Dragon Flag Progression - 5 Simple Steps To Master The Dragon!

The dragon flag progression in this article will build and strengthen your abs to perform the dragon flag!

By the end of this article, you’ll be performing the dragon flag in 5 simple steps!

In this article I’m going to show you:

  1. The benefits of dragon flags – Why you must do them.
  2. The 5 step dragon flag progression system – Master the dragon.

Let’s begin.

Dragon Flag Benefits – Why Perform Dragon Flags

Besides the fact that Bruce Lee famously used Dragon Flags to build his “core”, you should be doing them too!

Dragon flags are a full body ab-exercise that builds and prepares the “core” for other calisthenics skills.

Apart from building the abs, dragon flags also builds the the lats, glutes, and spinal erectors.

This is because dragon flags teach you to be as stiff as a plank.

Read More: Plank Progression – The [ULTIMATE] Guide

The difference between static planks and dragon flags is that dragon flags move your body through space.

The “core” strength developed from practicing dragon flags carry’s over to several other calisthenics movements!

For example, practicing the dragon flag is a primer for unlocking the front lever. This is because front levers and dragon flags share similar mechanics.

But strength carryover from this exercise end here!

The total body control gained from dragon flags also carries over to handstands, planches and back levers as well!

If you’re working toward unlocking different calisthenics skills, then the dragon flag is an non-negotiable exercise for you.

The 5 step dragon flag progression system – Master the dragon

With a little dedication, anyone can unlock the power of the dragon flag!

Each step listed below is intense enough to be it’s very own ab-exercise.

I have specifically chosen these exercises so that you build your six pack while training the movement pattern to unlock the dragon flag!

Let’s get to it!

Step 1: Hollow body Hold

The most important part of the dragon flag is the hollow body hold.

The hollow body position reduces the amount of arching in the lower back thereby engaging the abs.

Make sure to master this position as you will be using it throughout your dragon flag training.

The hollow body position involves “tucking the tailbone between the legs” by squeezing the glutes and abs.

To do this:

1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet firmly on the floor.

2. Try to tuck your tailbone between your legs by squeezing your glutes and abs.

3. If done correctly, your lower back should be in contact with the ground beneath you.

4. While holding this position, straighten your knees and bring your upper back off the ground.

This is the hollow body position.

Sets and Reps:

Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, performing 4-5 sets each.

Familiarize yourself with this position as you will have to maintain it during the progressions mentioned below!

Step 2: Garhammer/Reverse Crunch

Reverse crunches are the perfect starter movement for your dragon flag progression.

Done right, reverse crunches directly mimic dragon flags with bent legs.

Bending your knees during reverse crunches, reduces the load on the abs, thus making the movement easier.

Think of reverse crunches as mastering the bottom position of dragon flags.

To perform the reverse crunch:

1. Lie on the ground with your hands by your side, palms on the ground for support.

2. Initiate and maintain the hollow body position by squeezing the glutes and abs. Try to tuck your tailbone between your legs.

3. Bend your knees and bring your hips toward your chest by lifting them off the ground.

4. Then, bring your hips back down to the ground and repeat the process.

This is the reverse crunch.

Bringing your hips toward your chest forces the abs to work, thus building strength for the next step of the progression.

Sets and Reps:

Perform 3 sets of 15-20 reps 3 times a week.

Every time you perform this exercise, add 2 reps to each set.

Once you’re able to perform 3 sets of 30 reps each, move onto the next progression.

Step 3: Candlestick Leg Raises

Level 2 of the dragon flag progression involves the candlestick leg raise. Candlestick raises are a continuation of reverse crunches.

Here, you’ll have to make a tiny modification to the reverse crunch in order to perform the candlestick raise.

Candlestick raises mimic the top position of the dragon flag.

Modifying the reverse crunch allows you to practice the top and bottom positions of the dragon flag!

To perform candlestick raises:

  1. During reverse crunches, instead of bringing your hips toward your chest, raise your hips up toward the ceiling. This will place your upper back on the floor with your hips stacked above it. All of your bodyweight must be placed on the upper back and not the neck.

  2. From here straighten your knees and point your toes to the ceiling. Keep your knees and toes stacked above your hips, don’t point them behind you. Pointing the legs behind you instead of up will release tension from the abs, this defeats the purpose of the exercise.

  3. From here, reverse the movement by bending the knees, and then lowering your hips back to the floor.

  4. End in the hollow body position mentioned at Step 1.

Sets and Reps:

Perform candlestick raises between 15-20 reps for 3 sets every other day.

When you’re able to perform 3 sets of 30 reps, move on to level 3.

You’re getting close to your first dragon flag.

Step 4: Dragon Flag Negatives

Dragon flag negatives take over where candlestick raises left off.

Candlestick raises and reverse crunches break the dragon flag into two positions – top and bottom.

Dragon Flag Negatives join these two positions into one seamless movement.

To perform dragon flag negatives:

  1. Start by getting into the hollow body position by squeezing the glutes and abs.

  2. From here bend your knees and raise your hips up in the air.

  3. Then straighten your knees and point your toes toward to the ceiling/sky/whatever is above you.

  4. Now, bend only one knee, and initiate your decent. Make sure to maintain the hollow body position throughout the movement. As you bring your hips back down to the ground, make sure your straight leg doesn’t sag beneath the level of your hips.

  5. Once your hips are back on the floor, bend both knees and repeat the process again.

Keeping one knee bent allows you to reduce the load on the core.

As you get more comfortable with the movement straighten your bent knee out. This will increase the intensity of the exercise.

Continue straightening your knee until you’re able to perform dragon flag negatives with both knees straight and feet together.

Sets and Reps:

Perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps adding 2-3 reps every time you do the exercise (preferably 3x a week).

Once you can do 3 sets of 25-30 reps it’s time to move onto level 4.

Level 5: Enter The Dragon – How To Perform The Dragon Flag With Perfect Form

To perform the perfect dragon flag:

1. Your feet must be together.

2. Raise your hips and legs up together while maintaining the hollow body position throughout.

3. Your hips and legs must be stacked above the chest at the top, not behind the head.

4. All of your bodyweight must be on your upper back, never on your neck.

5. Lower yourself back to the ground, while maintaining the hollow body position. At no point should your legs drop below the level of your hips.

If you check off all points on this list – Congratulations, you’re now performing dragon flags.


The progression system mentioned above will have you performing dragon flags in no time!

Every exercise mentioned above was hand picked to build your abs while getting you closer to mastering the dragon flag.

Make sure to milk every step!

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