While scrolling through social media I came across a hanging challenge by someone I follow called Mr1nf1n1ty. After reading a bit online I realised the original challenge was created by Ido Portal, and the rules are simple:
- Spend a total of 7 minutes a day hanging by your arms
- The 7 minutes isn’t in one go and it’s encouraged to spread it out across the day
- Do this every day for 30 consecutive days
Sounds simple, right? Here’s how I got on.
Ido Portal’s Hanging Challenge – Days 1-6
I should start by saying that my best dead hang (hanging from a bar with straight arms) is around 70 seconds. On the first day I started by doing a full minute but it soon became clear that to accumulate 7 total minutes I’d need to do shorter hangs and more total sets. The other thing that was obvious was that my hands would deteriorate very quickly if I didn’t put on some weightlifting gloves.
So after putting on my gloves and playing around with different duration holds, I settled on 35 seconds per set with 80 seconds rest. In the original description he encouraged spreading all the hangs out across the day. However, I can’t imagine a lot of people have both a) the opportunity to take many breaks in a day and b) easy access to a bar for hanging. Luckily I have a squat rack in my garage gym and so b) was at least true.
For the next few days I settled into a routine of 6 sets of 35 seconds with 90 seconds rest, performed twice a day.
Ido Portal’s Hanging Challenge – Days 6-12
The hanging was already getting monotonous and I looked into practical ways to mix things up. 12 sets of 35 seconds is exactly 7 minutes, but so is 10 sets of 42 seconds. I increased the rest period to 105 seconds (2.5 times as long as I hang) and progressed to 5 sets of 42 second hangs, twice a day.
I was hoping for some adaptation but by the final rep of each session I’m barely holding on. My lats and triceps were under quite a lot of strain during the hangs and started to feel over-stretched. It was around this point that I introduced stretches for my forearm flexors and extensors after each session.
Ido Portal’s Hanging Challenge – Days 13-20
Having started to see improvements in the length of time I could hold, I stretched it out further. The next set and rep scheme I followed was 9 sets of 47 seconds. As this is an odd number of sets I typically chose 5 sets in the morning and 4 in the evening, and occasionally managed three sets each with a third afternoon hang.
On day 14 I started getting forearm pain and remembered the tip to also work on finger extension. All the gripping of the bar is finger flexion and the opposite muscles are not getting any attention. Rather than splashing out on some elaborate finger extensor gadget I recommend using the elastic in a (clean) sports sock.
After each set of 47 seconds hanging I would complete 20-25 reps with the sports sock for each arm. This was obviously a little more tiring than simply resting but it was entirely manageable.
Ido Portal’s Hanging Challenge – Days 21-30
For the final 10 days I started introducing lateral swinging. This was one of the suggested progressions and certainly made the sets much harder to complete. I had also been on forums and found others who’d completed the challenge to see what tips they had. The most popular protocol was a total of 14 sets of 30 seconds and there was a general consensus to not spend too long per hang. I reverted to my 10 sets of 42 seconds and maintained that all the way to day 30.
Grip Strength and Dead Hang Improvements
At the start of the challenge I measured my grip strength on a hand grip dynamometer at ~55kg, and several days after the challenge it was unchanged.
My dead hang fared much better. In the forums they suggested that a good rule of thumb for transitioning to single arm work would be the ability to hold a dead hang for 2 minutes. I was agonisingly close but on review I can only give myself 1 minute 59 seconds. This was still an improvement of around 45 seconds on my previous best.
I did experiment with single arm work after that and was able to hold a single arm L-sit for 5-10 seconds. Overall I felt this was a very valuable challenge to try and one that I’d recommend to others.
Here’s the full video for anyone interested!