Roman Chair Leg Raises/Captain’s Chair Leg Raises: How To [2023]

Last Updated on November 15, 2022 by Patrick

You’ve seen people across social media doing this crazy looking exercise in the gym. You may have even tried it yourself to see how difficult it is. The Roman Chair Leg Raise, also known as the Captain’s Chair Hanging Leg Raise seems like a confusing and complicated move for your abs, but when you read about the benefits of performing them correctly, you’ll understand why they are so popular!

This article will show you how to perform these hanging leg raises properly and give you all the details on what makes them so amazing.

We’ll also be going over a few variations, how to perform them as well as the benefits of each.

Let’s get into it!

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If you’re serious about getting into great shape, check out our rankings of the
10 Best Roman Chairs and Hyperextension Benches For Your Home Gym!

What Is The Captain’s Chair Leg Raise?

Captain’s chair/roman chair hanging leg raises is an isolation exercise in which you brace yourself vertically with your arms in such a way that your legs hang freely. You then raise your legs (like the name suggests) in order to work your core and hips.

Think of it like your doing a sit up or a crunch, but while you’re hanging vertically in the air.

What Muscles do Roman Chair Leg Raises Work?

Roman Chair Leg Raises is an isolation exercise which primarily target your rectus abdominis and your hip flexors.

How to Perform Roman Chair or Captain’s Chair Hanging Leg Raises

There are multiple variations of leg raises that you can perform, but for the Roman Chair Leg Raise, follow these steps.

Lean back against a bench with your arms resting on the the elbow pads and feet on top of the platform in front of you so they’re elevated off the ground.

Grab onto the handles on either side of the leg raise pad to keep yourself steady and let your legs hang freely.

Inhale and engage your abdominal muscles before performing the movement.

Exhale while lifting both legs together, keeping them as straight as possible without locking out your knees.

For the straight leg variation, you should raise your legs until your quads are roughly parallel to the ground with your legs straight.

Hold for two seconds at the top before slowly lowering yourself down to your starting position.


As you can see, it’s not that complicated of a move but there are some key things to take into consideration before getting started.

Make sure to keep your core engaged and keep the abdominal muscles tight during the entire exercise.

Exhale as your perform the upwards movement and inhale as you slowly lower your legs.

Perform each part of the captain’s chair exercise as smoothly as possible. Every movement should be smooth and performed with proper form. You should not be relying on momentum to complete the exercise.

The Benefits of Roman Chair Hanging Leg Raises

The captain’s chair hanging leg raise is an extremely powerful exercise for building strong core muscles for six pack abs and increasing flexibility.

Great For Your Overall Fitness

Increases dynamic stabilization strength in the hips, core and shoulders.

Great way to work on hip flexor mobility.

Increases core strength and stability.

Great way to build the abs without putting stress on your lower back or joints (unlike sit-ups).

Very Little Equipment Needed!

Very little is needed as far as equipment goes. As a body weight exercise, you don’t need any weights to perform the exercise, just a captain’s chair, upright roman chair or other workout frame.


Standard roman chair leg raises are great, but here are some variations that will help you grow stronger and develop your core.

Straight Leg Raises

Incorporate Dips into your leg raises for an upper body workout
Incorporate dips into your leg raises for an upper body workout!

The same as a standard roman chair leg raise, but with straight legs instead of bent.

Great for working the hip flexors and developing dynamic stability in those muscles.

Bent Knee Leg Raises

This variation is just like the straight hanging leg raises except you raise your bent knees, think vertical crunch.

Great for targeting several muscles and building dynamic stability in your core and hips.

This variation is also great for working the abs without putting stress on your back since it’s in a bent position.

When performing this variation, your goal should be to raise your knees to a further extent, beyond 90 degrees.

Pull Up Hanging Leg Raises

Doing you leg raise exercise on a pull up bar is another great way to incorporate upper body work

Gives you a dynamic stabilization workout in the shoulders, arms and core muscles by performing the exercise in a hanging position from a pull up bar.

Great for building shoulder stability which helps prevent injuries like rotator cuff tears or dislocated shoulders.

Single Leg Raises

Just like the name says, this variation only has one leg performing the movement. This reduces the total number of muscles worked, while increasing the focus on each one.

Don’t get it twisted, just because you’re only raising one leg doesn’t make this an easier variation!

Great for targeting each individual side of your core to develop strength equally on both sides.

This is also a great way to work on hip stability and balance since you are focusing on just one leg while moving it in front of you.

Are Leg Raises Good for Abs?

Leg raises are an excellent exercise for building your rectus abdominis, the long muscle of the anterior abdominal wall. The exercise targets not only your abdominal muscles, they also help to develop your external obliques, hips and overall balance and stability.

The position in which you perform the exercise, with your body supported by your forearms, maximizes the muscles worked while still being an example of relatively low impact isolation techniques when performed correctly.

What Muscles Do Captain’s Chair Exercises Work?

The captain’s chair can target many different muscles including your:

Rectus abdominis.

Hip Flexors (the muscles that allow you to lift your thigh up towards your abdomen)

Lower back, especially the erector spinae.

More Roman Chair Info

A roman chair, or hyperextension bench is an lesser known, yet extremely valuable piece of gear for so many reasons.
If you’re serious about getting into great shape, check out our rankings of the
10 Best Roman Chairs and Hyperextension Benches For Your Home Gym!

Interested in learning more about roman chairs? Check out our other articles!

The Roman Chair Back Extension: How To and Why

Roman Chair for Abs: 6 Exercises to Tone Your Core

Roman Chair Sit Ups – Step by Step

8 Great Roman Chair Exercises

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