How to Do Scissor Kicks and get a fantastic shape!

The scissor kick is one of several exercises you can do to build and maintain your core strength. It also targets your lower body, which means you engage multiple muscles in order to complete the move. This exercise is sometimes also called flutter kicks.
How to perform a scissor kick

Being able to perform the scissor kick exercise successfully depends on how strictly you can keep your form. That’s why you want your abs, not your lower back, doing the work.

By targeting the leg muscles via the “scissoring” move you directly recruit your core muscles. Plus, proper spine alignment via a solid core is what helps your lower body perform the “scissoring” movement.

Since the focus of this move is on engaging your core, you don’t want to be in a rush to complete the reps. Slow down and make sure to follow the steps and maintain your form throughout all of the sets and reps.

  1. Find an exercise mat that feels comfortable. You’ll want a mat that has some thickness but is also firm.
  2. Lie on your back on the mat with your legs extended out in front of you. Place your arms by your sides, palms down. You can also place your hands under your glutes below the small of your back, palms pressing into the floor.
  3. Engage your core by pressing your lower back into the mat and tucking your pelvis. Maintain this position during the entire movement.
  4. Lift both legs off the ground about 6 to 12 inches from the starting position (in this case, the floor) or about a 45-degree angle.
  5. With your core tight and neck relaxed, lower one leg toward the floor as you lift the other leg up. This is the start of the “scissoring” motion.
  6. Continue the scissoring motion by slowly switching your legs up and down for the recommended amount of repetitions.
  7. Perform 2 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions. Each leg scissoring counts as one rep. As you get stronger, add a third set. Scissor kicks can be part of a core workout that you do 2 to 3 days a week.
Scissor kick variations

If the basic scissor kick exercise is too difficult, there are simpler moves you can do that use a similar movement pattern.

  • Keep your legs lower to the mat. This can help take the pressure off your lower back. If you’re feeling your lower back arching up away from the mat while performing this exercise, start with your feet just hovering over the floor. As you get stronger, increase the distance between the floor and your legs. Make sure your back is not arching.
  • Substitute a bicycle crunch for the scissor kick. The bicycle crunch follows a similar movement pattern as the scissor kick.
  • To build strength and endurance before trying the scissor kick exercise, consider mastering a supine bicycle crunch exercise.

When you’re ready to up the intensity of the basic scissor kick exercise, consider trying one of these modifications.

  • Raise your legs higher and make the scissoring movement larger.
  • Slow down the kicking movement and hold the top leg for 2 to 3 seconds before switching legs.
  • Add light ankle weights.
Tips to do a better scissor kick

Watching the scissor kick on a video is one thing, but executing the move with correct form is an entirely different process. Before you grab an exercise mat and kick through a few reps, read through these tips on how to perform the scissor kick exercise.

  • Keep your arms stationary throughout the entire move. Your arms serve as stability. They should not be used as momentum.
  • Keep your core tight and engaged throughout the entire move. Think belly button to spine.
  • Keep the motion rhythmic and controlled, not fast and furious.
  • The scissor kick is an isolation exercise, which means, it’s often more effective when included in an overall fitness routine. You can find the scissor kick in a lineup of Pilates exercises, ab and core workouts, and cardio boot camp style classes.
  • Since you’re asking the core muscles to kick it into high gear, make sure to properly warm up before performing scissor kicks.
The scissor kick is an intermediate-level exercise that requires strength in your core and lower body. If you have low back issues, tight hip flexors or neck problems, consider modifying the movement.

Additionally, if you are new to exercise and not sure of the proper way to engage your abdominal muscles, consider working with a personal trainer or physical therapist.

If you’re pregnant, consider a different exercise to target your core muscles. Lying flat on the floor during exercise may not be ideal after your first trimester, suggests the American

Benefits of a scissor kick

The scissor kick exercise works your core muscles, glutes, quads and adductors. Engaging your core muscles is what allows you to “flutter” your legs up and down. The core muscles include the rectus abdominis, obliques, transverse abdominis, and the hip flexors.

Any time you go from a supine position to an upright position, your core muscles assist the move.

For example, getting out of bed. If your core muscles are weak, performing daily tasks can become difficult, especially without back pain. That’s because strong core muscles help to reduce back pain, improve balance, and maintain proper flexion, extension, and rotation.

The takeaway

Having the strength to do a scissor kick is no easy feat. That’s why it’s important to take your time and move through the natural progression of the movement.

If the basic scissor kick exercise is too challenging, try one of the modifications. Strict form and engaging the correct muscles matter more than the number of repetitions you perform.


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20 Moves to Get Stronger in 2 Weeks

If your exercise routine needs a kick-start or you’re a beginner unsure of what to do first, having a plan is key.

We’re here to help. Our two-week exercise routine can provide structure to your workouts with a goal to increase strength, balance, and mobility.

Do this workout four days per week with a one-day break in between, if possible.

Here’s your workout routine:

  • The warmup: Before each workout, spend 10 minutes doing a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride to get your heart rate up. Then for 5–6 minutes do some dynamic stretching.
  • Workout 1–3: Full-body approach with a mix of upper- and lower-body strength exercises maximizes your time and eases you in. Complete 3 sets of each exercise, 10–15 reps each (as noted below). Rest 30–60 second between sets and 1–2 minutes between each exercise.
  • Workout 4: Combination of cardio-based exercises and core-specific moves challenges your endurance. Treat this routine as a circuit: Complete 1 set of each exercise back to back, rest for 1 minute, then repeat 2 more times.

At the end of the two weeks you should feel strong, powerful, and accomplished –– you’ve definitely put in the sweat equity. Ready, set, go!

Workout day 1

Complete 3 sets of each exercise before moving on to the next.


3 sets, 15 reps

There’s nothing much more foundational than a squat, so kicking things off with this bodyweight version is a great place to start. During the movement, ensure your shoulders are back, your gaze is ahead, and your knees fall out, not in.

Incline dumbbell press

3 sets, 10 reps

You’ll need a bench and some dumbbells to perform this exercise. If you’re a beginner, start with 10- or 12-pound dumbbells until you’re comfortable with the movement. Position the bench at a 30-degree angle. Use your chest muscles to lead the arm extension.

Lunges with dumbbell

3 sets, 12 reps each leg

Adding a bicep curl to a lunge adds a layer of difficulty, challenging your muscles, and balance, in an additional way. Again, if you’re a beginner, start with lighter-weight dumbbells, like 8 or 10 pounds, until you feel stable in the movement.

Face pulls

3 sets, 10 reps

Targeting your shoulders and upper back, face pulls may seem awkward at first, but you’ll feel the burn in no time. Use a resistance band anchored to a point above your head to complete.

Plank reach-under

3 sets, 12 taps

Ending the workout with a core-specific exercise is a great way to go. Spice up a regular plank by adding this reach-under tap. Pay special attention to your lower back, making sure it doesn’t sag, and that your hips stay square to the ground.

Workout day 2

Complete 3 sets of each exercise before moving on to the next.

Modified thruster

3 sets, 12 reps

Combining a squat with an overhead dumbbell press creates a compound movement, which works multiple muscles and joints for extra calorie burn. Five- or 8-pound dumbbells should work well for a beginner.


3 sets, 12 reps each leg

Challenge your balance and stability while strengthening your leg muscles with step-ups. Hold a dumbbell in each hand for an added challenge. Push through your heels to focus on your glutes throughout the movement.

Cable crossover

3 sets, 10 reps

Target your chest with a cable crossover. Use a cable machine at the gym or two resistance bands. Make sure you’re pulling with your pectorals, not your arms.

Lateral lunge

3 sets, 10 reps each leg

Side-plane movement is important in a well-rounded exercise routine. Focus on sitting back into your glutes at the bottom of the movement to get the most out of it, from a strength and mobility standpoint.


3 sets, 10 reps

Deceivingly simple, the superman exercise is core-specific, working both the abs and lower back muscles. Go as slowly and as controlled as you can during this movement. Aim for a slight pause at the top.

Workout day 3

Complete 3 sets of each exercise before moving on to the next.


3 sets, 10 steps each way

A banded side-step is great for warming up your hips before a workout, but it also serves to strengthen those muscles as well. The lower you squat down, the harder this exercise will be.


via Gfycat

3 sets, 12 reps

Strengthening your back muscles is vital to maintain good posture and ease of daily life. Use a resistance band as shown here. Dumbbells can also work.


via Gfycat

3 sets, 12 reps each leg

Lunge your way to stronger legs. Only body weight is required. Step forward so your legs form a triangle with the ground and lower down into a stationary lunge.

Leg kickbacks

3 sets, 12 reps each leg

Strengthen your hips and glutes with kickbacks. Go slowly, raising your leg as far off the ground as it will go while keeping your pelvis square to the ground.



The plank recruits many muscles in your body, not just your abs, which makes it a truly effective exercise to include in your routine. Your core needs to be strong and stable in this stance. Take care that your shoulders are also down and back and your neck is neutral.

Workout day 4

Complete this workout as a circuit: Complete 1 set of jumping jacks, then move to the bicycle crunch, etc., until you’ve completed all 5 exercises. Then rest and repeat the circuit twice more.

Jumping jacks


Classic but effective, jumping jacks will get you moving. If the jump is too much, just tap your feet out one by one instead.

Bicycle crunch


By keeping your head, neck, and upper back lifted off the ground throughout this movement, your abs stay engaged the whole time. Make sure your chin stays untucked. Focus on the torso twist to target your obliques.

Squat jumps


Squat jumps are high intensity, but they have a high payout. Focus on exploding upward through the balls of your feet, jumping as high as you can go, and then landing softly on the balls of your feet. Use caution with this exercise if you have any lower-body injuries or joint problems.

Glute bridge with band


Completing a glute bridge with a band right above your knees adds another layer of tension, requiring more muscle activation from your glutes and hips. Squeeze your glutes and engage your pelvic floor at the top.

Mountain climber


Core and cardio in one, mountain climbers require strength and endurance. Pick up speed once your form is stable.

How often should you rest?

For a beginner, one day of complete rest will be ideal for recovery. The other two days you could take a stroll or do an easy hike.

Give it two weeks and come out stronger with this routine. For people on vacation or away from a gym for a while, this routine can be easily done with equipment you can pack in your bag. (For dumbbell replacements, consider water bottles with sand.)

Focus on making each movement count, establishing the muscle-mind connection. Your body will surely thank you for choosing to move

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