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How to Do Dragon Flag: A Beginner’s Guide

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The dragon flag is a legendary calisthenics exercise that has been popularized by martial arts icon Bruce Lee. It is a challenging move that requires significant upper body and core strength, making it a great way to build a strong, impressive physique. If you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level, mastering the dragon flag is a great way to do it.

One of the biggest benefits of the dragon flag is that it targets your core muscles in a unique and effective way. By engaging your abs, obliques, and lower back, you’ll build a strong, stable midsection that can help you perform better in other exercises and activities. Additionally, the dragon flag also works your shoulders and upper body, improving your overall strength and stability.

While the dragon flag may seem intimidating at first, it’s important to remember that there are various progressions that can help you work up to it. Starting with simpler exercises like leg raises and plank variations can help you build the strength and technique you need to eventually perform a full dragon flag. Throughout the learning process, it’s important to prioritize proper form and safety to avoid common mistakes and prevent injury.

Building the Dragon’s Foundation: Prerequisites and Progressions

Essential Skills and Strength

Before attempting to do a dragon flag, it is important to master fundamental exercises that will help you build a strong core and develop the necessary strength and control. Some of these exercises include planks, hollow body holds, V-ups, and rows with good form and control.

To execute a dragon flag successfully, you need to have a strong core, shoulders, and triceps. The rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, and erector spinae muscles are particularly important for this exercise. These muscles work together to maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your toes.

Progressions and Variations

There are several dragon flag progressions that you can use to work your way up to the full exercise. It is important to start with easier exercises and progress gradually to avoid injury and build strength.

One of the easiest progressions is the L-sit on a bench. This exercise helps you develop the core strength and control needed for the dragon flag. You can also try decline V-ups and tuck holds with elevated legs to build strength and control.

As you progress, you can move on to more advanced variations like the straight leg dragon flag and the one-arm dragon flag. It is important to use proper form and technique for each progression to avoid injury and maximize your results.

Visual aids like images and videos can be helpful in understanding the proper form and key points for improvement for each progression.

Unleashing the Dragon: Technique Breakdown

Setting Up

Before you start the Dragon Flag exercise, it is essential to set up correctly to ensure optimal stability and prevent injury. Here are some tips for proper setup:

  • Grip Position: Lock your arms in a fixed overhead position, with your hands gripping a stable object, such as a bench or pole. Ensure that your grip is strong and secure.
  • Shoulder Depression: Depress your shoulders and engage your lats to create a stable base for the exercise.
  • Scapular Retraction: Retract your shoulder blades to engage your upper back muscles and maintain proper form.
  • Engage Your Core: Engage your core and create a hollow body position with a slight arch in the lower back. This position will help you maintain stability throughout the exercise.
  • Leg Positioning: Choose the progression that is appropriate for your skill level. For a more challenging variation, keep your legs straight. For a less advanced variation, bend your legs at a 90-degree angle.

Transitioning and Holding

Once you have set up correctly, you can begin transitioning into the full Dragon Flag hold. Here are some step-by-step instructions:

  • Transitioning: Slowly lower your legs without letting any part of your body touch the bench, except for your upper back and shoulders. Stop lowering your body when it is hovering just above the bench. Keep your elbows locked and maintain a hollow body position throughout the exercise.
  • Holding: Once you have reached the full Dragon Flag position, hold it for as long as you can while maintaining proper form. Remember to breathe properly and keep your core engaged. If you find it challenging to maintain the position, try tucking your legs instead of keeping them straight.
  • Troubleshooting: If you are having difficulty with the exercise, focus on engaging your core and maintaining a slight arch in your lower back. Avoid letting your back sag or over-arching. You can also try breaking the exercise down into smaller progressions, such as the negative Dragon Flag or the Dragon Flag hold with bent legs.

Pro Tip: To get the most out of your Dragon Flag workout, focus on maintaining proper form and engaging your core throughout the exercise. As you progress, you can increase the difficulty by extending your legs or adding weight. With consistent practice, you can develop strong and defined abs and improve your core stability.

Beyond the Basics: Tips and Considerations

If you have mastered the basics of the dragon flag and are looking to take your training to the next level, there are a few tips and considerations you should keep in mind.

Spotting and Safety

As with any high-level exercise, safety should be your top priority when attempting the dragon flag. It is important to have a spotter for initial attempts and to practice in a safe environment with padded mats. Proper spotting techniques should be used to ensure that you can safely attempt the exercise without risking injury.

Programming and Training

Incorporating dragon flag progressions into a structured calisthenics routine can be a great way to challenge yourself and achieve your fitness goals. When programming your training, consider factors such as frequency, intensity, and recovery. It is also recommended that you work with a coach or experienced athlete for personalized training advice and progression planning.

Mindset and Patience

The dragon flag is a challenging exercise that requires a great deal of patience and persistence to master. It is important to focus on form over speed and to celebrate small victories along the way. Remember that progress takes time, and that it is okay to take things slow and steady in order to achieve your goals. With the right mindset and a commitment to your training, you can achieve great things with the dragon flag.

Resources and Inspiration

Online Resources and Communities:

If you’re looking to learn how to do the dragon flag, there are many reputable online calisthenics resources available. Websites such as Verywell Fit and wikiHow offer detailed tutorials and training guides that can help you perfect your technique. These resources provide step-by-step instructions, pictures, and videos that can guide you through the process of learning the dragon flag.

In addition to online resources, you can also join online communities for support, motivation, and learning from other athletes. Communities such as Reddit’s r/bodyweightfitness and the Calisthenics Unity Facebook group are great places to ask questions, share progress, and connect with other people who are interested in calisthenics.

Professional Athletes and Coaches:

If you’re looking for inspiration, there are many calisthenics athletes who excel in the dragon flag. Bruce Lee, the legendary martial arts master, was famous for his strength and agility, and he often incorporated the dragon flag into his training regimen. Another famous martial artist, Sylvester Stallone, used the dragon flag to prepare for his role in the movie “Rocky IV.”

If you’re serious about learning the dragon flag, it’s a good idea to seek guidance from qualified coaches. A coach can help you develop a personalized training plan and refine your technique. Look for coaches who have experience with calisthenics and who can provide references or testimonials from satisfied clients. With the right guidance and support, you can master the dragon flag and achieve your fitness goals.


Congratulations! You have just learned how to perform a full dragon flag, a challenging exercise that engages your entire body, particularly your upper back and core muscles. Remember that the key to mastering the dragon flag is to start with the basics and gradually progress to more advanced variations.

To recap, here are the key steps for performing a full dragon flag:

  1. Lie flat on a bench or the floor with your arms overhead and your hands gripping a stable object.
  2. Slowly lift your legs and hips off the bench or floor, keeping your legs straight and your core engaged.
  3. Continue lifting your legs until your entire body is in a straight line, with only your shoulders touching the bench or floor.
  4. Slowly lower your body back down to the starting position, keeping your core engaged and your legs straight.

Remember to focus on proper technique, keeping your core engaged and your legs straight throughout the exercise. Gradually increase the number of repetitions and sets as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

It is also important to maintain a positive mindset and stay motivated. The dragon flag is a challenging exercise, but with dedication and consistent effort, you can unlock its power and achieve your fitness goals.

Finally, don’t forget to fuel your body with healthy fats and other nutrient-dense foods to support your fitness journey. With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to mastering the dragon flag and achieving a stronger, healthier body.

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Lauren Price

Lauren Price is the co-owner of Lava Barre, a specialized fitness boutique that focuses on achieving balance for the body, mind, and soul. With a passion for fitness and wellness, Lauren and her business partner Vanessa set out to create a unique barre class that not only challenges the body but also inspires the mind.

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