Hanging is a fundamental of all programs at Science of Fitness and we are commonly queried as to “Why”?

So, the aim here is to answer that question and a few more.


The human shoulder is an extremely complex joint that can cause a huge amount of problems in people’s lives and exercise habits. For thousands of years, human beings moved as it was a part of survival (think hunting, gathering, etc.). The modern world has altered the old lifestyle and our bodies haven’t kept up with this change. The shoulder is a classic example of a joint that we no longer use as regularly and as a result problems arise when it is required. By simply hanging you are using the shoulder, quite rigorously. The muscles around the scapular, the AC joint, the glenohumeral joint and all down the arm are required to work. The glenohumeral joint capsule gets some length pulled into it and the forces of gravity on the vertebrae shit from compressive to lengthening. As a result, you will see an improvement in the following:

·      Grip Strength
·      Posture
·      Glenohumeral stability
·      Thoracic mobility

When does hanging not apply?

Hanging doesn’t speed up recovery from acute impact and caution and respect is required when recovering from such trauma. Likewise, if a shoulder is “unhealthy” (bony spurs, calcified tissue, frozen shoulder etc.) and hasn’t moved properly for years, precaution is recommended before using hanging as it can stir up inflammation and potentially cause impingement.

Who does hanging apply to?

Those of you hoping to improve your thoracic flexibility (posture), increase your grip strength, stabilise a hyper-mobile/unstable shoulder and improve psychological endurance hanging is highly recommended (see attached article).

Start with 30second efforts and build yourself to 3mins straight.

*A warning, it is not as easy as it sounds and your hands are not going to like it initially.  It is a great step to improve not only your training but your everyday movement and physical health, so find a bar, some rings or a tree branch and hang around!

- Kieran Maguire

Brantner, J. N., & Basmajian, J. V. (1975). Effects of training on endurance in hanging by the hands. Journal of motor behavior, 7(2), 131-134.

Joseph Agresta