Knees To Elbows – CrossFit Exercise Guide with Photos


Muscles Targeted: The knees to elbows exercise is a great movement to help strengthen your core. This exercise targets your abdominal muscles and overall core. This is an excellent movement for engaging the lower abs. This exercise basically requires the contraction of the abdominal muscles and at the same time pulling up with the knees in an upward direction to reach the elbows. The hip flexors make this movement possible by flexing the femur upwards. The hip flexors are the muscles on the front of the pelvis and the femur is the thigh bone. A lot of core and upper body strength is required to perform this exercise. The person performing this exercise should be able to handle their own body weight before attempting it.

Exercise Instructions: If you have a weak grip, gloves should be worn while performing this exercise as they provide a much better grip on the bar which is essential when attempting a lot of repetitions. Follow these instructions when performing the knees to elbows exercise:

  • Jump up and grab a secure bar overhead (chin-up bar, etc). The position of the hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width. Let your body hand naturally from the bar and this will be the starting position for the exercise.
  • While keeping your abs tight, bring your knees directly up while crunching your core and try to touch your knees to your elbows.
  • Slowly return your legs back down to the starting position and repeat for your desired number of repetitions.

Things To Avoid: To perform this exercise correctly, you should avoid swinging your body and using momentum to raise your body up to the top position. This is a controlled motion so your lower body should not be swinging wildly with jerky movements. Your main focus should be on curling your legs up and feeling the tension directly on the core muscles of your abdominals as you crunch up from the bottom to the top. For someone who does not have experience doing any type of hanging leg raises, then this will be a difficult exercise to execute. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to start with basic hanging leg raises using a bar and then progress to doing knees to elbows once you have mastered the technique on the other exercise and you have strengthened the muscles in your core.

Reps and Sets: As a beginner, start out performing 5-10 strict repetitions for 1-2 sets of knees to elbows before moving onto more intense workout routines. Once you have mastered the technique, increase the repetitions to 15-20 for 3-4 sets and make sure to take 90-120 seconds of rest in between each set in order to fully recover before doing another set. It’s important to allow your core muscles and your lower back to rest in between each set since this exercise can really tax these muscle groups and your goal should be to get the most out of each and every set. Focus on training your abs and core 1-2 times per week for the best results. Your abs are just like any other muscle group and they need sufficient time to fully recover after an intense workout, so take the time to rest so you can hit them hard again on your next workout!

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