Performing the human flag is quite impressive and can be an excellent way to strengthen your core and stabilizers. It obviously requires a good strength to weight ratio but rare are those who can maintain this position without basic technique, a lot of practice and some dedication. This tutorial explains how to do the human flag, it covers basic techniques of hands positioning and it describes how to swing efficiently.
The Right Pole
First and foremost, you will need a pole to do your flag. Finding the right one may have tremendous impact on your performance. It should not be too small because it will hurt your supporting hand (bottom) or too big to weaken your grip. A good size would be around 2 inches in diameter. It must provide a good grip and be tall enough for you to place both hands where you want.
Parallel horizontal bars fixed at different height can also be used. This will allow your hands to be placed in a natural position and will strengthen your support. You can also do the flag on any vertical object you may find in your backyard, in the streets or at the gym but that might make your flag a little bit harder to hold!
Hands position is crucial. The space you put between them is up to you but your arms should form an angle of at least 90 degrees when you are in flag position. The upper hand should be placed around 6 inches above your head. After a few tries you should have a good idea where you are the most comfortable to put your bottom hand.
In order to strengthen your grip, but also to ease your exercise and prevent rotating around the pole (balance problem), you should use a mixed grip. Palms should never face the same direction. If you are using a vertical pole, both thumbs should point the ground. If you are using horizontal bars, then both thumbs should point behind you when you are doing the flag.
Mastering the swing is probably the section of this tutorial that will take the more practice. Once you will be able to do the flag easily you will not need to, but in the beginning it will probably be essential.
The first step of the swing is to first prepare your upper body. When your hands are placed, straighten your arms and lock both elbows. You should then partially face the pole and swing your leg back (the one that will be up in final position). This movement will give you some momentum. When you feel that the time is right, push with your other leg to finish your swing. Do not push too hard though, just enough to reach the horizontal position.
Just before your support foot lifts the ground, start twisting your core to align your shoulders with your hands and make all your body straight. While reaching the horizontal position, close your legs.
Note: Instead of facing the pole, some prefer to align their whole body with their arms from the beginning. With feet still touching the floor, the body is almost straight and making an angle of about 45 degrees with the pole. The swing from there is similar to the one explained earlier except that there is no real “back kick” with the upper leg. You simply push with the lower one.
This tutorial would not be complete without some tips on how to hold the human flag position. Once the flag position is reached, give everything you got to maintain it. Focus on your arms, shoulders and core. Once this part of your form is correct, make sure legs are straight and closed. It is an excellent idea to ask for a spotter to tell if the form is correct and if the position is perfectly horizontal. It is hard to concentrate on this and know what you are doing wrong while doing the flag.
Now that you know how to do the flag, give it a few tries and see if you are able to hold the position. If you still can’t do it, follow advices given in the article about human flag training. It also contains exercises to help you strengthen the most solicited muscles.