7 Best Pull-Up Bar Ab Exercises for a Strong Core

Are you tired of endless crunches and sit-ups? And want to transform your pull-up bar into a core-strengthening machine.

Let’s Know HOW.

The pull-up bar is a versatile tool that lets you hit your core muscles from various angles.

One of the best things about pull-up bar exercises is that they work your whole core at once. You’ll work your abs & obliques, deep core muscles, and lower back.

Plus, the pull-up bar lets you get creative with your abs workout routine, from beginner-friendly knee raises to super challenging toe-to-bar moves.

In this blog post, I’ll share seven of my favorite pull-up bar ab exercises.

Let’s get started!

7 Pull-Up Bar Exercises for Abs and Oblique

These 7 pull-up bar exercises target your entire midsection, blasting both those six-pack muscles and your side abs (obliques)

1. Hanging Knee Raise

The hanging knee raise is one of the best abs exercises that people do at the gym for building strength in the hip flexors and developing the six-pack and stronger core.

It is a compound exercise where you raise your knees towards your chest while hanging from a pull-up bar.

It primarily targets the lower abs, but also works the hip flexors, obliques, and forearms. It is one of my favorite exercises, and I must perform it during my ab workout.

A recent study looked at plank and bilateral leg raise exercises and found some interesting insights.

Hanging Knee Raise

How To Do It

  1. Grab the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Hang from the bar with arms extended, legs straight down, and core tight.
  3. Squeeze your abs and use your hip flexors to raise your knees toward your chest.
  4. Keep your spine neutral (don’t arch your back).
  5. Try to bring your knees as close to your chest as possible.
  6. Slowly lower your legs back to the starting position in a controlled manner.

2. Hanging Straight Leg Raise

Hanging straight leg raises is better for people who want to work their core and hip muscles more. It requires more strength and control than the hanging knee lift.

It primarily works the abs and hip flexors. Likewise, it is a great addition to any fitness routine for overall core strength, spine health, and mobility.

In fact, studies have shown that hanging leg raises activated the rectus abdominis by 100% and activated the oblique muscles by 88%.

When you master the hanging straight leg raise, you can try more advanced core exercises like hanging toes-to-bar.

Hanging Straight Leg Raise

How To Do It

  1. Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, shoulders engaged, and core braced.
  2. Keep your legs straight, and raise them up towards the ceiling by driving from the hip flexors and lower abs.
  3. Raise your legs as high as you can control while avoiding any swinging or arching of the lower back.
  4. Pause briefly at the top of the motion.
  5. Slowly lower back down under complete control.

3. Toes-to-Bar

Ready to take your pull-up ab workouts up a notch? Toes-to-bar is a seriously challenging exercise that will push your core strength to the limit. It is an extended and advanced version of the hanging leg raise.

Start by hanging dead on a pull-up bar and then powerfully raising your entire leg to touch your toes on the bar.

To do this, you’ll need major core power, flexible hip flexors, and strong, stable shoulders. Good glute and hamstring mobility are also required to perform the TTB with optimal form.

Hanging Toes-to-Bar

How To Do

  1. Hang from a chin-up bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Keep your legs and feet together.
  3. Consider using wrist wraps for a more secure grip.
  4. Exhale and pull your legs upward. Try to touch your toe with the bar.
  5. Lower your legs slowly and with control back to the starting position.
  6. Avoid swinging or using momentum throughout the exercise.

4. Hanging Oblique Knee Raises

Hanging oblique knee raises offer a unique way to build your abs from a hanging position. It adds definition and strength that many classic ab exercises miss.

This exercise strengthens your grip and targets your obliques (the side abs).

Do four sets of eight reps on each side, either to fire up your core or as a final ab challenge.

Hanging Oblique Knee Raises

How To Do It

  1. Hold the bar with both hands tightly.
  2. Tighten your core muscles to stabilize your body and prevent swinging.
  3. Using your obliques (side ab muscles), twist your hips and bring your knees up towards one side of your body, exhaling throughout the motion.
  4. Aim to get your knees as close to your armpit as you can.
  5. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds.
  6. Slowly bring your knees back down to the starting position, inhaling throughout the motion.
  7. Repeat steps 5-7.
  8. Repeat the movement on the opposite side.

5. Pull Bar Windshield Wiper

Hanging windshield wipers are an advanced core exercise that combines strength, coordination, and controlled rotation.

Hang from a pull-up bar and swing your legs from side to side in a controlled motion, like a windshield wiper.

This exercise mainly works the obliques but also your abs, lower back muscles, and hip flexor muscles to stabilize and rotate your body.

Hanging Windshield Wiper

How To Do It

  1. Grab a bar with an overhead grip, with the hands slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Keep your core and glutes tight to keep your back and hips in the correct position.
  3. Lift your legs towards the bar. Keep your arms and legs straight.
  4. Now, your legs are perpendicular to your torso.
  5. Now, rotate your legs to one side until they are parallel with the floor, roughly 90 degrees.
  6. Slowly and with control, rotate your legs to the other side.
  7. Keep your legs as straight as possible.

6. Hanging Bicycles

The exercise of hanging bicycles is a highly demanding ab workout that can be performed on a pull-up bar.

This dynamic exercise blasts your entire core – think your six-pack muscles (rectus abdominis), side abs (obliques), and even your hip flexors.

Imagine doing a traditional bicycle crunch but hanging in midair.

If they are too difficult, begin with exercises like hanging knee raises or twists on the floor to build foundational strength.

Hanging Bicycles

How To Do It

  1. Start in a solid dead hang with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width. Engage your core.
  2. Raise your knees towards your chest, keeping them slightly bent.
  3. Begin twisting your torso while extending one leg outwards and bringing the opposite knee up towards your elbow.
  4. Think of making a pedaling motion with your legs.
  5. Continue alternating sides in a smooth, controlled motion.

7. Hanging Scissor Kicks

Hanging scissor kicks offer an intense lower ab workout. This dynamic exercise targets those hard-to-reach lower abs, hip flexors, and the deep stabilizing muscles of your core.

Imagine your legs moving like powerful scissors while you hang suspended – it’s a serious challenge!

If straight-leg kicks are too challenging, perform the exercise with knees slightly bent.

Hanging Scissor Kicks

How to Do It

  1. Grip the bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder-width.
  2. Engage your core and hang with legs together.
  3. Raise one leg straight up in front of you.
  4.  Lower the raised leg in a controlled manner and raise the opposite leg simultaneously.
  5. Continue the alternating scissor-like motion, focusing on smooth, deliberate movements.

Pull-Up Bar Abs Workout Routine


ExerciseSetsRepsRest Time
Hanging Knee Raises310-1260-90
Hanging Oblique Raises38-1060-90


ExerciseSetsRepsRest Time
Hanging Bicycles3-48-1260-90
Toes-to-Bar (or Knees-to-Chest)3-4AMAP60-90


ExerciseSetsRepsRest Time
Windshield Wipers35 per side45-60
Hanging Knee Raises38-1045-60
Hanging Oblique Knee Raises38-10 per side45-60


  • AMAP = As Many Reps As Possible
  • Warm up properly before your workout
  • Listen to your body and adjust intensity/volume as needed.
  • Progressively increase the difficulty by adding sets, reps, or advancing variations.


Now that you have a comprehensive list of pull-up abs exercises, it’s time to put them into action.

Try dynamic exercises to keep your pull-up ab workouts fresh, exciting, and continuously challenging.

And the best part?

You can progress from basic variations to more advanced moves with consistent practice.

Choose a few exercises from this arsenal that interest you and try them this week.

Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience with these exercises. Which ones have become your favorites?


  • Park DJ, Park SY. Which trunk exercise most effectively activates abdominal muscles? A comparative study of plank and isometric bilateral leg raise exercises. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2019;32(5):797-802.

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