I found a word document, “iron cross tutorial”, in My Documents and, well, that’s what it was. Here it is:

“Since court was asking in another thread about a cross guide, I typed one up (or at least an attempt ). I figured I might as well post it here in my log as well since I have elaborated on different rep schemes in my thread before or general work to do, but they are all spread out through multiple pages.


Since I literally had no chest muscles and weak lats before I started my quest, I had to figure out a good number of sets and reps to build both muscle and strength. The sets and reps I’ve found to work best to gain MUSCLE and strength are as follows:

A few initial things to know:
1. cross pullouts use a block (cross pullouts picture).
2. I am posting sets:reps.

Cross pullout workouts:
1. Start with 3×5 on the block as far as you can get out your legs
2. Progress with 3×5 until you can make it all the way out to your heels
3. Start upping the sets from 3×5 4×5 5×5
4. Start upping the reps 5×5 5×6 5×7 5×8
5. Start weighting the exercise with 5 lbs and drop back down to 5×5
6. Start upping the reps 5×5 5×6 5×7 5×8 with the 5 lbs extra weight
7. Rinse and repeat for additional weight

Theraband workouts:
1. Pullouts with therabands from ring to underneath feet to ring. About 2s down, 2s up.
2. Isometric holds: <1s down, 3-5s hold, <1s up

A few things to note for doing the exercises:
1. You MUST have your elbows locked at all times. If your elbows can’t take the exercises, then cut down on the volume a bit and start doing more elbow conditioning exercises like rings flys and archer pushups. Back levers with your hands supinated can also help build the strength for a back lever as well as condition your elbows (courtesy of Roger).
2. Cross pulls rep time is about 1-2s down and 1-2s up. For those that don’t need extra muscle, do them a bit quicker. Holds at the bottom can also be incorporated to mix up the routine.
3. Isometric holds at the bottom are also beneficial; however, it would be better do to these with therabands or spotted since cross pulls don’t hit exactly right spot of the muscles that are going to be activated during the cross.

Elaboration on the different workouts:
With the cross pullouts with the block, the first 1-4 should take you anywhere from probably 5-8 months to do. Once you can do 5×8 with bodyweight without struggling on any of the reps with 2-3s holds at the bottom of each, you should be able to go down very close to a cross position and hold it for about a second or two (e.g. my homeshow cross picture). I was only doing about 2 days of training a week, but it is possible to do 3 days of cross training a week (m,w,f or tu,th,sat) like I am doing and will continue doing.

With therabands, you can basically use the same progression. It is less measurable though since you don’t know how much of your weight is being assisted, but generally pick something where you are going to be struggling and then push through it. In general, with therabands I started switching it up with my sessions alternating the two workouts. If you do one theraband session every week, then you will end up with basically one workout one week and then the other workout the next week. So approximately alternating weeks for this.

The general type of training I was doing near the end was 1 day of therabands a week and 1 day of cross pulls a week. Since 3 days of cross training a week are plausible (and will get your the cross faster than I did!), I think it would be beneficial to do 2 days of cross pulls and 1 day of theraband work if possible. If you have a spotter, then do 1 day of cross pulls, 1 day of theraband work and 1 day of spotter assisted crosses.

And a few conclusions from my training:
The major hang up I had in my training was that my volume was too low to progress. I got stuck on 3×5, 5×5 and 5×8 stuff for a while. I basically was feeling my way around so I had no clue with how to progress beyond that. I starting doing stuff like 7×7 and 8×7, but that was too high with the volume. It was better, I found out, to start weighting the exercise and then to progress in a natural order like 5×5 to eventual 5×8 with the weights. Once you can take that amount of increased volume (the 15 extra reps of 5×8 vs 5×5), your body should be able to handle extra weight.


edit: this was the cross progression that I did if anyone wants to know (by going by through my log to see what I did):

1×5, 2×5, 3×5, 4×5, 4×6, 4×7, ~4×5-6ish weighted, 5×5, 3×5 with holds at bottom, 8×5, 7×7, 8×7, 5×8, 5×8 with holds at bottom, weighted progressions on the order of 5×5 8

Right around the middle with all of the obscure sets of from 4×7 to about 5×8 I was confused about how improve, but I have figured out a good progression now that works.

If you are having trouble starting out with 3×5 then start out with 1×5 and work your way up. I didn’t note it in the log at the time, but I started my 1×5 with the back of my knees on the block for the cross pulls. So I was really very weak. Work your way up to the 3×5 with whatever lever you can do with the lever on the back of your legs. The from there you should work on getting it so the lever is on the back of your ankles. Then start working your way up through the progressions.”

Obviously this is a forum post I saved from somewhere. I tried putting bits of it into Google, but to no avail… If this is you or you know where it was originally posted, please tell me so I can contact its writer and then credit them/remove this as necessary. A big thank you to the writer, though, for staying strong and being resourceful – well done to you.

Stay strong. Be resourceful.


6 Thoughts on “Iron Cross Tutorial

  1. Hey Felix,
    I have the same problem, in terms of not having much chest strength/muscle and lat strength. What do you suggest i do to increase my strengths in those particular areas? I have purchased Olympic Rings and do the basic exercises on them but cannot get a single muscle up or a single ring fly, but any suggestions at all as to how i can get to where it seems like you are would be greatly appreciated. Also i tried to look for pictures of the above exercises you suggested but couldnt find them where can i look? Thanks in advance.


  2. Hey mate, thanks for your post!

    Just to clarify, this article was not by me. I’m not sure who it was by, I found it as Microsoft Word file in My Documents… 🙂

    As far as those exercises, the thing about the muscle up is that done properly – explosively – it’s all about pulling strength. My advice to you is to work hard on weighted pull-ups until you can pull yourself off the bar and clap when performing the exercise unloaded. At that stage, muscle-ups will be in the bag.

    With the ring fly, work high volume and low ROM; limit the range of motion on the exercise to wherever you’re strong in and go for crazy volume. Whenever you get to 100 reps in <20 minutes at a given ROM, increase it by an inch or 2″. This is the fastest way to work up to the exercise.

    Feel free to post any more questions! I am on a short break at work right now, so I’ll post back later with demos of the exercises.

    Stay strong. Be resourceful.

  3. Felix,
    Thanks buddy! That was a tremendous help. And yes if you can please post demos. One more question i had was how do you suggest to build more strength and size on my shoulders? I have recently made awesome gains on my shoulder strength and size but found to be at a plateau. Thanks for your support!


  4. Thanks for message. Friend advice to read you. It’s very interesting. Added in favourites! Want to read your blog more and more!

  5. BreemiSwearse on October 2, 2008 at 12:40 am said:

    Nice site!


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