The Hanging Circumduction

Short Topic


Looking for a single exercise that trains virtually every muscle in your torso in a single swipe? Even if you aren't, want to try an exercise that looks so hard, most people wouldn't even dare try it?

We thought so. Okay then, here you go. You can thank (or curse!) T-mag contributor Charles Staley for this one. Apparently, his athletes call it the "Canadian Deportation," but we have absolutely no idea what that means.

In any event, the hanging circumduction IS difficult, but it's not as bad as it looks as long as you're reasonably strong and coordinated. A word of caution however: this exercise can result in profound soreness. Take it easy the first few times out!

Muscles Trained: Latissimus dorsi, internal & external obliques, rectus abdominis, iliacus, psoas major & minor, quadratus lumborum, gluteus medius.

Movements Trained: Hip flexion, trunk/hip flexion, rotation, and side-flexion.

Description: Start the exercise by hanging from a chinning bar, palms facing away from you. Straps may be used. Ideally, the chinning bar is high enough so that your feet clear the floor as you hang. With the hips slightly flexed and keeping the legs straight and together, trace a circle as you bring your feet to the left, arcing upward until your feet approach the bar, then continuing toward the right and finally down to the starting position. In other words, you're making a clock-like motion with your feet.

Alternate directions for each rep.

Performance Tips:

• Got low back problems? Don't even try it!


• The legs must stay on the frontal plane at all times – try imaging that there's a wall 18 inches in front of you.

• Use a medicine ball between your feet if additional resistance is desired.

• Use a deliberate tempo that minimizes momentum. According to Bill Phillips' book, "Body for Life," each rep should take long enough to recite the phrase "I'm building my body for life." However, coach Staley insists that a much more effective technique is to recite this instead: "Make checks payable to Charles Staley, PO Box 370022, Las Vegas Nevada, 89137." Take your pick...

• The chinning bar must be situated such that there are no obstructions to the sides.

• You'll find it natural to point your feet in the direction you're moving toward at the start of each rep. At the top, your toes will be pointing toward the wall behind you.

• Minimizing or eliminating elbow flexion contributes to the difficulty of this exercise.

• As your feet approach the top-most position, hang back and focus your eyes on the ceiling.

• If you can't keep your legs straight, it means your hamstrings are too short.

Generally speaking, this exercise is easiest for those with short and/or small legs and strong abs, and hardest for those with long and/or big legs and weak abs. However, unless your legs were reduced to mere pencil stubs as a result of a freak lawnmower accident, you'll still find the movement to be a real bear.