Last Updated on July 25, 2018 by Michael Brockbank
When you need an easy-to-do exercise to help shape your abs, the scissor kick is one of those that can be done virtually anywhere. As long as your comfortable on the floor, you can get a bit of an abdominal workout by shifting your legs back and forth.
It’s one of those beginner exercises that I suggest people try who have been as lacking in fitness as myself. It’s a good warm-up routine to get into before trying some of the more grueling workouts.
Why Do I Like the Scissor Kick?
Outside of convenience, the scissor kick is a good way to get a bit of muscle firmness before you try your hand at some of the more extensive workouts. I am a firm believer in starting slow and finding your physical limitations.
As the scissor kick is relatively easy for nearly anyone regardless of body shape, it can start to tone abs and obliques – which can prevent cramping should you try a set of crunches in the near future.
It’s one of those exercises virtually anyone can do. In fact, it’s one that I started with when I weighed 290+ pounds. I started by finding my maximum limit, cut it in half, and then started doing three sets per day.
For example: Let’s say that I can do a maximum of 20 scissor kicks. I then cut that in half to 10. Then, I do three sets of 10 scissor kicks every day.
This has contributed to losing more than 70 pounds so far. Well, scissor kicks and other exercises such as playing the Xbox Kinect or riding my bicycle.
Importance of Core Work
Working your core muscles using something like a scissor kick contributes to a lot of real-life activities. Anytime you twist, bend or move your body, ab muscles are being used.
Strengthening the core only works to improve those areas of your life. Even something as mundane as getting up off the floor or sitting upright from laying down becomes easier. Even balance and stability are enhanced with core workouts.
I remember when I was able to sit straight up from laying on my back for the first time. I geeked out a bit as it’s something I’ve never been able to do before.
According to experts, and my own personal experience, the primary muscle group worked is your abs. Essentially, it’s caused by the balance you try to keep while moving your legs in succession.
Your obliques are also contributing to the workout by keeping your legs straight and balanced. Hip flexors experience a bit of movement, but not on as much of a scale as you might think.
Focus of the Activity
Like many other traditional exercises, the scissor kick relies on repetition. However, you’ll feel strain on your abdomen throughout the entire workout. If you’re not used to doing core work, it may be best to start with three sets of five reps each every day until you can start adding more.
Of course, you’ll want to include other exercises as well. It’s a zero-impact activity that concentrates on keeping your core tense while moving your legs. Nearly anyone can start with this workout regardless of their size.
Just make sure you don’t try to lift your legs too far if you’re not ready for it. It is possible to get a cramp in the hamstrings or other muscle groups.
How to Do This Exercise
- Lay flat on your back. This is where a yoga or exercise mat comes into play. While you can do this exercise virtually anywhere, the mats may help you keep more comfortable on a flat and hard surface. Some people will tuck their hands underneath their butt. I stretch my arms out flat on the floor away from my body.
- Lift both of your legs off the ground while slightly bent. You don’t need to go too far, perhaps about six inches off of the ground.
- Lift your left leg up in the air until it’s about 45 degrees of your body.
- Lower your left leg while simultaneously bringing up your right leg in the same manner.
- This is one repetition.
Essentially, you’re making a “scissor” motion with your legs in the air – hence the name of the exercise. Don’t worry if you can’t get your legs at a perfect 45 degree angle.
Just get them up as high as you’re comfortable with. Each time you do this exercise, it will become easier. As I said before, I started low and simply worked my way up. Don’t assume you can do as many reps as others…especially if you’re as out of shape as I was.
You’re not in competition with anyone other than yourself, which is why I often suggest setting personal records and work to beat your personal bests.
Here is a video I found on YouTube that demonstrates how the scissor kick is done. I make no claim to it and only use this video for demonstration purposes only.
Increasing the Intensity
What if you want to add a bit more “umph” behind the workout? Well, there are several ways you can do this. You can:
- Increase repetitions
The longer you can sustain any given activity, the more dense the muscle becomes. In this case, you’re working on your core muscle groups.
- Increase number of sets
Many people like short bursts of many sets throughout any given workout. Increasing these also gives you a bit of breathing room in between scissor kicks.
- Add ankle weights
Ankle weights are incredible when it comes to increasing effort. These make the body exert more energy, which contributes to improving muscle density by compensating for the added weight.
Don’t Push too Hard
Although you want to push yourself to find your limits, pushing too hard could be harmful to your fitness. Work your body smarter, not harder. Set personal records and try to beat them each week…even if it’s just adding one more repetition to the set.[template id=”3591″]