12 Amazing Pull-up Bar Exercises for Abs: How Many Can You Do?

Pull-up bars aren’t just for pull-ups and chin-ups.

In this article, you’ll learn 12 excellent pull-up bar exercises you can do to build and strengthen your abs!

The exercises are listed in order from beginner to advanced variations.

How many can you do?

pull-up-bar-ab-exercises

Disclaimer:

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Okay, let’s get started.

Do This One Thing Before Every Rep To Make These Core Exercises More Effective

Before we get started, I want to let you know that there is one thing you should do before every rep of every exercise.

You should Posteriorly Tilt Your Pelvis, aka tuck your pelvis.

This means that you should round your lower back while squeezing your glutes to maximize the contraction of your abs.

The pelvic tuck is THE OPPOSITE OF ARCHING YOUR LOWER BACK.

Here’s another way you can think about it:

Try to tuck an imaginary tail between your legs so that your tailbone point towards the floor.

Here’s what it looks like:

The posterior pelvic tilt is essential for activating your core and obtaining better posture.

Lastly, always use an overhand grip, and place your hands shoulder-width distance.

Okay, let’s get to the best exercises you can do with a bar.

Hanging Ab Exercises For Beginners

Now let’s go over them one by one.


 Level 1: Hanging Knee Raises

The first exercise is the hanging knee raise. This movement will target the lower abs.

hanging-knee-raises
  • From a hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keeping your feet together, bend your knees up and bring them up toward your chest
  • Pause for one count and return to the starting position

Level 2: Knee Raise With Extension

For this exercise, you’ll fully extend your legs after lifting your knees to your chest. This exercise will also target the hip flexors and upper quads.

hanging-knee-raise-with-leg-extension
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keep your feet together and bend your knees up toward your chest
  • Next, extend your legs straight out in front of you with your feet together
  • Bend your knees back toward your chest
  • Return to the starting position.

Level 3: Straight Leg Raises

The following exercise is the hanging leg raise. In this variation, you’ll keep your legs straight the entire time.

Straight-Leg-Raises
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keeping your feet together, lift them without bending your knees
  • Pause for one count once you reach a 90-degree position
  • Return to the starting position

Level 4: Garhammer Raise

The Garhammer raise is a more advanced variation of the hanging knee raise that keeps your abs on tension the entire time.

Garhammer-Raise
  • From a hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Bend your knees up and keep them at about 90 degrees
  • Turn your toes in to face each other
  • This is the starting position
  • From here, bring your knees up as high as you can while allowing your lower back to round a bit more
  • Return to the starting position without letting your knees straighten 

Hanging Ab Exercises For Intermediates

Now let’s go over them one by one.


Level 5: L Sits

The L sit is an advanced variation of the straight leg raise. Instead of going through a concentric and eccentric contraction, you will be doing an isometric contraction.

l-sit
  • From a hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keeping your feet together, lift them without bending your knees
  • Once you reach a 90-degree position, hold this contraction for time
  • If you can’t maintain straight legs the entire time, try bending one up while keeping the other straight

Level 6: L Sit Flutter Kicks

Using the same position as the L sit, you will add a dynamic component to this exercise.

l-sit-flutter-kicks
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Get into the L sit position
  • From here, pulse your legs up and down, alternating the leg the comes up without bending your knees

Level 7: Hanging Knees To Elbows

The hanging knees to elbows is a more advanced variation of the Garhammer raise. In this exercise, you will lift your knees to touch your elbows and extend them back down.

hanging-knee-to-elbow
  • From a hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keeping your feet together, bend your knees up as high as you can to make contact with your elbows
  • It is normal to let your lower back round
  • Slowly return to the starting position in a controlled manner

Level 8: Toes To Bar

The toe to bar exercise starts as a straight leg raise but continues up until your toes… touch the bar.

Try your best not to lean back as much in this variation and focus on creating a V-shape with your body.

toes-to-bar
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keeping your legs straight, lift them up without bending your knees
  • Continue contracting your abs hard while lifting your legs all the way up
  • Slowly control the movement back down

Advanced Hanging Ab Exercises

Now let’s go over them one by one.


Level 9: 90-Degree Toes To Bar

This 90-degree toes to bar is a somewhat tricky exercise that will keep tension on your abs the entire time. You will need a lot of body control to do it.

90-toes-to-bar
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Lift your legs straight up to perform a toe to bar
  • From here, don’t lower them back down
  • Once you reach 90 degrees, pause for a second, and then go back up to do another toe to bar repetition

Level 10: Windshield Wipers

You will need a lot of flexibility and core stability for this exercise. This movement not only works out your core but also works out your posterior shoulders and upper back.

windshield-wipers
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Keeping your legs straight, lift them to perform a toe to bar
  • From here, rotate your legs down to your left without bending your knees
  • Do the same on the right side
  • Continue alternating sides without letting your legs go below the level of 90 degrees.

Level 11: Single-Leg Front Lever Raises

The single-leg FL raise is an advanced calisthenics skill that trains your upper back, core, and glutes. You will need a lot of bodyweight strength and body control to correctly perform this exercise.

sl-front-lever-raises
  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • Lift one leg toward your chest while bending your knee
  • Next, pinch your shoulder blades together without bending your elbows to perform a scapular pull-up
  • From here, continue pulling with straight arms as if you are trying to get your chest to touch the bar (imagine you are doing a straight arm pulldown)
  • Keep your core engaged and your glutes tight
  • Make sure that your elbows remain straight the entire time
  • Once your body reaches parallel to the floor, slowly lower yourself back down

Level 12: Front Lever Holds

Last but not least is the front lever hold. This is a static movement that works your entire core and upper back.

Truth be told, it trains your back muscles more than your core, but it is still a great skill to work towards.

It is normal to only be able to hold this position for just a few seconds. You can use a resistance band to make it a bit easier.

  • From hanging position, posteriorly tilt your pelvis and engage your abs
  • From here, continue pulling with straight arms as if you are trying to get your chest to touch the bar (imagine you are doing a straight arm pulldown)
  • Keep your core engaged and your glutes tight
  • Hold the front lever position for as long as you can without bending your elbows

Other Related Questions

How do you work your abs with a pull-up bar?

You can train your abs with a pull-up bar by using a combination of knee and leg raising exercises while keeping your pelvis posteriorly tilted.

It is also essential to develop a solid mind-muscle connection with your abs so that you can engage them more effectively.

Some of the most effective exercises for these muscles are knee raises, leg raises, and front lever raises.

Does hanging from a bar work your core?

Hanging from a bar does not work your abs directly, but maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt will engage your ab muscles.

Doing so will help maintain stability and prevent you from swinging back and forth.

Is hanging from a pull-up bar a good exercise?

Hangs are an excellent exercise for strengthening your grip, improving body alignment, and decompressing your spine.

You can also alternate between a dead hang (aka a passive hang) and an active hang.

Can you get abs from pull-ups?

When done correctly, pull-ups are a compound exercise. This means that your core muscles should be engaged while you are performing pull-ups.

However, pull-ups by themselves will not build core strength. You need to do direct core work to get stronger and more defined abs.

Can I use a door frame pull-up bar?

You can do all of these hanging ab exercises on a doorway pull-up bar, which is an easy and affordable way to work out your abs.

I prefer to use a full-length pull-up bar because it is more challenging to do these movements properly when keeping your legs bent at the bottom position.

This is my preferred option:

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Pull-up bar Ab Workouts

It is fairly simple to make a pull-up bar core workout.

All you have to do is select one exercise from the above (and one ground-based ab exercise) and tack them on to the end of your lower body focused workouts.

Perform 3-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions of the exercise you are capable of doing.

If you’re looking for a complete bodyweight program that you can do from the comfort of your own home, check out The WCT’s Home Workout Program.

You will get at least 24 weeks of home workouts that:

– will help you build muscle and strength as efficiently as possible 

– give you simple A to Z progressions for 10 functional movement patterns 

– tell you how many sets and reps to do

– only take 30 minutes a day to perform

Included are some of these hanging ab exercises to develop your core.

Final Words

A pull-up bar provides a great way to train your back, biceps, grip strength, and core.

Don’t neglect the importance of a strong core!

Now I want to hear from you.

What level of exercise are you able to do?

Comment below and let us know.

Also, don’t forget to check out these other great articles


Get Started With Four Free Tried and Tested Beginner Workouts That Only Take 30 Minutes A Day!

.

Alex Robles, MD, CPT / Brittany Robles, MD, MPH, CPT

Alex & Brittany Robles are physicians, NASM CPTs, health & fitness experts, and founders of The White Coat Trainer: a site dedicated to improving the health and fitness of busy professionals. Their advice has been featured on KevinMD, The Doctor Weighs In, My Fitness Pal, Reader’s Digest, Livestrong, and The Active Times. Learn more about them here.

2 thoughts on “12 Amazing Pull-up Bar Exercises for Abs: How Many Can You Do?”

  1. I’m going to have to ho to a playground and see…I’m guessing the 2 beginner ones are doable right now. Funny thing is when I was a kid I could probably do many more!

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