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How to Do the Criss-Cross in Pilates

Learn how to do the criss-cross, a Pilates Mat exercise for the abs, from Core Pilates NYC instructor Sarah Ruback in this Howcast workout video.


This is the fifth in the series of five. We've made it to the end. This is crisscross.

Crisscross works on your oblique abdominal muscles which are on the sides, a.k.a. the love handles, so we really like to work this. And it's rotational, so that's why it follows at the end of the series. You want to make sure you're very supported, stretch through the spine, warm through the core before you start to twist your back.

You'll take your hands again one on top of the other. Bring your hands behind the back of your head, Madeline. Then lift up the head, neck, and shoulders. From here twist toward your left with your upper body. Keep curling up off the shoulder blade. So, she's trying hard to lift up off of this left shoulder blade. Then extend your right leg out nice and long.

From here switch to the other side. And switch. And switch. Now we'll breathe. Inhale, continue to inhale. Exhale, and exhale. Again, breathe in, and breathe out. Remember to keep your elbows nice and wide behind your ears. None of this curling in, sort of gym situation. That's it. One last time, breathe in, breathe out. Then bend the knees, hold your shins, and lower your head, neck, and shoulders back down.

If stretching the legs is causing irritation in your lower back, or making your abs feel like they're popping out to the ceiling, arching through the back, always add more support. You can always lower the feet down to the mat here, take your hands behind your head, curl up your breastbone, and then just work the upper body. That's just as good to target to the oblique abdominals. Then lower all the way back down here.

So, this is our fifth in the series of five, our abdominal series, which is crisscross. Once you've mastered each of the individual exercises you can feel free to lift your head up, keep it up, through all five, one through five, for a nice flowing series.

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