How to Use Stall Bars (Swedish Bars) for Strength Training

October 17, 2015 by VAHVA Fitness

Stall bars (also known as Swedish bars) are a great piece of equipment that is commonly used in gymnastics. Stall bars can be a very effective tool for building strength and flexibility in the entire body.


After gymnastic rings, many gymnasts praise the stall bars as one of the best tools ever invented.

Stall bars are used by gymnasts, fitness enthusiasts, and many who need to use stall bars for mobility, rehabilitation or pre-rehabilitation (preventing injuries, and correcting posture and improving body alignment). 

You can use the stall bars at your local gym or gymnasium. Many have also built their own stall bars.

Where to buy stall bars? In case you want the stall bars for your home workout, you can buy affordable high quality stall bars from here

How to Use Stall Bars for Strength

Front Support for Straight Arm Strength

front support on swedish bars

Front support using swedish bars is a great exercise to improve your straight arm strength.

Front support on stall bars is an exercise where you are leaning towards the stall bars, while you are holding your entire bodyweight up with your arms alone. 

In the beginning, this progression can be too difficult for you to perform. In this case you can try to add assistance with one of your legs, then try to use as much strength with your arms as you can.

The complete front support will improve tendon strength in your elbows, and develop the strength and size of the long head of triceps, lats and shoulders.

It's surprisingly tough.

Back Support for Straight Arm Strength

back support on swedish bars overhand
back support on swedish bars underhand

This is a more difficult support variation compared to the front support on stall bars. Like in the front support, you hold your entire bodyweight, but this time you have your back against the stall bars.

If this progression is too hard, you can try using one of your legs as assistance.

Back support will toughen your tendons and prepare your body for the more difficult straight arm elements. The exercise is extremely effective on its own as well.

The back support on stall bars will blast your long heads of triceps like nothing else.

You will experience that holding the position is tough, because your body is in an awkward position, and there is no real support (you actually need to use lots of strength to stay in that position). 

It's recommend to try different grips: both overhand and underhand grips, because the stimulus will be slightly different.

Human Flag on Stall Bars

Stall bars are one of the best tools for training the human flag. You can alter the grip width, and stall bars are also comfortable to hold onto. 

You may not be able to perform a full human flag right away, so below are some progressions you can use to develop your human flag strength.

Flag Support Hold

human flag support
human flag support advanced

This is a progression where you are learning how to support your body in air and build necessary strength to do so. You can gradually progress by trying to turn your body more sideways, and by attempting to lift your legs up. 

Take a grip you are comfortable with, and just hold it for time. If you cannot hold this yet, you need to focus on a well-rounded training routine to build overall strength. 

Read our How to Start Calisthenics article:

Tuck Human Flag

tuck human flag

This is the next progression of the human flag: Tuck human flag. 

In the tuck human flag, you have your knees tucked in, and as a result, the exercise is easier and less strenuous.

You can try to lift your body up (hard) or you can just jump and find out if you can hold the tuck human flag. 

Human Flag Jumps

human flag jumps 2
human flag jumps

In these human flag jumps you are jumping into the full human flag, and try to hold it best to your ability. 

In the beginning you will merely jump in the air, and then lower yourself carefully. This will build strength.

Human Flag 

human flag jumps

Full human flag. If you can hold this, you are a beast. Full human flag requires a great amount of oblique and abdominal strength, and a great deal of strength in the entire upper body.

The lower arm is pushing and you are using the lower arm for support, whereas your upper arm is pulling.

Abs on Stall Bars

Stall bars can be used for a great abs workout. Moreover, the difficulty can be adjusted depending whether you are a beginner or an advanced lifter.

Hanging Knee Raises

hanging knee raise hold
hanging knee raise

Hanging knee raises on stall bars are a great beginner exercise for building abdominal strength and abs compression strength in the human body. 

Try to keep your lower back as close to the stall bars as you can - this way your abs get worked the most.

If this progression is too difficult, then you might need to work on the absolute basics such as the sit ups, crunches, and big compound movements like push ups and pull ups.

Hanging Leg Raises

hanging knee raise hold
hanging leg raise up

Hanging leg raises on stall bars are one of the best exercises you can do for abdominal strength, abdominal size, and for improving the mobility in your hip flexors. 

Start from a straight hang and then pull your legs as high as you humanly can. Keep the legs straight (this way it will develop the hip flexor mobility).

One of the reasons why stall bars are a superior tool for hanging leg raises compared to doing them using a bar, is because it is almost impossible cheat here.

With a bar you can cheat by leaning backwards, but with the stall bar hanging leg raises your back is supported by a wall and cheating won't be easy.

Dragon Flags on Stall Bars

dragon flag hold swedish bars
dragon flags on swedish bars

Dragon flags are one of the more serious abs strength feats you can do, and they will definitely work your abdominals to the extreme.

If performing the full dragon flag is too difficult for you, you can begin with dragon flag negatives and tuck dragon flags. If these are too difficult, then you need to focus on building strength with the hanging leg raise progressions.

Dragon flags on stall bars are a great progression to build the hollow body strength for the more advanced moves such as front levers

You will also definitely build great abdominal muscles with dragon flags.

Tricep Extensions

tricep extensions
tricep extension

Tricep extensions are a great way to isolate the triceps. This exercise will build both strength and size in the triceps.

Keep your core tight, start from straight arms and lower until your head is at your elbows level. 

You can adjust the difficulty by just placing your arms higher or lower.

Stall Bars Workout Programming

As you can see from above, stall bars can be utilized for a great and versatile workout. Stall bars work the best as a supporting accessory together with other tools such as kettlebells, barbells or bodyweight training. 

Below are good sets and reps schemes for the stall bars exercises we have mentioned in this article:


Sets x Reps

Front Support

5 x 10-20 seconds

Back Support

5 x 10-20 seconds

Human Flag Holds

5 x 3-10 seconds

Hanging Leg Raises

5 x 5

Dragon Flag Work

5 x 5

Tricep Extensions

5 x 5-15 reps

Take 1-2 minutes of rest between sets. You can also a do this as one workout. 

How much you want to use the stall bars as a part of your training, depends on your personal taste.

Train hard, stay safe.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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  • Thank you for the above.

    I am on my way back to training after doing OK before lock down and then struggling when working from home. I love the front support. I have real trouble with straight arm strength – I can’t seem to straighten my arms so take more load on the muscles. I think the way it felt this morning these will be a great help.

    Thank you.



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