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How to Do the Captain's Chair Hanging Leg Raise

An Exercise for the Abdominal and Hip Muscles


Updated March 13, 2008

The Captain's chair or hanging leg raise station is a workout frame used in many gyms. The two chair arms support your bodyweight while you raise the legs. The exercise targets the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis), the hip flexors (iliopsoas) and the external obliques -- muscles that run down the sides of the abdomen. A more difficult hanging leg raise can be done while hanging from a pullup bar.

If you need more guidance on weight training please refer to the beginner's guide.

1. The Starting Position

Captain's chair exercise
(c) Paul Rogers / Cooloola Fitness
  1. Stand in the captain's chair frame with arms resting on the chair arms. Grasp the upright handles if your model has them.
  2. Ensure a firm position with the arms because you will be lifting your bodyweight from the floor.
  3. Make sure you breathe in ready for the leg raise.
  4. Brace the abdominal muscles at the midriff.

2. The Exercise Movement and Notes

Captain's chair exercise
(c) Paul Rogers / Cooloola Fitness
  1. Proceed to lift the legs upward while exhaling at the same time. Don't hold the breath. Inhale as you lower the legs ready for the next leg raise.
  2. You can either lift the legs with knees bent so that the thighs are approximately parallel to the floor (see picture), or raise straight legs outward, which is much harder.
  3. Lower the legs to the starting position and do the next one immediately.
  4. Do multiple raises in a single set. Try 8 to 10 raises in succession before you rest. Aim for 3 sets of 10 raises.
  5. Keep the back straight and pressed against the pad with the head and neck steady.

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