Strict Hanging Leg Raises

Can you do a set of 5-10 strict HLRs?

  • Total voters


Level 6 Valued Member
A post in another thread got me curious about strict hanging leg raises, and how many people can do them for reps - and in particular how that might break down among body size. I know "big" is a subjective term, use your best judgement.

To me, a strict HLR is:
  • straight legs
  • back straight, maybe some forward tilt in the pelvis
  • 1 second raise
  • 1 second hold at parallel
  • 2 second lower
I don't have the core strength to do multiple reps. I can do 1 or 2, then it stops being strict. Core just ain't strong enough yet to hold up these chunky legs.

Just curious what the group looks like.

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@WhatWouldHulkDo, the truly strictest HLR would be on stall bars, and I cannot do a single rep that way because my lumbar flexion ability is very limited. Note to all people with "bad" lower backs - that it cannot bend forward a lot is not necessarily a bad thing.

My definition of strict is what's in Hard-Style Abs: use a bar or rings, look straight ahead, shoulder-width or narrower grip, don't bend your elbows, and keep looking straight ahead (between your legs as you raise them) the whole time. How close to a stall bar position you'll end up will depend on your flexibility and your anatomy, but if you don't bend your elbows and you don't give in to the temptation to look up, you're doing a strict HLR in my book.

The HLR is one of those movements I've always been able to do since the first time I tried it, and I don't train it regularly so I couldn't speak to my rep count.



Level 5 Valued Member
I agree with Steve Above, that is how I have always approached my HLR form as well. I have been training the HLR for over 6 years now, usually 2-3 times per week depending on the program I am in. I weigh 160 lbs and stick to 5 reps for 5 sets (which took me 6 years to build up to!)

Overtime what I have focused on to increase my mastery of the HLR is Increasing my Intra-Abdominal Pressure while preforming the HLR by:
  • Slowing down on the way up and on the way down
  • Adding multiple pauses throughout
Other than working on the progressions when I first started training the HLR, the following ques helped me the most; I believe they are all in Pavel's book "Hardstyle Abs"
  • Practice holding the Hollow position on the Bar, particularly focus on bending the bar and keeping the shoulders packed - I notice that the reps where my shoulders loosened up my HLR form went down the drain.
  • Pushing your thighs together hard - I have gone so far as practicing this with an empty water bottle between my legs
  • Point toes down and flex calves - When the above to are preformed correctly this last que really helped tie in the full body tension.
When I get all of the above ques correct, the HLR begins to feel effortless, well at least for the first few reps.

I hope this long-winded answer helps, and answers your original question!


Level 6 Valued Member
If you can't do HLR try l-sits (on the floor/bar/rings/hanging). On the floor is the most taxing variation. If that becomes easy progress to v-sits or a dynamuv version going from l-sit to v-sit.
These will deliver great results while sparing your spine.

Deleted member 11594

I second the L-sit work; hip flexors are typically the weak link for hanging leg lifts. Seated pike lifts are another really good one for isolating the hip flexors and they translate really well to HLLs. Here's a video link for reference:


Level 6 Valued Member
If you don't have access to stall bars (most people don't) I think the following version comes pretty close:
Hang on the bar (active hang) in a hollow position (i.e. posterior pelvic tilt). From there stricly lift your extended legs until your feet touch the bar. Pause shortly and lower back into the starting position. Keep the posterior pelvic tilt and don't move from the back.
Last edited:
Top Bottom