Build a Core of Steel with Dragon Flags

I want to do something a little different today and show you something I’ve been working on: the dragon flag exercise.

If you don’t know what it is, here’s a demonstration of the awesomely strong Al Kavadlo showing just what it should look like:

It may not look super hard, but the dragon flag requires a TON of core strength and stability and will humble even the strongest of athletes. When I first tried it, I was pretty humbled – to say the least!

So today I want to take you through some of the progressions I’m using to get a full dragon flag. Try them out and you can work up to it too. Train hard, and have fun!

Hollow Body Hold

It’s pretty much mandatory to have a solid hollow body hold before you even attempt a dragon flag.

  • Start by laying on the floor and contract your abs, pulling your belly button towards the floor. The arms and legs should be held straight out from the body with hands and toes pointed.
  • Slowly raise your shoulders and legs from the ground as you keep your lower back in contact with the floor.
  • The goal is to find the lowest position that you can hold the arms and legs, without them touching the floor and without breaking lower back contact.

If you’re having trouble keeping your back connected to the ground, build up strength first by bringing your arms by your side, or tucking your knees in.

Candlestick Leg Lifts

Lie on your back with your legs straight. Place each hand palm down slightly wider than shoulder width apart or under each glute.

  • Keeping your core tight, lift your legs off of the floor while keeping your knees as straight as possible and your toes pointed.
  • Just before your legs reach vertical extend your torso to lift your lower back off the floor into a candlestick position.
  • Lower back down with control and repeat.

One Leg Tucked Negatives

  • Find a pole or something you can hold onto that’s secured to the ground. You can also use a bench for these and grab firmly onto the back of it.
  • Lie down holding onto the pole, then raise up onto your shoulders into a candlestick position.
    Tuck one leg into your chest and slowly lower down with as much control as possible.

Dragon Flag Negatives

Do the same thing as with the one leg tucked negative, except rather than tucking one leg in, straighten both legs.

Don’t worry if you collapse pretty quickly to the floor at first—these get better with time and practice.

Once you’re able to get the full dragon flag negative without collapsing to the ground, you can try and raise back up from there. The end goal is to be able to hold a static dragon flag with your shoulders elevated and legs as close to the floor as possible.

Like anything else, the best way to make process with these is to practice them consistently. I’ve been adding them in after my regular workouts anywhere from two to four times a week and have definitely seen progress.

Give these progressions a try and let me know how they go!

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