All About The Human Flag (Part Two)

March 19, 2010 // Al Kavadlo

Danny doing a flag on a vertical pole (mixed grip)

A lot of people ask me how long it takes to learn to do a human flag. It’s natural to ask this question but I think the best way to approach training to do a flag is not to think about the end result. It is a long road to the human flag and people who go in expecting a quick fix will likely be disappointed. It takes a lot of practice–even if you’re already fit. However, if you focus on the process rather than the end result, I think you’ll find it a more rewarding experience. It also helps to set small bench marks along the way by using easier variations to build your way up to the full human flag.

The key to gradual progression is to practice similar positions where you’ll have better leverage. Part of what makes the full human flag so challenging is that you’re using a relatively short lever (your arm) to hold up a very long object (your body). Since you can’t really make your arms longer, you need to find ways to make your body shorter in order to make the flag more manageable.

A vertical flag is slightly less challenging.

Try doing a variation where your body is closer to being vertical than horizontal. Almost like a crooked handstand (handstands, by the way, are a great way to supplement your human flag training). Besides being easier on your arms, this puts a lot less stress on the obliques, lower back and abdominal muscles, allowing you to get a feel for having your body up in the air while you build up the strength to fully extend your legs horizontally.

Once you can get the vertical flag, you can work towards lowering your hips down with your legs still up. Then progress to putting out one leg, and over time both legs. Practicing with your knees bent also works well as a precursory way of working up to the full human flag. Remember, any modification that gives you better leverage is a good way to work towards this skill. The important thing is consistent practice.

Watch me transition through progressive variations leading up to the full human flag:

Go to part three of my Human Flag Series!

Also make sure to read part one of my series on human flag training.