5 Benefits of Hanging Knee Raises

In this article we will discuss the training benefits of the hanging knee raise, which can be done to increase muscular development of the abdominal muscles, strengthen the core, and help to increase overall performance in sport.


Hanging Knee Raise Exercise Demo

In the below video the hanging knee raise is shown, which can be done from a pull up bar or from a Roman chair. In this exercise, the lifter is to bend the knees at 90 degrees or greater to decrease the amount of loading the lifter must lift (less leg weight).

5 Benefits of Hanging Knee Raises

The hanging knee raise can be done by nearly any level lifter, and can be progressed to a variety of more complex movements. Below are five benefits coaches and athletes can expect when performing the hanging knee raise.

Abdominal Development

The hanging knee raise targets the rectus abdominis (front abs), hip flexors, as some obliques (if the athlete chooses to move the knees laterally from midline. Like any muscle, the abdominals can be targeted, trained, and grown in muscular size and strength. This movement can be integrated into core workouts to enhance muscle growth and build a stronger foundation for more complex movements and demands.

Midline Stability

Midline stability refers to a lifter’s/athlete’s ability to stabilize the core to better protect the spine from rotational forces. Similar to planks, hollow rocks, and other core movements; the hanging knee raise can create stability and muscular tension in the abdominals.


Gymnastic Progressions

Movements like the hollow rock, plank, sit up, and hanging knee raise are all needed to be developed for gymnastic and other calisthenic type movements. The ability to contract and control the core muscles, while in a hanging and dynamic environment is necessary for such movements as pull ups, ring dips and muscle ups, and standard ring/bar gymnastics training.

Bracing Capacities

Bracing is a key breathing and contraction process to be performed when squatting, pulling, and lifting. The ability to fill the diaphragm and then contract the muscles throughout the core is key to spinal integrity (resisting rotational, flexion, extension) during heavy and explosive lifting.

Application to Toes to Bar, L-Sits, and More

The hanging knee raise is a perfect regression and skill movement of the toes to bar, L-sit, and other more advanced abdominal exercises. In functional fitness sports and gymnastics, such movements are key to performance in WODs and competition, and lack of proper overhead support, back and grip strength, and core development can impede your overall performance in such workouts. By using the hanging knee raise, you can increase your skill sets needed for such movements and build a deeper connection with the movements and muscle patterning required.


Programming Hanging Knee Raises

Programming hanging knee raises can be done in a wide variety of approaches. For starters, this movement can be a foundational core and abdominal exercise for general strength and fitness programs. Additionally, it can be done to enhance body control for gymnastic movements as well.

Sets and reps widely vary. For muscular endurance, perform 3-5 sets of 12-20 repetitions. For strength and hypertrophy, aim for 3-5 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Additionally, changing the tempo of the movement can also increase strength and muscular demands of this movement.

Build a Stronger, Leaner Core

Building abs, obliques, and lower back muscles isn’t as elusive as some may think. While nutrition plays a key role in abdominal aesthetics, you can perform breathing and strength training isolation exercises to maximize overall growth and performance of your core. Check out the articles below to learn more!

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