Anatomy Behind The Human Flag (Complete Guide)

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag: Many of you have probably seen the athletes or gymnasts executing a move where the performer holds a vertical bar and then lifts the body in a horizontal position parallel to the ground forming a straight line using the arms and the body. This move is known as the “Human Flag” or “Bar Hold“.

This requires the performer to have gigantic strength in the upper body. To execute this move, you need to know what muscles are activated during the human Human Flag and need to be strengthened and this is what this article is about.

Before starting, you must know that the upper arm, trunk and leg works differently to the respective lower counterparts while executing Human Flag. So, let’s start with the muscles acting in different sections of the body.

Top Arm Muscles Working

Latissimus Dorsi:

Latissimus Dorsi

It is a large muscle with a tons of functions such as pulling the arm towards the pelvis, extension, adduction and rotation. But here it will help the body to lift towards the upper arm by extending the arm against the gravity.

Teres Major:

Teres Major

Teres Major extends the arm and stabilizes the shoulder joint. Thus, functioning just as Latissimus Dorsi.


Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Triceps works antagonistically to the Biceps extending the elbow nullifying the effect of gravity. Its strength is really important here.



Subscapularis adducts the arm and this movement brings the body closer to the upper arm helping a ton in the Human Flag.



Rhomboids play its part by pulling the shoulder blades together, providing stability of top shoulder.

Finger Flexors:

Finger Flexors

It’s obvious that fingers need to be flexed to form a tight grip are the pole so Finger Flexors (Flexor Digitorum Superficialis and Flexor Digitorum Profundus) play an integral part.

Bottom Arm Muscles Working


Deltoid consists of three parts. Anterior, Posterior and Middle part out of which Middle and Anterior parts take part in supporting the lower arm against the body weight. Anterior fibers produces the flexion of the arm acting as a lever against gravity. Middle Deltoid Abducts the arm so the body gets lifted up away from the bottom arm.



This trapezoid shaped muscle stabilizes and moves the scapula. It is an active muscle while performing the Human Flag.



It is a prime flexor of the elbow hence providing the force to work against the gravity and lift up the body. Note that Triceps was involved in top arm but Biceps are involved in the bottom one. But the function they are doing is the same, working opposite to the line of the gravity to lift the body up.



It also does the same function as Biceps. That is, flexion of the elbow.



Also a flexor of the elbow. So, the group of these 3 muscles work together in flexing the elbow on the vertical pole and lifting the body.

Flexors of the Forearm:

Flexors of the Forearm

The muscles of the anterior compartment of the forearm participate in flexion of the digits as well the wrist. But the dominant function here would be the flexion of the fingers.

Muscles of the Core Working

(Top side of the body only)

Rectus Abdominis:

Rectus Abdominis

Rectus Abdominis flexes the upper trunk and stiffens it for perfect execution of the Human Flag.



Obliques not only supports the trunk in the lifted position but also maintains the posture during the Human Flag.

Spinal Extensors:

Spinal Extensors

As the name indicates, Spinal Extensors extend the spine so that it remains straight against the gravity.

Quadratus Lumborum:

Quadratus Lumborum

This deep muscle provides extra force to lift by laterally flexing the trunk opposite to the line of action of the gravity.

Top Leg Muscles Working

Gluteus Maximus (upper part):

Gluteus Maximus (upper part)

Gluteus Maximus is a big muscle of the hip. In Human Flag’s implementation, it will be involved as an abductor of the leg with its upper fibers countering the gravity and lifting the leg up.

Gluteus Medius:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Gluteus Medius is a prime abductor of the hip joint and will work just as the upper fibers of the Gluteus Maximus in abduction of the top leg.

Gluteus Minimus:

Gluteus Minimus

It works the same as Gluteus Medius so helping the top leg to be lifted against the gravity while performing the Human Flag.

Tensor Fascia Lata:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

It acts as a flexor and weak abductor of the leg hence working with the Gluteal muscles.

Bottom Leg Muscles Working

Adductor Magnus:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Adductor Magnus, the prime adductor of the leg again working opposite to the line of gravity and the weight to lift the lower leg up.

Adductor Longus:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Works just like Adductor Magnus in adducting the lower leg up.

Adductor Brevis Anatomy Behind The Human Flag:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Another adductor of the leg.

Pectineus Anatomy Behind The Human Flag:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

It is the most anterior adductor of the hip. (Also a part of adductor group)

Gracilis Anatomy Behind The Human Flag:

Anatomy Behind The Human Flag

Gracilis is a long and thin muscle working with other adductor muscles on adducting the leg.

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