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The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing (But Should)

And you don’t need much to be able to do it.

What is the best exercise you’re not doing, but definitely should? Hang out a bit longer to find out the answer to it.

You don’t actually need to stay too long to figure it out. The hint was in the first paragraphs. The answer is the “hang” or “dead hang” depending on where you are from. This is an exercise that any person can do to varying degrees of difficulty. Case in point, see the link below.

VIDEO: 10-Year-Old Wins Dead-Hang Challenge Set by Mat Fraser

The dead hang or hanging exercise is a straightforward yet highly effective strength training exercise that primarily focuses on the upper body muscles, particularly the back, shoulders, and grip. To perform this exercise, you simply hang from a stable bar or object with your arms fully extended and your feet lifted off the ground.

Source: Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels

But, why is this the best exercise you’re not doing at the moment? To answer that, we take into consideration what Alex Lorenz had to say.

Alex Lorenz is a sports teacher and YouTube fitness guru. He is the co-founder of Calisthenic Movement and has trained Calisthenics since 2012, uploading videos regularly for those people interested in getting in shape using only their body weight. In his opinion, hanging is the best exercise you’re not doing but should

The Best Exercise You’re Not Doing But Should

Hanging is fundamental. If you think it might not be that important for your health, think again. Why would you want to hang? Lorenz says this is how he trains his grip strength, decompresses his spine, stretches the pecs and lats, works on core stability, and strengthens his back. All at the same time.

Hanging regularly can not only help with shoulder mobility and stability, but it can also minimise or even eliminate shoulder pain.

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Hanging is also great for people who don’t have access to a gym. They can do it at home on a pull-up bar, rings, a tree branch, a door, or even a wall.

You could also do passive hanging or active hanging:

  • Passive hanging – relaxed back and shoulder
  • Active hanging – requires active muscle activation on the back and shoulders

Lorenz talks about other variations of the hanging, such as tucked knees or the L-sit.

There are many difficult hanging movements you can do that are active, such as the hanging sideways, human flag and one arm-hanging.

The best way to practice active hanging is to go on a playground or anywhere where there is a white pull-up or monkey bar. Do transitions and play around while hanging, change the grip, move laterally and swing.

See the video for more information.

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Regularly performing dead hangs can indeed benefit a variety of lifts and exercises. Here’s how dead hangs can specifically enhance other movements:

  1. Deadlift: Dead hangs improve grip strength, which is crucial for maintaining a secure hold on the bar during deadlifts. By developing a stronger grip, you’re less likely to experience grip fatigue or have the bar slip from your hands during heavy deadlift sets. This allows you to focus more on the posterior chain muscles (such as the glutes and hamstrings) that are the primary targets of the deadlift.
  2. Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups: Dead hangs are a fundamental component of pull-up and chin-up exercises. By regularly practicing dead hangs, you strengthen the muscles necessary for initiating and controlling the movement. Improved grip strength, scapular stability, and upper body endurance gained from dead hangs directly transfer to enhanced performance in pull-ups and chin-ups.
  3. Rows: Dead hangs can benefit various rowing exercises, such as barbell rows, dumbbell rows, or bodyweight rows. The increased grip strength and scapular stability developed through dead hangs help maintain proper form and control during rowing movements. This translates to better muscle engagement and a reduced risk of compensatory movements that could compromise your technique.
  4. Bench Press: While the direct impact of dead hangs on bench press may be limited, the increased grip strength and shoulder stability gained from dead hangs can indirectly contribute to better bench press performance. A stronger grip ensures that you can maintain control of the bar, and improved shoulder stability reduces the risk of shoulder injuries during the exercise.
  5. Push-Ups: Dead hangs can improve push-up performance by strengthening the muscles involved in stabilizing the shoulder girdle. Enhanced grip strength also aids in maintaining a stable hand position during push-ups, allowing for better force transmission through the upper body. Overall, the improved scapular stability and upper body endurance gained from dead hangs can help you maintain proper form and perform more efficient push-ups.
Back-Muscles perfect back workoutSource: Nigel Msipa on Unsplash

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The frequency of dead hangs depends on your fitness level, goals, and recovery capacity. While dead hangs can be a valuable exercise, it’s generally not recommended to perform them every day, especially for beginners or those with limited grip strength.

You should always take into account your recovery, training goals, and individual factors such as injury-prone, genetics, or ability.

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