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Iron Cross Exercise – How to Tone the Biceps and Shoulders


The Iron cross exercise gets its name from a skill in gymnastics that gymnasts perform. They suspend their bodies upright and extend their arms laterally to form a T shape. Also, this movement requires significant strength of the bicep and the shoulder tendon.

Some popular modifications of this exercise include the Maltese cross and the vertically inverted exercise cross. With these skills, the athlete will hold their body parallel to the floor at ring height and extend their arms laterally.

muscular man performing the iron cross exercise

Before including the iron cross exercise, build some muscle flexibility and stamina. This exercise improves your overall body muscle endurance by targeting major muscle groups. In addition, rowing people can significantly take advantage of this exercise.

How to Perform the Iron Cross Exercise?

First, you must stand straight with your feet at a shoulder-width distance. Then you will need to grasp a pair of dumbbells. After that, you need to lift your arms towards your sides so that your arms and your torso form the shape of a T.

It is important to note that your arms stay parallel with the ground. Also, they need to be perpendicular to the sides of your torso, forming a 90-degree angle. Finally, make sure the palms of your hands face forward. Thus this will be the initial position of the exercise.

Then you will need to squat down as you bend at your knees. Keep going with this movement until you make your thighs parallel to the ground. Next, you must bring the arms down to your side with your palms facing each other.

Again, only one shoulder joint needs to move as you bring this motion. After that, you need to press the ball of your feet lightly to return to the initial position. Repeat this step for several reps to gain results.

Muscles It Works

Thus, this exercise works the torso’s traps, chest, and shoulder muscles. Also, it acts on the quadrilateral muscles of your legs. In the back, this exercise aids in improving your lower back strength.

In addition, it aids in enhancing the muscles of the lower pelvic region, including hamstrings and glute muscles. Iron cross exercises are the best choice if you want to work all these muscles. These will help build the endurance of your muscles.

Make sure the technique is suitable to strengthen your muscles.

For example, you may get shoulder issues because of a lack of external rotation and stability in the scapula.

Also, you may develop inflammation in your elbow tendons. Thus, most people may select iron cross exercises to stabilize their muscles.

It is imperative to hold back from time to time so you don’t put too much pressure on your muscles.

Also, add some support when isolating muscles to ensure they don’t suffer additional injuries. With the correct technique, you will face minimum injuries.

As a result, you will get intense with time and perform a perfect iron cross.

The Physical Skill It Improves

The iron cross exercise helps to improve the upper body strength and endurance.

As a result, you get a better ability to perform rowing and similar activities. It is also great for enhancing pelvic core stability.

Also, this is because this exercise targets the whole pelvic region, including your lower back and glute muscles.

Thus this is especially important for people who want to improve their balance and run long distances. You can include some modifications to this exercise in your daily routine for the best results. People who like to improve their overall body stability can use the help of this exercise as well.

For example, some people complain that their leg muscles feel weak, hindering them from performing different activities. For example, swimmers require strong back and leg muscles to help them swim fast. They can use the iron core exercise to build a more muscular lower back and back leg.

Incorrect Ways to Perform

One of the biggest mistakes with this exercise is doing it too early. Do not do this exercise right after you have started your exercise routine. This exercise requires a lot of stamina and flexibility.

So, doing this without prior preparation will only land you in trouble. Instead, try adding different exercises to your regimen and gradually build your way to this exercise. Then, when you feel you can handle this demanding movement, only do the iron cross exercise.

Try to increase your weight gradually. If you increase your weight suddenly, it can strain your shoulder and elbow joints.

Also, this will lead to injuries, eventually slowing down your progress. Make sure you give yourself enough recovery time to heal your muscles. Otherwise, you will only make the strain worse.

In addition, this will lead to a lot of stress, which will hamper your physical fitness regime.

Also, some people make the mistake of squatting a lot in the exercise. To make things easy, it is better to remove this part. Then you will only need to perform at your shoulder joint. So, remain standing as you do the iron cross exercise.

It would help if you also considered taking a fractional weight plate set for the lift. Conventional dumbbells are too heavy for some people. They can cause the plateaus of the exercise to occur speedily.

Also, this will cause injury and decrease the results you gain otherwise. You can make steady progress in the core exercise if you use micro jumps in your weight. Thus, it will reduce your overall frequency of getting to the plateaus.

Modifications to Exercise

Iron cross exercises come with some variations that include:

1. Assisted Cross Exercise

This exercise is excellent for you if you want to make your muscles work at a maximum effort most of the time. It will be great for developing your overall body strength. Also, it will help build your muscle mass if you take care of your dietary protein intake. Also, a training partner will help you improve your workout with more encouragement and support.

2. Theraband Cross Pullout Exercise

This exercise requires a machine or a weight progression using pulleys. These pulleys will connect to the weights. If there are no weights, you can go for your body weight. It is because this exercise will activate the cross position well. Also, it will give you a way to measure your overall strength gain.

3. Block Cross Pullout Exercise

This exercise adds stress to your lateral muscles. You might need to perform this iron cross exercise only if the other two modifications seem more challenging for you. It does not exert any pressure on the pectoral muscles, saving you from getting strain there. You can benefit from this exercise by measuring progress by seeing your legs on the block’s height.

4. Theraband Assisted Cross Exercise

The theraband-assisted cross exercise is helpful for intermediate trainers. You do not need to gauge the force. So, choosing something for the weight that exerts some pressure on your muscles is crucial.

However, this weight should not be heavy enough that you have to push through your body. It is a highly effective exercise for stimulating your body muscles in the correct position.

Also, a negative thing about this exercise is that it does not let you measure your progress easily. As a result, you may feel that switching to blocks is unnatural. Finally, ensure that the progression in the iron cross exercise is constant.

The Last Word on the Iron Cross Exercise

These are some basics of the iron cross exercise. One important thing to remember is to ensure you are not putting too much strain on your upper limbs and joints.

Also, only decide to do this exercise if you are at an intermediate level of body training.

Skip this exercise if you are just a beginner. What do you think? Please share your response in the comment section below so that others can benefit from your experience.


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