Is There A Better Ab Exercise Than Flutter Kicks?

A Boot Camp Fitness Favorite For Good Reason

There is a good reason why flutter kicks, a.k.a. scissor kicks, are a staple of boot camp classes.  They’re simple, straight forward, and they will push you.  They are a great exercise for the abs, and in particular, the lower ab muscles.

This exercise is so great because more than others, this one just you against you.  You're not looking at anyone else.  You're not thinking about anyone else.  Your abs and hip flexors want to stop, but you grit your teeth and keep them going.  When it's finally time to drop your feet it's one of the best feelings in the world.

Don't forget one thing.  It's supposed to hurt.

Technique

  • Lie on your back with your legs together and extended out straight.
  • You can do one of two things with your arms.  You can place them out to the sides of your body with your palms down, or you can put your hands under your butt.
  • Placing your hands under your butt does two things.  First, it positions your hips and pelvis up just a little bit which helps in keeping your feet elevated.  Second, it takes strain off of your lower back.  Some people even like making fists and putting them under the butt for a little extra elevation.
  • If you choose to have your hands out to the side of your body, concentrate on keeping your lower back pressed to the floor.
  • Contract your abs and keep them tight throughout the exercise. 
  • Lift your legs off the ground about 6 inches.
  • Lift your head and shoulders slightly off the ground.  This will bring your upper abs into the exercise.
  • Now start flutter kicking.  Raise on leg up a few inches and bring it back to the starting position.
  • While it is on its way down raise the other leg up.
  • Now just go until you cry.  Then go one more minute.  (By the way, have you read the disclaimer?)

Keep In Mind...

  • Don’t kick too high.  If you kick too high you will take the strain off of your abs. 
  • The upper limit of the movement is having the leg at a 45 degree angle with the floor.
  • The lower limit of the movement is having the heel a few inches off the ground.
  • Keep the legs straight or at least very close to it.  When you get tired, you will want to bend them.
  • Keep breathing.  There is a tendency to hold your breath.
  • Keep your abs contracted and do not allow your gut to push out.
  • Do NOT let your feet touch the ground.

Modifiers

There are a few basic variables that you can use to adjust the intensity of flutter kicks.

  • Height of the kick: The higher you kick, the more you are working – up to 45 degrees
  • Speed of the flutter kicks: Kick faster to increase difficulty.
  • Length of time: Lie down and start doing them and you’ll soon see what I mean.
  • Weight: Ankle weights or heavy shoes will increase the work your abs need to do.

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