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Flutter Kicks – How to Perform Safely, Variations, and Similar Exercises

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What are Flutter kicks?

Flutter kicks are a simple and dynamic exercise that burns calories, improves your cardio, and strengthens your abs. The objective is to lie on the floor, lift your feet a few inches off the floor, have your legs straight, and move them up and down rapidly and alternatingly.

A notable benefit of the exercise is that your abs work extra hard to keep your legs in the air and engage even more to move them up and down. Similarly, kicks develop your hip flexors, the muscles that assist your abs.

We recommend including kicks near the end of your workout, focusing on time under tension rather than a specific rep count.

Level of Exercise: Intermediate

How to do Flutter Kicks

  1. Lie on the floor with your legs straight, arms to your sides, and palms flat against the ground.
  2. With your lower back in contact with the floor, take a breath and lift your feet several inches off the floor.
  3. Take another breath and begin moving your legs up and down alternatingly. Keep your movements short and crisp.
  4. Breathe as steadily as you can and go for as long as your abs allow you.

What muscles do flutter kicks activate?

The primary muscle that works during the exercise is the rectus abdominis. Our rectus abdominis covers the stomach area and shortens the distance between the ribcage and pelvis (1). Aside from that, the muscle group engages to keep our legs in the air and flexes isometrically to provide torso support.

Kicks also engage the five hip flexors. The collection of muscles assists the abs in keeping our legs in the air and moving up and down.

The glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps also work to an extent. These muscles play an essential role in numerous leg motions and contribute during the exercise, but their involvement is limited.

Preforming Flutter Kicks Safely 

An important tip for a safe and effective flutter kick is to keep your lower back flat against the floor at all times. Doing so ensures that your abs stay engaged, provide stability, and do most of the work involved in keeping your legs in the air and moving.

The second tip for kicks is keeping the leg motions short and controlled. Doing so is vital for maintaining your balance and keeping your spine in a healthy position. Moving your legs uncontrollably leads to instability and increases the risk of arching your lower back.

Variations and Modifications of Flutter Kicks

1. Prone Flutter Kick

Prone flutter kicks are a variation you perform while lying on your stomach. Performing the exercise while facing down is beneficial for emphasizing your posterior musculature: the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

2. Criss-Cross Flutter Kick

Criss-cross flutter kicks are almost the same as traditional kicks, apart from one difference. Keep your legs straight but move them in and out, positioning one foot over the other alternatingly. Doing so is beneficial for switching things up and possibly involving your oblique muscles more.

Mistakes to Avoid

Arching Your Lower Back

A common mistake with the movement and numerous other ab exercises is arching the lower back. Doing so places unnecessary stress on your spine and lengthens the abs, preventing them from engaging as effectively. Avoid the error by keeping your lower back in contact with the floor from start to finish.

Moving Your Legs too Much

The second mistake with flutter kicks is moving your legs through an extended range of motion. Doing so isn’t necessarily fatal, but the objective is to perform short and quick leg motions, alternating numerous times per set.

Similar Exercises to the Flutter Kicks

Cable Crunch

Cable crunches are a simple gym exercise that strengthens your abs. Unlike many ab movements, the cable crunch is fantastic for trainees of all levels because you can adjust the resistance to suit your strength and endurance.

Bicycle Crunch

Man bicycle lower abs

Similar to a flutter kick, bicycle crunches are a simple and equipment-free exercise you can do to strengthen your abs. The objective is to perform oblique crunches as you bend and extend your knees alternatingly. Doing so strengthens your entire core area and can improve your endurance (2).

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