February 11, 2022 8 min read
Scissor kicks are one of the most effective core exercises you can do. The scissor is a relatively simple movement to execute, but without proper form, scissor exercises can lead to lower back pain and poor abdominal engagement.
Scissor kicks are not only a valuable tool in the quest for six-pack abs, they are also great for boosting functional strength in the transverse abdominis (a muscle that protects your spine).
Core exercises like scissors can also help improve your squats, deadlifts, push-ups, and other core intensive strength training exercises. When executed with proper form, scissor exercises are an effective addition to any home workout or ab workout routine at the gym.
The primary muscles involved with scissor kicks are the transverse abdominis and hip flexors.
The transverse abdominis is your deepest core muscle, located under your obliques and rectus abdominis, more commonly referred to as “abs.” The transverse abdominis is different than your abdominal muscles, and training exclusively the transverse abdominis will likely not result in 6-pack abs.
As your deepest and most internal core muscle, the transverse abdominis is an incredibly important muscle for stability and protection of the spine, and it will help your deadlifts, squats, bench press, and other compound movements that you’re doing in the gym. A strong transverse abdominis can help push your towards your next PR.
The transverse abdominis is also a synergist for other core exercises that do effectively engage the rectus abdominis. A synergist muscle is one that assists the prime mover muscles in completing a movement or exercise. Thus, transverse abdominis training will result in more effective execution and engagement during rectus abdominis training.
Scissor kicks also effectively train the hip flexors. Underdeveloped hip flexors are a common muscle imbalance. The hip flexors are not a specific muscle, but rather, a group of muscles that form the “hip flexor complex.” The hip flexor complex runs right across the hips, just below the stomach and above the tops of your thighs.
Hip flexor muscles include the psoas major, rectus femoris, and iliacus. These muscles can become easily underdeveloped in people who have to sit frequently.
If you have a desk job, your hip flexors are likely shortened unless you are actively working on strengthening them. Shortened hip flexors will cause an anterior pelvic tilt, which can lead to poor glute engagement and hyperextended vertebrae. To put it simply, to move more comfortably and safely, you want to frequently stretch and strengthen your hip flexors.
Scissor kicks are a worthy exercise for anyone looking to increase their overall strength, protect their spine and internal organs, and improve mobility. It is important to have a well-rounded ab workout routine that includes multiple movements.
Scissor exercises actually refer to a broad definition of similar core exercises. Some people use the term flutter kicks or “side to side.” Well, these are all actually different variations of the common scissor kick.
Flutter kicks are similar to scissor kicks, and quite often the terms are used interchangeably. The main difference between a flutter kick and a scissor kick is that with a flutter kick, you keep your feet lower to the ground and limit your range of motion. It is less of a scissor motion, and more of a subtle “flutter,” hence the name.
To make your flutter kicks or scissor kicks more challenging, try adding ankle weights! When shopping for ankle weights, the range is huge. 1lb to 10lb weights is commonly sold. Anything between 2lb to 5lb weights should be an effective weight for these exercises.
Crisscross scissor kicks (often called side to sides, ins and outs, or even just plain old scissor kicks), are a great way of mixing up your core workout routine.
The crisscross version effectively targets the obliques, transverse abdominus, psoas, quadriceps, glutes, adductors, and hip flexors.
The most common form mistake that you will see with scissor exercises is an arched lower back. When you lift your legs off of the ground in the supinated position (back on the floor, face towards the ceiling), it is common to involuntarily arch your lower back.
This is due to synergistic dominance. Synergistic dominance occurs when the prime mover muscles fail to engage properly, causing muscle synergists to equip in the exercise and finish the movement.
The psoas, a major component of your hip flexor complex, attaches to your back and lumbar spine. When the psoas is shortened or weak, the back will arch. In the case of the scissor kick, an arched lower back is a compensation movement that should be avoided.
Proper execution in the scissor kick and flutter kick will result in greater abdominal engagement, and less stress on the hip flexors and lumbar spine.
Scissor exercises do have the potential to provide decent engagement of the rectus abdominis, but it is only one of many core exercises that should be included in your ab workout.
To complement the substantial transverse abdominus engagement in scissor exercises, try these inner ab exercises!
Other exercises that pair well with scissor kicks and flutter kicks include:
This is a classic core exercise.
A staple in the military, schools, gym classes, and athletics, sit-ups are often used as a test of your core strength and overall fitness. Sit-ups can be done with a partner holding your feet, but if you don’t have anyone to hold your feet down, there are alternatives.
If you can place your feet under a piece of furniture or something that is heavy with an opening under it (such as a pair of large dumbbells), then you can bypass the need for a partner in this exercise. Most gyms also have benches where you can wrap your feet around.
V-Ups are a great ab exercise to avoid engaging both the upper and lower abdominal muscles. The V-Up relies on a full range of motion to target the upper rectus abdominis.
To perform a V-Up:
Scissor kicks, flutter kicks, and crisscrosses are all abdominal exercises based on the same movement, but with different ranges of motion. These types of core exercises target several lower body and core muscle groups, with a particular emphasis on the transverse abdominis.
Incorporating scissor kicks into your ab workout routine can help you strengthen your core, protect your spine, decrease back pain, and assist your lifts in the gym.If you're looking to maximize your muscle building goals VEG-PRO will help you pack on lean muscle quickly and take your gains to the next level. Learn more now!