If you’re bored with crunches and have already experimented with every imaginable plank variation, try switching up your ab exercises with flutter kicks. Just as effective as leg lifts, flutter kicks offer a more dynamic (and maybe even more fun?) alternative to the typical ab exercise. And if it’s a defined midsection you’re after, flutter kicks can help round out your existing ab work by targeting different muscles than other common core exercises.
How to Do Flutter Kicks
Performing flutter kicks with proper form ensures that you will gain the ab exercise’s core-strengthening benefits while also guarding your neck and lower back from injury. “The biggest mistakes that people make are not keeping their legs straight, allowing their lower backs to arch, and raising their heads and shoulders off the floor,” says Trevor Thieme, CSCS, Openfit’s director of fitness and nutrition content.
To execute the flutter kick with proper form:
- Lie flat on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides.
- Engage your core and press your head, shoulders, and lower back into the floor as you raise both legs about 12 inches off of it.
- Keep both legs straight as you alternately lift each foot in a fluttering motion.
- Complete an equal number of reps with each leg.
Benefits of Flutter Kicks
While flutter kicks will get you closer to a six-pack, the benefits of this ab exercise go far beyond aesthetics.
1. Improved posture
Like other ab exercises, including leg raises, planks, bird dogs, and leg lifts, flutter kicks target the core muscles. Strong core muscles are crucial to overall health, as they stabilize the spine and pelvis, thereby supporting proper posture and helping to prevent the slouching, slumping, and rounded shoulders that can lead to chronic health problems such as back pain.
2. Injury prevention
“Proximal stability equals distal mobility” is a common refrain in the physical therapy realm and a tenet of human movement. Essentially, it reasons that the stronger and more stable your core is, the better mobility you’ll have in your body’s extremities.
A weak core can result in poor mobility and movement dysfunctions in the arms, shoulders, and legs, which can, in turn, lead to injury. Incorporating flutter kicks and other core exercises into your fitness regimen can help keep your body moving effectively and avoid injury.
3. Defined abs
Sure, proper posture and injury prevention are important, but what can flutter kicks do for your physique? When paired with other ab exercises like planks and crunches, a lot, says Thieme.
“Any exercise that targets your rectus abdominis engages the entire muscle, but most people take a top-down approach to working it, focusing their ab-sculpting efforts on crunches and sit-ups,” he says. “That’s what makes the flutter kick a valuable addition to any exercise arsenal — it provides a novel challenge for your abs that can help you build a six-pack even faster.”
4. Calorie-burning cardio
The dynamic nature of flutter kicks makes them a great addition to cardio circuits. While flutter kicks will fire up your muscles, they’ll also elevate your heart rate. Try mixing 30 to 60 seconds of flutter kicks into your next HIIT workout.