Video Demonstration

If you are looking for an advanced exercise that will strengthen your whole body, then the Iron Cross Exercise is for you.

This lift is a Strength Training exercise commonly used in the weight room and on the gymnastics floor. This article will focus on the dumbbell version which gets regularly practiced in the weight room.

If you have just started lifting you should focus on heavy compound movements like the Shoulder Press, and Bench Press before you add this lift to your routine.

In this article, we will cover how you the perform the Iron Cross Exercise with video, image and a written step by step description.

Its difficulty level, optional and required equipment, and the different muscles that get worked.

The various benefits that you get when it gets added into your training routine, and some different training tips to ensure you are getting the most out of this exercise when you are performing it.

Iron Cross How to Exercise Guide

Image Example

man showing how to do the Iron Cross Exercise

Step by Step Description


At no point should your knees go past your toes when you are performing the squat. Putting your body in this position will cause excess stress on your knees and raise your chance of injury.

Step 1: Grab a dumbbell in each hand and stand up with your feet approximately shoulder width apart. Raise your arms up to your sides your palms should be in line with the shoulders making your body forms the letter T. Have your palms facing forwards.

Step 2: Inhale and slowly lower your body by pushing your hips back and bending at the knees. When you are lowering your body, keep your back erect like you are sitting down on to a chair. Continue lowering your body until the crease of your hips is in line with your (legs parallel to the floor) knees.

Step 3: While you are squatting down simultaneously move your arms to the front of your body until the palms of your hands are facing each other. This movement at your upper body will resemble the flat bench fly. Only your shoulder joints should have movement. Your elbows should be locked in position throughout the movement.

Step 4: Exhale as you push the heels of your feet into the floor and extend at your knees to raise your body back up to the starting position. At the same time move your arms out and away from your body. When you get to the top of the squat, you should be back in the starting position with your body in the shape of the letter T.

Congratulations you have now completed one repetition of the Iron Cross exercise. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions you have chosen.

Difficulty Level

You should be at an Intermediate fitness level with several months of training before adding this exercise into your training routine.

Equipment Required

As the title states to do this exercise, you will need to have access to a pair of dumbbells.

Muscles Worked

The primary muscles that get worked when you perform this lift are the Shoulders.

The Secondary muscles recruited by this lift are your Biceps, Forearms, Back, Quadriceps, Glutes, Hamstrings, and the Chest.

Benefits of the Iron Cross Exercise

This lift will help you to strengthen and tone your entire body.

Moving your upper and lower body together increases Proprioception (the body's ability to transmit a sense of position, analyze that information and consciously or unconsciously react).

Training Tips

Slowly increase the weight used for this lift. Using too heavy of a load too fast will place a high amount of strain on your elbow and shoulder joints.

To make the exercise easier, you can exclude the squatting portion from this lift. The only movement will get performed at the shoulder joint, and you remain in the standing position throughout the exercise.

For this lift, you also should look into grabbing a set of fractional weight plates. Traditional dumbbells move up in too large of increments causing plateaus to happen extremely rapidly.

Using micro jumps in weight will help you to continue making steady progress with this lift and reduce the frequency of hitting plateaus.

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