The human flag is without a doubt one of the most impressive bodyweight exercise. It requires a prodigious strength to bodyweight ratio and a great deal of technique. It is considered to be a complete body exercise where shoulders, lats and side abs are particularly solicited. For this reason it is especially recognized to build core strength.
Achieving this feat is quite an attention grabber. The strength it requires and the anti-gravity illusion it projects definitively impresses the crowd. That probably explains why it quickly gained so much popularity over the last years.
Human Flag Position
To achieve a correct human flag form, the performer must place both hands on a vertical pole and place his body parallel to the ground. Both arms must be straight and the whole bodyweight is sustained without any other support. Legs need to be closed and the body has to be straight. Here is a picture of a nearly perfect human flag position.
The human flag can also be done on parallel bars placed at different heights. Even though this is not considered to be a strict and official form of human flag, the strength requirements and techniques are pretty similar. The better grip simply helps to have more balance and it will often prevent to spin around the pole (a common beginner problem).
Whereas the official form is generally renowned to be the most difficult, some alternative and easier human flag position also exists. The picture that follows demonstrates one of the most popular (named the clutch flag). As you can see, the pole is held at the level of the pectoral muscle.
After their first attempt at performing the human flag, most people may think it is impossible. Stabilizing the body and holding the position need tremendous efforts. However, with the right technique and a training adapted to this particular exercise, most people in good shape will succeed do the human flag after some practice.
The first forms of human flag were performed by acrobats. Instead of using a pole as support, the performer was held by his partner. The position was slightly different than what has been described earlier but still very similar.
It became more and more common to see moves and exploits inspired by this feat as part of acrobatic performance. Either on pole or in duo, the human flag slowly became common among figures realized in the acrobatic world.
On November 23rd 2007, the first human flag Guinness world record was set by Dominic Lacasse for maintaining the position during 39 seconds. From this point on, the discipline gained a lot of popularity. There were even commercials made in collaboration with Dominic Lacasse where his skills were demonstrated. It also took over YouTube and many people started sharing videos of their own performance. The actual world record is held by Wang Zhonghua.