Knees to Elbows



The knees-to-elbows exercise is a means of training your abdominal muscles, knees, elbows and back into good shape. The contraction of the muscles makes your body physically fit because the muscles are able to stretch, making them more flexible. This exercise requires for a pull up bar or a monkey bar, strong enough to withstand your weight.

To perform this movement, you need to have a firm grip on the bar with both of your hands and your arms should be wider than your shoulder width. For a better grip, you can make use of gloves if your hands sweat easily. Begin by standing straight across the bar, grip the bar as instructed earlier and begin hanging from the pull up bar. Your knees should be able to reach your elbows, almost touching them. Squeeze your abdomen as you rise your lower body up in the air, and your knees should reach or almost touch your elbows. Gradually return to your starting position in a controlled motion. You may repeat as necessary or based on your training guide.


Your whole abdominal muscles, hip flexors and obliques are the targeted muscles of the knees-to-elbow exercise. Your hip flexors are responsible for bending your thigh bone upward and for flexing your whole hips.

This exercise would be stretching and flexing your hip flexors, making them flexible and less brittle as you age. A regular performance would transform your abdomen into a six-pack abdomen because the more contracted your abs are, the more toned they become. This movement helps remove body fat, and it also leaves your 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 refers to you lying flat on your back with your feet flat on the floor, as well. Your hands should be at the back of your head. You curl up, bringing your right elbow forward towards your left knee, either touching or almost touching. Repeat the procedure on your left elbow, right knee and vice versa. The number of repetitions is just similar, except that the repetitions are done for each side.

The plank knees-to-elbow exercise is another variation that starts off with a plank position with your back flat on the floor and your hands straight under your shoulders. Then pull up your right knee, reaching towards your left elbow and contracting your oblique. Do the same repetition for your left knee and right elbow, and the number of repetition is the same 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 and to prevent injuries. For the advanced, 15 repetitions are sufficed but be certain that your body has gotten the hang of the movement.

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 much heavier but still provide you with sufficient energy. Foods like oatmeal with blueberries, Greek yoghurt with nuts, banana with peanut butter and whole grain toast can all suffice. After your workout, your body requires foods that are able to repair your muscles such as grilled chicken with green leafy vegetables, salmon with sweet potatoes and omelet with avocado.

Functional Use

You would be noticing any difference if your abdomen is starting to have a toned shape, most especially when you do this exercise regularly. In the long run, you would be having a well-defined, six-pack abdomen. Your arms and elbows would be strengthened, which is beneficial for daily activities and lifting, not to mention great for future self-defense. Your lower body, from your hips down to your knees, would also be strengthened and stabilized enough for your daily routines. Moreover, the knees-to-elbows exercise also ameliorates your posture and minifies the chance of back pain.