Dragon Flags are a great exercise to challenge your core ab strength and can look quite impressive once you can do them perfectly.
What are Dragon Flags?
Dragon Flags are performed from a flat position. With the shoulders continuously touching the floor, the torso and legs are then driven into the air vertically and then lowered from vertical, back down to horizontal with the body remaining flat. Think of your whole body acting like a hinge from your shoulders.
How can I do the Dragon Flag exercise?
To do the exercise you'll want to find somewhere that you can comfortably lie on the floor where there is an 'anchor' positioned a few inches above your head. Wall bars in the gym are perfectly positioned for this; however other anchors such as a bed frame or park equipment can also work fine. Many people perform these on a weights bench too.
To begin the exercise, hold onto the anchor above your head whilst lying down on the floor, and then raise your legs and body up into the air so you are balanced on your shoulders with your feet pointing to the ceiling.
This is the starting position.
From this position lower your whole body down to the floor, acting as if the point from where you are holding onto the anchor is like a hinge. Your whole body needs to be kept perfectly straight throughout the lowering motion, so you'll have to work hard to keep your abs tensed throughout the exercise.
Dragon flag progressions
Easier said than done right? There are a couple of progressions to help you improve your form and get the perfect flag, so try the following in order to work your way up to a perfect flag:
1. Loop your feet through a resistance band and tie the other end to the anchor to assist you with the exercise. The resistance band should counterbalance the weight of your feet to make the exercise easier. Haven't got any bands? Ask a friend to grab your ankles and lower them down to take the weight off!
2. Bend one of your legs at the knee when lowering your body to reduce the downwards force. Since your body is acting like a pivot, shifting the weight closer to the pivot point will make the exercise easier. Yes, those physics classes came in handy after all.
Try to complete sets of 6 to 8 reps with perfect form using the above progressions before moving onto perfectly flat dragon flags.
Want to make the exercise harder?
If you've nailed Dragon flags then you can always buy yourself some ankle weights or hold a small weight between your ankles as you lower your legs to make the exercise harder.