg lifts and planks before your abs are ready for a new challenge. Adding a pull-up bar into the mix is one surefire way to bring some more burn to your core workout.


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If you want to build core strength, these six hanging ab exercises, courtesy of Henry Halse, NY-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, and Jereme Schumacher, physical therapist at Bespoke treatments in San Diego, definitely deserve a spot in your routine.

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1. Hanging Knee Tuck

  1. Begin hanging from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Keeping your body stable, bend your knees and lift them until your legs are at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Take deep breaths and hold your knees up as long as possible.
  4. Lower your legs with control and avoid letting them just drop with the force of gravity.


Time:​ as long as possible with good form

2. Knee Circle

  1. Hang from your pull-up bar with an overhand grip and palms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees and lift them up so your legs form a 90-degree angle.
  3. Draw a big circle with your knees in the air.
  4. Keep drawing about five big circles, keeping your torso as stable as possible.
  5. Lower your legs with control for a moment.
  6. Repeat, drawing circles in the opposite direction.


Reps:​ 5 circles in each direction

3. Toes-to-Bar

  1. Hang from a bar with palms in an overhand grip shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your knees slowly and lean your torso back.
  3. Bring your legs up until your toes touch the bar.
  4. Lower back to the starting position with control.


Reps:​ 10


Try your best to avoid swinging with this exercise. Instead, lift and lower your legs only as high as you can control.

4. Hanging Bicycle

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, palms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Lift your knees up to a 90-degree angle, holding your torso steady.
  3. Slowly pedal your feet in small circles, as if you're pedaling a bike.
  4. Continue this motion for about 20 to 30 seconds, then reverse the motion.

Time:​ 20 to 30 seconds in each direction

5. Medicine Ball Leg Raise

  1. Hold a light medicine ball or dumbbell between your feet.
  2. Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, palms shoulder-width apart.
  3. Squeeze the ball or weight and lift your legs straight up as high as you can, keeping your knees straight.
  4. Keep your abdominal muscles contracted as you lower the weight slowly and with control.

Reps:​ 10


For this exercise, stick with a ball or weight that's between 2 to 3 pounds, Halse says. If you want an extra challenge, you can hold the weight elevated at the top of the exercise and lower for a 3-second count.

6. Hanging L-Hold

  1. Hang from the bar with an overhand grip, palms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Contract your abs and raise your legs with straight knees until they're parallel to the ground.
  3. Hold here for 20 seconds.
  4. Lower your legs with control and repeat.


To limit the amount of swing in your body, engage your lats by bringing your shoulders back and down away from your ears, Schumacher says.