Work Your Core With Nothing But a Pull-Up Bar

Welcome back! I hope you’re all enjoying working your core without doing a single plank this month. Today, let’s talk about exercises you can do while hanging from a pull-up bar or a set of gymnastics rings.

In these exercises, you’re mostly working your abs and your hip flexors (the leg muscles that connect your torso to your thighs). Here are a few that I’ve been trying lately, and you can too.

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Hanging knee or leg raises

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Hanging from the bar, pick your legs up so that your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. If you keep your knees bent, you’ll look like you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. That’s the easier version. If you can’t raise your knees all the way, just go as high as you can.

Make it harder by keeping your legs straight. Can you lift your legs up so you look like a letter L? No? Me neither. A middle ground option is to lift your bent knees, then straighten your legs while you lower them. Or, lift your bent knees, kick your legs out straight, and then lower them again with bent knees.

Knee circles or windshield wipers

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Again, you can do these with straight legs if you’re a beast, or bent knees otherwise. Draw a giant circle in the air with your kneecaps (or your toes), picking them up to your left, then as high as they’ll go, then to your right, and back down.

For the windshield wiper version, skip the bottom part of the circle, and just go back and forth.

Hollow hold

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Okay, now we’re into slightly easier territory. You can practice hollow holds anywhere, including lying on the floor, but hanging is fun too. Your goal is to contract your abs to tilt your pelvis and ribcage toward each other. Your torso will take on a slight “c” shape.

Toes-to-bar and knees-to-elbows

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The most impressive hanging ab exercise is one that I can’t do at all: the toes-to-bar. Literally, you just hinge at the hip and raise your straight legs so that your toes touch the bar you’re hanging from.

If you can’t do that, try the version where your knees are bent: the knees-to-elbows.

I cannot do either of these. If you can, I salute you.


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