Knees to Elbows

  • Area Served: Northern California
  • docs to perform:Guarav Abbi


The knees-to-elbows exercise offers benefits for the abdominal muscles, knees, elbows and back. The contraction of the muscles allows them to stretch, increasing flexibility across several parts of the body. This exercise requires a pull up bar or a monkey bar h3 enough to withstand your weight.

To perform this movement, make a firm grip on the bar with both hands. Arms should be wider than shoulder width. For a better grip, or if your hands sweat easily, use gloves. Begin by standing straight across the bar, grip the bar as instructed and begin hanging from the pull up bar. Your knees should be able to reach your elbows, almost touching them. Squeeze the abdomen muscles as you raise your lower body up into the air with your knees reaching—or almost reaching—your elbows. Gradually return to the starting position in a controlled motion. This is one repetition.


Your whole abdominal muscles, hip flexors and obliques are targeted during he knees-to-elbow exercise. Your hip flexors are responsible for bending the thighs upward and for flexing the whole hips, stretching and flexing your hip flexors.

Regular practice of this exercise transforms the abdomen by toning muscles. The involved movements promote reduction in body fat while also leaving the obliques strengthened, stabilized and toned.

Sets and Repetitions

There are multiple variations for the traditional knees-to-elbows exercise, which are applicable for those who don’t have a pull up bar.

The elbow-to-knee oblique crunch asks you to lay flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor, as well. Your hands should be at the back of your head. Then, curl up, bringing your right elbow forward toward your left knee, either touching or almost touching. Repeat the process with your left elbow and right knee. Then, swap back and forth, exercising both sides equally. The number of repetitions is similar, except they are done for each side.

The plank knees-to-elbow exercise is another variation that starts in a plank position, with the back flat on the floor and hands straight under the shoulders. Then, pull up the right knee, reaching toward the left elbow and contracting the oblique. Complete the same steps on the other side using the left knee and right elbow. The number of repetitions is the same as with the elbow to knee oblique crunch.

If you are a beginner in the knees-to-elbows exercise, complete 10 repetitions only to avoid any sudden muscle strain on your arms or to prevent injuries. For advanced athletes, 15 repetitions will suffice but be certain that your body has gotten the hang of the movement before pushing too hard.

Related Movements

The knees-to-elbows exercise can be integrated with the following exercises:

  • Squat
  • Wall ball
  • Double under
  • Pull-up
  • Deadlift

Related Foods

Since the knees-to-elbows exercise requires you to carry yourself by gripping on the bar, you need foods that don’t make you feel heavier but still provide you with sufficient energy. Foods like oatmeal with blueberries, Greek yoghurt with nuts, a banana with peanut butter and whole grain toast all work. After working out, the body requires foods that are able to repair muscles such as grilled chicken with green leafy vegetables, salmon with sweet potatoes or an omelet with avocado.

Functional Use

With repetitive use of this exercise, the abdomen will start to have a toned shape, with the possibility of achieving a well defined, six-pack abdomen. Your arms and elbows will also strengthen, which is beneficial for daily activities and lifting, not to mention great for self-defense. Your lower body, from your hips down to your knees, will also strengthen and stabilize. All of this leads to improved posture and less back pain.

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