Image of a person doing a mid-hang

Hang Lifts Basics

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Getting started with weightlifting can be very intimidating, especially for complex and dynamic movements like those done in weightlifting. But, these lifts can be broken down into simpler steps, and one of the easiest ways of doing so is with hang lifts. Hang lifts are an incredibly useful tool for strength training, and we’ll explain why.

What are Hang Lifts?

Novices and veteran lifters alike have heard of hang lifts, but what are they? Hang lifts begin with you holding the barbell against your hips and then allowing the weight to hang down to a specific spot. After the barbell has lowered its destination, you forcefully and abruptly switch to the rest of the movement. Hang lifts are divided into three categories, each with unique use cases and benefits.

High Hang

A high hang involves letting the barbell fall to your mid or high-thigh area. When you begin the work, the barbell is already “hanging high.” It’s a fast, abrupt motion from slowly lowering to quickly driving the weight upward. This type of hang is usually done using lighter weights and is helpful to produce speed under the barbell and improve force development patterns.

Mid Hang

When your barbell falls right around your knee, it’s a mid-hang. This is the default for most workout plans, as it works generally on all parts of your lift.  If you see a workout with an unspecified hang height, you can safely assume a mid-hang will suffice. This type of hang provides all the benefits of hang work and gives you plenty of time to perfect your posture and keep a rigid posterior chain while lifting.

Low Hang

If the barbell passes a lifter’s knees but doesn’t touch the floor, it’s a low-hang lift. This hang lift requires the most strength overall because of the extended range of motion. Using low-hang lifts can help maintain proper pulling posture, identify weakness in your isometric force, and help lifters who rely too heavily on their back to find their legs underneath them.

When Hang Lifts Are Helpful

When you’re strength training, you want every movement to count toward your goals. Hang lifts are an excellent way to start the lifting game; most coaches will have you start with them. Hang lifts are a great way to break down more complex exercises into smaller pieces that are easier to process. Snatching from the floor requires a lot more skill and effort, while hang lifting lets you compartmentalize different aspects of your lift.

Working from the hang also allows you to identify and address your weak points. For example, if you find it challenging to drop under the barbell after extending your legs, working from the high hang allows you to focus on that specific element. The hang can also remove areas of pull that can create issues down the line. If you make any technical errors when snatching or cleaning that affect your overall performance, starting from the hang can bypass the problem while you work on improving your technique.

While in no way a treatment for a sports injury, hang lifts can be a fantastic stand-in to maintain your fitness level while recovering from a lower back or knee problem. Working from the hang allows you to continue lifting while avoiding particular postures that can cause your injury to flare up.

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