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Old 05-16-2009, 08:09 AM   #1
Ned Ferguson
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Define "Dead Hang"

I hope this is not too dumb of a question. I could not find what I was looking for in searching. I do have my own ideas that I believe are correct but I need confirmation.

Dead hang is not synonymous with "relaxed" is it? I was trying to do very strict weighted pull ups this morning, thinking that I have gotten a bit lazy on going to full extension. But it seems to me that "full extension" is a matter of degrees. In order to truly achieve full extension I must deactivate my shoulders and lats at the bottom of the pull-up and relax while only maintaining enough tension to grip the bar. If I do that I can get maybe two reps (20lb weight) out of the hole before I crash (that is I find it impossible to reactivate the needed muscles). It occurs to me that this is a little extreme.

In Googling it seems the cursory definition of dead hang is "no movement at the bottom" so that the body is completely still between each pull-up. This says nothing about extension.

I am thinking that I need to maintain some muscle flexion at the bottom and doing this requires a very slight arm bend, shoulder activation, and lat tension. Is this reasonable? Or do some of you literally go into a "dead" hang? (I know - I think too much)
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Last edited by Ned Ferguson : 05-16-2009 at 08:12 AM.
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Old 05-16-2009, 08:52 AM   #2
Omar Omar
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Re: Define "Dead Hang"

a pullup is only a "dead hang pullup" when you extend your arms fully at the bottom of a pullup. Some police, firefighting agencies fitness tests require that you do deadhang pullups where you have to pose down for 2 seconds hanging.

These are deadhang pull ups since the guy here extends his arms and looks as if he is dead and hanging from his arms, also he is not using his legs or hips to help himself (they are not moving).

these right here not deadhangpullups since he doesnot extend his arms fully at the bottom

The more you extend the harder they are ofcourse.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:29 AM   #3
Steven Low
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Re: Define "Dead Hang"

Straight arms.

You can keep tension in your scapula and rotator cuff if you want, but your arms should be straight overhead of your body.

If you relax the RC and scapula and then reactivate everything and do a pullup that would be the most range of motion you can get. Certainly doable... and shouldn't be problematic if you have good strength.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:54 AM   #4
Christian Gotcher
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Re: Define "Dead Hang"

Just what the others have said, but I've noticed when I coach the pullup (I never thought I'd have to coach a deadhang, but it happens) that when I say 'straight arms,' people have a tendency to exaggerate and 'fall' into their shoulders to ensure everything is straight. Nothing of what I'm saying is new, but describing the opening and closing of the elbow joint as a separate component and defining that as 'straight arms' first helps. After that, I can address the retraction of the shoulders (active shoulders) as something that happens independent of the elbow throughout the movement. Maybe that helps?

That retraction is pretty key, too. A controlled release and contraction won't hurt you (and feels pretty good done without the pullup as a kind of stretch), but I wouldn't do it for a pull-up rep test. When I keep the retraction, I not only save a few inches of ROM, but I feel less inflammation from high-rep deadhangs, and get a kind of 'bounce' out of the stable shoulder like at the bottom of a proper squat.
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Last edited by Christian Gotcher : 05-16-2009 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 05-16-2009, 11:10 AM   #5
Zach Gates
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Re: Define "Dead Hang"

To me, "dead hang" is the same as a "dead lift": your body has ceased moving before you begin the eccentric phase. Around here, though, a "dead hang pullup" appears to mean "full extension pullup" which is a different animal.
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