What are flutter kicks?

Flutter kicks are an exercise that works the muscles of your core, specifically the lower rectus abdominal muscles, plus the hip flexors. They mimic a swimming stroke, but are performed on dry land. You can perform them lying on your back, or, if you want to also strengthen your back muscles, you can do them lying on your stomach.

Read on to learn about how to do flutter kicks, plus the benefits and possible side effects.

Traditional flutter kick

via Gfycat

  1. Lie down on your back, facing up.
  2. Place both your hands underneath your buttocks.
  3. Keep your lower back on the ground as you lift the right leg off the ground slightly past hip height, and lift the left leg so it hovers a few inches off the floor.
  4. Hold for 2 seconds, then switch the position of the legs, making a flutter kick motion.
  5. For more of a challenge, lift your head and neck off the floor.
  6. Repeat this motion for up to 30 seconds.

Criss-cross flutter kick

via Gfycat

  1. Lie down on your back, facing up.
  2. Place both hands underneath your buttocks.
  3. Keep your lower back on the ground as you lift both legs up, slightly past hip height, keeping your core engaged the entire time.
  4. Criss-cross your legs over one another, switching off which leg is on top, and keeping your legs off the ground the entire time.
  5. For more of a challenge, lift your head and neck off the floor.
  6. The wider you bring out your legs with each cross, the more you’ll feel the exercise in your ab muscles.
  7. Repeat this motion for up to 30 seconds.


  1. To make the move more challenging, extend your legs wider with each cross. The wider your legs are, the more you’ll feel it in your abdominal muscles.
Was this helpful?

Prone flutter kick

via Gfycat

  1. Lie on your stomach and place your elbows out wide and your hands together in front of your face. Rest your chin or forehead on your hands.
  2. Engage your core, and lift both legs off the ground to hip height or slightly past hip height, if possible.
  3. Lift one leg and then the other in a flutter motion, as if you were swimming.
  4. Repeat for up to 30 seconds.

When performing the flutter kick exercise, it’s important that your lower back remains on the ground the entire time. You don’t want any arch in your lower back. That can lead to a back strain or injury. Also, engage your lower abs throughout the exercise by pulling them into your belly as you breathe in and out. You should feel the abdominal muscles engaging, not the leg muscles.


  1. Keeping your legs lower to the ground may be easier on your back. If you’re new to flutter kicks or feel your lower back arching off of the ground, start with your feet barely off the ground and work your way up to lifting your legs higher.
Was this helpful?

Abdominal exercises, like flutter kicks, help strengthen the core muscles. Benefits of a strong core include:

  • improved posture
  • improved balance and stability
  • more defined abdominal muscles
  • increased ease while doing physical activities like swinging a golf club, reaching for something on a shelf, or tying your shoes
  • helping you reach your fitness goals because a strong core is important for most physical activities

Flutter kicks may be a good alternative to other lower abdominal strengthening exercises such as boat pose, mountain climbers, and V-ups.

If you experience lower back pain, doing flutter kicks may irritate your back more. It’s important to follow the safety instructions and never lift your lower back off the ground or arch the back during the exercise.

Your hip flexors may become tight as a result of doing flutter kicks. Try these stretches and exercises to strengthen the hip flexors.

Always get your doctor’s approval before starting a new exercise routine. Stop performing flutter kicks if you experience any pains or feel dizzy.

More than 60 percent of all pregnant women experience low back pain during pregnancy. Strengthening the abdominal and back muscles before and during pregnancy could minimize this risk.

Abdominal exercises like flutter kicks are generally considered safe during the first trimester of a healthy pregnancy, but get your health professional’s approval first.

You should avoid flutter kicks on your back during the second and third trimester. Instead, try pregnancy-safe exercises like walking and swimming. You can also try prenatal yoga or Pilates to continue strengthening your core, but make sure you work with a fitness professional that has experience with pregnant women.

Flutter kicks can be an effective way to work your lower abdominal muscles. It’s important to perform this exercise safely and with proper form. Ask a fitness professional for help if you need it.

Be sure to perform this exercise along with a full core workout including planks and bicycle crunches to engage and exercise all the muscles of the core equally. If you are trying to lose weight or fat, toning workouts alone will not be effective. In addition to core workouts, be sure to eat a healthy diet of whole foods. Include cardio exercises or high intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises into your fitness routine several times a week to achieve your fitness goals.