By Chris Duffin
If you watch my weekly video’s you have likely seen my hanging by one hand from a pull-up bar and asked “why”. Its’ not because I’m hoping someone will toss a banana at me, although with my current diet I would probably be quiet happy about that. As with most things I do there is a reason and it may be something of relevance to you as well.
In seeking to overcome some long standing elbow issues that were beginning to significantly impact my deadlift I was referred to Ido Portal. Ido has some interesting concepts worth exploring. One of which is hanging. This is primarily done for shoulder health, which in my case with the use of the ShouldeRök™ is not necessary.
However the tractioning on the elbow from both directions was worth exploring. I had already been doing static holds with a barbell for the last couple years to work on my grip strength and desensitize my thumb for the hook grip. With that in mind I wasn’t expecting much from the hangs and was surprised at the difference I found. In this case I began doing full passive hangs letting everything relax and hang. Doing so I found that even the grip became more challenging than when just holding on in an active movement such as a pull-up. With the passive hang everything is stretched from lats, scap, tricpes, biceps, and all the muscle of the lower arm and fingers.
I quickly transitioned from doing static holds to doing passive hangs and within a month had switched to one arm hangs. It wasn’t until the single arm hangs that I began really feeling a difference in my arm. The extra force as well as the dynamics of the hang put a lot more force and traction on my elbow from both directions. Grip also made a dramatic leap forward as I progressed with the one arm hangs. There has to be something with pulling on everything through that entire chain that helps over working the grip in isolation. This has been the first time I’ve made significant progress on regaining my grip strength since the first of my elbow surgeries 3 years ago.
In summary there are three things the single arm hangs to do for me all with one movement:
- Elbow Traction / Elbow Rehab
- Grip Strength development
- Pain tolerance development
- Hook grip maintenance (keeping thumb desensitized)
If you’re not a ShouldeRök™ user it will also benefit your shoulder health as well
From a logistics standpoint I did the single arm passive hangs 3-4 days a week for 3-4 sets of approximately 20-35 seconds each. Essentially till I had a dramatic drop off in grip strength or increase in pain levels beyond tolerance. To develop to that point I was doing 2 arm hangs until I could consistently hit 2-3minute holds with 5-7minutes total per session. I was doing this on the same frequency as noted. According to Ido some people may need to start with an Active Hang which he describes if they have shoulder health or mobility issues.
Currently I am disappointed in myself as I have fallen out of the habit of doing them after GPA worlds and the following Holidays. I will be adding a pull-up bar at my home to facilitate working these consistently into my program again.
A thanks goes out to Dr. Philip Snell for pointing out this path to me. Make sure to check out his websites myrehabexercise and fixyourownback.