I love exercises where you can tell right away that you’re doing your body good. Simple criss-cross is one of my favorites because it works your intercostals, the muscles in between each of your ribs.
These muscles can:
Draw your ribcage inward, giving you a “V” shape, like you’re wearing a corset. I’ve seen people lose 4 inches around their ribcage with this exercise alone.
Assist you in standing more upright – aka less slouchy — which makes everyone look and feel better.
Increase your breathing efficiency with better oxygen transfer. That makes runners faster, singers stronger and swimmers more efficient.
Begin in Supine/Knees Bent position: lie on your back with your knees comfortably bent, feet flat on the floor. Line up your hip bones, knees and feet. Allow your low back to curve naturally. In other words, do not purposely flatten your back to the floor.
Cradle your head in your hands; elbows
- Inhale to scoop up the kittens and prepare for the movement.
- Exhale as you peel your left shoulder blade off your mat, keeping your elbows wide. Your goal is to twist so far that you can peek at your opposite elbow. Keep your hips on your mat; allow your ribcage to swivel.
- Inhale as you come back to your start position. Pretend that someone is holding you up, and you need to work hard to roll down onto the mat. Put as much effort into this movement as you did into your first.
- Exhale as you peel your right shoulder blade off your mat, keeping your elbows wide. Inhale on the way back down.
- Repeat twisting from side to side for 2 minutes. Don’t want to use a timer? 20 slow twists to each side is perfect.
During your rotation, get all the air out, even if it means you’re holding the position longer. Draw your ribs in, as if you’re about to zip up a wetsuit and you aren’t sure it’s going to close.
INEFFICIENT MOVEMELT ALERT
Repeat after me: Momentum is not your friend. Move slowly and deliberately, even when it seems like you’ve already completed the work phase of a movement. When you make every movement deliberate, you boost the effects of your exercise. Think of it this way: if your goal is to train your muscles to hold you in an hour-glass shape, slow makes sense. If your goal is to be to reach out and grab something quickly, then feel free to move quickly. In my opinion, 10 slow, precise criss-cross repetitions are always better than 50 quick, sloppy repetitions.
About the Author
Christine Binnendyk is the creator of the Ageless Pilates and Barre Fitness workout programs, taught exclusively at Nike’s World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.. Nike employees take her Pain Free Body workshops at the Nike Sports Centers. Public workshops are available through Portland Community College. Find her best-selling book “Ageless Pilates” on Amazon.