Flutter Kicks

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. 

That’s what boxing legend Muhammad Ali said, and it’s still important today. Flutter Kicks might sound like a simple, butterfly and happy rainbows exercise, but in reality they’re a difficult and beneficial ab isolation exercise. This exercise will hurt, but in a good way. They don’t go easy on you, but they are absolutely worth every moment you’ll invest if you want rock hard, six pack abs. Flutter Kicks are sometimes called Scissor Kicks, though true Scissor Kicks raise the legs to a steeper angle than Flutter Kicks.

Pilates Power

Flutter Kicks have their origin with exercise mastermind Joseph Pilates. His system of movements was specially designed to elongate and shape the body, all while working to improve functional lifestyle as well as appearance. With movements like these simple Flutter Kicks, Pilates has become a worldwide fitness movement.

There are two types of Pilates – studio Pilates and mat Pilates. The former requires a series of specialized Pilates equipment that was designed by the man himself. The latter requires only a mat and can be done anywhere. 

What’s special about this kind of Pilates move is that it pushes the body in ways that are reachable. Flutter Kicks can be done in a group class or individual setting, and can be modified to allow anyone to build on them. Though the strictest form of the exercise is the goal, getting to that goal is possible for people who have never done this kind of body work before. 

How to Become a Butterfly

Performing Flutter Kicks is easy, in the sense that the movement is simple. Here’s how to do them:

  • Lie on your back on the floor, preferably on a mat, but Flutter Kicks can be done without a mat as well.
  • Engage the core, then extend the legs, tilting up to a forty-five degree angle. Hold the arms out straight, parallel to the torso and to the floor. Palms should be facing down.
  • Bring the chin to the chest, pulling the shoulders slightly off the floor.
  • Point the toes, lowering one leg. Then lower that leg and raise the other. Continue in this kicking motion, legs alternating.
  • Engage the core throughout the exercise, utilizing deep breaths to maintain endurance and stability. 

Modified Butterflies

This exercise is difficult, despite its simple appearance. There are some simple modifications that can make it either easier, or in some cases even more challenging!

  • Bend the knees slightly if that joint is strained, especially if you have a past injury.
  • Keep your head on the mat to begin with if the exercise is too difficult.
  • Bend the knees to a right angle if you have lower back pain.
  • For a tougher exercise, place the hands under the glutes rather than at the sides.

These simple modifications make this exercise even more accessible, or more of a challenge!  

Benefits of the Flutter

Flutter Kicks are a whole core exercise. They utilize the obliques that run down the sides of the body, as well as the main abdominal muscle called the rectus abdominis. Hip flexors get a workout here too, shaping the upper legs. 

It’s important to note that Flutter Kicks engage the lower back too, building tone and lean muscle there. 

Though this is a difficult exercise, it’s a powerful Pilates shaping tool!

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