Dragon Flag Progressions, Benefits, Requirements and Variations

by | Aug 30, 2022 | 0 comments

10 min read




The dragon flag progression is a great way to work on your abdominal muscles. This exercise will require some equipment that you may not have at home, such as a pull-up bar. If you don’t have access to one of these, you can check with your local gym or fitness center to see if they have one available for use.


🔥Dragon Flag Progression – The Ultimate Ab Calisthenics exercise

The first time I heard about the Dragon flag, I was curious to know more about it. When I tried to find out more about this, I found that the Dragon Flag got its name from Bruce Lee. Sounds exciting and interesting?

The Dragon Flag is basically a move that was performed by Bruce Lee in his workouts. He used to hang his body straight just like a flag and hold it in this position for a particular amount of time. This move is not easy at all beginners will quickly find out how challenging it is. The great thing is the Dragon Flag comes with many benefits for your body and for your health; I will highlight some of them below for you.

Dragon Flag

Source: Fitnessfancy


🏆The Benefits of the Dragon Flag Progression

The following are some of the benefits of the Dragon Flag.

  • 💯Mastering this exercise will help with many other exercises you do, which means your entire body is being worked. Through the calisthenics of the exercise, you are able to increase your strength and endurance.
  • 💯The Dragon Flag helps to build core strength, which is the foundation of many exercises.
  • 💯The Dragon Flag can be called the best hard core exercise for the abs. It surely helps to define the abs and makes them stronger.
  • 💯Dragon Flag is an advanced move that engages the entire body. It’s hard to do this exercise without feeling tired. Holding the flag for a long period of time helps build muscle mass faster than other exercises.
  • 💯Core strength and body awareness are transferable to the front lever skill. Both the dragon flag and front lever have the same body position. You can also treat the dragon flag as a prerequisite of the lever to make your progress in the front lever MUCH FASTER. Follow the 📍Ultimate Guide to Front Lever


🎯Dragon Flag Prerequisites

Before jumping on the first dragon flag, you need to be reasonably strong. You also need to do excellent exercises to get stronger. These include lying leg raises, hanging leg raises, hollow body holds, and hollow body rocks. These are basic core exercises that can develop a strong core while building up toward the goal of the dragon flag.🏆

Dragon flags are very useful for many movement patterns that demand exceptional core strength. Especially the leg raises and hollow-body holds will almost directly transfer into dragon flags. Practice them first (solid 5×5 sets and reps minimum), and then you’ll see how your dragon flags will start to develop.


How to do the Dragon Flag 💪

The approach to performing the Dragon Flag is to go slow. This may take about 3 months or more to master this exercise, so patience is needed. Using an easy, gradual 📍progressive overload when learning the Dragon Flags is best and following these steps you can get the best results.

  • ✅ You need to have a grip behind the shoulders when starting with Dragon Flag so it is always best to try it out on a solid surface first. This movement should be started in the top position, otherwise, you risk losing your form. The weight has to be in line with your shoulders. The hips and the legs need to be in a straight line as well. Try to avoid placing your weight all on your neck, rather, the weight has to be supported on the shoulders.
  • ✅ The body has to be lowered down slowly. When the body weight starts to lever out, this exercise tends to become more difficult and hurtful on your back. When your body has approached the starting position, pause, and repeat for more repetitions.
  • ✅ A proper position is when your arms are locked in a fixed overhead position, and your hands are next to your head. Your elbows should be bent 90 degrees. This position allows you to lift weights safely.
  • ✅This exercise is designed to strengthen the muscles that support the spine. You start by lifting your chest and driving your legs up. Your feet point toward the ceiling. Slowly lower your legs until they are parallel to the floor. Don’t let your knees bend or your hips sag. Keep your back straight. You must hover above the bench without touching it.


👊Step-by-Step Instructions

    1. 🤜 Get into the right position by locking your arms at a fixed overhead position. Inputs You can do this either on a bench or on a wall, holding yourself up by your hands next to your head and grasping the sides of the bench or the wall. If you’re going to use a kettlebell or a barbell, it’s best to use something that’s fixed and stable. It’s also a lot safer than using something that might fall on you.
    2. 🤜 Contract your torso and lift your legs as if you were doing a reverse crunch, but keep your entire body rigid from your shoulders down to your toes, and don’t bend your hips. Point your toes to keep your body aligned properly.
    3. 🤜 After lifting your legs off the floor, slowly lower them in a controlled manner without letting any part of your body touch anything else except for the upper back and shoulders. If you give up, drop your hips, arch your back, or cave in, you don’t have enough strength yet and you shouldn’t continue the exercise.
    4. 🤜 Lower your body until you’re hovering just above the bench.
    5. 🤜 Repeat as often as possible. Once you start breaking rules, you’re finished.
Dragon Flag Full

Dragon Flag Full


✨Dragon Flag Step by Step Progressions

The following are the four different types of Dragon Flag progressions. These are the basic shapes you can use to adjust the body “lever” of your dragon flag.

Yes, the dragon flag is also a type of lever. The more your body’s lengthened, the harder to maintain the exercise. The shorter, then the easier it gets.

Take note that these are only the shapes and some of the progressions. You can also use eccentrics, add pauses, and do holds to increase the difficulty of the exercise.

1.✊Dragon Flag Tuck to Extend Straddle (high)

Your toes need to be brought up to the bar without any kipping. It might be difficult to do the complete movement without kipping or momentum, so it is ok if the knees are brought up as high as possible.

dragon flag tuck progression

Dragon flag tuck progression

This variation helps you build strength at the top position and by extending your legs into a straddle.

  1. Begin in a lying position near a base hold.
  2. Hold the support of the base.
  3. Raise your lower body until your whole body is around a 45-degree angle.
  4. Straddle your legs.
  5. Shift your legs into a tuck position.
  6. Open your tuck position.
  7. Repeat the leg motion while maintaining the rest of the body position for specified repetitions

2.✊Dragon Flag Tuck Extended

Tucks to full extensions allow you to build strength for the full dragon position.

  1. Begin in a lying position near a base hold.
  2. Hold the support of the base.
  3. Raise your lower body until your whole body is around a 45-degree angle with straight legs.
  4. Tuck your legs into your chest.
  5. Straighten your legs once again while maintaining the body position
  6. Repeat the leg movement for specified repetitions.

3.✊Dragon Flag One Leg

dragon flag one leg progression

Dragon flag one leg progression

One leg extended extends the lever on one side while keeping it light for the other side. Switch up legs when training with this move.

  1. Begin in a lying position near a base hold.
  2. Hold the support of the base.
  3. Raise your lower body until your whole body is vertical.
  4. Tuck one leg close, then keep the other one straight.
  5. Lower down while keeping a strong body line position until it nearly touches the ground.
  6. Repeat the motion for specified repetitions.
  7. Switch legs and repeat for specified repetitions.

4.✊Dragon Flag Straddle

Dragon Flag Straddle

Dragon Flag Straddle

The straddle position extends the lever of the dragon flag but not as long as the full position. The wider the straddle, the easier the exercise. The open-legged position shortens the body lever.

  1. Begin in a lying position near a base hold.
  2. Hold the support of the base.
  3. Raise your lower body until your whole body is vertical.
  4. Position your legs into a straddle.
  5. Lower down while keeping a strong body line position until it nearly touches the ground.
  6. Repeat the motion for specified repetitions.


☑️ Safety and Precautions for Dragon Flags

Avoid this exercise if you have a persisting injury to your back or neck. Ensure you meet all the prerequisites. Stop doing this exercise if you feel any pain during the movement of the exercise.


🤔 Frequently Asked Questions:

🔎Are Dragon Flags dangerous?

Dragon Flags are a great exercise for people who want to get stronger. They’re also challenging your body without placing you in a comprising position.

Performing the dragon flag with bad form increases your risk of injury. Dragon flags aren’t a high-impact nor high-risk exercise. It’s safe as long as you:

  • Met the necessary core strength, upper body strength
  • Follow good form and technique
  • Perform a suitable progression for you
  • Gradually progress and don’t rush

🔎Who created dragon flags?

Dragon Flags are credited to Bruce Lee, who used them in his famous movie “Enter the Dragon”. He was also known for using them in many other movies including “The Game of Death” and “Fist of Fury”.

Now, dragon flags are a testament to impeccable core strength which many advanced calisthenics practitioners can perform.

🔎How long does it take to master dragon flags?

Like any other calisthenics movement or discipline you want to improve on, you must train smartly, progress gradually, and consistently to achieve these flags.

It depends from person to person. More experienced athletes can learn this skill much sooner as they already have a solid foundation of upper body and core strength.

For complete beginners, it’s best to stick to working on your 📍calisthenics fundamentals instead of chasing after this skill. Developing the basics will lead to faster and safer progress. You won’t get frustrated as much!

🔎I Can Do a Dragon Flag What Do I Do Next?

Dragon Flag exercise is a great strength and muscle builder for your core. For more advanced athletes, you can place weights on your ankles or feet to increase the intensity of the exercise. You can also perform the bottom hold of the dragon flag which is the most challenging part of the exercise.

🔎I Can’t Do a Dragon Flag What Do I Do?

Dragon flag tucks lower

Dragon flag tucks lower

Can’t perform even the easiest tuck progression? Then try performing the tuck dragon flag eccentrics. Slowly lower down the tuck position then just reset to get to the starting position.

  • When I started the Dragon Flags I kept it simple and you should do the same. The bench is not the only option for the Dragon Flag and you can even use a pole. The four progressions are already discussed above so start with the eccentrics.
  • Here is how it goes. Lock the arms around the pole and raise the butt. Keep the legs as straight as possible. There needs to be a straight line between the legs and the torso. Do should not bend at the hips.
  • Then the body has to be lowered down slowly. The butt needs to be brought up again and the legs need to be straightened. It is better to start off with 3 sets of 5 reps of the Dragon Flags and initially it is better to lower the body gradually till our body is actually prepared for this move. Check out the video for more details. Lowering is the harder part so if the body is not prepared for the complete lowering then the body will start to hinge and that is what we do not want.

If you can’t even lower down slowly the tuck, then it’s best to regress to easier but effective exercises such as the hollow body hold.

🔎What can I use for a dragon flag?

If you’re looking for a place to do the dragon flag progression, there are plenty of options out there. You can find a park or playground with a jungle gym or monkey bars, or go to your local gym or fitness center. Whichever option you choose, make sure the surface you’re working on is safe and secure.

But, finding a place to do a dragon flags can be tricky , but with a little creativity, you can find a spot that works great for you. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll likely need some space to swing your body around. Try finding an open area where there’s plenty of room to move. You may also want to look for a spot that’s not too busy, so you can make sure that you have enough space.

The most important part is that you need find something to hold on to, to do a Dragon Flag exercise for example a pole, kettlebell or a tree.

You can either sit on a bench with your hand next to your head and gripping the edges of the seat, or grip something overhead. Some people prefer kettlebells or a barbell, but anything fixed and stable is much more practical and far safer.

🔎Why does your back hurt when lying down?

When executing the dragon flag, you’re going to add a ton of pressure to your upper back which is in contact with the floor.

Don’t be foolish and train through the pain. This is not the goal of the exercise. You’re not training dragon flags to build a turtle back.

You can add a small cushion or training mat for your lower back so you can stay comfortable when performing your reps.

When executing the dragon flag, you’re going to add a ton of pressure to your upper back which is in contact with the floor.

Don’t be foolish and train through the pain. This is not the goal of the exercise. You’re not training dragon flags to build a turtle back.

You can add a small cushion or training mat for your lower back so you can stay comfortable when performing your reps.

🔎How long should you hold a dragon flag?

There is no definitive answer to this question. It really depends on your level of strength and how comfortable you feel with the exercise.

Generally, you’ll want to hold a dragon flag for as long as you can without compromising your form. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to hold it for longer periods of time. Just make sure that you don’t sacrifice good technique for the increased duration.

🔎How do you make a dragon flag without equipment?

If you don’t have any equipment handy, you can still do an exercise similar to the dragon flag by using your body weight to create resistance. This can be done by lying flat on your back and then pulling your knees in towards your chest. From here, you’ll want to press your hips and feet off of the ground, before lowering them back down. You can also do this exercise with a partner by having them push down on your hips as you lift them off of the ground.


💥Dragon Flag Common Mistakes

There are a few common mistakes that people make when doing a dragon flag.

Mistake 1. ❌ One of the most common is letting your hips sag down towards the ground. This can be dangerous and can lead to lower back injuries. If you can’t do it, simply choose an easier exercise on the Dragon flag progression.

Mistake 2. ❌ Another mistake is not using the suitable progression for you, which can also lead to injuries. Make sure that you use the correct progression to challenge yourself and maintain good form.

Mistake 3. ❌ Arching Back. The lower back is arched when the emphasis is shifted to it rather than the abs, which may result in strain.

Mistake 4. ❌ Ineffective Warmup and Recovery Between Sets. Make sure you’re ready before attempting the dragon flag. For one to three minutes, take a complete rest between sets.

Mistake 5. ❌ Finally, don’t forget to breathe! It’s easy to forget about breathing when you’re working hard, but make sure you take deep breaths in order to avoid any dizziness or lightheadedness.

Mistake 6. ❌ Performing the exercise at the start of your workout is bad practice. Dragon flag, although a compound exercise, puts much emphasis on your core.

If your core is already tired at the beginning of your workout, then you might not be able to engage it properly for your other compound movements such as push-ups and pull-ups.

✊Perform the dragon flag in the middle or at the end of your main workout proper.


⚡️Dragon Flag Modifications and Variations

There are a number of different ways to modify and vary the dragon flag exercise.

  1. 👉 If you find that the standard version is too difficult, you can try doing it with your knees bent. This will make it a bit easier and allow you to focus on strengthening your core. With the dragon flag progression, you can always go to less or more difficult exercises.
  2. 👉 You can also increase the difficulty of the exercise by doing it with one arm instead of two. This will require more strength and stability.
  3. 👉Another variation is to lift one leg off of the ground while you’re performing the dragon flag. This will add an extra challenge and work your abs in a different way.
  4. 👉 Finally, you can try doing a dragon flag with your hands close together instead of wide apart.


🎯The Goal for Dragon Flags Progression

Dragon Flag is a hard movement so we need to set the goals low to start; this will help you with motivation. Now if you master the Dragon Flag, then it will become much easier to attempt body weight exercises such as 📍front levers.

👊Try and aim for quality over quantity and the objective is not to lose your form at any time. Thus take your time in learning the Dragon Flag and once you are able to master even the starting points, then you will be proud of your achievement.

The goal is not to give up and keep on trying to attain perfection and the results will be rewarding for your body and health.💪



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