Have you ever been 3 1/2 years late to a party? Well, Ido Portal (movement coach, badass) started a movement in 2014 with his 30-Day Hanging Challenge, where he challenged followers to perform 7 minutes of hanging from a bar (non-continuous) spread throughout the day.
I’ve followed Ido on Instagram and watched many of his YouTube videos of training Conor McGregor for his upcoming fights, but somehow I missed this when it came out (lived in Australia at the time, so I’ll blame it on dodging spiders and what-not).
A lot of what Ido performs is a progression of the (two-armed) Scapular Pull Up Hold shared in my Beginner and Intermediate Training Programs. Having had lumbar spine issues/pain from 2011-13, this also helped with decompressing that part of the spine (as well as the thoracic spine and pelvis). Grip strength also shot up in a relatively short manner of time.
More importantly, though, his philosophy and approach to movement/life is rock solid; he believes that we are human first, movers second, specialists last; we should be moving all day; and, if we are to “train”, we should spread it out throughout the day to make it a habit of movement, of being a MOVER.
He recommends everyone set up “anchors”, or spots in their workplace/house/school from which to hang (or move) during the day, so that a trip to the gym (or lack of it) is not the excuse for not moving. Rather, movement becomes the habit and part of life.
Additionally, he lays out general modifications for different populations, including:
- Shoulder Pain – No Dislocations
- Shoulder Pain – Dislocations / Partial Dislocations
- Healthy Strong Shoulders but Inflexible
- Healthy Flexible Shoulders but Weak (cannot pull/chin up or can only perform few reps)
I’ve highlighted a few parts of post below (here is the link if you’d rather go straight to the horse’s mouth), and I started day 1 of the challenge last night after having already done 4 minutes spread out throughout a training session earlier in the day and hanging from the bar between rolls at my ju-jitsu class 🙂
Benefits of Hanging work:
1. Shoulder/elbow/wrist health and the recovery of the lost ‘overhead reach’ range – promoting optimal range and making use of the upper body as it was designed to be used. By simply allowing gravity to ‘do its thing’ in the passive work or “fighting it” in the active work – one can send a very intense adaptation producing signal into one’s structure. I wonder if we implement hanging work throughout our lives, from young age and into old age and without taking too large of a break what would be the results over the now lost ‘overhead reach’ range and shoulder injury rates…
2. Lead up to pulling work, climbing and more advanced patterns. Hanging sits at the base of those patterns, just like standing does for walking. A deficiency in hanging work will become evident at a certain stage – some get stuck early unable to develop even a single chin up (very common female problem).
3. Active hang work is especially important tool in certain advanced phases and scenarios – as a plateau breaker for advanced pullers approaching the One Arm Chin Up for example.
4. Grip Strength and Grip Endurance. If you cant grip it – you cant manipulate it/yourself. We have grown weaker all over due to the lack in physical demands in our daily lives. Grip is no different.
5. Creating ‘Terminology’ for future complexity. Hanging work creates awareness and a language of positions that can be later used to put together sophisticated pieces of movement in a variety of scenarios from gymnastics to parkour to tree climbing to rock climbing and more. It is a tool for improvisation and play.
Videos are below with a sample day of hanging provided from Ido’s blog:
Beginner (Healthy shoulders)
- A1 Passive Hang (or Assisted Partial Weight Passive Hang with feet on the floor/box) X 3 min in as few sets as possible
- B1 Active Hang X 6-12 reps with 3 sec pause at the top of each rep X 3 sets
- C1 Side to Side Stationary Swing X 30 sec X 3 sets
- D1 Front Stationary Swing X 30 sec X 3 sets
(This represents over 7 min of total hanging time (the daily recommended dose for the Hanging Challenge) and can be spread throughout the day into 1-3 sessions. You can perform 1 set of each exercise according to the order or go at each drill and finish all the sets before moving on to the next drill. Rest periods should be 1:1 – 1:2 work:rest ratio, so if hanging for 60 sec, rest 60-120 sec.)
Intermediate (Healthy shoulders)
- A1 Passive Hang X 150 sec -> complete as quickly as possible, optimally without coming down!
- B1 Arching Active Hang X 5-8 reps with a 3 sec pause at the top of each rep X 4 sets
- C1 Side to Side Stationary Swing X 30 sec + Front Stationary Swing X 30 sec X 2 sets
(This represents over 7 min of total hanging time (the daily recommended dose for the Hanging Challenge) and can be spread throughout the day into 1-3 sessions. You can perform 1 set of each exercise according to the order or go at each drill and finish all the sets before moving on to the next drill. Rest periods should be 1:1 – 1:1.5 work:rest ratio, so if hanging for 60 sec, rest 60-90 sec, in the Arching Active Hang use at least 90 sec between sets as it is higher intensity work.)