Hanging Knee Raise Twist

Hanging Knee Raise Twist

Anyone who has attempted even basic aerial suspension work will attest to the difficulty of the hanging knee raise twist.

This move requires an incredible amount of upper-body endurance, strength, and control. The hanging knee raise twist is a true testament to functional fitness. 

Targeting your anterior hip flexors, quads, and obliques, this bodyweight resistance exercise uses isometrics to stabilize you and keep you balanced.

It is traditionally performed in gymnastics, and can be done from a hanging overhead or trapeze bar. The added instability of the hanging bar produces an additional challenge in the exercise. Beginners should use a chin-up bar or captain’s chair and work their way to a freely hanging trapeze. This will ensure that they master the form before getting ahead of themselves.

Gymnastics History

The invention of the hanging knee raise twist is not documented, but the movement pattern in and of itself formed in a gymnastics setting. It was originally done on a hanging overhead bar, which is present in just about every gymnastics gym.  

Ancient Greeks provide the first known record of gymnastic activity as a means to develop strength and enhance the physique. 

The root of the word gymnastics comes from the Greek word gymnazein, meaning “to exercise naked.” Apparently, that’s how it was done in those days! Creating the optimal human form was an important priority in the culture of ancient Greece, and exercising naked truly left nothing to hide. 

When Rome took over Greece, they turned gymnastics into a more formal sport and used gymnasiums to prepare and condition soldiers for warfare. This iteration of gymnastics died out with the fall of Rome, yet many forms of equipment used in gymnastics carried over to being used in the soldiers training.

A resurgence of gymnastic exercise took place in the late 18th century as German Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, who is considered to be the “father of modern gymnastics” invented the horizontal bar, the parallel bars, the sidebar, and the balance beam. 

How to Perform a Hanging Knee Raise Twist

Step 1: Adopt a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip, while hanging freely from a hanging overhead bar. Inhale. 

Step 2: Exhale as you engage your core and flex your hips to lift both your thighs and knees up beyond a 90 degree angle. Simultaneously twist to your left side. 

Step 3: Hold this contraction for 1 count. 

Step 4: Inhale as you slowly return your legs to the starting position in a controlled motion. Make sure you avoid swinging your torso.

Step 5: Repeat until you’ve completed the reps in your set.


  • Identifies and corrects areas of weakness
  • Trains the abdominals, quads, hip flexors, and obliques
  • Stabilizes the core
  • Increases flexibility
  • Enhances performance in various sports and workouts
  • Improves balance
  • Improves control
  • Increases functional fitness
  • Improves total-body coordination


If you’re a beginner to knee raises or knee raise twists, it is recommended to start by performing them in a captain’s chair first. When you have mastered the form, then consider leveling up to a stable chin-up bar and then trying to tackle the overhead hanging bar. 

Here are some variations of the hanging knee raise twist that you can try:

  • Pull-up bar knee raise twist
  • Captains chair flutter kick
  • Weighted knee raise twist
  • Captain’s chair knee raise twist
  • Hanging knee raise
  • Pull-up knee lift

Hang On…

Perhaps the biggest testament to how challenging a hanging bar routine can truly be is that even the strongest professional athletes known to man are not only thoroughly exhausted after performing their first basic aerial routine, but sore for days in places that they hadn’t been necessarily working. 

This speaks to how drastically suspension exercise can improve your functional fitness, balance, and control.

Hang up a bar and start taking your fitness game to the next level.

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