For those who care about buffness

Posts tagged “human flag

the legend of the human flag!

In November last year, a friend asked me to help him achieve a flag. So we started working diligently towards a workout plan which would lead him there. In all fairness it didn’t take much adaptation from my own workout, merely slight modifications for the most difficult series in the early days, and less weight. A progressive levelling to harder and heavier series.
The friend in question had a reasonable level of base fitness already, an awareness of his own body and muscles, and had already clearly experienced workouts and boxing stamina regimens. And prob had a reasonable BMI (not that I care about BMI bs but am trying to say the kid was ripe for a buffness academy intensive workout!).
So we started with the basic upper body exercises, in circuits. Pulls/chins, push, oz pulls, dips. The bread and butter of calisthenics. Progress was steady and I was lucky he was very keen and motivated.
We started with difficulty achieving 8 x pulls 4 times, and an exhausted client. We built him up and ~6 months later we have a fluent pull upper, (I think he is at ~10kg extra on all sets, and could do much more if he dared!) who does half flags on the pole for breakfast and in his sleep. With perfect form.
The grip used to teach him the human flag was the trad grip on a normal street pole (with tape added for better grip). We started practicing them every other day as soon as he developed awareness for his half flag skills, and alongside rigourous front planche practice, after circuits.
Great emphasis was put on proper form, proper grip and the initial tip toeing phase before any lift off was attempted. After a few months, he was able to briefly hold a tucked flag, and decided to start practicing the ladder grip. This grip imho is a bit easier to handle for most people due to nicer wrist angle and a feeling of safe grip, not to diminish his hard work, as 6 months ago he could hold neither! It is a remarkably hard feat for either grips, and this makes me really proud:

Congrats to him and to all of you out there working on the flag! Work your upper body hard, with compound exercises like pull ups that will work your core hard too, you will need it for this. And one day, you too can achieve the legendary human flag!

Flag at last

so after about 2 years coveting that one move i can finally manage. sure it’s not perfect and i don’t always get it right.
but it just goes to show that sometimes w persistence and a some inspired moments, you can reach that elusive perfect instant.


so how did i do that?

i tried various techniques. w varying success.

initially i was trying to swing higher up and tilt my pelvis up as i went. this was recommended by an ex of mine who did chinese pole. to my knowledge she can’t do a normal flag but perhaps a straddled one? turns out this wasn’t that good a plan. first of all, proper form for a flag is w your body straight, none of that pelvis turned upwards shit that we all too often see. second, it’s very hard to hold back from falling down when you have to compensate for the swing.

next i tried the “Dominic Lacasse” approach which consists in placing your upper body and arms in correct position, closer to the floor, w one leg in flag position but perhaps bent to lighten things up and the other leg completely bent under, and you try to lift up. very boring approach if i may say so. and also far from successful i think. my main prob w this approach is that it requires a lot of upper body strength to even feel like you’re able to lift by 1mm, and involves a certain body type (light microscopic legs and huge upper). also, i suspect our friend Dominic was always able to do flags. if he reads this, i am happy for him to correct me, but i reckon am right (tho perhaps not to world record standards w the nice walking into it bit). it’s like me trying to help ppl w chin ups. i don’t know their struggles because i was able to do them out of the box 🙂 but i sympathize!
anyhow, all this to say, that didn’t help me at all. Arnoldcat sacrificed herself and went to a workshop and was able to show me the way to the flag according to Lacasse, am v grateful i didn’t have to pay for this 🙂

so what did it? well i just did as i thought was best. light kip up, and try to hold. and lo and behold, just like planches, i started to hold the half tuck version w lower leg bent, and eventually, one glorious day, i was able to straighten my lower leg out and stay there!
not for long. but it’s a start 😀
on the side i went to the gym religiously everyday and bumped my food intake. i focused on the obliques which were lagging. i also focused on lats as best as i could despite what felt like an injury to my cuff, brought on by overuse i suspect.

so how am i after holidays? i just took 2 weeks off when i was supposed to train but only managed to do so a handful of times on rings. well the flag is still there. i have dropped the weight i use for chin ups from 16kg to 14kg and find i have less stamina. but give me one or 2 weeks and we shall see. also keeping in mind i haven’t done chin ups for over a month due to previously mentioned rotator cuff prob.

and tomorrow my right shoulder is getting an mri, w arthrogram. happy days!

and back to the flag, hard work ppl. practice practice practice. be intelligent about it. adapt things to your own need. and never give up.