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Crunches, planks and sit ups are usually our go to core exercises.
And all of them are core moves done on the ground.
BUT some of the best core moves can actually be done hanging from a pull up bar.
Want to blast those lower abs and work your back and lower body at the same time?
Then you need to try these 10 Hanging Core Exercises!
Most of these moves are more advanced and will require you to engage your lats (which is great if you are working on pull ups!) Beginners will want to start with moves one, two or even six before mixing it up!
1. Hanging Pelvic Tilt – If you do the pelvic tilt for activation, this is a great way to add some variety to the move! Grab a pull up bar with your palms facing away from you. Hang from the bar and bend your knees, bringing your feet back behind you. Then tuck your knees up and forward, drawing your belly button in toward the spine and rounding your low back. You aren’t trying to bring your knees up to your elbows, you are just focusing on tucking your hips forward to engage the abs. Feel the abs contract. Hold for 3-5 seconds then lower down and repeat. This move works those deep intrinsic core stabilizers best if you hold at the top instead of rushing through the move.
2. Hanging Knees To Elbows – This move can be done simply hanging from a bar or with an added pull up if you want to work on your back and pull ups while torturing your abs. To do the Hanging Knees To Elbows, hang from the bar with your palms facing away. Then pull down on the bar and draw your shoulder blades down and back as you tuck your knees up toward your elbows. You should really feel your lats engage as you bring your knees up toward your elbows. Then slowly lower your legs back down. Beginners may not be able to raise their knees all the way up to their elbows and that is ok to start. Just focus on engaging the lats!
If you want to add in the pull up, you will pull up to the top with your chin above the bar then tuck your knees in toward your elbows. After you tuck, straighten your legs and return to the bottom of the pull up. The more you pull up and then tuck, instead of tucking as you pull up, the harder the move will be!
3. Hanging Knee Circles – This is a great hanging core move to work the obliques. Hang from a pull up bar with your palms facing away. With your legs together, bring your knees up to the right then across the front and down to the left. Once you lower down on the left, bring them back up to the left and across the front then down to the right. Bring your knees as high up and across as you can, making as big a circle as possible. If you are using a doorway pull up bar, you will be limited in how big your circle can be.
This move is also a great one to add a pull up into. Pull up as you bring your knees up and around then lower down. Next time you pull up, bring your knees up and across the other way!
4. Hanging Knee Tuck to Kick Out – If you want to work toward an L-sit or the double leg raises, this move is a great place to start. Hang from the bar with both palms facing away. Then tuck both knees up to about hip height. When your quads are parallel to the ground, straighten your knees. Lift your legs out in front of you then bend your knees again before returning to the starting position. Don’t kick out quickly or go straight down from the legs out position. Kick the legs out then bring them back in before lowering back down.
5. Hanging Knee Tuck to Twist – Another great obliques exercise. For this move, while hanging, tuck the knees up toward the chest. With your knees up by your chest, twist them to the right. Then lower back down. Raise them back up center, then drop/twist your knees to the left. Lower back down and repeat on the right side. You can also vary this move up by bringing your knees up center then twisting right, center, left, center then lowering back down. However, it will be more challenging to keep your knees tucked the entire time.
This is another great move to add in a little extra lat and back work by adding in the pull up. Pull up to the top then tuck your knees up and drop them to the right. Lower down. Then pull up and tuck your knees up and to the left!
6. Hanging Bicycles – You can do a few different variations of hanging bicycles. You can pedal with your legs straight down, out in front of you or in reverse from either position. These may actually be easier to start with for many people since they don’t have to tuck both knees at the same time.
To do the hanging bicycles, hang from the bar with your palms facing away. Both legs should hang straight under you. Tuck one knee up toward your chest then alternate bringing the other one up. Keep alternating knee tucks.
If you want to make the move harder, pedal your feet with them raised at an angle in front of you instead of straight down. Even with your legs slightly raised in front of you, keep one leg straight while the other is bent then switch. You can also add in a pull up or chin up as you perform the bicycle “pedaling” motion.
7. Hanging Scissors – These are basically a straight leg variation of the bicycle and a great regression for the double straight leg lift. To do these, hang with your legs down straight. Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes as you raise one leg straight out in front of you. Then switch, lowering one leg and raising the other. Try to bring the leg up so that it is parallel to the ground. Move slowly and even hold with the leg raised for a second to make the move harder.
8. Hanging Double Straight Leg Lift – Exercises 9 and 10 on this list are probably the most advanced if you haven’t added in the pull ups to the others. And this move, move number 8, is a great way to work up to them.
To do the Hanging Double Straight Leg Lift, hang from the bar with your legs hanging straight down together. Then, with your legs together, lift them straight out in front of you. Do not let your knees bend as you lift. If you can’t lift them up to parallel to the ground, regress the move to the scissors or knee tuck to kick out. Move slowly so that you aren’t using momentum. Make sure to engage your lats as you lift your legs straight out in front of you.
You can make this move even harder by lifting your legs straight out in front, performing a pull up and then lowering your legs down.
9. Hanging Toes to Bar – The second hardest move on this list if you aren’t adding in the pull ups. A great full body exercise that really smokes the core. With this move you will raise your straight legs all the way up so that your toes touch the bar.
To start, hang from the bar with your legs straight and together. Then engage your lats and pull as you raise your straight legs up toward the bar. Raise them all the way up so your feet touch the bar. Then slowly lower down.
10. Hanging Wipers – This move is just plain old mean. It works your entire body and really tortures your obliques….actually it tortures everything!
To do the Hanging Wipers, you will hang with your legs straight down. Then like the Toes to Bar, you will raise your legs straight up. Once your legs are straight up, you will let them fall to one side. Then you will bring them back center and let them fall to the other side. Keep your legs straight the entire time and your toes close to the bar. Do not let your legs fall backward toward the ground.
If it is too hard to perform a wiper each way, lower down in between. OR if you want to make it harder, simply go back and forth in a controlled manner and don’t lower down until all reps are complete!
There are 10 Hanging Core Exercises that are great if you are looking to develop killer core strength and even improve your pull up!
What are your favorite hanging core moves!?
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