If you suffer from some kind of shoulder pain and/or overhead mobility issue, this article may come as a relief, and help you progress further in you physical practices. If you already have strong, healthy shoulders, this is still incredibly useful knowledge, and a rewarding challenge to take on, so read on! Hanging is something that you do a lot of in sports like climbing, gymnastics, and parkour, but very little in the massive community that Fitness has become today.
The benefits of hanging
The different methods of active or passive hanging force adaptation and strengthening of your wrist/shoulder/elbow joints. It goes without mentioning that your grip strength (which plays a major role in hand and wrist health, as well as being crucial in most everyday tasks and movements), will greatly benefit from hanging, and your shoulder mobility will improve drastically, over time.
As with a lot of other movements/exercises, being able to hand for periods of time and having a strong grip is a prerequisite for more advanced movements, and will improve anything that involves this particular pattern. For instance, hanging is a great way to break through plateaus, and increase you pulling strength, thus allowing you to do more pull ups, rows, and pull more weight in general.
In more advanced progressions such as the one arm pull up, you want to be very strong in both active and passive hanging, as well as being able to perform single arm holds for extended periods of time.
Just like you would need to be strong at pull ups to perform clean muscle ups, or be strong at handstand push ups to progress towards 90° push ups, hanging is an important progression that should always be performed and revisited, or even better – and integral part of your daily life. You can easily install a doorway pull up bar or a pair of gymnastic rings in a place where you spend a lot of time or pass through regularly in your home. This will encourage you to hang more, and will make it easy, and fun.
This challenge was first thought of by Ido Portal, whom you may already know or follow on social media. He is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to movement, and launched the Ido movement culture and training method, many years ago. He recently worked with UFC athlete Conor Mcgregor to further develop his fighting and movement proficiency, and turn him into a better performing and more balanced fighter.
And here’s another one with a short insight from Conor himself, on what it’s like to train with Ido.
The challenge is very simple. Hang daily, for 7 minutes of total, accumulated time, for 30 days. The different methods of hanging are detailed below.
Simply holding on to the bar in a relaxed, deactivated way. Your scapula is completely relaxed and your shoulders are at ear height. If you have issues with your shoulders, this progression may be too much for you just yet, so start with active hangs, for the first 2 to 3 weeks at least. As they progressively get stronger, move on to passive hanging.
This develops straight arm scapular strength. Engage your scapula by pulling it down and holding there for time, or reps. Keep your elbows locked.
Combination of passive/active hanging with the addition of momentum. For example: swinging.
Don’t push yourself to the point where you feel pain. You want to strain the tissues and surrounding muscles enough to elicit strength growth, but so not much that you are uncomfortable. Separate your sets throughout the day as much as you can, leaving plenty of rest time between every set. Keep the sets short, but frequent. This is why having a pair of gymnastic rings or a pull up bar nearby is a good idea – it will allow you to easily perform your sets whenever you are near or pass by.
If you can, vary your holds! grip onto towels, ropes, tree branches, or anything else that can support your weight safely.