Human Flags Everywhere!

The first time I ever tried to do a human flag was on the support beam of a cable machine at my old gym. I jumped up and squeezed as hard as I could but didn’t come close to staying up for even a second. I was pretty strong at the time too. After all, I was almost 30 years old and had been working out for most of my life by that point. Not one to be easily discouraged, I immediately made it my mission to master this feat of strength.

Self Flag-ellation

In spite of my early difficulties with the human flag, I pushed onward with my training. I began practicing flag variations with my arms and/or legs bent and eventually managed to get a little air. I stared using an actual pole, and was able to add a second or two every few weeks to my bent flag holds. Progress came slowly and after several months, I finally began building up to full holds. During this time I also trained pull-ups, handstand push-ups and planks, all of which help build strength for the human flag.

Raise Your Flag
I’ve now been consistently practicing for a few years and my flag skills have come a long way. Whereas I could only hold a straight-leg flag on an angle when starting out, I can now hold a full human flag with my body level to the ground for several seconds.

Be patient when beginning with this feat – part of what makes the human flag so impressive is that it is hard! If any guy who felt strong could master this move in three days, it wouldn’t really be much of a feat at all.

Odd Objects
Ever since I began human flagging, I’ve gotten a kick out of trying to pull off this feat in unexpected places. Any tall, sturdy object is a potential place to let it fly. I love a good outdoor workout and in a city like New York, there are so many fun places to practice human flags!

My brother Danny and I recently ventured around the city looking for new places to attempt the human flag. We flagged on phone booths, mail boxes and other everyday urban objects.

Check out the video below for more:

This entry was posted in Body Weight Exercises, Inspirational, Parkour. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
  • Kidafi_b

    Hey Al,
    You and your brother crack me up sometimes…
    Great work as usual…

    Kidafi

  • Coachstevew

    Great stuff Al. How would you suggest someone start out doing this?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Kidafi!  We had a lot of fun with this one!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks!  I think I already addressed your question in the article though – maybe you need to read it again.  :)

  • Coachstevew

    You did. I guess I was looking for more info. Sorry.

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  • Youthser

    Haha great work Al! I haven’t put enough time into
    practicing the flag I’m trying to get better at dragonflags first but should
    put some time into it…

     

    Did you ask or tell the guy that was driving the truck what
    you were about to do? That’s hilarious.
     

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    No worries – if you want more info, I wrote an entire four-part series on the human flag last year.  Here’s part one: http://www.alkavadlo.com/2010/03/all-about-the-human-flag-part-one/

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Youthser!  The truck was actually parked, so I just went for it!

  • Velocity

    Needs more flagpole. hahaha

  • Belatrix

    I’ve stumbled upon your site a couple of months ago. Very inspiring! Saw the human flag on your site and decided to try it. Your article gives me hope, because all I was able to do was hop up and fall back onto my feet almost right away. And I’m pretty strong (for a girl…hehe, I get that all the time in the gym). There’s a handy playground close to where I work & I’ve made “hopping up & falling back down” part of my routine now. We’ll see where it leads me in a year or two. Keep up the good work! Very inspiring and lots of good ideas to try (& fail at… at first…). 

  • ola

    Al, you are the man, but my favorite one was in a previous video when you used the street tree.  That was memorable.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Um, is that like a euphemism or something?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks!  My personal fave is the mailbox – that was the trickiest surface I’ve successfully flagged off of so far.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks!  Don’t give up on the flag though – it takes lots and lots of trial and error.  I’ve never seen a woman hold a full human flag, so if you get it, you have to take a video!

  • http://twitter.com/WeeMikeSilver Mike Silver

    Hazaar!  Awesome stuff yet again Al, I love the way most passers by take a quick look at you and your bro but don’t really pay much attention – I mean come on people don’t you know how much strength it takes to do that?? heh heh

    Have you ever had someone comment or anything when you do things like that?

    Keep the great vids coming there really inspirational!

  • http://personaldevelopmentx.com Max Bronson

    Are you able to do human flags on both sides as easy as the other or is one side much easier?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Mike!  Glad you appreciate our hard work! 

    Sometimes people stop and ask questions – usually they’re parkour fans.  We were actually getting some attention outside of the post office.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Hey Max – I’m better with my left arm on the bottom.  I touch upon this phenomenon in this post: http://www.alkavadlo.com/2010/03/all-about-the-human-flag-part-three/

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  • Stefan

    Finally! A new post on the flag! I think I will pursue it some day but I have questions about exercises getting there.

    I know you mention some, such as pull ups and handstand pushups, but do you think that things like L-sits and levers have carryover too? I know you usually suggest the plank but it’s just too easy so I think I need to find something in the middle!

    Also, what do you think about the “cheat flag”? The one where you grab the pole with the entire upper arm. Waste of time or does it help?

    Thanks for posting this Al!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Hey Stefan – glad you liked this one!  L-sits and levers definitely have carryover, as does the “cheat flag” you described (dragon flags are also good, as someone below mentioned).  The most important thing is to keep at it.

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  • Carlkavadlo

    Banners of glory describe you. 
     
    PS That’s a Springsteen-style lyric.  I guess the boss has a good hook now and then. 
    PPS Danny and I were critiquing Springsteen earlier, but Banners of Glory describes you  –a la Bruce.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, your crazy. I can’t wait to so this type of shit.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, dad!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Toad!  All things in time – get your pull-ups and handstand push-ups down solid before you start trying to flag.

  • Paleo 2Go

    I had no idea what human flagging is prior to this site.  Amazing stuff.  Will be checking back often to learn more about it and to try and adapt some (very, very scaled) of these techniques in to my current WOD training.  Just phenomenal what the human body is capable of. 

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks!  Glad I could help expand your horizons – the human body is quite an extraordinary machine indeed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Evan-McGrath/1629450025 Evan McGrath

    Al, you are my new favourite fitness guru, I look forward to developing my relationship with you and your website.  My Summer has become a quest devoted to flying the fair flag that is my body.  I’M WORKING OUT! 
    Cheers! 

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Thanks, Evan!  Keep training hard!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Albert-Kim/852795416 Albert Kim

    To train for the human flag, are there a certain amount of sets and repetitions required for the exercises like the plank, handstand pushups, and pullups?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Nope.  But if you want some guidelines, I would recommend being able to do at least a 2 min plank, 10 consecutive HSPUs and 15 straight pull-ups before you even think about starting to train the flag.  From there you’re probably looking at several months of flag specific training.  There is no set rule though, that’s not how the body works.

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Nope.  But if you want some guidelines, I would recommend being able to do at least a 2 min plank, 10 consecutive HSPUs and 15 straight pull-ups before you even think about starting to train the flag.  From there you’re probably looking at several months of flag specific training.  There is no set rule though, that’s not how the body works.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Albert-Kim/852795416 Albert Kim

    Ok, thank you for the guideline! I thought these exercises were flag specific exercise?  Or do you mean like start practicing hanging on a pole and stuff?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Yes – once you can do those prerequisites, you’re probably ready to start practicing on the pole.

  • Bill

    Hey Al! I am curious as to what’s the strength standard you set before someone works toward press flag.  I think  you mentioned before that Clutch flag should come first but I think I should be able to do at least 10 full range HSPU or so. Btw thanks to “raising the bar”  now i can do free handstand(although legs are straddled), elbow lever but i am not quite there yet with muscle ups.

  • Bill

     oops sorry nvm i should saw ur response below to similar question lol

  • Tavis

    Hey al, Is it ok to have someone hold your legs up to just barely you can hold your weight(kinda like a spotter helping) Like you will fall then that tiny little help can make you hold it till failure. Or would you become dependent on that person there?

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Yeah I guess that might work.  Give it a shot and let us know!

  • Tavis

    Ok gotcha.

  • Billkim11

    Hey Al! I can hold bent knee human flag for few seconds.  Is it okay for me to practice the move frequently? (5days a week or so)  would appreciate your advice!

  • http://www.AlKavadlo.com/ Al Kavadlo

    Five days a week seems like a bit much for a beginner, but it depends on a few other factors. If you can handle that much volume then go for it but make sure to listen to your body – if you start getting aches and pains or you’re constantly sore then scale back a bit.  

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    I could not imagine how much time I need training for doing this. It’s even impossible for many people. 

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