Skip to main content

How To Do Glute Kickbacks

What is a glute kickback?

What are glute kickbacks

See all glute kickback variations

The glute kickback is an isolation exercise which works all three gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus). It also helps to strengthen your hamstrings, calves, and core, as these muscles help to stabilise the movement. Kickbacks can be performed on all fours, or standing. Donkey kicks are a slight variation of the glute kickback, but the terms are often used interchangeably. We've shared how to do donkey kicks and glute kickbacks below!

Having strong glutes helps to protect the lower back, hamstrings, and knees, and stabilise the pelvis. While exercises like squats and deadlifts do work the glutes to some degree, glute exercises are needed if you want to build strength and size. 

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT GLUTE EXERCISES

  • Glute kickbacks are great for building strength and size of the glutes. They work all three gluteal muscles which helps to deliver all round strength, and build a fuller, more toned bum. 

  • Glute kickbacks and donkey kicks are slight variations of each other. In a donkey kick, the knee is bent at a 90 degree angle. In a glute kickback, the knee is extended. Both exercises work the same muscles but from a slightly different angle, so you can choose your favourite or do both.

  • Donkey kicks help to strengthen and grow your glutes, which over time can lead to a fuller, bigger bum. Building visible muscle gains can be a slow process, and you'll need to make sure you are progressively overloading any glute exercises. We also recommend doing multiple glute exercises each week (such as hip thrusts), not just kickbacks. 

  • Donkey kicks isolate the glutes more effectively than squats, which makes them a great alternative if your goal is to build your glutes. If your goal is to build lower body strength and size, you'll benefit from including both in your training.

Glute kickback tips

  • Focusing on form will help to get the most out of kickbacks. Use the glutes to drive the movement, and make sure to squeeze the glutes at the top of the kickback. 
  • Make sure you are using your full range of motion. Aim to kickback your leg as far as you comfortably can, rather than stopping when it starts to get challenging. 
  • Perform kickbacks later in your workout, after compound exercises like squats and deadlifts.

Glute Kickback Variations

How to do cable kickbacks

Level: Beginners to Advanced

Equipment required: Cable pulley machine, cuff attachment

  1. Attach the ankle cuff to the cable pulley and set it on the lowest setting. Attach the cuff to your ankle.
  2. Face the pulley and hinge forward by about 45 degrees at the hips. You can hold on to the pulley machine for support if needed.
  3. Engage your abs, then use your glutes to drive back your leg as far as possible. 
  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and pause for a second before slowly returning back to the starting position.
  5. Finish your reps and switch sides. 

How to do glute kickbacks

Level: Beginner 

Equipment: Exercise mat

  1. Start on your hands and knees, spine neutral, with your head facing the floor. Engage your core.
  2. Extend your right leg back (your leg should be straight) and and up as far as possible. 
  3. At the top, squeeze your glutes and hold this position for a second.
  4. Slowly return your leg back down, stopping just before your knee touches the ground. 
  5. Repeat for reps then switch sides. 

How to do donkey kicks

Level: Beginner 

Equipment: Exercise mat

  1. Start on your hands and knees, spine neutral, with your head facing the floor. Engage your core.
  2. Kick back your right leg while keeping your knee bent at a 90 degree angle.
  3. When your thigh is parallel with the floor and sole of your foot is facing the ceiling, squeeze your glutes and hold this position.
  4. Slowly lower your leg back to the start, stopping before your knee reaches the floor.
  5. Repeat for reps then switch legs.

How to do donkey kicks with band

Level: Beginners to Intermediate

Equipment: Exercise mat, resistance band (short or long)

  1. Start on your hands and knees. If using a long resistance band, loop one end around your right knee, and hold the other end in your hands. If using a short resistance band, loop around both knees. 
  2. Keeping your knee at a 90 degree angle, kick back your right leg until your thigh is parallel with the floor and the sole of your foot is pointing towards the ceiling. 
  3. Hold this position for a second while squeezing your glutes, before slowly returning back to the start.
  4. Stop before your knee hits the floor and repeat for reps.
  5. Switch legs.

   

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.