Exercise Tutorial: How To Do The Dragon Flag Exercise

The Dragon Flag is one of the toughest ab exercises out there. This  killer ab exercise was popularized by Bruce Lee back in the 60’s.

Then, the epic training montage in Rocky IV from the mid 80’s brought it back and made it more popular than ever. Master this bodyweight exercise and impress everyone at your gym.

This is how to do it.

Dragon FlagBut be warned.

It’s tough. The only ab exercise more challenging is the front lever.

I don’t recommend you attempt doing Dragon Flags until you master the Reverse Crunch and Hallow Hold. If you need an ab routine to get started, I have a free one for your right here – Free Core Workout

But when you’re ready, here’s how to do the Dragon Flag.

How to do The Dragon Flag Exercise

Now that you’ve seen Mike bang out a few reps, here are a few tips to prefect this ab killer.

  • Lie on your back. Reach overhead and grab something sturdy lie a bench or squat rack.
  • Inhale and lift your legs to pike up high on the shoulders. The goal here is to get your body as straight as possible.
  • Pause at the top. At this point on your shoulders and upper back are in contact with the ground.
  • Without arching your back, slowly lower your torso back to the floor. Only lower as far as you can while owning the position!
    • Keep your body in a straight line as you lower.
  • Reset and repeat for prescribed number of reps.
    • start with 3 sets of 5. Work up to 5 sets. As you get stronger and 5 reps is easy, start adding reps. Work up to 12.

Tip: Reach long through your toes. This helps connect your entire body, and engage your core.

Ace this advanced ab exercise and it will help you master bodyweight movements like one-arm push ups and front levers.

Muscles Worked Doing the Dragon Flag


  • Rectus abdominus
  • Internal and external obliques
  • Transversus abdominis
  • Hip flexors
  • Multifidus

Working up to the Dragon Flag

This is a tough exercise. Very few can do it right out of the gates. So here are a couple of variations that help you work your way up to the real deal.

  • Knee Tuck Dragon FLag
  • Dragon Flag Tuck to Extend Straddle
  • Single Leg Dragon Flag
  • Negatives
  • Isometric Holds
  • Wide Leg Dragon Flag

On the other end of the spectrum, to make it more difficult, perform half reps on  a 45° decline. Or you can pause the movement at different points.

How long does it take to master dragon flags?

Of course this depends on your current fitness level and baseline strength.

If you’ve been training for a while, are fit and trim, it can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. But if you’re new to exercise and caring a little extra weight, to master the dragon flag could take you 6 months to a year of consistent training.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Dragon flags are really tough. So, don’t worry about reversing the motion. Stick with lowering slow and controlled as far as you can.

  • Overextending the lower back
  • Using momentum
  • Putting too much pressure on the back of your neck
  • Bending at the hips and letting them sag
  • Not warming up

Core exercises to help you build up to a Dragon Flag


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