Muscles Targeted: The main muscle group targeted by parallel bar knee raises are the abdominals. In particular, the group of lower abdominal muscles along with the hip flexors will be worked with this exercise. You will feel your abs working as you flex your waist and bend your hips slightly to raise your knees up to the top.
Exercise Instructions: Position yourself on some parallel bars, holding yourself up with your elbows and forearms with your legs hanging straight down. Use your abdominals to pull your legs up toward your chest. As your knees come to your chest, ever so slightly roll your upper body down toward your knees and crunch. Be sure to squeeze your abs at the top of the movement for a one-count.
Why This Exercise is Important: Working out your abdominal muscles is crucial for maintaining good levels of core strength. Enhanced abdominal strength will enable you to maintain good posture, thus helping to minimize the risk of developing back pain later in life. Parallel bar abdominal knee raises are an excellent way to stimulate the abdominal muscles that are attached to the pelvis and spine which are important for achieving good posture when sitting and standing. Developing your core strength is also an essential basis for moving onto different kinds of workouts and for enjoying your favorite sport, as it helps to increase your overall athletic ability.
Things To Avoid: When performing this exercise, make sure to avoid swinging your legs as they are raised up in the air. You want to make sure that all of the workload of the exercise is targeting your lower abdominal muscles. Swinging your legs can prevent this goal from being achieved effectively. Make sure to keep your back flat against the pad (if using equipment), and avoid allowing your body to be pulled forward, away from the back pad as you raise your legs. Avoid breathing too rapidly and instead of taking several breaths during each repetition, try to inhale as you prepare to perform each repetition, then exhale slowly as you draw your legs up into the crunch position.
Reps and Sets: 20-30 reps over a total of three sets is ideal for this type of exercise. As with all exercises, if this amount of reps and sets is initially a little difficult for you, make sure to start with a number of reps that you are more comfortable with (such as 8-10) and then gradually challenge yourself until you can do the full amount. If, on the other hand, you are looking for even more of a challenge with this exercise, you can try wearing ankle weights as you perform each rep to add additional resistance to your abdominal muscles.
Other Exercises To Use: There are plenty of other complementary exercises that you can use along with parallel bar abdominal knee raises. Try using decline abdominal crunches and reverse decline crunches to tone and strengthen your lower abs even more. Exercise ball abdominal pull ins are also great for your abs. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.