Muscles Targeted: Abdominal flutter kicks predominantly targets your abdominal muscles, working the lower abs in particular. They are also a superb workout for your hip flexors, where a large extent of the effect is felt when you are performing repetitions. Your middle and upper abs will also feel stimulation from this exercise and you will get a great overall workout by including this movement into your overall abdominal training routine. Performing the abdominal flutter kicks near the end of a workout will also improve your endurance levels.
Exercise Instructions: Start by lying flat on your back on a mat with your arms by your sides and your palms down. Extend your legs fully out with a slight bend in your knees. Lift your heels about 6 inches off the floor. Make small, rapid up and down scissor-like motions with your legs. The key is to focus on having your midsection do all the work and to keep your abs constantly contracted throughout the exercise.
Why This Exercise is Important: Do not think of the abdominal flutter kicks as the main part of your ab workout. This is neat little exercise, but it is not one that is going to put you on the road to a six pack. Instead, think of the abdominal flutter kicks as a finishing movement to add to the last part of your workout. When your abs are tired and you are fatigued, this is a great way to push yourself that little bit extra. You will work your hip flexors a lot, which helps with flexibility, and will cause a marked improvement in your future workouts.
The abdominal flutter kicks are great for helping improve your lower core strength. It is a similar motion to the one involved in swimming the back stroke, which makes this exercise beneficial to swimmers. In addition, the motion teaches your body how to control a single leg at one time, which is a key motion in soccer and other sports.
Things To Avoid: When you are performing abdominal flutter kicks, you want to make sure that the entire motion is being run through your hips and abs. The most common mistake is to push your legs up and down with your whole body, which dramatically decreases the effectiveness of this exercise. Keep your hands on the floor and ensure that your back and upper body are in a straight position. Do not move your head up when performing the kicking motion since this will ensure you are using the right parts of your body.
Make sure that you are raising your legs just the right amount. While doing the abdominal flutter kicks, your legs should be raised about 3-4 inches off the ground, and no more. A shorter kicking motion will result in a better workout for your AB muscles.
If you have problems with your spine or with your posture, make a concentrated effort to keep your back straight. Having your hands firmly on the ground should help, especially during those last few repetitions.
Reps and Sets: Perform the abdominal flutter kicks in three sets of 15-20 repetitions. Instead of using reps, you can also do these for an extended amount of time, like 30-60 seconds before taking a break. This is a light exercise, which means that you do not have to overdo the sets or reps. Stick to an amount you are comfortable with, and add more sets if needed.
Other Exercises To Use: If you wish to add a few different types of exercises to your abdominal workout, take a look at some great movements such as exercise ball leg raises, abdominal crunches and hanging leg raises to get a killer AB burning workout. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the abs.