How to Do Pilates Side Scissors

Pilates Mat Exercise - Side Scissors

pilates scissors exercise
(c)2012, Marguerite Ogle

Pilates side scissors is going to advance skills that you learn in other Pilates side kick mat exercises. You are going to need the strength and stability you've learned in side leg lifts -- that's going to get to your pelvic, back and abdominal stabilizers, including your obliques.

You will also be calling on the differentiation of the leg and hip that you work with in side kick front/back. Stability and differentiation challenges are consistently part of Pilates mat exercises. Side Scissors make these a little harder because you must keep your body flat while balanced on your side.

Pilates Side Scissors Exercise Instructions

Set Up

  • Lie on your side with your body lined up along the back of your mat. This just helps you get your body straight. Your top hand can be in front of you for support.
  • Your back is in a neutral spine position which means you have all 3 natural curves of your spine but none are exaggerated.
  • Your shoulders and hips are in a line and stacked vertically. Keep them there throughout the exercise.
  • Have your head down along your outstretched bottom arm with your shoulders away from your ears, or you can prop your head with your hand as shown.
  • *If you prop your head on your hand, you must keep your shoulders down, scapula engaged in the back, ribs lifted away from the mat, and head straight.
  • Send energy out the top of your head so that your neck is lengthening away from your rib cage.
  • Keep your body long and stacked, and bring your legs forward about 6 inches for stability.
  • Make sure your abs are engaged and you feel a sense of lift -- you want to be long and light in this exercise.

Step 2: Lift and Scissor Legs

Step 2: Lift and Scissor Legs

Pilates Scissors Exercise
lifted and stable. (c)2012, Marguerite Ogle

2: Lift and Scissor

  • Keep your body long and hug your inner thighs together (yes, inner thigh work is part of this exercise). Squeeze from way up at the top engaging the pelvic floor as if you wanted to pull your sit bones together.
  • Lengthen and lift both legs together away from the mat a few inches. Toes are lightly pointed. Do not let the top hip roll back or forward. Use your abdominal muscles to help you stay stacked up.
  • Quickly scissor your legs front and back.
  • Keep your legs parallel and do not let the scissor action move your pelvis or make you lose your form in any way. This means you have to allow a deep crease at the hip joint for the leg that kicks front and extend (open) the hip joint to let the back leg go back. Don't take it farther than you can stabilize the pelvis.
  • Be very precise with your scissor kicks. Keep the spacing of your kicks even front to back.
  • Perform 10 scissor kicks.

Next: Step 3: Larger Kicks

3. Pilates Scissor Kicks - Large

Pilates exercise instructions
(c)2012, Marguerite Ogle

3: Bigger Kicks

  • If you are staying long and lifted (ribs up shoulders down) with small kicks, and you are not rolling your pelvis forward or back, take a set of bigger kicks.
  • Again, be precise and even. This is a little bit like a lady walking down the street in high heels very quickly - snap, snap, snap.
  • How far you can go to the back without rolling your pelvis forward or taking it back with you is going to dictate how wide the steps are.
  • Perform 10 scissor kicks.
  • Repeat both sets, small and large, on the other side.

Do this exercise as part of the Pilates side kick series.

You might also like to try Inverted Scissors.

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