Flexed Arm Hang

wannabeplebe

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
206
Does anyone have any tips for improving the flexed arm hang, whether it be with technique or anything other than just doing the flexed arm hang? It seems to be the only part of the CFA I can't pass and as the timeline is winding down, I'm getting pretty desperate. I must not lack complete upper body strength because I can throw the basketball above average and I can do about average push-ups. I don't exactly have a cross-country runner type small figure, so it's difficult to hold myself up much past when the timer signals to start. Anyone who also struggled that figured out any ways to significantly improve or any other tips would be much appreciated!
 

Capt MJ

Ancient Mariner
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Joined
Sep 27, 2008
Messages
9,388
http://www.stewsmith.com/linkpages/serviceacademycfa.htm

Search "CFA" across all forums, also pull-ups. Have you tried those? You have got to put the effort in on a daily basis. Install a pull-up bar at home and try every time you go through the door. Use the assisted pull-up machine at the gym. This is not a skill you can pull an all-nighter on. Presumably, you are already beating yourself up for not getting this in hand a year ago. Get your form and breathing right. Push though.

Edit: I do not intend to come across harshly. Someone your age in good health, regardless of gender, should be able to ramp up and do these.

Believe you can, blank your mind to discomfort, and think about how much you want to achieve your goal of attending USNA.

Many years ago, in the last century, I had to gain the ability to do push-ups and pull-ups, before I started my military career. Sit-ups and running were easy, because I had done them for years. I had only done "girl push-ups." Muscles screamed and protested, that evil inner voice whispered "I can't." I just set my mind to it, and I did it. I still do them, most mornings, to retain the strength and muscle memory. Sets of basic body-weight exercises. It has paid off over the years. I hoist the big bags of dog food over my shoulder and head to check out at PetsMart, heave bags of salt for our well into my cart at Sam's Club and take two bags of salt at a time down the basement stairs.

You CAN do them. Forget about your body type and other mental lint.

Have you consulted a coach at school? Grip strength could be your weakness. Good form is also key.

I am rooting for you. Feeling physically strong and capable is a great underpinning for lifetime confidence.
 
Last edited:

wannabeplebe

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
206
http://www.stewsmith.com/linkpages/serviceacademycfa.htm

Search "CFA" across all forums, also pull-ups. Have you tried those? You have got to put the effort in on a daily basis. Install a pull-up bar at home and try every time you go through the door. Use the assisted pull-up machine at the gym. This is not a skill you can pull an all-nighter on. Presumably, you are already beating yourself up for not getting this in hand a year ago. Get your form and breathing right. Push though.

Edit: I do not intend to come across harshly. Someone your age in good health, regardless of gender, should be able to ramp up and do these.

Believe you can, blank your mind to discomfort, and think about how much you want to achieve your goal of attending USNA.

Many years ago, in the last century, I had to gain the ability to do push-ups and pull-ups, before I started my military career. Sit-ups and running were easy, because I had done them for years. I had only done "girl push-ups." Muscles screamed and protested, that evil inner voice whispered "I can't." I just set my mind to it, and I did it. I still do them, most mornings, to retain the strength and muscle memory. Sets of basic body-weight exercises. It has paid off over the years. I hoist the big bags of dog food over my shoulder and head to check out at PetsMart, heave bags of salt for our well into my cart at Sam's Club and take two bags of salt at a time down the basement stairs.

You CAN do them. Forget about your body type and other mental lint.

Have you consulted a coach at school? Grip strength could be your weakness. Good form is also key.

I am rooting for you. Feeling physically strong and capable is a great underpinning for lifetime confidence.
I really appreciate your words of encouragement! I have been working at this for quite some time considering I only heard about the academies about 6 months ago and only decided that I REALLY want to go about 4 or so months ago. I never really considered myself out of shape because I regularly play/do sports (Varsity swimming and basketball) but I didn't realize how difficult it would be for me to do these seemingly basic exercises on their own until I tried them. Believe me when i tell you that a month ago, I couldn't even do a kneeling push-up. Today, I am able to do multiple push-ups and I wonder if that is where I went somewhat wrong, focusing most of my energy and focus on that. I really am not sure why I have such trouble with the flexed arm hang, but nonetheless, I will most definitely keep trying until the CFA deadline, which I realize is very close. I think I've pushed the CFA off for so long because I've established this fear of it as an end-all be-all to all the work I've put forth into my app thus far. Everything else is complete... I have a nomination and believe I am otherwise qualified. Now to get that 3rd Q...

I have no problem with the chin-up grip, but cannot seem to get the proper pull-up grip with the FAH. I will do some research on grip strength and work on improving that along with my other practices (negatives, bicep curls, etc.).

Again, I appreciate the encouragement and even the straightforwardness, as I realize that it is no one's fault but mine in waiting so long with this!
 

Teragram

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2016
Messages
557
I really appreciate your words of encouragement! I have been working at this for quite some time considering I only heard about the academies about 6 months ago and only decided that I REALLY want to go about 4 or so months ago. I never really considered myself out of shape because I regularly play/do sports (Varsity swimming and basketball) but I didn't realize how difficult it would be for me to do these seemingly basic exercises on their own until I tried them. Believe me when i tell you that a month ago, I couldn't even do a kneeling push-up. Today, I am able to do multiple push-ups and I wonder if that is where I went somewhat wrong, focusing most of my energy and focus on that. I really am not sure why I have such trouble with the flexed arm hang, but nonetheless, I will most definitely keep trying until the CFA deadline, which I realize is very close. I think I've pushed the CFA off for so long because I've established this fear of it as an end-all be-all to all the work I've put forth into my app thus far. Everything else is complete... I have a nomination and believe I am otherwise qualified. Now to get that 3rd Q...

I have no problem with the chin-up grip, but cannot seem to get the proper pull-up grip with the FAH. I will do some research on grip strength and work on improving that along with my other practices (negatives, bicep curls, etc.).

Again, I appreciate the encouragement and even the straightforwardness, as I realize that it is no one's fault but mine in waiting so long with this!
Work those pullups, you only need 1. DD also does not have a XC physique, she is petite but solid muscle. She cannot do flexed arm hang at all even now, but worked up from 1 pullup at SLE in June to maxing it on Oct 31 when she took another CFA. It truly is a matter of just working the muscles needed for pullup and then doing them every time you walk past pullup bar!
 

wannabeplebe

Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
206
Work those pullups, you only need 1. DD also does not have a XC physique, she is petite but solid muscle. She cannot do flexed arm hang at all even now, but worked up from 1 pullup at SLE in June to maxing it on Oct 31 when she took another CFA. It truly is a matter of just working the muscles needed for pullup and then doing them every time you walk past pullup bar!
This is actually very encouraging. Thank you for sharing! I will continue to push until my test.
 

Jcc123

5-Year Member
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
Messages
1,024
You are welcome! Good luck and just focus on that 1 pull-up...it will give you more points than maxing FAH anyway :)

You may find that, as a swimmer, your lats are developed to the point that a pull-up is easier than the flexed arm hang.
 

usna1985

10-Year Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,286
Agree with installing a pull-up bar and using it. However, being honest, there's not a whole lot of time to improve physically b/t now and Jan. 31. Some, but not a lot.

So I would focus on mental toughness. IMHO, flexed arm hang is at least as much mental as physical. IOW, if you can hang for 15 seconds, you can probably do at least another 10-15 out of sheer will. And I say that as someone from the era of flexed arm hang for women at USNA.

Set a time in your mind that is longer than you've done before but a reasonable challenge and mentally will yourself to stay up. Tell yourself you are going to hang on for that "extra" 10-15 seconds -- trust me, if you're in reasonable shape, you can do that if you set your mind to it. Once you hit that number, tell yourself, "just one more second." Eventually, muscle fatigue will set in, but you should get more time out of it.

Also, focus on push-ups in your CFA. When you get to USNA, your PFT will include push-ups but not pull-ups. So, doing well on push-ups helps demonstrate you do have upper body strength and that you will be ok on the test you take once you get to the Academy.

For those planning for the Class of 2022 -- start now and work on doing at least one pull-up. Guarantee that, if you start now and follow any type of legit training regimen, you'll be able to do several within six months.
 

April75

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Joined
Sep 14, 2016
Messages
62
My two cents for the day... I am a parent of a DD who applied for the class of 2021. She could not do one single pull-up. I installed a pull-up bar. Put a chair and had her stand on it. I got her holding the bar up high, then slowing letting herself down, very slowly that is. We did that about ten times the first day. The second day, she did ONE. She was able to pull herself up on her own. We continued with the process daily and she got to 11. Went to NASS in June and pulled 7. You CAN do it. Make sure to have someone there to help. Best wishes to you.
 

wannabeplebe

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Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
206
My two cents for the day... I am a parent of a DD who applied for the class of 2021. She could not do one single pull-up. I installed a pull-up bar. Put a chair and had her stand on it. I got her holding the bar up high, then slowing letting herself down, very slowly that is. We did that about ten times the first day. The second day, she did ONE. She was able to pull herself up on her own. We continued with the process daily and she got to 11. Went to NASS in June and pulled 7. You CAN do it. Make sure to have someone there to help. Best wishes to you.
Am I understanding you correctly, that it only took about a day (10 reps) of pull-up negatives to achieve one pull-up? I've been working with negatives but am still not in full control of my speed coming down.
 

April75

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Sep 14, 2016
Messages
62
Am I understanding you correctly, that it only took about a day (10 reps) of pull-up negatives to achieve one pull-up? I've been working with negatives but am still not in full control of my speed coming down.
Correct. Have your Dad hold you to allow you to come down slowly. He'll have to eventual let you control of your own speed. DD struggled so much and I could see the fight going up and the tears. I know you can.
 

wannabeplebe

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Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
206
That's very impressive. Congratulations to your DD on her progress! I live at school so I don't really have an adult to help me, but am going to do my hardest in trying to push through for that one pull-up.
 

Teragram

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Joined
Aug 28, 2016
Messages
557
That's very impressive. Congratulations to your DD on her progress! I live at school so I don't really have an adult to help me, but am going to do my hardest in trying to push through for that one pull-up.
Not sure if you go to a coed school or not, but a friend who is strong enough to hold you will do the trick until you gain control of that down speed.
 

CA_hopefulmom

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Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
55
My DD struggled with pull-ups for over a year! She has very muscular legs which are extra hard to pull up lol! What worked for her so far was a whole lot of negatives, swimming, and she purchased a resistance band device that attached to the bar. It has various levels of resistance depending on how much help you need. I think it really helped her because she could have full range of motion on the up and the down. She is now up to three pull-ups and working on more. I wish you all the best!
 

wannabeplebe

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Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
206
My DD struggled with pull-ups for over a year! She has very muscular legs which are extra hard to pull up lol! What worked for her so far was a whole lot of negatives, swimming, and she purchased a resistance band device that attached to the bar. It has various levels of resistance depending on how much help you need. I think it really helped her because she could have full range of motion on the up and the down. She is now up to three pull-ups and working on more. I wish you all the best!
How long has she been working at it
 

CA_hopefulmom

Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2015
Messages
55
How long has she been working at it

Probably a little over a year, the resistance band device really made a huge difference for her. I don't think it was very pricey either. I know you don't have a lot of time, but maybe it could help you. I liked the idea upthread that said aim for 10 seconds longer than you think you can do. Good advice there. Hang in there-literally!!
 
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