How To Do The Dragon Flag

Man peforms dragon flag exercise in gym
(Image credit: LStockStudio / Shutterstock)

When you’re looking to test yourself with some harder exercises, it’s always worth referring to a Rocky montage for ideas. Whether it’s one-arm press-ups, stair sprints or corralling chickens, the Italian Stallion was prepared to go the extra mile in his training sessions.

That brings us nicely to the dragon flag, a core exercise so effective it helped Rocky prepare for his fight with Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, where he – SPOILERS – avenged Apollo Creed and conclusively proved that the USA was better than the USSR.

The dragon flag is a savage move that really tests the strength of your core. It makes a great addition to any abs workout, but only if you have the muscle control to do it effectively.

How To Do The Dragon Flag

First of all watch Rocky IV and check out Balboa’s perfect form. Marvel at how three people are content to stand and watch him do dragon flags because he’s so good at them.

Now hit the gym and find a free bench.

Lie on your back on the bench and grip the sides of the bench by your ears with both hands. Brace your core and raise your legs until your toes are pointed at the ceiling. Only your head and upper back should be touching the bench, and your body should form a straight line from your toes to your chest. Pause at the top of the move, then lower your legs slowly, keeping them extended and making sure that your back doesn’t arch.

It won’t take many reps to feel the burn in your abs, and if you’re managing to complete five or more dragon flags then give yourself a big pat on the back. If you’re struggling with the move, however, then go back to easier core exercises to gradually build the strength required. Start with the reverse crunch and standard leg raises, then move on to hanging leg raises. Once you’ve mastered those moves, return to the bench and attempt the dragon flag again.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.