Building strong abs can be challenging, which is why my clients often seek my guidance.
I've developed a comprehensive ab workout program that incorporates effective pull-up bar exercises.
These exercises engage the whole body while targeting the abs specifically.
I'll share the top ten pull-up exercises to help you achieve results with consistent practice.
- The 10 best pull-up bar ab workouts are hanging leg raises, hanging knee raises, L-sit hangs, hanging toes to the bar, windshield wipers, hanging scissors, hanging crunches, L-sit hanging twists, hanging knee circles (around the world), and hanging knees to elbows.
- Pull-up bar workouts are particularly beneficial for individuals looking to strengthen their abs and improve their grip strength.
- According to the MBG Movement, leg raises not only target the ab muscles but also engage upper body muscles such as the shoulders, back, and lats.
- In my opinion, incorporating pull-up bar exercises for abs can be a challenging yet effective way to strengthen the core and achieve better overall fitness results.
10 Best Pull-Up Bar Exercises For Abs
I bet you’re sick of the standard ab exercises like crunches and sit-ups.
If so, you’ll love these variations with pull-up bars.
Besides being fun, they’ll help you build six-pack abs and improve your grip strength. And that comes in handy if you’re doing pull-ups and similar exercises.
But keep in mind that ab exercises alone may not get you visible results :
"To achieve truly defined lower abs, one must achieve a particularly low percentage of overall body fat by following a consistent program of healthy eating, cardiovascular exercise, and strength training."
- Tom Holland, MS, CSCS, ExercisePhysiologist & Fitness Adviser
Otherwise, your results may be hidden under layers of fat.
Building a strong core isn't just about aesthetics; it plays a crucial role in your overall fitness journey. Improved core strength enhances balance, and posture, and reduces the risk of injuries in various physical activities, making it a foundational element of your fitness routine.
While we often focus on the physical gains of our workouts, it's essential not to overlook the mental health benefits. Engaging in intensive exercises like those involving pull-up bars can lead to reduced stress, an improved mood, and an overall positive impact on your mental well-being.
1. Hanging Leg Raise
Dangling leg raises have been a staple in my ab workout routine, especially for beginners.
They're fantastic because they engage multiple muscle groups, giving you a thorough full-body workout.
Besides ab muscles, the leg raises target upper body muscles like shoulders, back, and lats, according to the MBG Movement .
Here’s how to perform dangling leg raises:
- Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Raise your legs forward. Keep them straight and your torso stable. Lift until your legs are at a 90°-angle with your torso.
- Slowly lower your legs and return to the initial position. Repeat for 15 reps.
Make sure you keep your torso and hips still. Trembling signals that you’re engaging your torso and hip flexors instead of your abs.
Also, remember that this is a straight leg raise. So, avoid bending your legs.
2. Hanging Knee Raise
A hanging knee raise is a powerful exercise that mainly works lower abs and core, effectively strengthening these areas.
But what I love the most about knee raises is that they teach you how to control movement and engage abs without trembling.
Here’s how to perform hanging knee raises:
- Grip the pull-up bar with an overhand grip and start hanging. Your back should be in a neutral position.
- Bend your knees and raise them until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your legs bent throughout.
- Extend your legs back down until you reach the starting hanging position. Repeat for a desired number of reps.
3. L-Sit Hang
L-sit hangs, or L-sit pull-ups, are fantastic exercises that I've personally found incredibly effective for strengthening the core and boosting isometric strength, which, in turn, enhances overall fitness.
Here’s how to perform this exercise:
- Get into a dead hang. Grip the bar, start hanging, and keep your legs straight the entire time.
- Pull your legs together and raise them. Ensure your knees are touching as you do so. Your legs should be parallel to the ground and form an “L” shape with your body.
- Lower your legs slowly until you reach the initial hanging position. Repeat for 15 reps.
4. L-Sit Hanging Twists
This exercise is an advanced variation of an L-sit hang and will work your entire core.
Here’s how to perform this exercise:
- Get into an L-sit hang. Grasp the bar with your hands, pull your legs together, keep them straight, and lift them until they’re parallel to the ground.
- Rotate your lower body to one side. Focus on engaging your abs instead of leg muscles.
- Return to the starting position and rotate your legs to the other side. This completes one rep. Repeat for 10-12 reps.
5. Hanging Toes to Bar (T2B)
If you're up for a challenge, toe-to-bar is one of the most demanding core exercises I've come across.
So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right on your first try.
It’s worth a bit of effort, as it improves your grip and core strength like almost no other exercise.
Here’s how to perform it:
- Start by hanging from the pull-up bar. Grasp the bar with both hands and keep them slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Lift your feet until your toes touch the bar. Hold here for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower your feet back to the starting position. Control the movement throughout and repeat for 15 reps.
If you’re swinging while lowering your feet, that’s a sign that you’re not engaging your core muscles enough. You’re probably using momentum instead of your abdominal muscles, which beats the purpose of toes to bar.
6. Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers are similar to L-sit hanging twists. The only difference is you need to pull your legs much closer to the bar.
That puts extra pressure on your abdominal muscles, obliques, and your entire body.
Here’s how to perform this exercise using a bar:
- Hang from a bar overhead. Grip the bar and pull down with your lats. Shorten your armpits to engage your shoulders more.
- Squeeze your abs and lift your legs. At the top of the movement, your upper body and legs should form a “V” shape.
- Hold your legs together and move them side-to-side. You can slightly bend your knees. Rotating on both sides completes one rep.
- Go back to the starting position and repeat for a minimum of 15 reps.
7. Hanging Scissors
Hanging scissors is one of my favorite advanced hanging ab exercises. Despite being advanced, it’s beginner-friendly and effectively works your abs and obliques.
Here’s how to perform it:
- Start hanging with straight legs. Engage your shoulder blades to avoid swaying.
- Raise your legs until they’re parallel to the ground. Find your balance and engage your abs.
- Bring one leg over the other. Keep each leg straight and your core tight.
- Repeat on each side. This completes one rep. Repeat the exercise for 10–12 reps.
8. Hanging Crunches
This exercise is a fun pull-up bar variation of regular crunches. It’ll also give you an almost full-body workout.
Here’s how to perform this pull-up bar exercise:
- Hang from the pull-up bar with your arms and legs straight.
- Bend your knees and pull them toward your chest with a controlled movement. Hold here for a few seconds.
- Return to the initial position. Repeat for 15 reps.
9. Hanging Knee Circles (Around The World)
Based on my experience, the around-the-world exercise is similar to windshield wipers, but it requires you to complete a full circle with your lower body.
That makes it more challenging, so I suggest you try it only after you’ve mastered the wiper.
Here’s how to perform it:
- Grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip. Let your arms hang straight.
- Bring your knees up to the right, across the front, and down to the left.
- Bring your knees back up to the left, across the front, and down to the right. Make as big a circle as possible.
- Go back to the starting position and repeat for 10–12 reps.
Read More: How to Do The Around the World Exercise?
10. Hanging Knees To Elbows
Hanging knees to elbows is the last exercise on our list. Here’s how to perform it:
- Grab a pull-up bar with your hands. Use an underhand grip at shoulder-width and keep your legs extended.
- Retract your shoulders and drive your hips up and forward.
- Bend your knees and raise them up to the tips of your elbows. Hold for a second.
- Return to the initial position and repeat for 15 reps.
Can You Get a Six Pack from Pull-UPS?
Yes, you can get a six pack from pull-ups.
Is a Home Pull-up Bar Worth It?
Yes, getting a home pull-up bar is worth it because it can help you work your entire body all at once.
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