The human flag is an elite bodyweight hold in which the body is statically held by the arms on a vertical object, suspended from the ground like a flag.
- Primary Muscle: Abdominals
- Secondary Muscle(s): Shoulders, Back
- Difficulty: Elite
- Also known as: Flag Hold, Flagging
View Human Flag guide
How to do the human flag
Form and position -
- Hands: The hands can be facing each other, facing forwards, or in a mixed grip with this exercise. Many people often feel strongest with palms facing each other but it can be difficult to find an anchor point that allows you to do this. The lower hand should be around waist height. Whichever hand position you choose, squeeze the anchor point hard and keep the arms straight.
- Upper arm & shoulder: The position of the upper arm and shoulder play a lesser role in the exercise and are used primarily for support and maintaining body alignment. The shoulder of this arm will be naturally stretched out and extended when in the flag position.
- Lower arm & shoulder: This is the key to achieving the human flag. The lower arm is your support beam and presses with extreme force into the anchor point to keep the body horizontal. The shoulder position is crucial to enable a horizontal hold and the lower shoulder should be pressed out and extended to match that of the top shoulder for equilibrium.
Human flag instructions:
- Establish the grip and set the hands in position, ensuring that they're in a straight line and perpendicular to the ground.
- With the body in position and in a straight line, first lift the outside leg off the ground. This will help maintain your alignment and make the coming press into the flag a little easier to execute.
- Press with as much force as possible with the lower arm and bring the legs together, raising the body to horizontal.
- If the anchor point doesn't feel secure or stable you should find another location.
- If you begin to fall out of position it's important to land on your feet and let go of the anchor point to protect the shoulders.
Human flag guide
The human flag is an incredible display of strength and an impressive full body static hold. The exercise involves gripping a vertical object (power racks, bars, trees, fences, fixed ladders and poles are commonly used) and the body is held horizontal to the ground, supported only by the arms.
Not only will you need a solid foundation of bodyweight strength to attain the flag but it will most likely require further specific training. Depending on your existing skill levels it can take months to build up the required shoulder strength.
So why should you learn the flag? It's an incredible strength achievement and display of athleticism, as well as an attention grabbing exercise that few will ever master.
Learning the human flag
Learning the human flag is not a quick process and will take a lot of practice, even for people who are already in good shape. Progression exercises for achieving the human flag are -
Human flag tips
This advanced hold will require dedicated and specific training to achieve. Here are some tips for anyone training for the human flag hold:
- Try to build up strength for the skill by practicing the hold with bent legs. This will require less strength from the arms to get into position and sustain the hold but you find it quite difficult to find balance. As you gain strength, progress to extending one leg and in time, both legs for the full flag.
- If the bent leg flag is too difficult right now you must practice, practice, and practice your shoulder strength. Key exercises include pull-ups, handstands, and handstand push-ups which should focus on shoulder shrugs and extensions.
- This is a difficult and tiring full body hold. Keep training sessions brief but consistent.
- Keep the body in line at all times and the arms straight.
Always consult your GP before undertaking any form of weight loss, fitness or exercise