The hanging leg lift, an advanced abdominal exercise, targets several core muscles, including the hip flexors and rectus abdominis, the main ab muscle. Although you typically perform leg lifts on a pullup bar, don't let a lack of equipment stop you from reaping the benefits of this body-weight exercise. A little imagination and a sense of adventure are all you need to do the hanging leg lift exercise at home with no equipment. Look for sturdy, stable structures in and around your home from which you can hang vertically without your feet touching the floor.
Find a Structure
Hang from a sturdy door frame in your home. This is an option if the frame is thick enough for you to grip it securely. It will be challenging to hold even a thick frame so you may want to practice hanging from the frame and increasing your grip strength before performing the leg lift exercise.
Find a sturdy tree branch. Make sure the tree branch can hold your weight before you perform the exercise and don't hang from a branch that is too high off the ground. Your feet should be within 1 to 2 feet of the ground. Consider wearing gloves to protect your hands.
Hang from a ceiling beam. If you have an open ceiling in your basement, on your deck, in your garage or attic, you can hang from a beam to perform the leg lift exercise.
Perform the Exercise
Grab the beam, frame or branch with a shoulder-width, overhand grip. Hang vertically with your legs directly below your torso. Do not swing. Keep a slight bend in your elbows to protect your joints.
Exhale and pull your knees toward your chest. Round out your low back, bending at the waist.
Continue until your knees are in front of your chest. Pause for a count, inhale and slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions.
- Focus on bending at the waist as you pull your knees up and in toward your chest. The hip flexors are the main movers until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your abdominal muscles assist to stabilize your torso, but they are not main movers during the beginning portion of the leg lift. Flexing your waist and rounding out your low back actively engages your abdominal muscles at the end of the movement.
- Although keeping your legs straight as you lift them, increases the difficulty of the exercise, it also places more stress on the low back and may be contraindicated for some individuals.
Based in Austin, Texas, Jolie Johnson has been in the fitness industry for over 12 years and has been writing fitness-related articles since 2008 for various websites. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English and philosophy from the University of Illinois.