How To Do Criss Cross

By: Chris Freytag, CPT

Chris Freytag demonstrating Criss Cross Ab Exercise


Criss Cross is a challenging core body exercise that strengthens your abs and lower back while training your entire core to have more stability. If you learn how to do Criss Cross you will have a move that challenges your core in a whole new way and put you on track for a flat belly. The key to this move it to keep your imprint. What is your imprint? It is the ability to use your lower abdominal muscle – your rectus abdominus – to gently press your low back into the floor in order to maintain stability during the leg movement. With your imprint, you strengthen your abdominals and learn body stability. The legs move back and forth but the body stays still. Keeping your stability is important in so many situations including most physical activity It is an important skill to learn for the protection and strength of your lower back.

It has been reported that upwards of 80% of the U.S Population has or will report back pain at some point in their lives. Learning how to imprint and strengthen your core is the key to avoiding back pain and injury. Once you learn how to imprint you fill find yourself doing it without even thinking.

Another benefit to strengthening the transverse abdominus is a flatter belly. Many people are in search of new ways to flatten the belly and get rid of the extra “pooch” in front. The transverse abdominus is like a little built-in “corset”. If you train this muscle correctly, you will feel how much tighter your abs are. Then, with clean eating and good cardio exercise, you can get rid of the fat that covers this muscle and have a nice, tight tummy!

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    How To Do Criss Cross

    Here are the steps to performing Criss Cross:

    1) Start lying on back with your legs long and straight up towards the ceiling.

    2) Bring one ankle over the other and switch in a criss cross motion down to the diagonal (see photo) for 4 counts and back up for 4 counts. That is one rep.

    [adthrive-in-post-video-player video-id=”rsmBMCXk” upload-date=”2019-02-22T22:22:23.000Z” name=”Criss-Cross” description=”1) Start lying on back with your legs long and straight up towards the ceiling.

    2) Bring one ankle over the other and switch in a criss cross motion down to the diagonal (see photo) for 4 counts and back up for 4 counts. That is one rep.”]

    What Muscles Do Criss Cross Work?

    Criss Cross is an awesome core strength move that works your low abs – your rectus abdominus, as well as your lower back muscles and stabilizers. It is a great move for strengthening your core!

    Benefits of Criss Cross

    There are many reasons you should incorporate Criss Cross into your workouts. Here are just a few:

    Stronger Core

    Criss Cross is a unique and challenging way to strengthen your core. The core is made of many muscles, but the most powerful of them all is the transverse abdominus. This muscles, located in the lower abs, is the one you pull in to keep your low back protected and to stabilize you as you move.

    Better Stability

    Criss Cross challenges your abdominals to keep you stable. This is an important thing for your body to learn. While your legs cross back and forth the natural thing for your body would be to rock from side to side. By pulling in the core you keep your body stable and centered.

    Stronger Low Back

    Low Back pain affects upwards of 80% of the U.S Population. Strengthening your core with moves like the criss cross protects your lower back and strengthens the muscle surrounding your spine.

    How Many Calories Does Criss Cross Burn?

    People often ask how many calories they are burning in their workouts. Most exercises will generally burn about 100 calories for every 10 minutes you are working at high intensity. Criss Cross is a core body move that does not focus as much on heart rate or calorie burn. However, included as part of an overall workout program you will burn calories and get results!

    Other Exercises Similar to Criss Cross

    If you like Criss Cross and the results you get from it, here are a few more exercises you might want to try.

    1. How To Do Crossbody Planks
    2. How To Do Swimming
    3. How To Do Side Plank Lift and Lower

    Incorporating Criss Cross Into Your Workouts

    Criss Cross is an amazing exercise all on its own! However, you could also incorporate Criss Cross into other workouts to mix them up. Here are some ideas to get you started.

    Use Criss Cross in a Core Strength Workout

    It only takes 4 or 5 good moves to get a complete core workout and cover virtually every muscle group in your mid-section. Criss Cross is incorporated into this next workout that will do just exactly that!

    Sculpted Core in 6 Simple Moves Workout: Here’s a short, sweet and effective workout for your core that uses Criss Cross as an anchor! For the following workout, perform the exercise as instructed. If you still feel great at the end, try going through each move one more time!

    Oblique Crunch – 15 Reps per side

    Plank Jacks – 15 Reps

    Sprinter Sit-Ups – 15 Reps Right leg, 15 Reps Left leg

    Hip Dips – 16 Total Reps

    Criss Cross –6 Reps- (one reps is lowering and lifting during criss cross)

    Straight Leg Toe Touch – 15 Reps


    Use Criss Cross in a Pilates Workout

    Pilates is a method of exercise that focuses on core strength, elongating your muscles and balance. It is a tried and true form of exercise that started as strength training for ballet dancers and has long been mixed into workouts of all kinds for all people! If you have never tried Pilates, it is definitely time!

    At Home Power Pilates Workout: No Equipment needed. Just get a mat and get ready to work hard.

    Full Body Roll-Ups – 6 reps

    Pilates 100

    Bird Dog Crunch – 10 reps per side

    Swimming – use swimming counting like Pilates 100 and go to 100

    Criss Cross – 6 reps down and up

    Use Criss Cross in a Full Body Strength Challenge

    Criss Cross is a great core body challenge to incorporate into a full body strength workout. Core work can be part of every workout and can be done every day! Check out our simple, effective at home strength workout that includes Criss Cross.

    Full Body Strength At Home Challenge: This workout uses Criss Cross for the core move and covers every muscle and more! Grab a medium pair of dumbbells and go from one move directly to the next. Make sure you repeat 2 times!

    Push-Ups – 12 reps

    Bicep Curl Lunge – 12 Reps

    Tricep Overhead Extensions – 12 Reps

    Squat Thruster – 12 Reps

    Shoulder Front Raise – 12 Reps

    Cross Behind Lunge Lateral Raise – 12 Reps

    Straight Arm Press Back – 12 Reps

    Reverse Grip Double Arm Row – 12 Reps

    Criss Cross – 6 reps (down to diagonal and up is one)

    Repeat once more through

    Here are 3 more workouts that give you benefits similar to Criss Cross that you might want to try:

    Beginners Guide to Pilates

    15-Minute Workout To Get Rid of Lower Belly Pooch

    How To Get Rid of A Muffin Top

    Targets: core, back

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