Trick Tip: Iron X

I’ll be at Xpose Annapolis (in Maryland) Oct 6th and 7th, and then I’m not travelling again for workshops until November (a girl’s gotta do school work SOME time, right?). If you’d like to come, signup information is available here! Hope to see some readers there!


So let’s talk about the Iron X.

For a while, this has been considered sort of a “NOWWWW I’m big time” trick for many. Meaning– once you nail this sucker, you’re officially in the upper echelons of badassery, control, body awareness, and strength. So, if you’re working on this, you should be able to do an aerial shoulder mount already. You should be able to hold a split grip in midair like you’re floating (body waves while you’re there are optional). You should have a rock solid elbow grip ayesha and a split grip cartwheel. You should already be a badass.

I’m not going to reiterate my lectures on twisted grip handsprings (which you can read here)… and if you’re experiencing shoulder pain, clicking, or discomfort, you should absolutely check out this blog on rehabilitating your shoulder. I do NOT encourage people to work on twisted grip handsprings from the floor, but you can transition into a twisted grip ayesha aerially–from a scorpio, cross ankle/knee release/layback, caterpillar, and a few other positions that do not put as much stress on your joints. But still, working on this move is NOT for beginners, not even for intermediates– I would put this FIRMLY in the ADVANCED with red flashing warning lights category because even if you have the strength to do it, doesn’t mean you should. You should only work on this if you are in tune with your body and its joints and its limits, and know not to push them.

So, now that I’ve given that lecture, I’m going to talk about some of the most common mistakes that I see people make when they are working on their X.

First of all, is hand positioning. To make the issue clearer, lets use the example of a shelf, that you are trying to mount to the wall.

So, in example A, the bracket supporting the shelf is mounted low on the wall, and very little of the shelf is actually supported by the bracket… see how the bracket is mounted under the shelf, very close to the wall? So in this instance, if you put something heavy on the edge of the shelf, do you see how the shelf would come tumbling down?

In example B, the bracket is mounted right under the shelf and close to the edge of the shelf. But again, do you see how if you were to put weight on the shelf, the bracket would be unable to support it?

Now in option C, we have the ideal combination: The angle of the bracket allows for maximum support of the shelf, while being placed at the optimum distance down the wall. Now, scroll back up to the picture of the Iron X that leads this entry. See any similarities?

A LOT of people who work on the iron X are actually placing their hands too far apart! It’s one thing when you are holding the ayesha position, and your weight is held relatively close to the pole, and it is stacked over your bottom arm while the top arm is keeping you from falling away from the pole. In a straightedge (pencil) leg position, for example, you can have your arms very far apart and stay stable, because your weight is centered very close to the pole. But as soon as you start to move into an X position, you need to think of the top and bottom arms as a push-pull, and in order to have maximum strength and control, there is an optimum placement position for your arms. It’s really just about 45 degrees. Any further apart, and you are example A. Too close together, and you are example B.

Now let’s talk about leg movement as you turn into the X. Let’s look at another couple of pictures to explain what to do, and what not to do.

In example A, the legs are being held out straight, making a straight line from the toes all the way to the belly button– there is no bend in the hips. Can you see how this is probably the hardest position to hold? The feet are super far away from the pole, so the feet will feel way heavier. Imagine if you had a yard stick and tied a weight to the end of it and had to hold it out straight. Versus if you were just holding a weight in your hand. Which one would be harder? The one with the weight further away.

In example B, the legs are being held out in a straddle. Now, you don’t have to have a perfect center split– even if you don’t, as long as you bend at the waist/hips so that you look like you’re sitting on an imaginary floor, it’s still going to be easier to hold then example A. Because your legs (and feet) are being held close to the pole. Right?

So, keeping this in mind, let’s consult a video to make my last point. As usual, if you are reading this in your subscriptions via email, you will need to click here to go to YouTube to view the video.

Now, the video describes the least difficult (biomechanically) way to get into an X. Does that mean that it’s the only way? No. But if you are just beginning to work on this trick, and need to use the strength that you have as effectively as possible, this is the way that you want to work on it. By turning my trunk (chest, and core) first, I am then able to use the large muscles of my core to control the turn of my hips and legs as one unit. By turning my legs and hips together (maintaining the bend at my hips with my legs) I am minimizing how far my feet get from the pole. In this way, I can hold a “true” X with my entire body turned to the wall, rather then needing to “cheat” it by turning just my legs and keeping my chest to the ceiling. If you try to turn everything at once, you will not be able to control the turn because you aren’t using the large, strong muscles of your core to do the work.

I hope that explanation helped! Good luck, polers!