Human Flag Tutorial – All the Progressions

The Human Flag is one of the most eye-catching skills in Calisthenics.

It is a feat of strength where the body is parallel to the ground supported by a vertical bar or wall bars.

The bottom arm is usually turned to grip the pole and is straight to push the body up. The top arm faces forward and grips on the pole. This arm pulls the body to maintain a parallel position to the ground.

The Human Flag is performed by starting with the legs parallel to the pole and then slowly lowering them until parallel to the ground.

Advanced athletes may also pull themselves directly into the horizontal position.

The ability to do a Human Flag demonstrates a high level of strength and control and is one of the arrows in the quiver of every Calisthenics athlete, alongside with other skills like the Planche, handstand, front lever and back lever.

practice your Hold

First of all, we need to make sure you grab the bar correctly.

A good advice is to start on a Swedish bar (or wall bars), because there you can position your hands on different bars and adjust your spread.

Make sure your hands are perfectly aligned when grabbing the bars. It helps if you grab them on the outer side, where they connect with the vertical pole, not in the middle.

Next, you need to learn how to push and pull simultaneously.

Keep your your bottom arm locked and straight, engaging your upper body muscles, and push your body up without jumping. Simultaneously, pull with your upper arm to involve the strength of your bicep and back muscles.

Keep your knees tucked and hold your body to this elevated position for as long as you can.

You need to be able to hold this position for at least 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

Assisted Human Flag

After managing to hold the elevating position you can progress to an Assisted Human Flag with a resistance band.

This exercise will help you understand how to perform the full movement of a Human Flag and how to involve your core muscles.

Make sure that the resistance band is aligned exactly above your hands and then put the other end to your upper leg. The band will help you bring your body up into a Human Flag position.

Don’t jump into this position, but lift yourself slowly up.

When you start elevating, tuck your lower leg in and get to the One-Legged Human Flag position.

Once you can hold it for at least 20 seconds, you can move on to a Straddle and a Full Human Flag with the help of the resistance band. 

When you start feeling comfortable holding those positions, change the resistance band with a thiner one to continue challenging yourself.

You need to be able to hold each position for at least 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

Vertical Flag

In order to get yourself to the Vertical Flag position you need to learn the kick-up. This is, contrary to the above, an explosive move.

Get into the hold position, as mentioned above, but this time kick yourself up into a vertical hold instead of parallel hold.

This exercise is pretty hard if you have never done it before.

You need to jump as high as possible using your legs to create a swing: cross with your outer leg your inner and then swing all the way up by jumping with the inner leg.

Try to bring your hips towards the bar as fast as possible turning you body slightly to face the wall.

That was the hard part. Now that you are upside down it should be easy to hold the Vertical Flag position.

You need to be able to do at least 10-15 reps in one set, before moving to the next progression.

Human Flag Negative

Once you can get yourself to the Vertical Flag easily, you can start learning the negative movement.

The Human Flag Negative is an exercise that consists in performing the eccentric part of the Kick up… In other words: it consists on lowering a Human Flag from the highest height possible.

So, start in a Vertical Flag position and lower yourself through keeping your legs tucked to your chest.

Once you can perform it easily you can move on to a Straddle and a Full Human Flag Negative.

You need to be able to do at least 10-15 reps in one set, before moving to the next progression.

Tuck human Flag

Tucking the legs alleviates pressure on the abdomen making the move much easier to hold.

To perform this progression, lift your feet off the ground without jumping and press with your bottom hand while pulling your upper body and legs up with your top hand.

Tuck your knees close in to your body and avoid bending your elbows, as your form will be much stronger if your arms remain straight.

Raise your hips in the air. Keep pulling away from your top arm while pressing your bottom arm into the bar. Keep your knees tucked to prevent them from dragging your hips downward.

Hold this position for as long as you can to strengthen your upper body. If you notice your hips dropping, lift them and align them with your shoulders.

This is the first phase of a Human Flag.

You need to be able to hold this position for at least 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

sigle leg Human Flag

The next progression is the Single Leg Human Flag, where you need to keep one leg tucked into the chest with the other leg extended

Don’t forget to keep pulling with one arm and pushing with the other. If you notice your hips dropping, lift them and align them with your shoulders.

Hold this position for as long as you can.

You need to be able to hold this position for at least 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

Straddle HUMAN FLAG

The last progression, before the actual Human Flag, is the Straddle Human Flag. 

For this one you keep both your legs extended… but spread to deload and shorten the lever slightly.

Over time you will begin to bring your legs together, but until then, try to keep your legs as wide as possible to make it easier.

You need to be able to hold this position for at least 20 seconds before moving to the next progression.

HUMAN FLAG

human flag on the rock
Human Flag on the rocks!

Finally, you can bring your legs together and hold a Human Flag

Well done!!

Now you can play around with this move and combine it with other Calisthenics skills like the Planche, handstand, front lever and back lever.

But remember to, always, keep pulling with one arm and pushing with the other. And, if you notice your hips dropping, lift them and align them with your shoulders.

And don’t forget to keep practicing !

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