Hanging Integration Work
01 Sep, 2014
Its the last official week of the hanging challenge!
If you've started late, don't sweat it - simply continue in your own pace, look through the prior posts and videos and perhaps do some sniffing around the Movement Culture FB Group as there is a ton of information there.
Lots and lots of testimonials are coming in from the 10K participants in the challenge. Here are a selected few:
Thank you Ido Portal.
I've been suffering from chronic elbow flexor pain for the past 2
years; I've done many forms of treatment and therapy but achieved only
temporary(1-2 days) relief. After implementing passive hangs for the
past 4 weeks, my chronic elbow flexor pain has almost disappeared. I
would never have thought something so simple could have such a dramatic
effect. Thank you!
17 Arching. Feeling great mobility in the shoulders. Better then I ever
had. Smelling my armpits has never been easier. Its so nice! I love
this challenge is doing good things for my shoulders. Thanks Ido Portal and team.
21. Ive noticed a few things during this challenge. Firstly my quite
obvious difference in shoulder strength, stability and position is
evening out. My posture has improved. Shoulder stability in my
handstand, QDR positions and elbow levers have improved, and my
pull/push strength has improved. This challenge has been great and
hanging is definitely going to be an integral part of my training when
Hanging since the beginning and last night happened that I was
attempting one arm chinups and I did my first ever on the left arm! On
the right I had it since about 10 months but on the left I had shoulder
injury which was stopping the progress but the injury it's almost gone Thank you Ido Portal ! Keep hanging people
I just came to a realization that my shoulders are feeling so damn good
after hanging for a while. I have been doing progression work for the
iron cross for the past year and I have obtained it. It felt good to
accomplish it but not as good as how my shoulders feel after 14 mins of
active and passive hanging. This is another humbling experience for me.
Something so simple yet so many good things out of it.
18/30 First two minute passive hang today. Motivated by the
prerequisites for the one arm hangs. I cannot believe how much my grip
has improved with this challenge and what a huge difference using your
A big and heart-full THANK YOU to Ido Portal and the community.
I've been dealing with a stiff and painful neck + shoulders and back for
a decade or so. After being in a variety of treatments the symptoms
were less straining, but nothing was fixed.
When I started moving,
like doing 5 rhythms dance I found that things got better. Since playing
with the hanging and squatting challenge things are really changing..
This is really so incredible!!! Because now it sometimes happens
that my body including my back/shoulders neck just feel really nice and
often just feel ok. So thank you! thank you! Not to speak about the
effect I feel on the rest of my body.
Since I've integrated the hanging month challenge to my climbing
routines (usually 3 times per week, 1-2 hours at a time) yesterday I
climbed my first 6B route here in Finland! Indoor bouldering, that is.
The grading system for the problems is a bit different in, at least
Scandinavia, than in the US, but lest to say it was a problem I'd been
struggling with for a long time. But it just happened and I got to the
top with the first try
Many thanks, Ido - this challenge, though I've been lazy with it and
usually doing only 5 mins per day on average for the past three weeks -
has helped so much with climbing, and also with some shoulder issues
I've had for about 10 years now. Everything seems so much loose now, and
the general stiffness is almost gone. Gonna try the squat challenge
next... Let's keep on hanging!
New Hanging Integration Sequences
For those who have good healthy shoulders and have built up to it, here are some new moves to put into your daily hanging.
Note - the sequences rely on prior progressions and should only be attempted if your shoulders are pain free, stable and experienced enough in the isolated basics. Go here for more info on how to start.
Switch Grip Hanging Routine - Beginner
A nice small sequence built from two layers - the Side to Side Stationary Swing and a FIFO (First In - First Out) Grip Change order.
Switch Grip Hanging Routine - Advanced
This version is much more advanced and is comprised of One Arm Active Hang, One Arm Passive Hang and the Shawarma movements. It should not be attempted before those movements have been mastered and perfected.
The Ape Swing (Figure '8')
A more advanced dynamic movement involving the use of the Eagle hang, an over-pronated, internally rotated hang.
The Eagle Hang can be tricky and problematic. I do not recommend it to beginners. In order to built up to it -
go here for more info on how to start.
I discovered the Ape Swing while searching for ways to challenge my students in hanging work but in limited space. For me - it is perhaps as close as you can get to Brachiation in limited space, as all you need is a bar with 1.5-2 meters of width.
The Hanging Month Challenge was great. So much good feedback, so many bodies getting healthier through good and basic movement, such a great start to the Movement Culture community.
The bad news is that we are coming to the end of this month - but it doesn't mean you have to finish your hanging work in a week time, with us, if you started late. Simply - continue on your end pace and finish your 30 days of commitment. It is important not to miss days and do the work as prescribed as you are forming a new habit and killing old ones. The 7 min a day for 30 days are numbers that I've thought hard about as both attainable, not too much time consuming and realistic but also result producing and substantial.
The good news is that much more is coming down your way through this blog, our YouTube channel, (please subscribe right now) the Movement Culture Group and Facebook Page.
Liking the page and being registered in the group are good starting points but we are searching for an active, intelligent and involved community. If you've been keeping your silence so far - please don't! Comment, share, participate and take part. This will come back to you in the form of better movement, more commitment and more support.
Now a last word about the 'Specialists Addiction' as I call it: when you finish your 7min/30 days Hanging Challenge or if you did the 30/30 Squat Challenge before - don't continue with the same time frames for ever. Keep on hanging and squatting but change your central focus of movement and direct it somewhere else.
Don't get addicted. To anything. Even a good thing. Because there are other good things out there. Because it will lead you down a path to illness, narrow focus, over-specialism and less MOVEMENT.
Anyone who takes on the Movement title for real must get used to this - take something you are bad at and practice until you are good at it. Not great, just good. Then maintain it and repeat the process with another skill, position, trait, discipline or focal point.
Thanks for being there, for moving and sharing and putting all that viral inspiration out there,
More hanging materials
18 Aug, 2014
We are entering the second week of the Hanging Challenge and it is going strong!
7000 active members have joined the Movement Culture group on Facebook and are posting photos, questions and tips, sharing information about their daily Movement Practice.
Many are reporting great benefits already - just after a few days of hanging. Here is one recent testimonial posted today:
on day 6 and I will say this; I've been having shoulder problems for a
few years now. My shoulders have hurt a great deal. This is especially
true when I sleep. Almost every morning, what wakes me up is shoulder
pain. I can't find many positions where they don't hurt when lying down
and rolling over in the night usually disturbs my sleep, just from the
discomfort of my shoulders.
done some ART when things get really bad and that was surprisingly
helpful. However, since starting this challenge, my shoulders have
improved DRAMATICALLY. I am not having morning shoulder pain at all.
I've been able to actually sleep on my stomach, which was completely
undoable due to shoulder issues before this challenge. These benefits
were noticeable after day 3 or so. That's pretty impressive. Thank you
New materials for your Hanging Practice
Arching Active Hang
I've been using this Straight Arm Scapular Strength movement for many many years now. (over 10 years)
It is NOT a Front Lever Pull and should not be performed with straight legs and body but in an arched position while maximizing the RETRACTION. Any attempt to lift the body in a Front Lever will take away from the retraction and not prioritize it.
The movement is not for beginners. Sufficient practice with the basic Active Hang is a must. Also - if you are worried by the arch and suspect back pain - you have no business attempting this movement, better take care of your spine first as a healthy back of a mover should be able to assume such a position without discomfort. (note: the spine is not loaded much during the Arching Active Hang)
Uses of the Arching Active Hang are many - it is a great plateau buster for both Straight Arm Pulling Strength AND Bent Arm Pulling Strength. It can be a great addition to the development of a Front Lever as well as advanced Pulling work such as a One Arm Chin Up.
The Arching Active Hang is also a great re/prehab movement and a postural tool. (as weird as it may sound for many who are obsessed with fixing the spine in a neutral position ALL the time)
The Arching Active Hang works hard scapular Depression and Retraction as well as cuing the upper arm into External Rotation - a good diet for most poor postures you see out there - taking you out of that protraction/elevation/internal rotation 'sitting all day on my ass syndrome'.
The Movement is usually held for time or practiced for reps with a static pause of 1-10 sec at the top contraction. Sets are 3-10 in most cases and it can be used anywhere from twice a week to everyday, depending on context of the program and the individual applying.
Important note: many THINK they achieve retraction in this movement, few actually DO. If you cannot retract - even somewhat you should not work on this variation yet, better to keep it real and make progress.
Front Stationary Swing
This movement have
been made famous by the Crossfit industry but it is as old as apes. Nowadays it is performed mostly poorly
with little attention to body positioning, quality of articulation and
with too much aggression and lack of control while most of the practitioners applying it present poor shoulder/t-spine biomechanics. Many are overweight.
This explosive combination was the main reason it got a bad rep.
will definitely not start people with this movement and will first
require enough Passive and Active Hangs experience, good T-spine
mobility, stable shoulders and understanding of the biomechanics and pathway.
all those have been addressed, the Front Stationary Swing should be non
problematic and actually important in the development of dynamic
hanging/pulling work later on.
Application will usually be for time/reps and performed NEVER to failure.
Beginner (Healthy shoulders)
A1 Passive Hang (or Assisted Partial Weight Passive Hang with feet on the floor/box) X 3 min in as few sets as possible
B1 Active Hang X 6-12 reps with 3 sec pause at the top of each rep X 3 sets
C1 Side to Side Stationary Swing X 30 sec X 3 sets
D1 Front Stationary Swing X 30 sec X 3 sets
This represents over 7 min of total hanging time (the daily recommended dose for the Hanging Challenge) and can be spread throughout the day into 1-3 sessions. You can perform 1 set of each exercise according to the order or go at each drill and finish all the sets before moving on to the next drill. Rest periods should be 1:1 - 1:2 work:rest ratio, so if hanging for 60 sec, rest 60-120 sec.
Intermediate (Healthy shoulders)
A1 Passive Hang X 150 sec -> complete as quickly as possible, optimally without coming down!
B1 Arching Active Hang X 5-8 reps with a 3 sec pause at the top of each rep X 4 sets
C1 Side to Side Stationary Swing X 30 sec + Front Stationary Swing X 30 sec X 2 sets
This represents over 7 min of total hanging time (the daily recommended dose for the Hanging Challenge) and can be
spread throughout the day into 1-3 sessions. You can perform 1 set of
each exercise according to the order or go at each drill and finish all
the sets before moving on to the next drill. Rest periods should be 1:1 -
1:1.5 work:rest ratio, so if hanging for 60 sec, rest 60-90 sec, in the Arching Active Hang use at least 90 sec between sets as it is higher intensity work.
Now, go try those new drills and perhaps one of those programs, join us at the Movement Culture group and post your experiences and/or any questions you might have.
Share the Hanging Challenge with your friends, family and loved ones,
stay on the move,
15 MIN CONTINOUS HANG and the Hanging FAQ
13 Aug, 2014
A few questions that pop up again and again in the Movement Culture FB Group
: (you should join it if you haven't already - lots of communication is going on through it)
1. Should I use Rings or a bar for my hanging?
Rings are more
accommodating for alignment but are less stable. They are a better fit
for strong and inflexible pair of shoulders. They are also a better fit for anyone with wrist/elbow issues.
The bar is less accommodating but sturdier - it is a better fit for mobile but weaker shoulders.
If you have both optimal range of motion and strength - vary the
types of anchors you use as much as possible - bar, parallel bars,
slanted bars, rings, ropes, towel, top of a wall, climbing grips,
2. Should I finish all my 7 min hanging in one session?
Actually, no. The best
would be to spread the hanging work throughout the day. Second best
will be to finish it in two sessions - morning and afternoon for example
and the least favorite choice, in my eyes, is to finish it all in one
We are NOT training. We are moving. Just integrate it into your
life. Be the weirdo. Hang - anywhere.
3. What shall I do if I have X shoulder injury?
Read the full blog
post here, it covers some basic scenarios:
4. Elbow Pains and
Since hanging stretches the whole chain from fingertips to toes,
you will expose any weak links/prior injuries along the way. If you have some elbow
'gunk' - you might 'open it up' and feel that with some hangs.
* Slight bend in the elbows might be a necessary evil if it allows for a no pain hanging work to continue. Work your way back into locked elbows as the condition improves.
Use a Dowel held in one hand at its edge and work with elbow bent at 90
degrees on pronation and supination full range of motion for a total of 50 light reps as a
warm up. Repeat with the elbow straight for the same amount of reps. Do
these before hanging and check for a difference.
* Go see a soft tissue specialist (I recommend Active Release Techniques for elbows) to help you with the issue
Lower Back Issues - herniated disks, etc:
Very simple - if your
shoulders are open and mobile, you will need to do little as the neutral
spine will be maintained during the hang effortlessly. If you are closed in the shoulders and ribs 'pop out' - it will put your lower back into an arch - you can use your
abs to brace and bring it into neutral if you find it painful or
problematic to be arched for the duration of the hang.
Having said all of this - I would expect hanging to have benefits for spinal issues if you hang in good alignment and relaxed.
Shall I push it or not?
Use sets of minimum 30 sec - that is your
safest bet. If you cannot hold even a Passive Hang with two hands for
that long - use your feet on the floor/box to take some weight off the
7. Blisters, rips, etc:
First, make sure when
you finish your hang not just to drop down but to pull slightly into
active hang, release dynamically and drop down - many people rip on the
way down SLIDING from the bar.
Second, some need more hand care than
others. I don't do anything for my hands and I've had little problems
over the years even with very extensive hanging, swinging, heavy lifting
and more. But, if you require it - make sure to shave off/cut out your
calluses, preferably after a hot shower/bath.
I've heard there is
such a thing called 'hand cream' that you might want to apply, but I
don't know jack shit about that stuff, really.
few manual laborers who actually treat their hands, but I know many
gymnasts do. If you need it - do it. If not - don't worry about it. Ripping occurs once in a while if you play hard and play seriously, its part of the reality of anyone who touches stuff around them, swings, hangs and lift. Not a big deal - if the five year old gymnasts can deal with it and return to the practice after being 'glued up' by the coach - I think we can deal with it as well.
Now for a nice video from the Ido Portal Method Israel branch - Stas performing a nice long hang of 15 MINUTES. Check it out:
More videos and new drills to practice coming up in the next few days, make sure to stay with your daily hanging (soon to be habit) and share with your loved ones, friends and family, and follow us here, on YouTube and Facebook.
07 Jul, 2014
I've been silent for a while now on the blogosphere. In recent years I've made the choice of devoting my time to my movement research and practice, teaching my students and developing my company. It has left me little time for anything else but that is finally changing as I receive more and more help from the tribe.
Lets talk today about Hanging Work.
I've been using hanging in my own training and that of my students for over a decade now. It is a center piece in the basic movement approach we are implementing with beginners as well as relevant in the training of more advanced movers.
Hanging is almost non-existent in the fitness realm. You can see hanging work done in Gymnastics, Rock Climbing and Parkour but little elsewhere. It is no coincidence that those disciplines showcase some of the best pullers in all sports since hanging provides an important building block for pulling.
What is hanging, actually? We define hanging as a form of suspension that includes straight arms. (that has exceptions of course)
Hanging can be divided into:
1. Passive Hanging - relaxed, deactivated, targets more of the passive structural integrity components than the more 'muscular heavy' hangs. It is where more often than not we will start with a beginner. (certain issues with shoulder health and integrity might require we start with active hangs for example)
2. Active Hanging - selective activation of the pattern, engaging musculature and minimizing the demands on passive structural integrity while maximizing the active-component demand and adaptation. Active hangs are a type of strength work. More specifically - Straight Arm Scapular Strength.
3. Dynamic Hanging - the use of a combination of passive/active hangs AND momentum to initiate a variety of dynamic actions such as Brachiation, Swinging, dynamic release and catch (Lache for example) and more.
Often times one type of hanging is regarded as superior to another, this represents a limited and partially biased point of view. Movement is a big universe and it requires a variety of tools. Different structures, needs and demands makes the situation even more complex - that is why, as my close students know, I see the need of contextual approach vs general prescriptions.
The various types of hangs are actually very different and complementary in the type of adaptations they induce. One should engage in all three main types of hangs in order to develop optimally, context allowing.
Benefits of Hanging work:
1. Shoulder/elbow/wrist health and the recovery of the lost 'overhead reach' range - promoting optimal range and making use of the upper body as it was designed to be used. By simply allowing gravity to 'do its thing' in the passive work or "fighting it" in the active work - one can send a very intense adaptation producing signal into one's structure. I wonder if we implement hanging work throughout our lives, from young age and into old age and without taking too large of a break what would be the results over the now lost 'overhead reach' range and shoulder injury rates.I suspect we would have little need to 'stretch our shoulders' any further. Of course shoulder integrity, elbow and wrist/hand/finger health can benefit tremendously from daily hanging as well. (See added section below on the subject)
2. Lead up to pulling work, climbing and more advanced patterns. Hanging sits at the base of those patterns, just like standing does for walking. A deficiency in hanging work will become evident at a certain stage - some get stuck early unable to develop even a single chin up. (very common female problem)
3. Active hang work is especially important tool in certain advanced phases and scenarios - as a plateau breaker for advanced pullers approaching the One Arm Chin Up for example.
4. Grip Strength and Grip Endurance. If you cant grip it - you cant manipulate it/yourself. We have grown weaker all over due to the lack in physical demands in our daily lives. Grip is no different.
5. Creating 'Terminology' for future complexity. Hanging work creates awareness and a language of positions that can be later used to put together sophisticated pieces of movement in a variety of scenarios from gymnastics to parkour to tree climbing to rock climbing and more. It is a tool for improvisation and play.
So, as you can see, hanging should be brought back to fashion. Its time to educate people on the need to hang more and to implement it into our daily lives.
As always, I am not a fan of the pure fitness approach of 'training it'. I prefer the 'move it' approach any day of the week.
What does it mean?
Instead of engaging in hanging work as a 'strength session', a 'WOD' or whatnot, I would rather see hanging appear in our daily lives - spread out and practiced shortly but often. If it is done in that manner, the stimulus will be more potent but more than that it is about a philosophical paradigm shift - "I am not training" but "I am moving - all the time".
In order to do so efficiently I recommend setting up anchor points that will be accessible to you. From buying a cheap and easy to install doorway pull up bar (have a look at a sport's shop next to you or online) to putting anchors in your ceiling for a pair of gymnastics rings, etc. Many of my students working in offices have done the same in their office. You read it right.
The basic logic is: if you have anchor points - you might hang from them. If not - of course you left yourself no option. I find people who have installed anchor points and made them readily available for themselves, their children, loved ones or office fellow workers tend to DO THE HANGING much more than those who need to 'go to the gym' to do so. First things first - install some anchor points. Do it now.
The Hanging Challenge
In order to help you and promote hanging we have decided to initiate another challenge. Our last '30/30 Squat Challenge' went viral and with over 13,000 active members and hundred of thousands of views has put more people back in the squat than anything else before.
The Hanging Challenge is simple - spend 7 min of accumulative time (not in one go but spread throughout the day) performing various types of hangs - passive/active/dynamic for a period of consecutive 30 days.
Every week we will add more material for beginners, intermediate level and advanced hanging to add to your arsenal. Each one of those drills will be used to continue to knock off seconds of your daily task.
In order to participate, post results, pictures, videos, comments and questions please join the new 'Movement Culture' Facebook group we have created for this challenge and others in the future, make sure to share it with your friends as well: Movement Culture FB Group
Second, make sure to "Join the Movement" at the main page www.idoportal.com to receive updates from us on future blog and video posts.
Third, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive updates about new clips here: Ido Portal YouTube Channel
Last, 'like' us on our professional FB page if you hadn't already, it will be used as another tool to communicate with you: Ido Portal Official FB Page
How to start?
Without further adieu, lets get started.
Here are a few patterns to play with, while accumulating your daily 7 min total hanging time:
* Passive Hang
* Active Hang / Scap Pull Ins
* Side to Side Stationary Swing
Approach and Scenerios
Shoulder Pain - No Dislocations
I suggest you implement partial weight passive hangs (feet supporting some weight) and/or full hangs in the pronated and neutral grips for the total 7 min a day in the first week or two at least.
The reason to eliminate swings and active hangs is to provide maximum adaptation to reshape the shoulder and effect the soft tissues. Avoid pain but aim to strain the tissues - no strain, no adaptation. Proceed with caution - better underdo than overdo.
* Note: Shoulder injuries might require more tools than just hanging such as scapular stabilization work. For a complete approach contact us at email@example.com for a consult or Online Coaching.
Shoulder Pain - Dislocations / Partial Dislocations
I suggest you start with partial weight and/or full active hangs.
The reason to eliminate passive hangs and dynamic swinging is to allow the shoulder to regroup, tighten up and educate the musculature, capsule and ligaments to hold and stabilize better.
This should be done for the full month and beyond - passive hanging can be examined after that - gradually and carefully to see if one can proceed into more relaxed and dynamic hangs. Always perform without ANY pain.
* Note: Shoulder injuries might require more tools than just hanging
such as scapular stabilization work. For a complete approach contact us
at firstname.lastname@example.org for a consult or Online Coaching.
Healthy Strong Shoulders but Inflexible
I would concentrate on passive hangs for the full duration of 7 min a day X 30 consecutive days. As you progress beyond week 1 - we will post more advanced passive hangs that might be useful as well for you.
* Note: Increasing shoulder mobility safely in adults is a complex issue that might require more than just hanging.
Healthy Flexible Shoulders but Weak (cannot pull/chin up or can only perform few reps)
I would recommend 1 total minutes a day of passive hang - usually implemented as a mini-warm up and then the rest of the daily hanging time spent on active hangs and a few dynamic hangs thrown as cool down.
This approach will enable to maintain mobility, increase strength and shoulder blade stability and prepare for more advanced stuff.
* Note: Getting stronger in pulling/pushing will require more than just hanging. A complete approach should include hanging work, though.
Hanging and curing your shoulder injuries
A few weeks after finishing this post I received a message from one of my students - Justin G notifying me about an interesting book that has been released by an Orthopedic Surgeon using hanging to cure his patients from shoulder injuries.
I immediately ordered the book on Kindle and read it.
Indeed the book shows in great detail the shoulder anatomy and the effects of hanging on it as documented by Dr. Kirsch with a few decades of experience.
Dr. Kirsch describes a very basic but successful approach for most shoulder injuries and goes to offer daily hanging for most shoulder issues. He believes many can avoid surgery, increase range of motion and cure themselves from shoulder disability.
I found the book refreshing on the description of the actual adaptation that occurs - the reshaping of the Coraco-Acromial-Ligament and the change in Acromion shape and position.
The old thinking that you are born with a certain type of Acromion and then doomed for life might be outdated. We might have had a tool for reshaping our shoulder's anatomy lying in front of our nose for the last 2 million years.
I believe the book is a great read for those interested in the anatomy and physiology behind the process.
As for the movement part of the book - there Dr. Kirsch is obviously not an expert and presents somewhat of an outdated and poorly described approach. The dumbbell exercises added to the hanging work are especially non-optimal and a better shoulder blade stabilization work can be prescribed. Also, the hanging is simply left for you to figure out - there is no description beyond the recommended Pronated Grip.
Another point to mention is that Dr. Kirsch goes on (in a very non-North American and refreshing way) to push his clients with frozen shoulders, torn Rotator Cuffs and other conditions to go beyond a certain pain barrier that is required while reshaping the Ligaments but goes to warn those with unstable/dislocated shoulders to avoid hanging completely.
I agree about the need to strain the tissues, but believe avoiding pain is important as much as possible. Inflaming the CAL is not smart in my eyes and will limit progress. Further - I do believe unstable shoulders can benefit from hanging just that the type of hanging should be strictly ACTIVE in the beginning.
You can find Dr. Kirsch's book here
Last words of advice
- No pain. Just a strain.
- If you can use your thumb - do it. Thats why you have a thumb.
- Vary your anchors - rings, bar, tree branch, rope, towel, climbing grips, etc - all are good and all - different.
- Do less but more often. We are meant to receive such frequent movement signals.
- Be consistent with the work. No rest days in the first 30 days. Don't break the habit - form it!
Enjoy your hanging, share this post with your friends, loved ones, with anyone who has shoulders!
More to come in the upcoming weeks - follow the blog, the FB page and group as well as our email updates that should start soon,
Hang in there,