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Michel Hendrickson

Iron Cross Form

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Michel Hendrickson

5985ff2b2469a_ChenYibingIroncross.png.2cc45a2d5043084fd6047fd80b1e1455.png

I saw athlete Chen Yibing perform iron cross on the Olympics of 2008 and this raised a few questions:

1. Are his elbows bent and pointing DOWN, or are they pointing UP and hyper-extended (bent the wrong way)?

2. Is the correct form to have elbows pointing up or elbows pointing down?

3. Is the false grip he uses allowed for iron cross or is it considered cheating? Will doing iron cross without false grip give you more points and higher scores in the competition?

4. Where does iron cross stand in terms of difficulty rating compared to the other straight arm still rings static positions? For example is it considered harder than planche?

In order to make sure we are speaking the same language I've added pictures of the possible positions.
The the pictures are elbows down, elbows back, elbows up, in that specific order from top to bottom:
59887001d6e1b_Ironcross-elbowdown.thumb.jpg.9c1f6023ab08b37f49aa1ef0117f72da.jpg598870107ae19_Ironcross-elbowback.thumb.jpg.2f712e4e56cace0c1993558d976fc9b3.jpg

598870197b48d_Ironcross-elbowup.thumb.jpg.1c807b0320f7a4443f625f2a1cf07010.jpg

 

 

EDIT: added athlete's name and event
EDIT: added pictures of possible arm positions

Edited by Michel Hendrickson

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Julian Aldag

False grip is a small deduction for each skill. 

As of 2017:   Front and Back lever are A level skills.  V=sit, Straddle Planche and Iron Cross are B. Invert Cross, Planche are C, Maltese, Hang dead press to Cross, D, Invert maltese/Victorian E.

http://www.fig-gymnastics.com/publicdir/rules/files/mag/CoP_MAG_2017-2020_ICI-e.pdf

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GoldenEagle

First off, the gymnast in the picture you chose is Chen Yibing and he would hold the Iron Cross, for two to three seconds, as required. Chen Yibing's, 2008 Olympic Gold medal, Still Rings performance

1. Chen Yibing's elbows naturally hyperextend when his arms are straight and "locked"(flexed triceps). The exact orientation of his arms in the chosen picture depends on what he was doing in the particular moment. (IE: Transitioning into or out of Iron Cross.) Looking at the performance Chen Yibing demonstrated, at that particular moment he was holding cross and had his upper arm rotated so that he can transition into the harder inverted cross.

2. Generally speaking and while learning to hold iron cross. The correct body positioning is elbows pointing down, with your upper arm fully externally rotated, shoulders depressed and your scapula pressed flat against your rib cage. In training iron cross is held from much longer than two or three seconds.

3. That is the correct false grip. False grip looks different with the ring grips on and one gymnast's false grip might look differently from another.

4. See Julian's post above.

 

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Darin Phoenix

Correct the person in the picture is Chen Yibing arguably the greatest proponent of the still rings ever. 

In regards to your question whether the cross is considered harder than the planche. Elements in Gymnastics including the rings are rated in order of difficulty from A(Easiest) to F(Most difficult). Cross is a B the same as Straddle Planche on the rings. Inverted Cross and Full Planche are both C's.None of these are considered to be difficult at international level. Maltese or Swallow is a D with Inverted Swallow being an E. An example of an F would be a Zahran which is moving from hanging scale (Back Lever) pull with straight through Iron Cross to Inverted Swallow with a 2-second hold in Inverted Swallow. Elements are now made after the first person to perform the element in competition. Another F is the Zanetti which is name after London Olympics gold medalist on the rings Arthur Zanetti. 

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Michel Hendrickson
10 hours ago, Rayne-William Fitzgerald said:

First off, the gymnast in the picture you chose is Chen Yibing and he would hold the Iron Cross, for two to three seconds, as required. Chen Yibing's, 2008 Olympic Gold medal, Still Rings performance

1. Chen Yibing's elbows naturally hyperextend when his arms are straight and "locked"(flexed triceps). The exact orientation of his arms in the chosen picture depends on what he was doing in the particular moment. (IE: Transitioning into or out of Iron Cross.) Looking at the performance Chen Yibing demonstrated, at that particular moment he was holding cross and had his upper arm rotated so that he can transition into the harder inverted cross.

2. Generally speaking and while learning to hold iron cross. The correct body positioning is elbows pointing down, with your upper arm fully externally rotated, shoulders depressed and your scapula pressed flat against your rib cage. In training iron cross is held from much longer than two or three seconds.

3. That is the correct false grip. False grip looks different with the ring grips on and one gymnast's false grip might look differently from another.

4. See Julian's post above.

 

To your answer 1. Hyper-extension is per definition not straight, it is an elbow angle greater than 180 degrees, in Chen's case it looks like as much as 210 degrees. Bending the arm, in either way, gives you a leverage advantage. Do you get points deduction for hyper-extension? If not, why is it accepted? Just because you can hyper-extend, doesn't mean you can't hold your arm straight if you want to.

To your answer 2. If the elbows are supposed to be down, the tension will be on the TRICEPS. But why does @Coach Sommer then say we need to prepare the BICEPS for iron cross?

https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/forum/topic/8084-preparing-the-elbows-and-biceps-for-iron-cross-training/

Edited by Michel Hendrickson

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GoldenEagle


1 hour ago, Michel Hendrickson said:




To your answer 1. Hyper-extension is per definition not straight, it is an elbow angle greater than 180 degrees, in Chen's case it looks like as much as 210 degrees. Bending the arm, in either way, gives you a leverage advantage. Do you get points deduction for hyper-extension? If not, why is it accepted? Just because you can hyper-extend, doesn't mean you can't hold your arm straight if you want to.



To your answer 2. If the elbows are supposed to be down, the tension will be on the TRICEPS. But why does @Coach Sommer then say we need to prepare the BICEPS for iron cross?






1. Once again, Chen Yibing won the 2008 Olympic Gold medal for the rings apperatus. The chosen picture is an image from that particular perfomance. Medically speaking if one's arms naturally hyperextend when the tricep is flexed that is "Straight" for the particular individual.  Gymnastic judges are aware of this fact. If you want to be overly critical of Chen Yibing's arms, take to Chen Yibing and or the judges.

2. If you hold your arm as required while training to hold iron cross, you feel tension in the distial bicep tendon. Flexing your triceps helps activate the shoulder girdle muscles and other core muscles. While developing the required strength to properly hold an iron cross, the distal bicep tendons needs to develop a stronger/bigger/larger connection to your lower arm bone. The required strength to hold iron cross or even inverted cross is mostly tendon related. 

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Michel Hendrickson
3 hours ago, Rayne-William Fitzgerald said:

1. Once again, Chen Yibing won the 2008 Olympic Gold medal for the rings apperatus. The picture chose is an image from that particular perfomance. Medically speaking if one's arms naturally hyperextend when the tricep is flexed that is "Straight" for the particular individual.  Gymnastic judges are aware of this fact. If you want to be overly critical of Chen Yibing's arms, take to Chen Yibing and or the judges.

2. If you hold your arm as required while training to hold iron cross, you feel tension in the distial bicep tendon. Flexing your triceps helps activate the shoulder girdle muscles and other core muscles. While developing the required strength to properly hold an iron cross, the distal bicep tendons needs to develop a stronger/bigger/larger connection to your lower arm bone. The required strength to hold iron cross or even inverted cross is mostly tendon related. 

1. I"m not blaming Chen for his hyper-extended elbows. He was just doing what was within the rules at the time. I am saying that judges accepting 210 degrees as straight is not correct because anyone who had mathematics class at school knows straight is defined as 180 degrees. (Did the judges skip their classes?)

From a leverage point of view with respect to the iron cross, 210 degrees elbows gives you as much leverage as 150 degrees elbows, so accepting extreme hyper-extension is a disadvantage for people without elbows that can hyper-extend.

2. I still don't see how the biceps need to be strong for an iron cross. If the elbows are pointing down, it requires active triceps tension to keep the arms straight. If you would activate the biceps instead of the triceps you would bend your arm.

Edited by Michel Hendrickson

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Joaquin Malagon

This thread might answer some questions.

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Coach Sommer
2 hours ago, Michel Hendrickson said:

1. I"m not blaming Chen for his hyper-extended elbows. He was just doing what was within the rules at the time. I am saying that judges accepting 210 degrees as straight is not correct because anyone who had mathematics class at school knows straight is defined as 180 degrees. (Did the judges skip their classes?)

Hello Michel,

Sorry, but you have not the slightest clue what you are talking about.

1) Chen Yibing did not 'choose' to hold his cross with hyper extended elbows.  That is simply his elbows' natural range of motion and the final position they achieve when completely straight.

2) There is no inherent mechanical advantage to this.  In fact, the hyper extension makes the strength positions more difficult; not less.  Had you had personal experience with actually training an iron cross, you would have known this instantly.

3) The judges were spot on in their evaluation.  For bent arms there are required deductions.  There are no deductions for hyper extension.  Familiarity with the rules prior to critiquing the judges implementation of those rules would have clarified this for you.

4) Whether or not the biceps are heavily involved in iron cross training will become instantly appararent to you as soon as you are ready to begin training them.

5) When you are advanced enough to train, achieve and thoroughly understand an iron cross; all of these intricacies will become clear to you.  

In the meantime, you should consider shelving the ego, stop arguing constantly, pay more attention and try to emulate those who are more advanced than you in their training.  

Too much talk and not enough sweat.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Michel Hendrickson
1 hour ago, Joaquin Malagon said:

This thread might answer some questions.

No actually. This just raises more questions.

@Alessandro Mainente 's quote below:

"Regards to the arm positioning i find only one position that comes pretty natural.

I've understood how is just impossible think to perform an iron cross without a perfect RTO support position.

If you want to lower down into a cross you have 2 ways:

1- people who usually do not have strong RTO support , have their palms facing the legs/hip with shoulders rolled forward to much and elbows pointing inward, when you go down from this position you will reach a elbows pointing down position. in my opinion in that position the stress is equally divided over all the biceps tendon. this is a partial preparation for the maltese since the weak point that must be conditioned first is the brachialis. as a second thing i would add that uncorrect support leads to rolled forward schoulder + elevation. this is a very bad position for both rotator cuff and long head bicep tendons.

2. the second way comes naturally from correct RTO position. i noticed only after a decent confidence with RTO position and other preparatory elements of the cross at the seminar. If your rings are turned out and your chest is opened (RTO does not mean that you ONLY have to turn out and only that) you will naturally move over a neutral IC position, the elbows will be pointing forward or little downward (it depends on you natural lever of external rotation, some people CAN turn more then other), the shoulders are not rolled forward (not too much) and they are depressed.

 

so i prefer to choose what comes natural after the correct preparation. no motivations to use different approach."

My questions:

1. How can it possibly stress the biceps if elbows are pointing down?

2. How do your elbows point forward? I can't even physically do that with my body!

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Michel Hendrickson
9 minutes ago, Coach Sommer said:

Hello Michel,

Sorry, but you have not the slightest clue what you are talking about.

1) Chen Yibing did not 'choose' to hold his cross with hyper extended elbows.  That is simply his elbows' natural range of motion and the final position they achieve when completely straight.

2) There is no inherent mechanical advantage to this.  In fact, the hyper extension makes the strength positions more difficult; not less.  Had you had personal experience with actually training an iron cross, you would have known this instantly.

3) The judges were spot on in their evaluation.

4) When you are advanced enough to train, achieve and thoroughly understand an iron cross; all of these intricacies will become clear to you.  

In the meantime, you should consider shelving the ego, stop arguing constantly, pay more attention and try to emulate those who are more advanced than you in their training.  

Too much talk and not enough sweat.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

My elbows aren't even able to hyper-extend, so I cannot test it on myself. So I"ll just have to believe you when you say hyper-extended is not easier than straight (180 degrees).

All I'm asking is in what direction the tip of the elbow should point in an iron cross position. The elbow position will determine whether the load is on the triceps or on the biceps. That in turn will make a difference in how one should be preparing for an iron cross. I'd like to get it right from the start.

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Coach Sommer

Michel,

I appreciate your wanting to get the position correct from the start.

However in order to do so, you must first master RTO support, RTO ring handstand, RTO ring press handstand and RTO planche; in that order, before you will be sufficiently physically prepared and technically proficient to safely train iron cross effectively.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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GoldenEagle
9 hours ago, Michel Hendrickson said:

My questions:

1. How can it possibly stress the biceps if elbows are pointing down?

2. How do your elbows point forward? I can't even physically do that with my body!

1. If you have never put yourself into the Rings Turned Out support position you will never know. If you ever put yourself into the RTO support position you feel the tension in your distal bicep tendon.
While lowering down into Iron Cross from RTO support position the rotation of your upper arm stays the same, your lower arm internally rotates, and the tension on the distal bicep tendon increases.

2. Keep in mind "Externally rotating" your upper arm for RTO support position puts your elbows closer to your sides, which is the physically stronger position for your shoulder joint.  "Internally rotating" your upper arms makes your elbows point outward. With further internal rotation your elbows point upward like it would if you were to throw typical boxer punches.

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Michel Hendrickson
21 hours ago, Coach Sommer said:

Michel,

I appreciate your wanting to get the position correct from the start.

However in order to do so, you must first master RTO support, RTO ring handstand, RTO ring press handstand and RTO planche; in that order, before you will be sufficiently physically prepared and technically proficient to safely train iron cross effectively.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

@Rayne-William Fitzgerald @Joaquin Malagon@Julian Aldag@Darin Phoenix

Hello Coach Sommer, Rayne, Joaquin, Julian and Darin,

In order to make sure that we are all speaking the same language and that we understand each other, I put in the effort to make and upload some pictures of my own arm in an iron cross position, for all three possible positions and naming them. By the way my elbows physically cannot hyper-extend. This is the most locked out position I can possibly do.

The the pictures are elbows down, elbows back, elbows up, in that specific order from top to bottom:
 

59886e7d7b3d4_Ironcross-elbowdown.thumb.jpg.7757ed4fdb71a814d5858823ef193f5c.jpg

59886e97d2af6_Ironcross-elbowback.thumb.jpg.1c26c7bea9f723f290bbd48edbc052e2.jpg

59886eb281a8d_Ironcross-elbowup.thumb.jpg.054742a15ccad8bb7e8e8fd8342ab4a3.jpg

The most important part of my original question was what the correct elbow position is for the iron cross. I'd appreciate if you could answer that accurately.

Thank you in advance,

Michel

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Coach Sommer

Hi Michel,

The correct elbow position will vary depending upon what skill came before or is coming after the cross.  For the basic cross the elbows somewhat internally rotated and the shoulders will be somewhat externally rotated to create greater torque.  

Some people are able to train the basic cross with internal shoulder rotation and remain pain free.  Others, myself included, will find they develop biceps tendonitis and shoulder impingement if they focus on strongly internally rotating the shoulders while in a cross.  As there is no where to find out which group you fall into, as a matter of course it is safest to train with a slight external rotation.

Now as has been mentioned multiple times already, you need to master the basics first.  At this point you are somewhat like a student just beginning to learn algebra who is arguing with a calculus teacher about the best way to teach calculus.

You are wasting time.  Go spend some of this energy on training.

Yours in Fitness,

Coach Sommer

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Nick Murray

Coach, a related question: upthread you stated that RTO planche must be mastered prior to cross training. The planche progressions in F1-F4 are performed with "fingers forwards" or rotated outwards slightly. A RTO planche will have the elbow pits (cubital fossa) pointing forwards and load biceps immensely - I've tried planche leans with "biceps forwards". It was enlightening!

Will the planche progression from "fingers forward" to "biceps forward" be included in a future course beyond F4?

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Joaquin Malagon

From my understanding this is what the Rings courses are for. Since there is a significant difference between the two variations of planche you must start at an earlier progression. Which is why RTO supports, RTO HS, RTO Press HS come prior to RTO sPL, this is because each variation stresses the elbow more than the its previous progression. And this is why the variation of the planche you are referring to is more specific to rings, which is why it was put into the Rings courses as opposed to the Foundation Series (at least this is what I believe).

 

 

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Nick Murray

Thanks Joaquin, that does make sense!

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Jon Douglas
1 hour ago, Nick Murray said:

Coach, a related question: upthread you stated that RTO planche must be mastered prior to cross training. The planche progressions in F1-F4 are performed with "fingers forwards" or rotated outwards slightly. A RTO planche will have the elbow pits (cubital fossa) pointing forwards and load biceps immensely - I've tried planche leans with "biceps forwards". It was enlightening!

Will the planche progression from "fingers forward" to "biceps forward" be included in a future course beyond F4?

Yes - however this is not necessary for Foundation level strength and is only applicable to conditioning for rings. There's no real point to addressing it before that.

In previous threads Coach has discussed his preference for a ring straddle planche prior to serious cross training; while it may not be necessary for some it gives assurance of safe, productive training if it is achieved first.

Note that this may have changed slightly after working with more adult students; this information was from when he was coaching primarily competitive teens who naturally had a greater margin for error due to years of conditioning.

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Nick Murray
1 hour ago, Jon Douglas said:

" margin for error "

I like that expression.

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Antonio Alías Montoya
On 7/8/2017 at 6:48 AM, Michel Hendrickson said:

@Rayne-William Fitzgerald @Joaquin Malagon@Julian Aldag@Darin Phoenix

Hello Coach Sommer, Rayne, Joaquin, Julian and Darin,

In order to make sure that we are all speaking the same language and that we understand each other, I put in the effort to make and upload some pictures of my own arm in an iron cross position, for all three possible positions and naming them. By the way my elbows physically cannot hyper-extend. This is the most locked out position I can possibly do.

The the pictures are elbows down, elbows back, elbows up, in that specific order from top to bottom:
 

59886e7d7b3d4_Ironcross-elbowdown.thumb.jpg.7757ed4fdb71a814d5858823ef193f5c.jpg

59886e97d2af6_Ironcross-elbowback.thumb.jpg.1c26c7bea9f723f290bbd48edbc052e2.jpg

59886eb281a8d_Ironcross-elbowup.thumb.jpg.054742a15ccad8bb7e8e8fd8342ab4a3.jpg

The most important part of my original question was what the correct elbow position is for the iron cross. I'd appreciate if you could answer that accurately.

Thank you in advance,

Michel

You ve done this twice already kid. Asking, not listening, arguing and finally saying  no one wanted to answer you actual question. Don t ask for details of exercises you are just dreaming about.

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Michel Hendrickson
6 hours ago, Antonio Alías Montoya said:

You ve done this twice already kid. Asking, not listening, arguing and finally saying  no one wanted to answer you actual question. Don t ask for details of exercises you are just dreaming about.

Was I wrong about anything I said, kid? What you're saying is like telling a soccer fan that they can't ask about or discuss the rules of the game. Asking e.g. how does penalty work? Is the same thing as asking whether hyper-extended elbows is allowed, or anything similar for that matter.

Anyway why do you even post if you have nothing useful on-topic to say?

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Léo Aïtoulha
On 06/08/2017 at 11:01 AM, Michel Hendrickson said:

 

To your answer 2. If the elbows are supposed to be down, the tension will be on the TRICEPS. But why does @Coach Sommer then say we need to prepare the BICEPS for iron cross?

https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/forum/topic/8084-preparing-the-elbows-and-biceps-for-iron-cross-training/

My mastery of biomechanics is far from good, but I will try to break down the Iron Cross to identify all the muscles involved.

While holding the Iron Cross:

  • The shoulder adductors are resisting abduction --> It works the Pectoralis major, Latissimus dorsi and Teres major
  • The scapula depressors are resisting elevation --> It works the Pectoralis minor, lower fibers of Trapezius, Subclavius and Latissimus dorsi
  • The wrist & finger flexors are resisting extension (false grip)
  • Shoulder positioning will determine whether you are working the shoulder internal rotators or the shoulder external rotators. Note that the Anterior deltoid is an internal rotator and that the Posterior deltoid in an external rotator

Regarding the elbow joint, I do not fully understand the biomechanics occuring here. But considering that a Maltese works the elbow flexors (to prevent the elbow from hyperextending) and that a Victorian works the elbow extensors (to prevent the elbow from flexing), I would say that the Iron Cross falls between and works both.

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