Strength training is a popular, effective and growing form of exercise which aims to use different apparatus in order to strengthen and refine your muscles. Often relying on body weight and muscle control, one of the benefits of strength training is that it teaches users to get to know how their bodies and muscles work and to focus on how different muscles work together to initiate movement. One of the best bodyweight grip strength exercises, and arguably one of the best back exercises is hanging.
As with any form of exercise, different moves and sets develop popularity, based on their perceived efficacy. A form of strength training called ‘hanging’ is one such exercise. Below we’ll take a look at what hanging is, and why it’s a good thing to integrate into your routine.
What Does ‘Hanging’ Mean, Exactly?
Hanging is almost exactly what it sounds like – it involves using the grip strength in your hands and forearms to suspend your body from an object. As an exercise, the main use for it is to really develop our often-underutilized grip strength; a type of strength that has been eroded by modern life as it’s not something which we use much in our domesticated lives.
Hanging can be performed as a passive exercise or as an active exercise (or even combined with a powerband). In the passive form, once you have ably suspended yourself from a bar or an object using your handgrip strength, your concentration moves to relax your muscles – apart from those in your hands and forearms. Pay particular attention to any tightness in the shoulders and trapezius muscles – this is a good opportunity to focus on keeping these muscles relaxed and disengaged.
The active form of hanging introduces extra tension to the body. In this version of the exercise, concentrate on flexing each of your muscle groups, including your abdomen muscles, your biceps, and your glutes. Flex your shoulders while keeping their posture fixed back.
The Complete Package
One of the wonderful things about hanging is that it easily combines with other strength training exercises to form a complete upper-body package. Using a set of bars, you can alternate sets of hangs with pull-ups (or chin-ups) and dips to create a combined routine of exercises that give you a complete upper-body workout.
These exercises work wonderfully when you combine them with power bands and resistance bands. Using these devices combined with your body weight, you can further tailor your workout, and integrate core and lower body group muscles too. By far, hanging is one of the best bodyweight grip strength exercises you can use.
An ongoing benefit of hanging is that it encourages users to focus on their muscle groups by engaging muscles and by relaxing muscles in sequence. Time spent hanging is useful as a time to engage with individual muscle groups and to pinpoint areas of tension or concern. Hanging time can also be used as an adjunct to meditation – the focus that it requires helps users to clear their thoughts and to focus on their body and fitness goals.
Hanging also encourages the redevelopment of hand and arm muscles which are commonly lost and degraded as we age. Humans are born with an innate ability to grip objects (not necessarily linked to our opposable digits), and through natural attrition and lack of use, this ability deteriorates. By gradually integrating hanging into your workout, these muscles redevelop and offer you renewed strength useful in everyday tasks (lifting objects, precise hand movements such as cutting with large knives).
Hanging uses such a basic and primitive form of our strength that it’s easy to see how it’s the missing link in our strength training regimes. Combined with other bodyweight exercises and appliances, hanging offers a workout solution guaranteed to give you a better understanding of your body, with a low potential for injury or damage. It’s time to get your hang-out on!