Countless exercises target the abs, and this is, as we all know, a popular topic in the fitness industry. It’s a question we often receive: what are the best exercises to develop a six-pack? First, let us say that you don’t need to aim for a six-pack — a strong core doesn’t equal ripped abs. But if we have to recommend one exercise that helps you get a strong core, we would suggest scissor kicks. Here’s why.
- Scissor kicks are a challenging exercise that will develop core strength and control.
- This exercise has a long history and is considered ‘old school’ by many; however, it has become increasingly common again thanks to the growing popularity of bodyweight training, calisthenics and gymnastics in the fitness industry.
- Lie on your back with arms overhead. Engage the core and maintain a slight posterior pelvic tilt (dish shape).
- Raise the legs, arms and head slightly off the floor – this is your start position.
- Keeping the arms and legs straight throughout, begin the movement by quickly throw the arms to touch the opposite leg. Return under control and switch sides.
- Continue for desired reps or time.
- Scissor kicks focus primarily on the anterior (front) core muscles, and due to the rapid movement, require increased coordination, balance and control. It’s important to note that the heavier legs will need to be effectively counterbalanced by the lighter arms. In addition, if the hamstrings are a little tight/short, this will limit leg height and will require the upper body to reach further. This can affect your balance. Therefore, find your balance and then stick to a consistent rhythm.
- If your hamstrings are too tight, the movement can be modified to bent legs (although this will feel easier). Work on hamstring flexibility so you can eventually perform scissor kicks with straight legs.
- While it requires good coordination of upper and lower body for balance, maintenance of core stability throughout the exercise will also help. When the core begins to fatigue, it can become challenging to maintain the ‘dish’ shape and will cause the pelvis to break position. This may result in momentary losses of balance. Therefore, build your performance slowly with a focus on lower reps but with good control and rhythm, before adding volume.