Dead hanging is a great exercise that requires you to simply hang from a pull-up bar using either a pronated or supinated grip, with your feet elevated off the floor. There will be no pulling, pushing, or motion occurring when performing this exercise. It has many benefits for your body, such as decompressing the spine and improving grip strength. Dead hangs are beyond just hanging around!
According to Shoulder Pain The Solution & Prevention, a small book written by John M. Kirsch, M.D., a certified Orthopedic Surgeon, passive hanging is a simple exercise that could prevent rotator cuff tears and impingement syndrome in the shoulder and other shoulder issues.
Even though dead hangs are simple, they are very beneficial to your body as it works for many muscle groups. The muscles targeted are the forearms, hand and wrist flexors, trapezius, latissimus dorsi, anterior deltoids, posterior deltoids, and abdominals.
The dead hang is for all fitness levels, from beginner, to intermediate, and to advanced level. There are many variations of the dead hang that will ensure you get a challenging workout and a good burn in your forearms. This article will cover 4 main variations to make your workouts super fun!
Begin by positioning yourself under a secure bar. You can use a bench or any elevated platform to step onto and reach to bar with your hands. You can also go straight into a dead hang.
Grip the bar firmly with pronated/overhand grip (palms facing away from you), at shoulder-width apart. Your thumbs should wrap under and around the bar.
Lock your arms out and hang from the bar with your body being in a straight line, and your feet off the floor. Don’t bend your arms, and stay relaxed with elevated shoulders. This is a passive hang.
Hang between 10-60 seconds and repeat this for 4 sets. See the recommended range for your fitness level below.
You should move on to harder variations once you have achieved your holding time and set goals.
Dead hang is a forearm and grip strength exercise, and practicing It will help the ability to hold your body weight, the longer you can hold on, the stronger your grip becomes. There are over 20 muscles in your forearms, which include the brachioradialis, wrist flexors, extensors, forearms flexors, and extensors. They are primarily divided into two groups - flexors and extensors.
The flexor group enables you to close your hands and bend your wrist downward, whereas the extensor group opens your hand and extends your wrists backward. This exercise will for sure develop your grip strength, and increase the size of your forearms.
Many of the activities and movements that occur in our lifestyles often compress our spine. Sitting in front of a desk for many hours a day is sure for one! Moreover, activities such as lifting heavy objects, and squatting compress the spine.
Dead hangs can decompress the spine as gravity pulls you down, and hanging helps to lengthen and decompress your spine. Your bodyweight gently pulls your vertebrae apart, enabling your discs to expand, which could relieve any back pain or tension you may have.
Poor posture can lead to neck pain, back problems, and other irritating conditions. It also affects how you look. A lot of postural problems are due to sitting for a prolonged period of time - gravity is pulling you down all day long!
You can fix this by practicing dead hangs as it put your body in an expansive position, overturning the effects of gravity and poor posture. It will make you feel more upright.
This will give your shoulders, arms, and back muscles a nice stretch. It will improve your shoulder health by increasing its range of motion. According to John M. Kirsch, an Orthopedic surgeon, passive hanging can repair shoulder impingement, rotator cuff tear, and other shoulder issues.
Moreover, you will feel your lats being stretched out, among other muscles. This will keep your upper body muscles mobile and healthy. Excessively tight lats can have an impact on your posture, and shoulder joint mobility.
This variation will require you to use the underhand grip where your palms are facing towards you. This will give you a nice stretch around the middle back - where the teres major muscle is located. Moreover, your grip strength for the chin-ups will improve. To perform this, you will:
Gymnastics rings are not as stable as a bar, therefore, they will give you an additional challenge. You can use many grip variations such as the pronated grip, supinated grip, neutral grip, or false grip. To perform this, you will:
Towel dead hangs will seriously intensify the grip challenge, making the hold much harder. This will develop your forearms to be thicker and stronger. The rule here is that the thicker the towel, the easier it will be. To perform this, you will:
Once you are comfortable with doing a two-arm dead hang, you can progress to a one-arm dead hang. This advanced-level variation will load your entire body weight onto one arm, which will reward you with crushing grip strength. To perform this, you will:
If you spend most of your day sitting in front of a desk then hanging is a great way to release tension in your body. Hanging from the bar provides many health benefits: it decompresses your spine, improves grip strength, and posture, and helps to correct your posture.
In fact, a 2021 study suggests that the rate of decline in cognitive function (e.g., motor and perceptual speed, memory, and spatial functioning) has a positive correlation. to decline in grip strength, especially towards the end of life. Having a strong grip is an important indicator of your health.
I recommend you to add this into your routine and work on being able to hold for a minute. You can use this as a conditioning exercise to improve your pull ups and chin ups. After a solid few weeks of consistent practice, you'll feel that any pulling exercises will become easier.
My name is Pat Chadwick, I am a calisthenics coach with over 4 years of experience in helping people from all backgrounds to achieve their calisthenics goals. My goal is to become the number one calisthenics coach in the world as it is my passion to help people change their lives through inspiring bodyweight movements. I believe everyone deserves the right to feel good about their health, body, and be delighted inside and out.