THE HANGING LADDER

Unless you're into climbing, hanging training is one of the most under-used exercises in strength training, but not in The Strength Sessions it isn't! Master this ladder and your abs, grip, lats and shoulders will be in top shape. 

LET'S TALK ABOUT IT...

For this ladder we simply ask you to grab a bar and hang from it. But then we make it progressively more difficult: first we adjust your grip, and second we work towards an L-Sit style hang. This means you'll need mega strength right from your grip, through to your shoulders and back, and into your abs and hip-flexors. Who wouldn't want that?!

The progressions are labeled first by grip, and then by body position. So I ask you to start with a standard grip, then master each body position you can with that grip, before moving to the next grip level and mastering all the body positions in turn again.

That said, it’s rarely so cut and dry in the real world. It would be lovely to rank all these progressions on a universal difficulty scale, but it doesn't really work that way. If you get stuck on any progression, you may be better off moving onto the next grip level and then going back to master the harder body positions at a later date.

To master this ladder, you'll have to work really hard on all the hanging, and ab work. When we train Hanging in The Strength Sessions Programme, you’ll work on different aspects of your hang each month, then you'll also get great carry-over from all the Chin-Up and Body-Row work, plus you'll have to work hard when we do L-Sits, the Hollow Extensions and Gymnastic-Style Leg Raise.

STANDARD CRITERIA FOR ALL HANGS ON THIS LADDER

CRITERIA: 

–> Arms must be locked-out
–> Shoulder blades must be elevated
–> You must be perfectly still for entire hold
–> Feet and knees — obviously — must be off the floor.

WAFFLE

There are plenty of hanging exercises where you should aim to squeeze your shoulder blades down, but not on this ladder. Here we want you to be fully stretched with your shoulders up around your ears. To do this well takes flexibility and strength.

This first level should be easy for most -- we just have to look out for tight shoulders and ‘guarding’. This is where you can’t get a vertical line from shoulders to torso (when viewed from the side!), where you can’t straighten your arms or you don’t feel like you can let your shoulder blades elevate…it looks like you don’t trust your strength or range of motion.

If that’s you, practice carefully, even if you have to leave 20% of your weight on your feet at first. That and some specific stretching of the Biceps, chest and Lats and you’ll soon have this position down and will be ready to start working your way up this ladder.

STANDARD GRIP

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

—> Any old overhand or ring grip will do

If you are particularly weak or heavy, you might need to stay with the standard grip for a while so that you can get used to hanging. Most folks will need to spend a bit of time with this grip while they get used to the harder body positions too.

FALSE GRIP

CRITERIA: 

–> Palms must be held over the bar (pinky knuckle above the bar).
–> Wrists must be flexed
–> Wrist must be held firmly in position throughout

WAFFLE

If you want to master muscle ups, this grip is necessary. If you want great overhand Chins (or Pull-Ups as we are supposed to call them), this grip is useful, if you want a strong grip and good range of motion in your shoulders, it’s important to be able to hold a full Dead Hang (or even L-Sit Hang) with this grip. Gripping like this is harder than normal strength-wise, plus it causes a real torquing and stretching of your Lats and fascia travelling through your shoulder (a good thing).

WARNING: You might think you hate this grip at first, but you’re mistaken. Actually you love it.

TOWEL GRIP

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Erm, you just must hang off a towel
–> Towel must not be wrapped around hands or neck

This takes real strength. No nicely designed bar to hang off at this level, we go beyond that….Grab a towel, hang it over a bar and crush-grip-it — now try and master your body positions around that grip.

NEARLY ONE-ARM

CRITERIA: 

–> One arm must visibly dominate the hang
–> You must master it on both sides in order to pass the rung of the ladder
–> Two fingers only allowed to grip the bar from the ‘spare’ arm
–> Those two fingers must still be attached at the end of the move
–> Your body must be shifted to the working side
–> For L-Sit variations, hip angle must be 90 degrees
–> Your working-side arm must be perfectly straight

WAFFLE

Doing stuff with only one arm is cool right? But it’s hard to go from two, to one…it’s often a big jump. So we use this progression to ease towards it and phase it in. Be careful: edge your way across over time; don’t dive in and damage your assisting arm by asking too much from just two fingers!

REALLY ONE-ARM

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Only one arm allowed!
–> You must master it on both sides in order to pass the rung of the ladder
–> Spare arm must hang down or out to the side
–> Proper mechanics must be seen in working arm
–> For L-Sit variations, hip-to-thigh angle must be 90 degrees

On this progression, we take one arm off the bar completely. Some folks might actually find this easier than false grip — those who are already strong most likely. Some won’t. Let us know which you found easier -- It may take a while to build confidence with these, but once you can hang there, there’s no reason you can’t work through all the various body positions and then ready yourself for the real grip strength challenge to come…

ONE-ARM TOWEL

CRITERIA: 

–> Only one arm allowed!
–> You must master it on both sides in order to get to the next rung
–> Spare arm must hang down or out to the side
–> Proper mechanics must be seen in working arm only
–> Towel not allowed to be wrapped around the hand. Not at all.

WAFFLE

For the final grip challenge on this ladder, we take our single-arm hang and try and do it from a towel, so rather than hooked over a Chin-Up bar, now you’ve got to hook your towel over and crush-grip it with only one hand. That’s real strength.

I’d suggest you choose your towel wisely, not too thick or it will be nearly impossible, not too thin otherwise no one will be impressed! You’ll probably want some chalk on your hands rather than be dripping with sweat too.

To master this your grip will have to be crazy-strong and you’ll probably have to endure some excrutiating forearm feelings along the way, but the strength you develop will carry over into loads of other stuff and stand you in good stead so it’s worth the effort to master this, however long it takes.

There’s also a lovely silver-lining too: gripping as tight as you need to not to slip off your towel will will also mean your core fires up to extreme levels, and that makes the L-Sit feel rather easy compared to normal!

THE BODY POSITIONS

To master this ladder, you need both great grip strength, and great abdominal and hip-flexor strength. Here are the different progressions to work through as we strive to do full L-Sit Hangs...

RELAXED BODY

CRITERIA: 

–> All standard hanging criteria apply
–> Nothing extra

WAFFLE

This, of course, is the easiest body position, we just use this position while you get used to a new grip. Then you should be able to move quickly to the next level.

LOW KNEE

https://vimeo.com/259732910

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> All standard hanging criteria apply
–> Knees must be together and thighs must be held just below parallel to the floor

WAFFLE

This starts to bring in a little more abdominal and hip flexor strength, and also increases the stretch required in the arm pit as a welcome side-effect...we lift the knees, contract the abdominals and posteriorly tilt the pelvis -- that encourages a greater Lat stretch which you'll feel in the armpits.

MEDIUM KNEE

CRITERIA: 

–> Knees must be held together and thighs held parallel to the floor
–> All standard hanging criteria apply

WAFFLE

Most can handle this untrained..at least for the 10 seconds anyway. Again, if you really struggle with your ab strength or overhead mobility, you may need a little more patience and some corrective stretches before you can pass this rung.

HIGH KNEE

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Knees must be held together and thighs held above parallel to the floor
–> Pelvis must be posteriorly tilted, at least a bit.
–> All standard hanging criteria apply

WAFFLE

Here we lift the knees a little higher and the difficulty is a little greater. Now we are starting to test the abs and need a bit of proximal hip strength…whatever that means.

SINGLE LEG L- SIT

CRITERIA: 

–> Knees must be held together, thighs parallel to the floor (or above) and one leg must be extended, locked at the knee with the toe pointed.
–> You have to be able to do it with both legs.
–> All standard hanging criteria apply

WAFFLE

This is where a lot of people start to get found out. You’ll need both confidence in your grip and decent L-Sit strength to work further up the ladder, especially when only holding on with only one hand!

FULL HANGING L-SIT

THESE ARE THE CRITERIA:

–> Knees must be held together, thighs parallel to the floor (or above), legs must be extended, locked at the knee with the toes pointed.
–> All standard hanging criteria apply

WAFFLE

The final full show-off, maximum grip and ab-test positon, is to go into a full L-sit position with your legs locked-out and held at a hip angle of 90 degrees (or higher).

If you can do that, while hanging from only one arm, while gripping a towel… you’ve mastered this ladder.

Watch for nearly locked knees, it’s the bane of many a strong-gripped participant on these (and standard L-Sits). You have to be totally locked-out to pass this level. If you struggle with it, a little focused training and hamstring stretching and it shouldn’t be too long before you’ve got it down.

So there you have it, master all these and you’ll be far stronger then most, and you’ll probable start demanding some more dynamic or ‘Elevated Scap’ hanging variations.

THE ACTUAL PROGRESSION LADDER

PROGRESSION 1 — STANDARD GRIP — RERLAXED BODY

PROGRESSION 2 — STANDARD GRIP — LOW KNEE

PROGRESSION 3 — STANDARD GRIP — MEDIUM KNEE

PROGRESSION 4 — STANDARD GRIP — HIGH KNEE

PROGRESSION 5 — STANDARD GRIP — SINGLE-LEG L-SIT

PROGRESSION 6 — STANDARD GRIP — FULL L-SIT

PROGRESSION 7– FALSE GRIP — RERLAXED BODY

PROGRESSION 8 — FALSE GRIP — LOW KNEE

PROGRESSION 9 — FALSE GRIP — MEDIUM KNEE

PROGRESSION 10 — FALSE GRIP — HIGH KNEE

PROGRESSION 11 — FALSE GRIP — SINGLE-LEG L-SIT

PROGRESSION 12 — FALSE GRIP — FULL L-SIT

PROGRESSION 13 — TOWEL GRIP — RERLAXED BODY

PROGRESSION 14 — TOWEL GRIP — LOW KNEE

PROGRESSION 15 — TOWEL GRIP — MEDIUM KNEE

PROGRESSION 16 — TOWEL GRIP — HIGH KNEE

PROGRESSION 17 — TOWEL GRIP — SINGLE-LEG L-SIT

PROGRESSION 18 — TOWEL GRIP — FULL L-SIT

PROGRESSION 19 — NEARLY ONE ARM — RERLAXED BODY

PROGRESSION 20 — NEARLY ONE ARM– LOW KNEE

PROGRESSION 21 — NEARLY ONE ARM — MEDIUM KNEE

PROGRESSION 22 — NEARLY ONE ARM — HIGH KNEE

PROGRESSION 23 — NEARLY ONE ARM — SINGLE-LEG L-SIT

PROGRESSION 24 — NEARLY ONE ARM — FULL L-SIT

PROGRESSION 25 — ONE ARM — RERLAXED BODY

PROGRESSION 26 — ONE ARM — LOW KNEE

PROGRESSION 27 — ONE ARM — MEDIUM KNEE

PROGRESSION 28 — ONE ARM — HIGH KNEE

PROGRESSION 29 — ONE ARM — SINGLE-LEG L-SIT

PROGRESSION 30 — ONE ARM — FULL L-SIT

PROGRESSION 31 — ONE ARM TOWEL GRIP — RERLAXED BODY

PROGRESSION 32 — ONE ARM TOWEL GRIP — LOW KNEE

PROGRESSION 33 — ONE ARM TOWEL GRIP — MEDIUM KNEE

PROGRESSION 34 — ONE ARM TOWEL GRIP — HIGH KNEE

PROGRESSION 35 — ONE ARM TOWEL GRIP — SINGLE-LEG L-SIT

PROGRESSION 36 — ONE ARM TOWEL GRIP — FULL L-SIT

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