Exercise Spotlight: Grasshoppers

Rynnie Cotter

The Benefits of Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are a Pilates exercise that benefits several areas of your body. When done correctly, Grasshoppers help:

  • Improve lower body flexibility
  • Strengthen several muscles including your glutes and the muscles surrounding your spine
  • Improve your overall coordination
  • Help you stretch all of your abdominal muscles

While your glutes are the primary muscles impacted by Grasshoppers, your hamstrings and lower back muscles also benefit. People who regularly incorporate Grasshoppers in their exercise routine are less likely to develop lower back injuries.

Grasshoppers are a great exercise for anyone who has been working out for a while and is ready for moderate exercises. If you’re someone who suffers from hip, lower back, or knee issues, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before attempting to perform your first set of Grasshoppers. Immediately stop doing Grasshoppers if you experience any pain in your lower back.

If you’re not sure if you’re ready to incorporate Grasshoppers into your workout routine, you should try a few and see how your body responds. While they should come easily, if it feels like it’s just too much, start out with right and left clamshells.

How to Perform Grasshoppers

To begin this exercise, spread a mat on the floor and lay on your stomach across it. Rest your forehead on your forearms and keep the muscles in your neck soft and relaxed while you work through the Grasshopper portion of your workout. You want to adjust your position until your knees are just a little wider apart than your hip width. Now it’s time to bend your knees, as you lift your legs so that your feet are touching. Once your feet are perpendicular to your knees, turn your toes out. When viewed from someone standing in the room, your legs should look like they’re forming a diamond shape.

The next step is holding your position while slowly raising your knees off the floor. It should feel like your stomach is getting flatter and that your belly button is shifting towards your spine. Ideally, you want to lift your knees 4-6 inches from your exercise mat, but if you’re a beginner, don’t be discouraged if you can only lift them a fraction of an inch. You’ll get better.

Slowly and smoothly allow your knees to rest on the mat for a second before starting the exercise all over again. You want to exhale as you lower your legs back to the mat and inhale as you lift them away from the surface. Keep your breathing steady and smooth. If you find yourself getting winded, take a break.

Grasshoppers are most effective when you do two or three in 30 seconds to one minute. Your goal is to complete four reps of Grasshoppers.

Shaking Things Up

Like most exercises, there are things you can do to shake up the Grasshoppers making them easier or more difficult. To make them easier, don’t lift your thighs as far off the ground. Have a spotter measure the distance between your thighs and exercise mat and strive to add just a little more space each week or two. Don’t forget, if you find the Grasshoppers too challenging, you can start out with right and left clamshells which help you develop the muscles and flexibility needed for the Grasshopper exercise.

If you feel that the Grasshoppers are simply helping you maintain your current fitness level, but are no longer improving it, it’s time to shake things up and make the Grasshoppers more difficult. The two ways you can do this is by adding a T-stand or half arc barrel.

Once you’ve mastered Grasshoppers, it is time to incorporate donkey kicks into your workout. 

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