A Calisthenics Athlete Explains the Easiest Way to Learn the Human Flag

Philip Ellis
·2 min read

From Men's Health

The human flag is among the toughest in the calisthenics repertoir of bodyweight exercises, requiring a considerable amount of full-body strength while pulling with one arm and pushing with the other against a vertical pole to hold the body in a horizontal position. In a new YouTube video, calisthenics pro Chris Heria breaks down the intimidating move into a series of progressions which will help beginners perfect their technique in addition to building the necessary strength.

Photo credit: Men's Health
Photo credit: Men's Health

The first exercise is the high side plank raise, which targets the obliques to build core strength, as well as working the shoulders and lats. Heria recommends doing 10 reps at a time on each side. "You really want to focus on holding this position as well as repping it out until you've developed a significant amount of strength to where you're doing these effortlessly with perfect form," he says.

The next move is a side plank flag, which mimics the movement of the human flag; one arm holds onto the bar while the other supports the body's weight, and one leg is elevated. "The better you're pulling with your top arm and pushing with your bottom arm, the lighter your lower body is going to be," says Heria. Again, he recommends training both sides of the body until able to complete at least 10 reps with ease and good form.

Once you've mastered that, you can attempt the straddle flag raise, which involves jumping up into the flag position for short intervals. When gripping the bar, Heria demonstrates an underhand grip in his lower, pushing arm, and an overhand grip in his upper, pulling arm. "You may only be able to hop up just a little bit," he says, "but the more you do it, the stronger you're going to get, and eventually you're going to go up higher and higher."

The final progression is the flag raise, which builds on the straddle flag movement, jumping up into the flag and then also bringing the feet together before going back down.

"Eventually you'll be able to hold that human flag position for longer and longer, until one day, after a significant amount of training, you'll be able to go up, boom, and hold it, and not feel like your body is dropping down," says Heria. "And that's when you'll have officially unlocked the human flag."

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