Pull Up Bar Ab Exercises


Like any muscle, the abs benefit from direct work. The great thing is that you can do a variety of movements to train the abs, even if you only have access to a pull-up bar.

So, let’s break down the five best pull-up bar ab exercises for trainees of all levels.

Table of Contents

Main Takeaways

  • Pull-up bar ab exercises are a great way to isolate and overload your abdominal muscles.

  • You can start with easier variations first if you are having a hard time doing these exercises.

  • Always warm up before to prevent injuries. Warm up and stretch your forearms as well because you will be using a lot of your grip for these pull-up bar ab exercises. Pull Up Bar Ab Exercises | A Lean Life https://www.aleanlife.com

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles Worked 💪

  • Abs
  • Hip Flexors
  • Obliques

Secondary Muscles Worked 💪

  • Lower Back

But First: Something to Keep In Mind When Traning the Abs

One common mistake trainees make when working out their abs is to overemphasize the hip flexors, especially when hanging from a pull-up bar.

This typically results when the abs are weak and fail to keep the lower back in a neutral position, instead allowing it to arch. This stretches the abs and forces the hip flexors to take over and do most of the work.

To avoid this mistake, start with movements you can handle (don’t immediately jump to the most advanced exercises) and ensure that your lower back stays neutral and that you feel tension in your stomach.

The 5 Best Pull-up Bar Ab Exercises

1. Knee Raises

Knee raises are a more beginner-friendly exercise because keeping your knees bent reduces the difficulty, allowing you to train your abs more effectively even if you’re new.

How to:

a) Grab a pull-up bar with an even, overhand grip (palms facing forward).

b) Lift your feet off the floor.

c) Engage your abs and inhale.

d) Lift your knees toward your chest slowly.

e) Pause briefly and lower your legs as you exhale.

Knee Raises

2. Leg Raises

The leg raise is a slightly more advanced pull-up bar ab exercise. This is because keeping the legs straight (or close to straight) forces your abs to produce more force to complete each rep.

How to:

a) Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and lift your feet off the floor.

b) Squeeze your abs and take a deep breath.

c) Slowly raise your legs until they are parallel to the floor. Keep them straight.

d) Pause briefly at the top and lower them slowly, keeping the tension in your abs.

e) Exhale near the bottom.

Leg Raise

3. Toes to Bar

If knee raises are the beginner version and leg raises are more suited for intermediate-level trainees, toes to bar is the most advanced variation. Here, the goal is to keep your legs straight and raise your legs as high as possible––ideally, to the point where the toes are close to the bar you’re holding onto.

How to:

a) Grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip and lift your feet off the ground.

b) Bring your legs together and straighten your knees.

c) Inhale, engage your abs, and raise your legs as high as possible in one fluid motion.

d) Slowly lower your legs to the starting position and exhale.

Do each rep with an even tempo and avoid forcefully raising your legs to the top position because that will reduce tension in your abs and lead to instability.

Toes to Bar

4. Hanging L Sit Holds

This is a fantastic isometric exercise (similar to a plank), where your abs must stay contracted for an extended period.

How to:

a) Grab the pull-up bar with an overhand grip and raise your feet off the floor.

b) Straighten your legs and bring them together.

c) Take a deep breath and engage your abs.

d) Raise your legs until they are roughly parallel to the floor, and hold the position for as long as possible.

Hanging L Sit Holds

5. Hanging Around the World

Unlike the other pull-up bar exercises on our list, the hanging around the world activity works the obliques alongside the abs.

How to:

a) Reach up and grab a pull-up bar with an overhand grip.

b) Raise your feet off the floor and have your legs together.

c) Inhale and engage your abs.

d) Initiate the first rep by raising your legs up and to the left.

e) As your legs reach parallel, move them in (to the right) and twist your torso in the same direction. If this is too hard for you, keep your knees bent.

f) Lower your legs as you move them to the right and down, exhaling near the bottom.

g) Initiate the next rep by raising your legs to the right and up.

h) Keep alternating.

When done correctly, your legs should move into a semi-circular pattern rather than in a straight line up and down.

Hanging Around the World

Picture of Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of ThinkingLifter.com. He trained at BioFit College, and has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

See All Posts

Click to see our medical disclosure.