What Muscles Do Flutter Kicks Work?

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There are a variety of bodyweight exercises to choose from. Find out what muscles flutter kicks work and whether they are effective.

If you look closely at how to do flutter kicks, you may notice that there are small changes you can make to work different muscles.

Most people will be interested in the flutter kicks that mainly work the abs (abdominal muscles) and hip flexors.

To work both of these muscle groups, you really want to focus on pushing your lower back against the ground. This will make it so your ab muscles have to work in an isometric (static) way.

If you would not push your lower back against the ground, flutter kicks would mainly work your hip flexors alone.

Something to note is that isometric (static) ab exercises like flutter kicks are generally less effective than more dynamic ones.

If you don’t find this second category too uncomfortable, it will likely be the better choice.

Primary muscles worked with flutter kicks

Flutter kicks do not engage the most muscles but you can just barely consider it to be a compound ab exercise. That means it works a few different muscles.

At the same time, only a few of these will have to generate most of the power.

The primary muscles flutter kicks work are your abs (aka abdominal muscles) and hip flexors.

Due to the relative strengths vs effort of these muscles, flutter kicks will be an ab exercise for most people.

Abs aka abdominal muscles

Your abs, also known as your abdominal muscles, run along the front of your stomach.

These muscles are responsible for tilting your hips and moving them toward your chest and your chest toward your hips.

If you do the exercise “right”, your ab muscles will have to work in an isometric (static) way throughout flutter kicks to keep your lower back pressed against the ground.

By moving your legs up and down, it becomes harder for your abs to stay in this position.

Hip flexors

The hip flexors run between your thighs and hips and are responsible for moving these body parts toward each other.

Flutter kicks require you to engage your hip flexors to lift your legs against the pull of gravity.

If you just lie down without pressing your lower back against the ground, flutter kicks will actually mainly work your hip flexors instead of your abs.

This is not necessarily always better but many people do prefer the extra ab engagement mentioned above.

Are flutter kicks good for growing and strengthening abs?

If you do them with the right duration, sets, and resistance, flutter kicks can be good for growing and strengthening abs in the sense that they can cause these effects.

As mentioned, flutter kicks are an isometric (static) exercise for your ab muscles. That means the repetition and set ranges will look different than many other resistance training movements.

More specifically, one review of studies suggests you want to do flutter kicks for 3 to 30 seconds per set and more than 80 to 150 seconds per workout at 70-75% of maximum voluntary contraction to get bigger abs (1).

A downside with these recommendations is that maximum voluntary contraction is something you measure with specialized devices.

The conversion is likely not perfect but you can begin with doing flutter kicks for the durations above with a resistance where you can barely complete the ranges.

For some people, this will mean doing flutter kicks while wearing heavy ankle weights. This makes it harder for your ab muscles to keep your lower back on the ground.

That being said, while flutter kicks can help you get bigger and stronger abs, it is important to note that isometric exercises are generally less effective than dynamic exercises.

So to grow and strengthen your (lower) ab muscles, something like reverse crunches will typically be more effective.

Can you get a visible six-pack from flutter kicks?

Another important thing to note is that growing your ab muscles is often not enough to get a visible six-pack.

To make sure you can see the bigger muscles, your body fat percentage also has to be low enough.

For this first step, flutter kicks are definitely not that helpful. Even with more effective exercises, you likely have to pay at least some attention to your diet to lose belly fat.

Once your body fat percentage is low enough, you can get a more visible six-pack from doing flutter kicks or other exercises with the right repetitions, sets, and resistance.

Can you do flutter kicks every day?

Resistance training exercises like flutter kicks actually damage your muscles during the workout. This may sound bad but it starts a variety of internal processes that can repair the muscles and make them stronger.

Even so, your body still needs time to complete these processes.

For this reason, it is typically recommended to give the muscles you worked at least one rest day before working them with resistance training exercises again.

That being said, smaller muscles like your abs and hip flexors tend to recover more quickly.

You could still do flutter kicks every other day and see good results. That being said, you should be able to do flutter kicks every day too.

Secondary muscles worked with flutter kicks

The abs and hip flexors will definitely be the main focus of flutter kicks but there are a few other muscles that have to work to an extent too.

More specifically, your quadriceps (front thighs) will keep your legs stretched and your obliques (side core muscles) will make sure your hips stay in position.

You should not really expect any muscle growth in these areas. At the same time, you could potentially still see some endurance improvements.


Are flutter kicks effective?

Flutter kicks can cause some muscle growth in your abs but it is fair to say that they are not as effective as more dynamic alternatives.

Do flutter kicks burn belly fat?

Flutter kicks do not necessarily burn belly fat specifically. At the same time, this could still happen to a tiny extent if you lose enough weight with this exercise and good lifestyle habits.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.