This exercise provided courtesy of Mike Clausen, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.
Hanging leg raises isolate and work your lower abs mercilessly. Focus on form to keep the work down low where it belongs.
Position yourself in the hanging leg raise machine with your hands holding the grips and your forearms resting on the padded arm rests. Keep your lower back against the back rest and keep your chin down toward your chest. Allow your legs to hang down with heels together, knees soft, and toes turned out (see Photo 1).
- From the starting position, use your lower abdominal muscles to lift your legs straight up in front of you. Keep lifting until your legs are parallel to the floor and your body is piked at a 90-degree angle. Do not swing your legs or use your lower back to lift (see Photos 2 and 3).
- Lower your legs back to the starting position. As you descend, keep your pelvis tucked under to keep the focus on your lower abs. Don't allow your legs to fall so low that you lose the flex in your stomach and have to use your lower back muscles. When you reach the bottom of the leg raise, reverse and begin your next lift (see Photos 4 and 5).
Start with straight leg lifts. If they become too difficult for you, switch to tuck-straight leg lifts, in which you bend your knees on the lift up, and straighten your legs on the way back down. If that becomes too hard as well, bend your knees in on both the lift up and the descent; this will reduce the weight your abs are lifting and lowering.
About Mike Clausen: Clausen is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. He has been actively involved in sports and weightlifting since high school, and continues to use that knowledge when training his clients. Clausen is both A.C.E. and N.A.S.M. certified and has been training clients professionally for six years. He enjoys making his clients stronger, both physically and mentally, giving them the tools to create an efficient body and to do things they thought were not possible.