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Criss-cross Pilates Mat Excercise

criss-cross pilates mat exercise

The primary intent of Criss-Cross is to develop pelvic stability, build core control, and strengthen the oblique abdominals.

Exercise Overview

Level Intermediate
Repetitions 5


  • Strengthen the torso in rotation.
  • Coordinate breathing and movement.
  • Teaches the powerhouse to remain stable while the legs move up and down.
  • Strengthens torso stabilizers.
  • Enhances rotational control.


  • Do not attempt this exercise if you have a weak back or a history of back injury.
  • If you have a fragile neck, keep your head down or support your head with a pillow.
  • Avoid if you suffer from osteoporosis.

The breathing can vary in this exercise, but the classical breathing is to inhale for two movements (one set) and exhale for two movements (one set). Most practitioners engage in staccato breathing.

Step-by-step Execution:

Step 1. Start in a neutral spine with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat. Bring your hands behind your head and curl your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat. Lift your legs. Stretch one leg out, parallel to the floor. Bend the other knee so that the knee is aligned just above the hip. Exhale and turn the torso toward the bent leg.

breaststroke pilates mat exercise hands on

Step 2. Inhale as you switch sides. Keep the pelvis in even contact with the mat.


  • Leave the soles of the feet on the mat with the knees bent.
  • Rest one elbow on the mat at all times.
  • Bring the legs into tabletop.
  • Inhale for two as you twist twice and consider this one set. Exhale for two on the next set.
  • Use a small barrel or arc to rest the shoulders.
  • Use a spine supporter.