Awesome Upper Back and Core Exercise

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Today I want to share an exercise that I really like, but I have no clue what to call it so I’m going to need your help.

You essentially do hanging leg raises while holding the top the position of a chin-up.

Like this.

Any idea what I should call this?

Chin-up Iso Hold/Hanging Leg Raise Combo? Sounds clunky, but that might work ok.

Chin-up Hold Leg Raises?

In any case, it’s a doozy of an exercise that I like for a bunch of reasons:

– It combines two exercises—chin-up iso holds and hanging leg raises—into one, which in turn saves time—and I’m big on training economy. Generally I’m not a big fan of combination exercises because one exercise is typically a lot harder than the other and you end up not being able to push yourself on the harder exercise, but here both exercises are pretty much equally difficult so it works out really well, allowing you to blast your upper back and core with one movement. A lot of people tend not to like doing upper back and core work all that much but they’re both important, so if you can knock them both off at once, all the better.

– People often cheat the heck out of hanging leg raises when doing them from the hang position, usually by leaning way back and creating momentum. This not only takes stress off the core—making the exercise less effective—but it also leads to some to significant spinal flexion. Holding the top position of a chin-up prohibits you from leaning back though so you’re forced to be strict with your leg raises, making it a more effective and safer core exercise.

– Unless you have a training partner to count for you, it can be tricky to time your chin-up iso holds unless your chin-up bar happens to be facing a wall with a clock. You won’t be able to see a portable clock on the floor, and you can’t exactly check your watch without falling from the bar. The only choice then is to count in your head, but when you’re holding the top of a chin-up and the burn kicks in, you’re likely to start speed counting, no matter how disciplined you think you are.

With this exercise, rather than count time, you just have to count the reps of the hanging leg raises and the time for the chin-up hold takes care of itself.

A few technique points:

– Get into a good position at the top before starting the leg raises. I like to do these from rings so you have to stabilize yourself to keep from swinging, but a bar works fine too if you don’t have rings.

– It’s a little hard to see from the angle of the video, but if you look closely, you’ll see that I don’t lower my legs all the way down. Instead, I stop an inch of two short to keep tension on the core the whole time.

This is a really tough exercise, so if it’s too much at first you can regress it by holding the chin-up iso hold in the midrange rather than at the top and/or bending your legs to shorten the length of the lever.

Give these a try and let me know what you think.

You can also subscribe to my You Tube page for more exercise demos. I actually uploaded a bunch of new videos on Monday if you’d like to check those out.


  • Sindre

    L Chin Up!

    • Ben Bruno

      I like L-Chin-ups, but that’s a little different than what I’m doing here. Thanks for the thought though!

  • Jake

    The handles on my blast straps won’t unclip from the long straps, it looks like yours have a detachable D-ring? Did they come like that?

    • Ben Bruno

      Yes, mine came like that, but I bought them around six years ago so maybe they’re changed them now?

  • Newbie

    Iso Chin-Up Leg Raise.
    Or back-burning Leg Raise.

    • Ben Bruno

      Good thoughts!

  • Zach Long

    Chin up boss

    • Ben Bruno

      Hahaha thanks.

  • Matthew

    I think you should just start attaching your name to things a la Meadow’s Rows; we need some Bruno Rows, Bruno Chins, Bruno Curls, etc.

    • Ben Bruno

      I’ve thought about it to be honest, but I don’t really like doing that.

      • Michael

        Bruno Rows sound freakin awesome. Ben comes up with so many great exercises he’d have to number them if he went with that naming scheme, though.

  • steve bailey

    How about L Sit chins (iso)

  • spɹnɯ ʎʇ

    Ben, I like what you did. I’ve been doing a lot of ring training this past year, and just a few weeks ago I began to implement something similar. we’ve been doing L-sit chins with a false grip, which really smokes the forearms as well as primary muscles involved. Its basically the same movements as yours, just switching the iso hold of the two movements. Try em out!