YO. Sorry about the delay. Heres a small guide I’ve been putting together that details the who’s, what’s, why’s, how’s, where’s and when’s of incorporating various hangs into your lifting/training.
WHO – You, nerd. Do you exercise? You could use a better grip. And stronger connective tissue.
WHAT – Hanging on a bar or rings or odd implements.
WHY – Not simply for the goal of a stronger grip, although that alone will transfer to almost all of your lifts and daily life, but also to strengthen the connective tissue from your shoulder girdle all the way up to your wrists. If you want to get stronger at pull ups, you better be able to hang from that bar for an extended period of time. If you can’t, how can you expect to crank out more reps?
HOW – With a straight wrist or a bent wrist (false grip) position or one hand grip. For time, with weight, or with uneven grip
WHERE – In the gym, at home, on da streetz.
WHEN – After your main lifts, separate from your training, in your free time.
After not training specifically for a one arm chin up for the past three months, I was able to get them with both arms recently for 1 rep. I attribute my ability largely to the incorporation of having added hangs to my training.
So, lets get into the deets.
First things first, how does one do these?
Straight grip – as simple as it sounds, grab the bar with a regular grip, thumbs wrapped around.
Bar false grip – Both versions of the false grip will take time to develop. We are not used to positions of flexing our wrists with an extended elbow. Go slow. I like to start this position by using a bar that I have some reach clearance over (if you don’t have one – no biggie). Think about revving a motorcycle.
Version 1: (seen above) Grip the bar, and you want to get those wrists as far over as you can, so the top of your hand is parallel with the ground. The meat of your palm should be on top of the bar. SLOWLY lower into the hang as your wrist makes a 90° angle. This will be very uncomfortable at first. Go at your own pace.
Version 2: Very similar to V1 except your thumbs are not wrapped under the bar. Rather they are almost fully over the bar, and the tips of your fingers are touching the other side.
Both variations will help if you are looking to do (strict) bar muscles ups and variations, because this position keeps the bar closer to your body when you transition to the dip. Your wrist is essentially in the perfect pressing position for a dip as your radius and ulna will be stacked up.
Ring False grip – This one is a little trickier. Very similar idea, and beneficial for any and all ring work. Personally, I’m not a fan of kipping muscle ups, but these will help you if you are a kipping or non-kipping athlete. Same idea as the bar false grip – we are positioning our wrists for an easy transfer to a dip or backwards roll or whatever.
To start, chalk up the pinky side of your hand from the base of your pinky digit to the crook of your wrist. This is essential. It also helps if you have wood rings as plastic doesn’t provide a very grippy surface. Reach your wrist through and rest that whole spot you just chalked up on the inside of the wring. Cock your wrist to 90° and grip tightly. The top of the ring will cross from the base of your index finger to the outside edge of your palm. Again, these will take time and practice to get used to. Expect cramping. Once you are in the hang, work on internally rotating the shoulder (elbows out) and spend your time in that position.
No grip-false grip – These are brutal. Can be completed on bar or rings. Basically, you’re making a fist, flexing your wrist and placing whatever implement right in the crook.
**IMPORTANT NOTE FOR ALL FALSE GRIPS – I suggest starting slowly and use something to stand on when you first try these. This way you will be able to slowly squat into the full hang to get a feel for it.
One arm hangs – I don’t suggest practicing one arm hangs until you have minimum 45 seconds regular hang. Strictly using one arm is going to be quite stressful to the body. You should have some foundational strength before attempting these. We won’t be jumping directly into a one arm hang, but rather working on progressions towards them. My favorite way of doing so is to lessen the grip on one side, while the other incrementally carries more of the load. You can do this by lightening your grip and working on 4 fingers, 3 fingers, 2 fingers and 1 finger. Your body position is going to change as the load is transferred totally to one side. Remember, stay braced. Once you work your way down to one arm, you can use the other arm straight out to one side for balance. Play around with it and you’ll figure out what position you like.
We want our shoulders to be fully flexed in the overhead position. Do no hang (relaxed) on the meat of your bones while doing these. Initially, we should work on our active hangs before our passive hangs. Pull that scapula down. You want your shoulders and ears away from each other. Once we are able to perform some overhead shrugs and hold this position, we can introduce passive hangs to our training.
The reason I prefer to do it this way is because if we start with the passive method, our lack of stability and connection with those end range positions can cause too much stress in the system.
Take a deep breath and fill your belly with air, then upon exhale, blow that air out and pull your belly button toward your spine. You should feel your ribs coming down and a nice stretch in the pecs and lats. This really reinforces proper overhead position by moving into a hollow body hold and out of lumber extension.
Use Chalk. Don’t use gloves. If you’re reading this blog, I assume you don’t use gloves.
Foam roll: If you have some soft tissue restrictions and you feel foam rolling is right for you, then hit the following spots: pecs, lats, long head of triceps, brachialis, thoracic spine
If you feel any pain/irritation: BACK OFF! Regress in your position.
Other Variations – If your main priority with hangs is grip strength, try hanging from odd implements such as softballs, thick grip bars, ledges etc etc. Or go rock climbing.
Time – Each time you practice, try spending a little more time in the hang.
Shrugs – To build up strength in the scapula, practice doing shrugs in any and all of the positions. They are the hardest in the one arm hangs, but very beneficial. Move from scapular depression to scapular elevation. These will also benefit your pull ups. (See above pic for shoulder position)
Body position – Try bringing your knees up high while in a hang, or even get into an L-sit or V-sit. This will slightly change body position and add a different dynamic to the exercise.
Weight – Get fat. Or add a weight belt/vest. Whichever works best for you.
Jacked forearms, powerful grip, strong connective tissue, important skill transfer (for bar and ring athletes), better overhead range.
I’ve slacked a bit on posting this, and just the other day Ido Portal posted a blog on the same thing. This guy is a genius when it comes to movement. I HIGHLY check out his page for some more info on hangs and why you should do them.