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So You Want To Do a Human Flag?

So You Want To Do a Human Flag?

Written by
November 20, 2019
Updated March 13, 2023

It’s a showstopper for sure! Pull one of these puppies out on a busy city corner intersection and watch all the whistles and atta boys you get! Perhaps not as hard as front or back levers, but it’s an exercise that requires enormous strength where the shoulder girdle meets the torso and a rock solid controlled core that has the tensile strength of an I-beam.

It’s convenient as well, because any medium diameter street sign or piece of playground equipment will do!

What benefits do you get from performing the flag? Great grip strength, shoulders lats, obliques and quadratus lumborum all get an outstanding work out.

The only problem is the taller you get, the harder it is! Longer legs? Harder! Longer arms? Harder!

I am 51 years young, 6’ 1” 164 pounds. It took me 3 months from being in good condition to pull off the flag using this program. I have seen a 6’3” 215 lb. man do it. If you are taller than that, don’t let this dissuade you from doing the flag. Remember it’s about the journey and not the destination. You will be the better for it!

OK, let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of the process. This will be a 3-part series in taking a rank beginner in bodyweight training to create the endurance and strength to pull off the human flag in 3-6 months depending on what kind of shape you are in when you start. Some may take longer, some shorter.

I would also like to add that this aspect of training helped me to heal my back pain after years of over emphasizing my lower back muscles deadlifting. What a nice side effect!

So You Want To Do a Human Flag?

Prerequisites to Start Human Flag Training

A. Single arm hang for 30 seconds
B. 10 pullups for 4 sets
C. Side plank 45 seconds

Let’s get started!

Human Flag Training Phase 1: 5 Basic Core and Shoulder Strength Exercises

1. Basic Side Plank on Elbow

Basic Side Plank on Elbow

Hold as long as possible then switch sides. 45 seconds rest. Repeat for 5 sets.

2. Side Plank With a Reach

Side Plank With a Reach

Hold as long as possible, then switch sides. Rest for 45 seconds. Repeat for 5 sets.

3. Inclined Side Plank

Hold as long as possible, then switch sides. Rest for 45 seconds. Repeat for 5 sets.

4. Hanging Hip Hiker

Hanging Hip Hiker

Hang from a bar and fire your lower back so your legs come out to either side. 5×5 each side hold for about 4 seconds each side.

Strong lats and shoulders are also necessary, so you need to be able to do perfect, chin above bar,  strict pull ups (do not kip, cross your legs, or swing. In other words, do not cheat.) You need to be able to pull off 5 sets of 15-20 reps. Take a 1-minute break between efforts.

5. Piked Shoulder Push Ups

Piked Shoulder Push Ups

15-20 reps. 30 seconds rest between sets.

You will be ready to move on to the next phase when you can do this workout 2 to 3 times a week and hold all the planks for 2 minutes and complete all the sets of pull ups and piked push ups for 15-20 reps.

Good luck on your progress. I look forward to you joining the elite club of folks who can pull off the human flag. This one will take time. Patience will be rewarded with diligent training.

So You Want To Do a Human Flag?

Lionel Martin is A Manual Therapist who has worked with 27 Olympians, USA Track and Field, Volunteers his services to Olympic Training Center, and has worked with over 70 players in the NFL. He is formally an RKC, holds a level 2 Coaching certification with Russian Girya Sports Institute, and is a Master Instructor in Evidence Based Fitness Academy and Barefoot Strong.
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