Dead Hang

The dead hang is used as a good introduction to calisthenics / bar training and for developing foundation body strength. It's also recommended as part of the progression exercises for pull-ups.

Primary Muscle Forearms
Secondary Muscle(s) Shoulders
Difficulty Beginner
Also known as Deadhang, dead hangs, dead holds, bar hangs, German hangs
Optional Rings, Pull-up Bar

How to do Dead Hangs

  1. Grip an overhead bar or rings and hang with feet suspended from the floor with arms extended. 
  2. Sustain the dead hang hold for as long as possible without starting to lose form, to strengthen your grip. 
  3. Rest and repeat.  


  • Aim for a minimum of ten second holds before progressing to more difficult exercises.
  • Keep the shoulder blades down and chest up to fully engage the back muscles.  
  • Maintain a shoulder width grip, anything wider and the difficulty of the exercise will increase. 

Dead Hang Guide

The dead hang is a simple exercise that involves hanging from an overhead bar and is a great way to introduce you to bodyweight training and develop the fundamental grip strength. In fact, it is the first recommended progression exercise for the pull-up and will get you accustomed to hanging under the bar. 

If you're interested in calisthenics, bar training, or climbing then this is an essential beginners exercise. It's also good for stretching out the torso, decompressing the spine and can be inserted into more advanced exercises at the beginning of the routine as a warm-up or at the end of the workout when fatigued.

Learning to Dead Hang

It's important that you learn to dead hang with good form as described above. You'll probably hear the term hanging with 'shoulder packed' which means that the shoulders are pulled down and back so that it doesn't feel like your arms are being pulled from the sockets.

Resistance bands can be useful bodyweight assistance tools if you're struggling to build up the required strength for a ten second dead hang hold. Choke a band to the bar and step or kneel into it to support some weight to make the hold easier. 

Work on timing how many seconds you can hold the bar before your grip or shoulder give out and keep trying to beat that time each time you train. 

Progressing from the Dead Hang to Pull-ups

The dead hang is one of the first recommended exercises when learning the pull-up exercise. If you can't comfortably hang from the bar you have no basis to start training for the pull-up so you've got to go right back to basics.  

Once you can hold your dead hang for 10+ seconds with good form you should start training for the flex hang to continue your progress towards the full bodyweight pull-up. 


Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise.