The human flag is a fun challenge. Since I was never a gymnast, circus performer or pole dancer (who make this look so easy), it’s taken some learning and practice to get it.
Learning the proper technique is obviously the answer. Since I basically figured things out by trial and error, I’ll share what I know with you. A video would do the trick better than pictures, and I’ve had several requests for one so I’ll do a video for you once I’m able. I have a serious problem…the gym I go to actually doesn’t have a very good pole and I’m not ‘supposed’ to do any videotaping in the main area (lame excuse, I’m working on this…) and the weather is a bit frightful here where I live so I haven’t ventured outside to use a traffic pole. The good news is spring is right around the corner, so I’ll get some instructive video up soon.
In the meantime, since I get questions emailed to me all the time, I thought I’d address the questions with some pictures and instructions.
The right pole is hard to find. It’s tough to find one that’s just the right diameter that’s easy to grip. I’m still on the look out for one in my gym to practice on since I live in a cold climate. If you live in a weather friendly environment, I’ve found traffic poles (bus stops, stop signs, no parking signs) are good.
• Your grip needs to be greater than shoulder width apart. I’ve found it easiest to have the bottom elbow locked with the fingers pointing downward. The top hand also has the thumb pointing to the ground.
• While bracing the bottom arm, you need to stack shoulder over shoulder, pinch the shoulder blades together and pull away from the pole with the top arm.
• Keeping the shoulders stacked on top of each other is imperative. This puts some pressure on the bottom elbow since it pretty much takes all the weight.
• To avoid injury of the elbow: don’t practice too much at first, give the elbow a rest, roll the elbow with a foam roller and don’t allow the elbow to hyper-extend.
• Once the arms are in place, get ready to kick the legs up while bracing through the abs.
• Keep the legs tucked in at first. This makes a shorter lever so it’s a little easier.
• If you’re able to hold it for any length of time, work on extending the legs.
• You’ll have a stronger, smarter side that you’ll want to favor. Don’t forget to work the weak and dumb side too.
The human flag is a worthy goal, but one that takes time, effort and patience. I’m getting so that on a good day I can hold it for 5 seconds or longer. It’s no Cirque de Soleil feat, it’s definitely a work in progress. It’s a great challenge for me and anyone else that’s looking for something out of the ordinary.
Feel free to post any tips or successes you have in the comment section!