Ab Straps Exercises
You know hanging ab exercises will complement your on-point diet, cardio and strength routines to get you a washboard stomach. However, gripping the bar is preventing you from benefiting from these tough ab exercises. Don't let sweaty palms, uncalloused hands or lack of finger strength stand in the way of your abs' potential.
Hanging leg raises and its variations are as much about grip strength as they are about ab power. If you're still working on the skills in your hands and fingers, but want the massive benefits that hanging ab work gives you, hoist yourself into a set of ab straps.
These slings hook onto a pull-up bar; you slide your upper arms through them to support your hanging body weight. Without having to worry about your palms sliding off the bar, you can train your abs to their maximum potential with some seriously challenging exercises.
1. Hanging Leg Raises
Hanging leg raises challenge your rectus abdominis, at the front of your abs, and -- to a lesser extent -- the obliques at the sides of your middle. Aim for 10 to 12 repetitions of this move, working up to three sets over time.
HOW TO DO IT: Use a platform or step to help you mount your arms into the ab straps. Allow your legs to hang straight down toward the floor. Keep your upper body activated so your shoulders don't shrug up by your ears.
Contract your abdominal muscles as you bend your knees and pull them up toward your chest and shoulders. Pause for a count or two. Release your legs back to the hang to complete one repetition.
Make the move more challenging by keeping your legs straight and together as you bend at the hips to raise the legs to your shoulders and the bar.
Note that this is highly challenging to your abdominal wall, but does put extraordinary pressure on your spine, as found in a 2015 study in the Journal of Sports Science.
2. Hanging Trunk Rotations
Master the hanging straight leg raise tip variation above before trying this challenging rotation move. Aim for four or five in each direction.
HOW TO DO IT: Insert your arms into the ab straps and allow your legs to dangle toward the floor. Keep your legs straight and together as you circle them to the right, ceiling, left and then floor.
Make the movement deliberate and controlled, rather than using momentum. Do all the reps in one direction, then repeat on the other side.
If you feel strain or pain in your back during the rotation, stop immediately. You may be compressing your spine in a way that could be damaging.
3. Hanging Oblique Knee Raises
The hanging leg raise activates the obliques, but the hanging oblique knee raise variation targets these side waist muscles even more. Aim for eight to 10 total reps, and up to three sets.
HOW TO DO IT: Insert your arms into the arm straps and hang your legs toward the floor. Bend your knees up toward your right shoulder, pause, then release the legs to a hang.
Bend your knees up toward your left shoulder, pause, then release the legs to a hang. Continue to alternate for all the desired repetitions. Right, then left, equals one rep.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.