Best calisthenics core exercise: dragon flag

Bruce Lee Perfoming Dragon Flag

It is not for nothing that many calisthenics athletes claim that the dragon flag is the best core exercise. Dragon flag engages your whole body, especially core muscles and lats which are the most important muscles for more advanced calisthenics exercises like a front lever or planche.

What’s interesting is that the dragon flag is named after Bruce Lee who was called „the dragon”

In this article, you will learn about its benefits, progressions, and how to program your training for the dragon flag

benefits of the dragon flag

Dragon flag focuses on anti-extension of the core which helps to maintain a neutral spine position it also trains core muscles that improve core stability

The dragon flag is an accessory exercise for more advanced calisthenics skills like a front lever, planche, and handstand, and these skills have similar body line and require a lot of core strength and stability

Dragon flag muscles worked

the dragon flag is a full body movement that engages your full body from hands to toes. dragon flag targets many muscles:

  • core muscles
  • lats
  • biceps
  • spinea erectors
  • glutes
  • it also involves your stabilizers – hip flexors

Dragon flag Progressions

before you start training dragon flag I suggest that you can do good form 60 seconds hollow body hold

these are the progressions:

  • tuck
  • advanced tuck
  • straddle half lay
  • one leg
  • straddle
  • full

dragon flag you can do statically and dynamically either holds or reps. If you maintain the static position, you will build up strength in that limited range of motion therefore it is recommended to do reps unless you want to improve your dragon flag at a specific angle.

if you can do 5 reps on your progression you should be able to go to the next one.

Here’s the great dragon flag tutorial by Daniel from FitnessFAQs

Accessory exercises

if you can’t do the easiest progression you can start with these exercises to build up your strength:

  • Plank
  • Leg raises
  • Hanging leg raises
  • Shoulder Stand
  • Hollow body
  • Ab Wheel Plank


first, you have to find a progression where you can do 5-10 reps (for example if you can do 3 reps of advanced tuck then you train with tuck) when you find the right progression then train it 2/3 a week. You can do it after your regular training session or focus your training only on the dragon flag. If you have training specifically for dragon flag, start with your most advanced progression and do negatives 3-5 series 1-5 reps after that lower progression for 3-5 series 5-10 reps of slowly lowering and raising your legs. If after that you still have some strength do accessory exercises

Example workout for dragon flag:

  • full half lay 3-5 sets 1-5 negatives
  • straddle half lay 3-5 sets 5-10 reps of lowering and raising your legs
  • Hanging leg raises x 10
  • plank 45 sec
  • hollow body 45 sec

common mistakes doing dragon flag

the biggest mistake is not keeping a straight body line, it can happen by compensating lack of strength by bending the hips or arching the lower Back

less common mistakes are:

  • Flaring the elbows
  • Bending the legs
  • Moving too fast

Remember to always warm up before training sessions it’s the easiest way to get injured

What‘s next

after you master the dragon flag you might try a different variation of it like hanging dragon flag, human flag, or even a much harder move called dragon press


The dragon flag is an advanced bodyweight movement that mastery will take months or even years, but thanks to many different progressions you can start training it even as a beginner in calisthenics. It will build the required strength for harder skills that’s why it’s good to start as fast as possible.

Can you do the dragon flag? If not what’s your current progression?

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