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Iron Cross technique and progress

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Hi!

I'm new to this forum and I don't know a better place to put this question, but in a new thread.

I have been working the cross for about 2 months now and I've gained serious amount of strength already, even though I'm not able to hold a cross yet. I was wondering, (I'm not a gymnast and I have no prior experience with gymnastics, but it is something I take alot of interest in) if any of you more experienced guys could take a look at my "tries" and maybe comment on technique and give some type of critics, so I can get better at it. And would you please tell me if I'm close, and about how close I am?

Go crazy with your critics!

Chris

(link to video)

(it's a bad video and it's a little bit hard to see, but it's the best I got!)

pbYNV0lCogI

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Cole Dano

Based on what you have given us as your background and your video, it looks like you are jumping into IC training pre-maturely and setting your self up for a serious injury.

Please take a look at this thread viewtopic.php?f=14&t=9023

and let us know if you've gone through the steps as laid out.

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Blairbob

Looks alright.

Give yourself 3-6 months.

It is extremely hard to guage when someone will get a skill. It's like online dating.

Your negative is almost slow enough it's passable. I would work it to the point that at some point you try to insert a hold for 3-5 seconds.

Of course, work all the basic cross prerequisites. Front and Back Lever, planche work and ring HS work.

I would recommend lots of straight arm ring flies and block crosses with straight legs/piked.

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Guest

Thank you for your replies Cole and Bob!

Cole: Of course, I forgot that one. The story about my preparation of the biceps and such is pretty simple. I have, as I said, been very interested in gymnastics for a while, which has made me understand the words good form and straight arm strength. Whenever I workout, I always use straight arms in every exercise I perform. So I had good preparation even before I started working the cross.

When I started training the cross, I jumped into negatives, which was stupid. I got a little bit of elbow pain, and stopped. I let it heal for about 2 months (that was actually my vacation when I did almost no training except for a couple of pushups and pull ups at a local tree. When I got back from vacation I started coach sommers pre preparation program for the cross and I feel comfortable with the exercises given, with almost no elbow pain at all. I take it slow, and stop imidiatly if I feel pain or soreness.

I spend almost everyday "just being on the rings" and doing XR support holds with some swings and L-sits, rings turned out and elbows locked out. I can't really hold a handstand without the help of the cables, but I will keep on train.

When it comes planche I can perform a advanced tuck planche on the floor but only a tuck on the XR for 2-3 seconds.

With all this said, I think I'm able to start working the cross, and of I feel pain I stop, which is very important for me.

Bob: Thank you for your reply! It's nice to hear that from someone experienced, as this will

Increase my motivation overall! And I will try the block crosses, thank you for your advice!

Do you consider my technique to be good? I roll the shoulders forward as much as I can, but I will try to put my legs together and press my head back, squeezing those traps.

Please reply Cole, and tell me what you think! Thank you guys for your replies!

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Joshua Naterman

Keep working on the elbow prep!

What I see is that as you get lower your elbows bend slightly, but that may be a trick of the video angle.

I would start lowering down to about 45 degrees and pulling back out, SLOWLY. I believe that 45 degrees only represents ~70% of the effort needed to hold a cross, which if you think about it means that a full cross is almost 50% harder than the 45 degrees in terms of force output. That means all the muscles involved have to be about 50% stronger than they are right now, and that is going to take some time. The best way to build this ability, in terms of directly training for the cross, is going to be SLOWLY lowering down to about 45 degrees and then slowly pulling back up to maybe 20 degrees, and repeating for time. You should really build this up to where you can do it for 40+ seconds easily. I'd recommend taking 3-4 seconds to lower down and the same to come back up. This means 7-10 reps in 60s, with constant tension. This is not going to be easy, and will be hard on the muscles as well as the connective tissue. You have to take it progressively. The purpose in building up time in the same position instead of adding ROM whenever you feel like you can is to make sure that all structures are getting built up and also to make sure that you have the work capacity to actually train the cross when you are strong enough to hold it, and to be able to to so safely.

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Blairbob

45 degrees is out is probably something like 50% of the cross. Getting down to 30 degrees is quite a task and when the real work seems to begin.

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Rik de Kort
. I believe that 45 degrees only represents ~70% of the effort needed to hold a cross,

Hmmm, I know where you're getting this from, but don't you have to take into account the angle between the arm and the body and how that affects muscle length? Or is the difference negligible?

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Joshua Naterman
. I believe that 45 degrees only represents ~70% of the effort needed to hold a cross,

Hmmm, I know where you're getting this from, but don't you have to take into account the angle between the arm and the body and how that affects muscle length? Or is the difference negligible?

Well, the angle between the arm and the body at 45 degrees is a sin/cosine of 70.something, representing ~70% of the potential force when arms are parallel with the ground.

This doesn't take a whole lot of things into account, such as the muscles being stretched more and thus having slightly fewer active crossbridges per fiber, which adds another mass requirement in terms of how many contractile units in parallel you need. Those are really the two primary things that change with angle, because no matter what your personal genetics and limb lengths are they stay constant regardless of arm angle.

This also doesn't take into account the inward pressure to the shoulder sockets or changing moment arms or the change in which muscles are experiencing the most stress as the position changes. It's just a very rough number to sort of point out that a ~50% increase in strength is not a short term accomplishment. That's a good 1.5 to 3 years worth of work, usually, when we aren't talking about the newbie effect. Everyone is different, of course.

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Blairbob

Back in the early 2000s when I had just gotten into gymnastics, I ramped up pretty quickly to 30 degrees above horizontal. After that, progress went at a snail's pace. Bare in mind, programming was basically just "play." I had never really read any books or online articles on programming or how to do strength training or gymnastics. I had the men's routines and a 25 year old book of various men's apparatus skills.

No, I never dealt with any elbow pain or anything. I was also about 5'1 150lbs, leaned out and 23yo coming from a few years of your typical HS football S&C. Olympic lifts, squats, and bench press and curls with some pullups.

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FritsMB Mansvelt Beck

Having been there myself in terms of wanting to “do†an IC way before I was ready for it, I can appreciate the urge to want to master this magical feat of strength. About 3 years ago, when I had that urge, I was saved by Blairbob, even if he may not remember that (3 years ago on the Crossfit Challenges forum). I have just recently started to train for the IC again with my ring pulley system (Dream Machine which reduces your weight by about 45%to 50%). Not everybody wants to make the investment in building a DM, but for those, that seriously do inspire to mastering the IC and want to stay on the safe side, it is an idea worth considering. Starting with 50% of your body weight you can ramp up in small steps just by hanging more weight on your climbing harness. Doing an IC at 50% of your body weight there is in most cases very little to no risk of injury, I think. So my advice to the OP, try a DM. You will like it.

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Blairbob

I do recall you Frits, heh.

the point I was trying to make was I made fast newbie gains until those expired and the real work began.

IC work starts getting tough at 45 degrees out and gets real tough at 30 degrees out because of it's curve.

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Joshua Naterman
Having been there myself in terms of wanting to “do†an IC way before I was ready for it, I can appreciate the urge to want to master this magical feat of strength. About 3 years ago, when I had that urge, I was saved by Blairbob, even if he may not remember that (3 years ago on the Crossfit Challenges forum). I have just recently started to train for the IC again with my ring pulley system (Dream Machine which reduces your weight by about 45%to 50%). Not everybody wants to make the investment in building a DM, but for those, that seriously do inspire to mastering the IC and want to stay on the safe side, it is an idea worth considering. Starting with 50% of your body weight you can ramp up in small steps just by hanging more weight on your climbing harness. Doing an IC at 50% of your body weight there is in most cases very little to no risk of injury, I think. So my advice to the OP, try a DM. You will like it.

This also allows you to build some tremendous volume into your training without getting injured (if approached with a little care and progressiveness). Building volume into the training with easier positions (or assisted positions) really pays off big time when it is time to build into harder work.

If you want an adjustable "dream machine" then you can just take the same pulley set up and belt/harness and attach it to external weights instead of the rings, so you get the feeling of really moving your body through space without the strange reciprocal motion of the dream machine. It is much more similar to what you do unassisted and so a bit harder as well.

Both have their uses though.

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Rik de Kort

If you want an adjustable "dream machine" then you can just take the same pulley set up and belt/harness and attach it to external weights instead of the rings, so you get the feeling of really moving your body through space without the strange reciprocal motion of the dream machine. It is much more similar to what you do unassisted and so a bit harder as well.

Both have their uses though.

Or you could use a regular dream machine and wear a weighted vest.

Also, sin(45) = cos(45) = 0.5*sqrt(2) = 0.707... Thanks for the explanation!

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Cole Dano

One question regarding setting up a pulley system. What kind of pulley are you using? I picked up some good quality one's for climbing but they have so much friction that it just feels wrong.

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Joshua Naterman
One question regarding setting up a pulley system. What kind of pulley are you using? I picked up some good quality one's for climbing but they have so much friction that it just feels wrong.

I have 3" ball bearing garage pulleys. They are buttery smooth and have virtually zero friction.

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Cole Dano

Are you using climbing rope?

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Joshua Naterman

I think I just have 300 lb nylon rope. Nothing tremendous, but that's a 600 lb safe working load. More than I need :) The pulleys are about 5 bucks each.

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FritsMB Mansvelt Beck

Cole. I used Petzoll pulleys with a 24 kN breaking strength (for hauling on multi stage climbs). They do stick a little bit under load at the turning point (I weigh 76 kg). The rope I use is 8 mm static climbing rope with a break strength of 750 kg. I left the ring straps in place and long enough so I can do the last couple of inches in a HS without the support of the DM. The reciprocal action Josh talks about is actually kind of nice because not moving up or down as much seems to make it easier to feel where I am when I am moving my body through space.

I am testing what was discussed by Josh and Blairbob re. 45 degrees needing a force of about 70% of BW and 30 degrees being the point where the IC really starts to get hard. I tried an IC w/o my DM and appear to be at or close to the 30 degree point (down and then up, once).

I have not tried an IC on my DM with 38 kg (20% more or 2 x 19 kg). With 26 kg I can barely do five full IC down-ups with my DM, so my prediction is that, as Josh already stated, with your arms getting close to horizontal there is more working against you than just the cos. of your weight. Using the cos. rule, I would have to add 56 kg (i.e. 2 x 28 kg) to have to hold the same weight (about 66 kg = 38 + 28 kg) with straight arms on my DM as the weight that I can hold when doing an IC down to (close to) 30 degrees.

I am curious so I will see how close I will get and then post a video.

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Rik de Kort

For further reference, Frits, 'IC down-ups' are usually called 'cross pullouts'. :P

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Kyle Devlin

So if i wanted to go about IC training it would definitely be the safest (and probably the fastest) to undergo a long accumulation phase for mainly partial ROM cross-pullouts?

Basically a SSC, but because there is so much tension with such a low leverage position would it even be okay to work IC with other exercises or even FSPs?

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FritsMB Mansvelt Beck

HollowDevi.

I just remembered a useful piece of information from the BtGB book (page 117 Muscle UP XR wide) that was not yet mentioned here:

“Muscle-Ups - XR wide

This is the hardest version of the body weight muscle-ups to perform with the hands out wide of the shoulders and without using a false grip. This one is brutal and begins to mimic the stress and strain of performing an iron cross.†(Coach Christopher Sommer:†Building the Gymnastic Bodyâ€, page 117)

After reading this two years ago, and then trying and utterly failing at a wide MU on rings, I immediately stopped messing about with IC training, because it finally occurred to me that I was not even close to having the basic strength. So, my question to you is: Can you do a wide MU on your rings? If so, then maybe you should continue training for the IC as you plan. If not, my advise to you: Don’t waste your time on IC training (and run the risk of an injury) until you get your wide MU, your BL, FL and flat tuck planche. Please keep us posted on your progress. Good luck.

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Blairbob

When I was playing around with my IronCross trainers I would generally be too taxed afterwards to think about working the other levers and planche afterwards. Never really tried to work those before Iron Cross work. One or the other. This was about 2 years ago. As well I have to keep a watchful eye on my left elbow.

About 7 years ago when I could still do block IC pullouts, I could work them afterwards on a Rings Day that had light amount of levers. Generally in the WU, I would play with a high straddle planche. But there wasn't any work with IC trainers of lower to IC and press back. Block crosses seem to have been easier than working with the IC trainers (when working at good difficulty) and they were definitely easier than spotted crosses.

Way back when, about 10 years ago when I was actually working the cross, I'm pretty sure I worked it all haphazardly per the same workout. Don't ask me about reps or hold times as it was basically just long play sessions. I'll do this, and some of that, some of those, swing a bunch, tumble, repeat. I had no guidance really other than a few books. I doubt I practiced more than 10-15 reps of any of the levers, planche and crosses. Levers were easy then, straddle planche was tough or momentary straight body planches when swinging on PB or pressing off the Ph and I never thought to use a tucked version.

Being young and strong with relatively no injuries, I never dealt with tendonitis, CNS weariness, or anything like that. Didn't really do fish oil, pretty much ate whatever Dad cooked up (traditional american besides mexican and italian and peruvian) and my share of fast food and light junk food. Wasn't eating a boatload of calories but I'd wager I ate about 150g of protein per day, 2500 calories or so besides the days I would have eat feasts with my buddies. I used a bit of protein powder but not very often. Just wanted to clear that up in case anyone asks.

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