Vertical Leg Raise

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Abdominal Exercise: Vertical Leg Raise

The other name for this exercise is parallel bar leg raise.

Vertical leg raise (parallel bar leg raise) is another great lower abdominal exercise because you are raising your lower body towards your upper body. This works your entire abdominal wall, but targets the lower portion of the abdominals.

To perform vertical leg raise use a piece of equipment similar to dip bars that has two short, parallel horizontal bars about chest high and shoulder width apart. On the vertical leg raise apparatus, your back is supported against a backrest and your elbows rest on pads. This prevents your legs and torso from swinging.

Exercise Instructions – Perfect Technique

STARTING POSITION: Place your forearms on the padded bars, with your hands in front of you, and grab the handles at the ends of the bars. Keep your legs extended and together. Your entire body is completely straight.

MOVEMENT: You can choose from two different possibilities.

(a) Hanging Leg Raise. Keeping your legs straight, lift your legs up as high past parallel with the floor as possible by flexing at the waist while rounding your lower back to bring your glutes forward and up. In other words, elevate your feet up towards the ceiling, still keeping them together and straight.

Vertical Leg Raise

Vertical Leg Raise

(b) Parallel Bar Knee Raise (Hanging Knee Raise). Position yourself on a vertical bench and hang from it with your torso straight and your knees slightly bent. Lift your legs, bending your knees on the way up to pull your knees up toward your chest while rounding your lower back to bring your glutes forward and up. Feel your abs crunch. The idea is to bring the pelvis closer to the chest. As your knees come to your chest, ever so slightly roll your upper body down toward your knees and crunch.

Parallel Bar Knee Raise

Parallel Bar Knee Raise

Hold, then lower your legs back to the starting position.

Muscles Engaged in Vertical Leg Raises

The main muscle group targeted by parallel bar leg raises are the abdominals. In particular, the group of lower abdominal muscles along with the hip flexors will be worked with this exercise.

Main muscles: rectus abdominis (lower portion)
Secondary muscles: external and internal obliques, iliopsoas, front quadriceps, transverse abdominal, (pyramidal)
Antagonists: spinal erectors, longissimus dorsi and other muscles along the spinal column, and lower back muscles

Exercise Variation

If your gym doesn’t provide the apparatus shown on the images above, hang anywhere (hang from a chin up bar for example) and perform leg/knee raises. This variant is more difficult than the basic exercise because it is hard to keep your body vertical at all times and stop it from swinging. It’s more difficult because you’re hanging freely without any back support to push yourself up.

Hanging Leg/Knee Raise

Hanging Leg/Knee Raise

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