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Simple and Powerful. Resurrect the Dead Hang!

Looking for a super simple yet powerful shoulder exercise?

A drill that can help build grip strength, core stability, shoulder mobility and possibly decompress your spine? Well, look no further.

Let’s take on the DEAD HANG for December’s Fitness Challenge.


Now when I said this drill was simple, I really meant it. Find a strong tree branch, climbing bars at the park or use the pull up bar at the gym, grip firmly and off you go!


I would stay away from this exercise if you have had a history or recent shoulder pain, dislocation, impingement or rotator cuff injury. But I would suggest you aim to get strong enough to take on this fantastic exercise once you are cleared for overhead movements.

How to Setup

a) Step up using a box or bench to reach the bars to minimize any swinging that may occur if you need to jump up into the position. It will also reduce any potential injury if you are a beginner and need to build stability and confidence.

b) Begin with a full grip (thumb wrapped around bar) with palms facing forward.

c) Allow the body to hang and shoulders to settle in to whatever position gravity will dictate.

d) Breathe consistently through your nose and with every exhale try to pull the rib cage down and slightly tuck in your tailbone. This will ensure you aren’t arching you back, will keep your core activated and help to avoid any swaying.

e) Hang with your the legs straight or even with knees bent with feet behind your butt if you need an easier starting position.

If you want to engage more core, an advanced tweak would be to raise both bent knees out in front of body to about 90 degrees of hip flexion.

Progression RX

Unless you have good shoulder strength and balanced mobility, don’t expect to get up there and hang for a minute right off the bat.

A) Begin with 3-5 reps x 10 sec hold to make up the full minute. Rest 30 secs in between reps.

You can make on the fly adjustments if you feel you can hold for 20-30seconds at a time.

B) Progress to 60-90 seconds 1-2x per week

C) Intermediate: hold 60-90s x 3-4x per week

C) Advanced: 2-3 sets x 60-90 seconds per workout. (up to 3x times per week)

Benefits of Dead Hang

1. Grip Strength - Transfer your gains in grip strength to the multitude of exercises and activities requiring a strong grip. Which is pretty much all of them!

Also, many studies have shown a link between grip strength and longevity.

2. Shoulder Mobility - The hang forces end range shoulder flexion and required scapular rhythm to occur in order to fully accept this position for the desired time.

Say hello to improvement in posture and overhead exercises at the gym.

3. Spinal Decompression - Daily repetitive postures, excessive sitting, gravity and spinal degeneration all influence compression of the spine.

This drill feels like a great stretch while it helps create some space between joints and bring you some much needed relief.

4. Shoulder Stability - You engage a multitude of deep rotators, low traps, Serratus Anterior, lats and core muscles while hanging out. All of these play a crucial role in your scapular-thoracic stability.

5. Lat Strength - Stress those lats in a lengthened position with isometric strength.

6. Postural reset - The combinations listed above culminate to balance the stability + mobility from anterior to posterior while giving you better awareness and opportunity to reset and rebuild your posture.

So get into this exercises if any of the above gains are of interest. Who wouldn't be?!?

Reach out if you have any questions about this exercise and how it may be implemented based on your physical capabilities.


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