The Human Flag is a TOUGH exercise that very few people are strong enough to do. The goal is to hold a horizontal body position while gripping onto a vertical pole…one hand high and one hand low, just like your body is a flag and your arms are the ropes holding it onto the pole.
As you can imagine, it requires tremendous strength in the core and shoulders to perform.
So what if you’d like to reap some of the side abdominal wall-strengthening and tightening benefits of the exercise even if you’re unable to hold that full-on position? You do the “starter” version of the human flag…and to perform it, all you’ll need is a flat bench.
The execution is simple. Lay on your side on the bench with your hip on the end of the bench (the end should hit you about mid-glute). Grip onto to the bottom surface of the bench.
Then just straighten out your legs and hold.
You’ll find this exercise works not only the side abdominal wall very strongly, it also works the abductors on the top leg (the gluteus medius and minimus) and the adductors on the bottom leg (inner thigh muscles).
To make this exercise easier, just move your body up the bench a little so more of your leg is resting on the bench. To make it harder, just shift down the bench so more of your leg is off the bench.
Once you’ve held for as long as you can on one side, flip over and do the other side.
This is a VERY simple exercise that I find to be extremely beneficial. It builds strength in your side abdominal wall without growing the muscles underneath the “love handle” area (which can happen with weighted side bend exercises).
If you build up the obliques (the muscles under the love handles), you can push the fat outwards, making you look wider in the waist than you actually are.
This exercise avoids that while helping you tighten up the muscles to actually pull that area in, rather than pushing it out.
You won’t lose fat directly from the love handles but you can give the appearance of a tighter waist while also working a number of muscles in the hips and thighs.