When doing hanging leg raises, I get cramps in my thighs after very few repetitions, usually after about 5 or so. This stops me progressing in the training. What causes them and what can I do to progress past this point?

  • Try a magnesium supplement (very cheap) for a few days. It worked for me, but it can be a number of things.
    – Mephisto
    Jun 12, 2015 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


I would make sure you're doing these:

Warmup. I don't do anything until I've broken a sweat and have exercised the particular parts of my body I'm about to use. Running doesn't warm you up for bench pressing, and pushups don't warm you up for squats. It's rare for me to warmup for more than 5 minutes, alternating between Turkish getups, jump rope, and overhead squatting an empty bar. Rowing machines work good too, but I like using weights to warmup if I'm lifting.

Electrolytes. The biggest problem I ever had in this department was in the tropics where the heat and humidity caused incredible sweating. I had to drink a cup mixed with ~1/4 tsp salt before I worked out to get through it.


The only reason I bring this up is because the muscle at work in the hanging leg raise is the iliopsoas, which most people have really bad flexibility in.

Personally I'd avoid targeted movements like that unless you're trying to solve a problem. The more typical-human-movement compound stuff tends to keep you in balance without having to think about it much.

  • Eric, thank you with your detailed answer. I'm in the UK, so electrolytes are not an issue from a climate point of view. Flexibility: I'm cycling a lot, that tends to reduce flexibility as it's not a full range of motion, so I will work on that! Jun 12, 2015 at 6:57
  • He is having cramps in the thighs, which is opposed by the hamstrings. So I would look for more flexibility in the hamstrings, not in the iliopsoas. As for the iliopsoas, the issue is probably weakness, which leads to overloading of the thigh.
    – BKE
    Jun 12, 2015 at 14:29

What causes them?

Could be improper form and/or you did not loosen up your thigh through stretching.

What can I do to progress past this point?

Do some stretching and do more set as opposed to increasing the reps.

  • Specifically, look for some hip flexor and psoas warm ups and stretches. There are some deep stretching mountain climber variations that are great for warm ups, and whatever the last stretch is in "the limber 11" is awesome for this area. Jun 12, 2015 at 2:07
  • Thank you Aizul, very detailed, I will look up the stretches you suggest. Jun 12, 2015 at 6:51

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