Skin the Cat

Ok, the name of that exercixe might seem a bit cruel. But Skin the Cat is lovely, fun, essential and so useful (and you can also call it "German Hang" if you prefer).


What is Skin the Cat for?

Skin the Cat is a mobilisation exercise for the shoulder in the first place. It allows the shoulder joint to rotate over its full range of motion. It is therefore

  • the best way to increase the shoulder ROM over time
  • warm up the shoulder before doing movements like Olympic Weightlifting, kipping gymnastics etc.
  • activate the shoulder befor training
  • injury prevention and rehabilitation

Skin the Cat is also, eventhough that´s not its main purpose, a core exercise including a kind of L-Sit and "T2B" variation.


How to do a Skin the Cat

Hang freely from the gymnastic rings. Raise your straight legs to hip height, or rather a L-Sit position. Start from here to shoot the legs over your head and through the straps of the rings. Lower them behind your head and bring your toes as close to the ground as possible. 

Tipp 1: Keep arms and legs straight throughout the whole movement!

Tipp 2: If you want to make more of a core exercise out of it, hold the L-Sit a little longer and stretch the duration of the leg lifting portion.


How can I scale Skin the Cat?

Mostly, a lack of core strength and/or body awareness keeps people from completing a straight leg Skin the Cat. In that case, try the version with the tucked legs. 


Skin the Cat rings vs. bar

A Skin the Cat can also be done at a pull up bar. Since there is little space between your head and the bar and you have to shoot your legs really closely over your body, the bar version requires much more core strength, hip and shoulder mobility. Also, it is less gentle to your wrist than the rings which you can twist into an optimal position.