The Hanging Challenge

This will be the summer of the hang. As in me hanging from my arms. I’m not dubbing it as the summer of the pull up, because at 53, so far I have never, ever been able to do even a single pull up. Which, I have to admit, pisses me off a bit.

In my 20’s, when I was working as a trainer in a weight room, I tried. I really, really tried. Every day I would use the pull up bar and give it a go. And I continued to fail. Every. Day.

So, rather than get my hopes up, I am going to do what I succeeded in doing–hanging. In as many different ways as I can. Every. Day.

Because, even if I never do a single pull up my entire life, I need to use my arms and shoulders as they are designed–to be mobile, strong, connected to the rest of my body, and when needed, able to support the weight of my whole body. I have seen too many people take a little fall and end up immobilized due to a broken wrist or arm.

As a Restorative Exercise Specialist™ I learned the importance of the positioning of the rib cage, how poor alignment can affect breathing, digesting, birthing, eliminating, and the functionality of the entire musco-skeletal system. Rib positioning is totally related to shoulders. So, weak shoulders CAN mean poor pooping. Who knew??? Who cares? Well, if you don’t eliminate well, you probably do–or rather don’t doo (sorry can’t resist)–and well, you probably care. Because constipation sucks. Or something…

Anyway. The summer of hanging has begun. Here is my first attempt:


Keep reading dear reader! I’ll be posting every week or two about my experience. Can I challenge you to join me??

4 thoughts on “The Hanging Challenge

  1. Maureen says:

    I very much would love to be able to hang but I’m not sure how to get started. My husband has one of those workout towers so I try to hold on there but I only last to the count of 10 at most. Is there anything more I can do? My hands are weak but I’m not sure how to strengthen them. Thanks for any thoughts you have.

    • It’s always best to start with the weakest link and have patience! Start by loading your hands slowly. Does it hurt to come into a table top (quadriped) position on the floor? Move your hands around and start to stretch your fingers gently so you are able to use more of your hands and not just put weight into your wrist. In hanging, try not putting your whole weight into your hands–just a bit until your hands start to feel the load see what area specifically is working hardest. Also, try different surfaces. I LOVE to hang onto tree branches. They are much nicer to my skin than metal. Calluses are useful skin adaptations but take time to develop. And making it to a count of 10 in any hang is most excellent! Always stop when you have to–BEFORE you have an injury so you can continue to develop instead of needing to heal. I’ll continue to post and there will be some examples of these suggestions as I develop my hang time this summer too!

  2. sean obrien says:

    1. grip strength is required! hanging is great, to give yourself a hand using gym chalk (cheap!) or gloves (like mechanix work gloves) will make it easier when starting out. dangling with arms fully extended works, but try to pull your shoulders down to work your lats and
    2. start your upper body development by holding at the top of a completed pull-up (use a step ladder or jump into position if you can!) and just hold top position for a few seconds. goal is to hold your chest to the bar, with your shoulder blades retracted upwards and towards each other, pinching together towards your spine. This builds muscles required to start and finish the pullup.
    3. the last stage to developing a pullup is negative repetitions!!! Jump to the top position as in step 2 and lower yourself as slowly as possible. Jump or climb a step ladder back to the top and repeat! Start with 3-5 reps, for 3 sets if you can, 2 or 3 days a week and work your way towards 10 reps (negative). By the time you can do 10 slow, controlled negative pullups you can probably at least do one pullup.
    4. “palm up” underhand narrow grip (shoulder width) is the easiest, overhand shoulder width medium and overhand shoulder width + 2 palm widths or so is the hardest. Vary your grips as they challenge different muscle groups for balance.
    5. speaking of balance, for every set of pullups I try to do one set of rows. use a gallon of water/milk (~8.5lb) with your upper body horizontal and pull up until your upper arm is horizontal. With low weight start 3 sets of 10 and increase the weights or bands as you progress.

    i can find graphics and documentation if anyone is interested.

    • Thanks for your input, Sean. You have a lot of great information here–and I plan on progressing through the stages of being able to do a proper hang. I hope you read my next post on hand and skin strength and continue to follow my blog through my experience–and those of my readers!

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