Worcester Pilates – Pilates Exercise of the Week: Criss Cross

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Criss Cross

Goal of the Exercise:

Criss Cross is the final exercise in what is known as the “Abdominal Five” Series or what I call the “Fab Five”. Criss Cross is more popularly known in the fitness world as “bicycles”. It’s main focus is on proper twisting of the trunk of the body using the Powerhouse and specifically working the obliques.


  • Strengthens the abdominals specifically the obliques
  • Challenges and works rotation of the spine.
  • Develops pelvic stability


  • Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest
  • Curl your head and shoulders off of the mat and bring your chin to your chest
  • Place your hands behind your head, letting your hands support your head. Use your abdominal strength to keep the head and shoulders lifted not by pulling forward with the hands.
  • Inhale as you bring your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg out at eye level, similar to Single Leg Stretch.
  • Exhale and twist the upper body to the right, bringing your left shoulder towards your right knee.
  • Inhale through center as you switch the legs and exhale twist towards the left bringing the right shoulder towards the left knee..
  • Stay high and lifted through the center as you switch from side to side, keeping both shoulders off the mat.
  • Keep the legs hugging into the centerline of your body as you reach the legs long away from you.
  • Maintain the hips anchored to the mat as you twist the ribs from side to side and work the powerhouse.
  • 6  –  8 Reps each side


  • For lower back sensitivity, keep low back connected to the mat and aim legs higher towards ceiling instead of out at eye level.
  • Legs can also be bent with feet flat on the floor and work the abdominal curl and twist by bringing the elbows toward the bent knees.
  • For neck issues you can rest the head down from side to side. Inhale to prepare, exhale curl up and over. Lay the head back down and then move on to the other side.

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