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Hanging leg lifts, or pikes.

Description: Leg lifts, but using the arms, which force the upper body to help stabilzie the movement.

Motions trained: Torso flexion.

Main muscles used: Abdominals, hip flexors
   Other muscles: Lats and shoulders


How to do it: Grab onto the bar with hands facing away using a wide grip. With your legs straight, try to touch the bar with your shins.

How to work up to it: Try candlesticks, Situp are also a good way to train up to this, but don't get the hip muscles so well. Another way to do this is to lie on your back and try to touch the floor behind your head with your toes, alias ab rollups.

Ramping it up: At the top, try a 'windshield wiper:' Just swish your legs from side to side, just as the name implies. Another version is to do this plyometrically. At the top, pull your legs down and at the bottom forcefully change direction.

Do's and don'ts: Don't swing the lower body. There will be some amplitude anyway, but try to use muscle, not momentum.

Comments: Since this gets the hip flexors, this is not just an abdominal exercise. A lot of folks find that this is much tougher than they thought. This is different than the lever since that draws all of its power from the chest and lats, this gets all of its power from the lower body.