You have been working out for some time now, and you are over thousands of reps of sit-ups, crunches, and other abdominal exercises. Your abs look better, and you feel your core getting stronger. But, you also feel your abs are getting used to the same activities, and they cry for something more challenging to keep growing. Exercises that boost the size and strength of those stomach muscles.
I have a hint for you! Switch to abs exercise with pull up bar!
Have you ever seen those guys and women doing the street workout? They only do bodyweight training (calisthenics). They have such midsection that even pro bodybuilders would pay for it.
What do they do?
They have abs workout with pull up bar to strengthen their core from every angle. But, I also have to mention that bodyweight exercises like pull-ups work the core very well alone.
Note: Did you know that 99% of people do ab workouts to shape their tummy? However, it has more benefits than “just” looking good. A strong core muscle gives you a better posture and lowers the risk of back pain and injuries. And you will be able to perform better in any sport. Finally, pull up bar exercises improve your grip strength.
Here I’m going to show you how to strengthen your core with a pull up bar. You can even do these exercises easily in your home gym to build muscle.
- 1 Pull up bar exercises for abs
- 2 Example pull up bar ab workouts
- 3 For beginners
- 4 Negative pull ups
- 5 Assisted pull ups
- 6 Alternatives to pull up bar exercises
- 7 To sum up
Pull up bar exercises for abs
1. Hanging knee raises
The knee raise is a basic move, which is good to start to get used to these types of hanging exercises. Also, it is useful if you have flexibility issues.
Grab the bar and hang. By keeping your knees next to each other, pull your lower body as high as you can. The best is if your knees reach almost your chest. At the top of the movement, squeeze your abs for a moment. Then, slowly lower your legs to the starting position.
I add more resistance to my knee raises by slightly angling my torso. I mean, my body is not perpendicular to the ground but a bit angled forward. This way, my abs are always tightened, and more control is required from the upper body. Hence, it works more fibers at once.
Tip: If you can already do many reps of hanging knee raises, let’s say 40 reps, you can add additional resistance with the help of a rubber band, ankle weights, or a dumbbell. But, keep the proper technique.
What does it work? Knee raises work you transversus abdominis, which gives the six-pack look.
2. Hanging Leg Raises
Leg raises are better than knee lifts because it provides a full range of motion. And that leads to better strength and muscle growth. Also, since you have to lift your entire lower body, the resistance is much higher, and it also works on your legs.
How to do it? Hang from the pull-up bar and keep your body vertical to the ground. Then, by keeping your legs close to each other, lift your lower body. Do not bend your knees or swing. Focus on your core. Obviously, the higher you raise your legs, the more difficult the exercise is.
If you have just started, go until your thighs are parallel to the ground. At the top, hold your lower body for a moment and slowly lower your legs back to starting position.
Tip: If you are at an advanced level, raise your legs as high as you can. Toes to the bar is the most advanced variation. You can read more on this below. You can also use ankle weights for additional resistance.
What does it train? Your entire core has to control the motion and stop swinging, but the rectus abdominis is the most targeted muscle group.
3. L-hang holds
The previous ones were dynamic exercises, here are two static ones.
Start it with a dead hang, by keeping your legs close to each other, lift them until they are parallel to the floor. Keep it as long as you can. If it is too hard, then you may want to start with the assisted version when you bend your knees slightly.
This pull up exercise targets your upper and lower abs, and of course, your quads.
4. L-hang side to side
This version is almost the same as the previous one, but instead of “just” hanging, you need to move your raised legs to the sides. This way, you can strengthen your oblique muscles as well.
5. Around the world exercise
This is a complete core training working every part of your belly. With that, it is pretty hard.
Again, hang from the pull up bar. Lift your legs as if you were doing standard hanging leg raises but raise them almost up the bar. Then, rotate your legs in a circle to the left and the right. Control the motion with the power of your core.
6. Windshield wipers
Now let’s focus on the obliques, those side ab muscles which are responsible for that V-cut shape.
For this bar ab workout, hang from the bar, and lift your legs until they almost reach the bar. Then, like the windshield wiper of a car, move your raised legs to the sides. Try to achieve a straight leg here, which is not easy; a little bit of bending is okay.
Wasn’t enough? There are over 30 ab exercises you can do with the pull up bar, which are mainly variations of the previous workouts. But, they are perfect for adding variety to your core workout routine.
7. Toes to bar
Toes to bar workouts are often seen in Crossfit gyms. To do this ab workout, jump up and grab the pull up bar, making sure your hands are spaced apart a bit wider than the width of your shoulder blades. Swing your feet back, tighten your glutes and core muscle, then swing your hips forward to bring your toes up to the bar.
With this movement, you engage your core and work abdominal muscles like the rectus abdominis. You also put your legs through a full range of motion, strengthen your hip flexor muscles, and stretch your hamstrings.
8. Hanging crunches
For this exercise, you will be doing crunches while on the pull up bar. You need to hang vertically from the bar in a neutral position, tighten your core and bend like you would if you were doing a traditional crunch on the floor.
Bring the legs up and forward, bend the knees, and straighten your back into the hanging position. You want to avoid just dropping your legs at this point. You want to do this exercise slowly and with precision. This is not an abs exercise on the pull up bar for beginners. You will find you need to be a bit more advanced before trying it out.
During this bar workout, you are working out your rectus abdominus as well as your oblique muscles. It works your body in a different way than traditional crunches because it is more of a bottom-up approach instead of top-down and helps improve your upper body strength.
Note: These pull up bar abdominal exercises are core strengthening exercises, so they are not for burning belly fat. Although, since they are compound moves, they burn more calories than standard isometric practices. To lose fat, do fat-burning cardio exercises, pay attention to your nutrition and diet. This way, you lose body fat, which is the key to building six-pack abs.
Note: These pull up bar abdominal exercises are core strengthening exercises, so they are not for burning belly fat. Although, since they are compound moves, they burn more calories than standard isometric practices. To lose fat, do fat burning cardio exercises, pay attention to your nutrition and diet. This way, you lose body fat, which is the key to build six pack abs.
Example pull up bar ab workouts
I believe these are far enough for a complete bar abs workout. Anyway, what is full training? That works every part of your stomach. Since we are talking about bodyweight training, each exercise is compound. Meaning they work more muscles at once, not like isolated ones.
So, with just one activity, not only one abdominal muscle but many stabilizing muscles are engaged, making the workout versatile enough to target each part.
So here is an intermediate sample routine
- 3×15 hanging leg raise
- 3×10 around the world
- 3×30 second (or more) L-hold
Do 3-4 rounds, depending on your fitness level.
If you want to improve your obliques, do more torso rotation exercises. If you wish to focus on your upper and lower abs, for getting a six-pack, have more raises.
If you are a beginner, it is better to start with exercises with a shorter range of motion, so when you use your knees. Here is a sample plan.
Do 3-4 sets with 10-20 reps.
Negative pull ups
Once you become more comfortable with your pull up exercise routine, you can advance to what is called negative pull ups. To complete a negative pull up, grab the bar with an overhand grip, jump from a box below the bar, so your chest is touching the bar, and then slowly lower yourself until you are at the bottom of the movement. When you lower yourself down in this controlled way, you build core strength and muscle.
Assisted pull ups
If you are beginning with pull up bar core exercises and can’t get yourself up yet, then you can try out these assisted pull up exercises.
Assisted pull ups with a chair
For this pull up, you will need your pull up bar and a sturdy chair. For this, you will need to use your upper body as much as possible, and your feet are on the chair for support and help you lift yourself up.
Assisted pull up with an exercise band
If you have exercise bands in your workout arsenal, you can use them to help pull yourself up during these ab workouts. Find exercise bands of different strengths and take note of your progression.
Assisted pull up with a partner
For this assisted pull up, have a partner hold your feet as you complete each rep. You don’t want to rely on your partner fully. They are there to offer minimal support while you get comfortable doing the pull up reps yourself. Once you can do ten reps, you are ready to move on to the next level.
Alternatives to pull up bar exercises
If you don’t have a pull up bar in your home gym and can’t get one, there are some alternative bar exercises you can try to improve your core strength.
Use the doorway
To do bodyweight rows, use any doorway in the home. Stand in front of the door and grab both sides. Place your feet close to the doorway, so you are leaning back slightly and sit back to put weight on your arms. Pull yourself forward. This exercise will help strengthen your pull strength.
Towel pull ups
Use a few good towels and find a doorway in the home, and you are good to go. Tie an overhand knot in the corner of the two towels you use. This is what creates your anchor for this alternative exercise. Place the knots over the door and close it.
The knots need to be secure before you do your pull ups. When choosing a door for this, find one that opens away from you. This exercise bar alternative will improve your grip strength.
To sum up
With the help of these pull up bar ab exercises, you can get such core training that you may have never experienced before. Compared to the ones done on the floor, they are far more complex and hard, but that is why they are so useful. Plus, you can do them at home since you need just a chin-up bar or a power tower. If you have questions or something else to share, feel free to do it below.