The Ultimate Guide to Hanging Sit Ups

Standard sit ups are great for building rock hard abs, but they can get boring. A great alternative to the standard sit up are hanging sit-ups, or inverted sit-ups, which are a great core exercise for any CrossFit athlete. Hanging sit-ups involve hanging upside down from a bar, or other piece of apparatus, and then lifting the upper body up. Hanging sit ups are hard, mainly because of the body position required to perform the exercise. However, they should not be passed by because hanging sit-ups provide an intense abdominal workout that can help you to develop those six pack abs, whilst also helping to tone up the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles which act as stabilizing muscles during the movement.

Here is some important information about hanging sit-ups, and also some great tips to help even the most novice of CrossFitters accomplish this challenging exercise.


What you will need:

It is possible to do hanging sit ups using almost any piece of equipment that allows you to hang upside down such as a power rack with pull up bar, or set of parallel bars. You could even use the monkey bars at your local park if you do not have access to a gym.

If you are concerned about the safety aspect of hanging upside down from a bar, then you could get yourself some hang upside down boots which offer a safe way to perform touch inverted exercises such as the hanging sit up. You can get these boots online from sites such as Amazon.  Gravity boots allow you to connect your ankles to the exercise bar so that you can hang upside down without the worry of slipping off. These boots also offer you a new way to complete the hanging sit up, and can even increase the intensity of the workout by giving you the option of increasing the angle and range which you curl.


How to perform a hanging sit up:

Hanging sit-ups really work the upper and middle abdominals. To perform this exercise by hanging by your knees from a piece of apparatus such as a metal parallel bar you should following the following steps:

  1. Hold on to the apparatus, and set both knees on top of the bar, with your feet hanging over the far side. Ensure your knees are firmly in place, then let go of the bar with your hands.
  2. Lower your upper body down, so that your body forms a vertical line from your knees down to your hard.
  3. Put your hands on your hands in a comfortable place, for example place them across your chest, touching your temples, or hold them out in front of you.
  4. To do the exercise itself, curl up into a ‘seated’ potion towards your knees, focusing on staying controlled. Aim to stop your body from swaying, and ensure you breathe out as you curl up.
  5. Lower your body back down to the starting position, breathing out as you go.
  6. When you finish the exercise hold onto the bar, and lower your legs back down to the floor.

You can do as many, or as few repetitions as you like to get you started on hanging sit ups. A good starting point is to aim to do approximately 4 sets of 10 repetitions. As you get stronger you can build up to 8 sets of 20 repetitions. If you really want to up the ante, and push yourself and your core, then you could hold a weight or dumbbell whilst completing the hanging sit-up to increase the intensity of the exercise.


Benefits of the hanging sit up:

Building strong core muscles is essential for any CrossFitter who wants to stay injury-free, and improve their performance. There are many benefits of the hanging sit up which include:

  • Hanging sit-ups are one of the most challenging core exercises that will really help you to quickly develop your core muscles.
  • Hanging sit ups do not place large amounts of harmful load on the spine, and so reduce injury risk as a result of reversing the strains caused by gravity.
  • Hanging sit ups can help to stretch out the spine, and reverse the negative effects of sitting at a desk all day.
  • There are claims that doing exercises upside down, like the hanging sit-up can help to boost circulation, and boost muscle power.

Always ensure that you get approval from your doctor before doing hanging sit-ups, or a similar exercise, if you’ve had a low back or other trunk injury. Also, if you are concerned about slipping from the bar ensure that you have a spotter, or consider getting some gravity boots, which were discussed above.



To conclude, if you are bored of doing the same old sit up routine every time you workout, then why don’t you try hanging sit ups. These hard core sit ups offer you with a new way to tighten up and tone your midsection, whilst also giving you the benefits of toning up your legs, and stretching out your spine. Hanging upside down gives you the opportunity to work out your core from a new angle, and will really help boost the intensity of your core workout. Doing hanging sit ups enables you to work against gravity, and so you can take your workout to the next level.