Knee Raise

Isolation exercise, Body weight




Required equipment

Main muscles

  • Abdomen: Straight abdominal muscle
    (Musculus rectus abdominis)

Workout plan

Here you can find example plans for knee raise training:

Knee Raise: Basics and alternatives

: Involved main muscle groups Knee Raise

Involved main muscle groups:
Knee Raise

With knee raises, you’ll hang from a specially designed machine and lift your legs toward your torso. This exercise isolates your lower abs well, but it also engages your entire core, working all your abdominal muscles.

Knee raises can be seen as a variation of reverse crunches. In reverse crunches, you raise your legs while lying on the floor, activating the lower abdomen. With normal crunches, you lift your body toward your legs, focusing on the upper abdominal area.

Alternatively, you can do knee raises hanging freely or on a cable pulley.

Correct execution

To perform knee raises on the machine, you’ll need the right equipment, called the Captain’s Chair. It’s available in most gyms and comes in various designs, mainly differing in the backrest and armrest angles. The basic execution of the exercise remains the same, no matter the machine’s design, and works as shown and described below.

Video tutorial

How to do captain's chair leg raises - Andy Frisch

Step-by-step instructions

Step into the machine and place your forearms on the pads. Grab the handles to secure yourself.

Step off the footrests and let your legs hang. Your upper body and core should be tense.

Lift both legs upward at the same time, bending your hips and knees simultaneously.

Bring your knees up as far as possible. Achieve this by bending your hips more at the end of the movement and slightly crunching your stomach. If your butt is still touching the back pad, you probably have some room left to bend your abs. Hold the position for a few seconds.

Lower both legs slowly and in a controlled manner.

Common mistakes

A common mistake when doing this exercise is swinging the legs. Make sure to perform the movement in a controlled way, without using momentum. Lifting your legs without momentum maximizes the training effect.

Also, ensure that the movement isn’t just coming from your hips. You’re aiming to train your abdominal muscles, so consciously engage your abs during the exercise.