The Hanging Knee Raise is a classic abdominal exercise…the common form being hang from a bar then raise your knees up in front of you.
Now, when you delve into the exercise a bit more, there are two major tips you need to know in order to really get the most out of the exercise.
First, when doing the exercise, DO NOT bend from the hips…that’s going to happen naturally but you don’t want to actively set out with that as a major goal. You want to instead focus on flexing the lumbar/lower back spine.
Spinal flexion is the major goal of this exercise, not hip flexion. The hip flexion will happen with spinal flexion, but spinal flexion won’t happen naturally if you just do hip flexion.
The second tip is this…when you’re starting the exercise, instead of focusing on just raising your knees up (and flexing the spine), I want you to also try to force your arms forward and down to meet your knees.
You won’t be able to, obviously…it’s just the INTENTION of doing it that’s important. This will more strongly activate the muscles of the core by putting greater tension on from the top-down, while you’re putting tension on from the bottom up, while doing the knee raise.
Here’s what it looks like.
Start from a dead hang…arms a bit outside shoulder width apart.
Now bring the knees up and in front, focusing on bending at the middle of the body rather than the hips.
At this point, I’m also trying to fold my UPPER body down and towards my knees. The elbows will come forward a bit. This is the key activation point.
Come all the way up until you shins hit the bar. I like this for a full contraction.
Lower under control then repeat.
Don’t take a big backswing at the bottom…start from a dead stop, under control.
You’ll find this puts a lot more tension on the abs in general, but especially on the upper aspect of the core (and the lats, too!).