German Hang

How To Master German Hang And Don’t Hurt Yourself In The Process

Have you ever heard of the German Hang? It’s an impressive exercise that will take your upper body strength and shoulder flexibility to new heights.

But I get it, trying out a new move can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re worried about getting hurt.

Well, fear not!  I’m going to guide you through the process. You will be able to master German Hang and make sure you stay injury-free.

What is a German hang?

German hang is an isometric exercise that makes you hang from a pull-up bar or gymnastics rings and hold one specific position without moving.

You will be holding onto a bar or rings and hanging with your hands fully extended behind you and your legs extended below you.

Why should you even consider doing German hang?

German hang is great for developing the strength of your upper back and improving your shoulder mobility. It targets your shoulders, back, and core muscles in a unique way.

And it looks sooo cool!

Besides looking cool, one of the greatest benefits of this skill is its impact on shoulder mobility. When you add it to your workouts you’ll notice improvements in your shoulder flexibility and range of motion. After a while, you will be impressed by how mobile your shoulders are.

When I first saw German hang I thought I will never even attempt doing it. It looked suspiciously dangerous.

I had serious problems with my shoulders and went through surgeries that helped stabilize them. My right shoulder was dislocated 3 times and my left 12 times before surgery. So I guess you can see why I was worried.

In the end, I decided to give it a try. After going through the steps outlined here I was able to finally do it. Most importantly I was able to do it safely.

As the greatest benefit for me, this exercise was the one that finally returned the full range of motion of my shoulders. I thought this will never be possible after my surgeries.

How to get to your first German hang safely?

Doing German hang without any preparation can be very dangerous. If you don’t mind dislocating your shoulder, just jump into it and get hurt right away. Or, please follow the process and try to do it gradually and safely.

Here are the steps that will help you do it. You should do those steps in order without skipping:

  • Laying stick lifts
  • Inverted hang
  • Partial skin the cat
  • Skin the cat
  • German hang

Now let’s get started with the process!

1. Laying stick lifts

Most of us don’t intentionally raise our arms behind us. Laying stick lifts will help you get the feeling for this kind of movement.

You can grab a stick with your palms facing up, or with your palms facing down. When you grab a stick with your palms facing up, you can raise your arms further up in the air. With your palms facing down, you will not be able to raise your arms so high.

When you move on to exercises on a pull-up bar, it is safer to grab a bar with an underhand grip. This will result in you hanging from a bar and holding a bar with your palms facing down.

How to do laying stick lifts


Lay down on your belly. Grab a stick behind your back while keeping your arms straight.

Upward movement:

Raise your arms slowly up in the air while holding a stick.

Downward movement:

Slowly lower your arms back down.

Repeat for reps.

2. Inverted hang

You can do inverted hang on a pull-up bar, dip bars, or gymnastic rings. If you are doing it on a pull-up bar, the safer version will be starting with an underhand grip (with palms facing toward you).

How to do an inverted hang


Grab a bar or rings. Raise your legs in front of you with bent knees. You will rotate your body while holding firmly with your hands. The goal is to reach an upside-down position.

When you are upside down, lift your butt up in the air until your body is straight. This last part of the movement will be something like a hanging deadlift. It will bring you to an inverted hang position.


Hold this position as long as you can. Your goal will be doing 3 sets of 30 seconds hold in each set.

3. Partial skin the cat

When I first tried skin the cat it was a very unpleasant experience. I was scared I will pop out my shoulder.

But I realized I don’t have to do the entire movement right away. If I can just go halfway, it seemed doable. So, to get the feeling for the move and reduce the fear I did a partial skin the cat. This funny and half-assed incorrect skill was the one actually responsible for me being able to master the German hang.

How to do partial skin the cat


Hold onto a bar or rings.


Rotate your body while holding the bar/rings with your knees tucked. Rotate until you reach an upside-down position and stop. Don’t go any further. Don’t extend your legs, keep your knees tucked.

Rotate back and return to the starting position.

4. Skin the cat

After you master the partial skin the cat, you can slowly go with your body further back. Don’t attempt the full skin the cat right away. Go a few inches further and further behind with your legs.

Always control the movement. Do it slowly and don’t force it. Never go so far behind that you can’t return back. Rather be short a few inches than force it and get injured.

At the beginning do this with your knees tucked the whole time. When you are able to rotate all the way back and return to the starting position, you can start extending your legs at the lowest position. Again, try these leg extensions little by little.

You must never feel the pain or discomfort when doing this. If you do, dial back and reduce the range of motion. And don’t worry, how German hang looks when professional gymnasts do it. The full range of motion will be different for everyone, so it doesn’t matter if yours is not the same as someone else’s.

How to do skin the cat


Hold onto a bar or rings.


Rotate your body while holding the bar/rings with your knees tucked. Rotate until you reach an upside-down position and continue rotating until your shoulders can endure the load without feeling discomfort or pain. Extend your legs at the lowest point of the movement.

Slowly return your legs to a tucked position by moving your knees toward your chest. Rotate back and return to the starting position.

5. German hang

German Hang

Now that you learned how to do skin the cat, German hang is just the lowest position you reach in a skin the cat movement.

So, getting in the German hang position will be the same as doing the first part of skin the cat. The part that you do until you reach the lowest hanging position possible.

Getting out of the German hang can be done in two ways:

  1. The first way is completing skin the cat movement (returning to the starting position part of the skin the cat movement). This is how I prefer doing it. It is safer and it’s done with more control.
  2. Otherwise, you can just release your grip and land on your feet. I don’t like this way of getting out of the German hang and I definitely don’t recommend it if you want to do it safely.

Taking it to the next level: How to go beyond German hangs

Even though German hangs are pretty cool and advanced, there is another even harder calisthenics skill worth pursuing.

Introducing the famous: Back Lever!

When you master German hang, you are one step closer to a back lever. The back lever will demand more strength than the German hang. If you persist and go one step at a time, I’m sure you can master it.

You can check out the back lever progression that will help you master this impressive skill. It’s easy to follow like a cooking recipe. (Not so easy to actually do it though.)

Key takeaways

German hang is another impressive calisthenics skill that will leave your friends in awe. It will demand another level of strength and shoulder flexibility.

But there is a way to master it safely if you follow a personally tried tutorial in this article. And this is coming from someone who had to go through surgery to stabilize his shoulders.

So, approach this skill with caution and respect. If you do, you can definitely master it safely.

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