Incorporating a pull-up bar adds a new dimension to your ab routine. Hanging from the bar challenges your abs from a different angle, while placing a bigger demand on your hands, shoulders and lats.
The standard pull-up bar move that affects the abdominal muscles is the hanging leg raise. Once you master this exercise, progress to more difficult efforts that might just turn heads as you work out at the gym.
1. Hanging Leg Raises
Master this basic move before attempting variations.
HOW TO DO IT: Wrap your hands around the bar, positioning them slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart, and let your legs dangle to the floor.
Bend your knees and crunch them up toward your chest. Release your legs to a dangle to complete one repetition. Once 15 repetitions becomes doable, move on.
Avoid swinging. Keep your body as still as possible when raising and lowering your legs.
To train your obliques at the sides of your torso, pull your knees up to alternating shoulders.
2. Hanging Straight Leg Raises
Doing hanging leg raises with straight legs puts more pressure on the discs of the spine. Therefore, if you have back issues, stick to bent knees.
HOW TO DO IT: Dead hang from the pull-up bar, with your hands about shoulder-width apart. Keep your legs together as you raise them up parallel to the floor. Pause for a count. Return your legs to hanging. Complete between eight and 12 repetitions.
3. Hanging Pike Raises
Take the straight leg raise up a notch by lifting your legs beyond parallel to the floor.
HOW TO DO IT: Hang from a pull-up bar and let your legs extend toward the floor. Lift your legs up past parallel position so your toes touch the bar. Keep your legs together and straight as they move.
Return to a dead hang to complete one repetition. Work your way up to 12 repetitions.
Make this move even harder: When your feet are up at the bar, push your legs up so your thighs make contact with the bar.
4. Windshield Wipers
Train your obliques with gusto by using this move. Use control as you lift and sweep your legs to make sure it's your abs doing the work, rather than momentum.
HOW TO DO IT: Hang from the pull-up bar, hands shoulder-width apart. Pull your belly in toward your spine to brace your abs. Keep your legs together as you lift your them up so that your feet are higher than the bar.
Lower your legs to the right, while keeping them together. Stop when they are parallel to the floor. Draw the legs back to center, feet higher than the bar, and lower to the left. Continue to sweep them side to side for three to five repetitions.
5. Around the World
This move is a veritable beast. Only attempt it once you've managed to master the previous exercises.
HOW TO DO IT: Hang from a pull-up bar, hands shoulder-distance apart. Keep your legs together as you draw them up so that your feet are slightly higher than the bar.
Rotate your legs in a controlled circle — out to the side, to a dead hang, to the other side and back up to the bar. Work up to five rotations in one direction, then switch to do five in the other.
If the bar is especially slippery, or your grip strength needs a little work, use ab straps to hang from the bar. You hook the straps around the bar and place your upper arms in to brace your dangling body as you do any of the exercises listed above.