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You just finished your ride, only to hop off your bike and immediately feel a dull ache in your lower back. What gives? you think to yourself. But the reality is, a hunched over position and a weak core don’t mix. One way to help build some strength? Scissor kicks.

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The scissor kick exercise is great for us for a few reasons: “It’s a core exercise that helps cyclists stay in a good position; it requires lower back stability which is good for optimal cycling, and it works on the coordination of your legs and works the quads—a big part of the muscles used for cycling,” says Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., CEO and founder of TS Fitness in New York City.

Additionally, scissor kicks are a reciprocating (or seesaw) movement, and so is cycling, Tamir says, so when one hip flexor is lengthened the other one is shortened, this takes the pressure off the lower back compared to a leg lift with both legs.

Adding scissor kicks—and variations of the exercise—to your regular core workouts will strengthen your core and help improve your overall cycling performance.

[Looking to start cross training but don’t know where to start? The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training will teach you all the fundamentals to get the most out of your weight session, priming you for stronger miles in the saddle.]

How to do it: Before attempting any variations or adding weight, make sure you master the basic scissor kick first: Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat.

For all of these variations, perform 15 to 20 per leg or set a timer for 30 to 45 seconds total. For the variations, you may need a small resistance band loop, ankle weights, and a Bosu balance trainer.

Large Scissor Kick

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them as wide as you can—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat—pausing for a half second at the top.

Mini Scissor Kick

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat—keeping the movement small and compact.

Scissor Kick With Iso Crunch

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders and head off the mat, look straight ahead, and put hands behind the head like you’re doing a crunch. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat.

Scissor Kick With Mini Band

 

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Put a mini band around your ankles. Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat.

Scissor Kick With Alternating Arm Reach

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Lie faceup with legs straight and reach both arms above head with biceps by ears. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat. When the left leg is up, reach right arm to left toe. When right leg is up, reach left arm to right toe.

Scissor Kick With Ankle Weights

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Put ankle weights around ankles. Lie faceup with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders off the mat and look toward the ceiling—lift with your abdominals; don’t strain your neck. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat.

Scissor Kick With Bosu Ball

This content is imported from YouTube. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.

Lie faceup on a Bosu ball with legs straight and place both hands palms down on either side of hips for support. Drawing your belly button toward your spine, lift shoulders and head off the mat, look straight ahead, and put hands behind the head like you’re doing a crunch. Lift legs about 4 to 6 inches off the floor and scissor them—lift left leg, then right, then left, and repeat.

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