The iron cross is a popular strength-training exercise performed on the gymnastics floor or in the weight room. It has several different variations and progressions that you can do depending on your fitness level and targets. Some of the variations include worked out of other muscles groups, such as the legs, but the main focus of all the variations is the shoulders and back.

  • Bodyweight
  • Compound

It is a static strength training exercise and a superb display of physical control and strength. It’s an awesome exercise to witness and is one of the most recognizable gymnastics rings move. The iron cross is also not an easy task for the non-gymnast and takes dedicated training to achieve, but is not beyond the means of the recreational athlete. The exercise challenges almost the whole upper body at one time, requiring immense coordinated effort to maintain the hold and balance of the body.

Benefits The Iron Cross

  • The iron cross gives an enormous amount of brute pulling strength.
  • Small side-to-side shifts on the physioball not only challenge your core to keep your body balanced and level but also demands great physical strength.
  • They help improve your stability, which translates to increased throwing and swinging power.
  • The move also builds your lower back muscles that protect your spine.
  • During the exercise, your glutes also must engage to keep your hips up, building essential hip strength.

Muscles Worked

Anterior (Front)

  • Biceps Brachii
  • Deltoid (Front & Back)
  • Pectoralis Major

Posterior (Back)

  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Triceps Brachii

How to Do the Iron Cross

  1. Start in the supportive position with the gymnastics rings turned out and elbows tucked in close to your body.
  2. Slide your shoulders forward as you slowly lower your body to the crossover position.
  3. Pull down on the rings, and in towards the body while lowering yourself to produce great tension and control the descent.
  4. Stop the movement where your arms are nearly perpendicular to the body.
  5. Hold the position for a while and return to the start of the exercise.