Glute Kickbacks

What are glute kickbacks?

Glute kickbacks are bodyweight exercises that target the buttocks (the glutes). Glute kickbacks are simple exercises to perform but they are great for the muscles when performed correctly.

Glute kickbacks are usually performed while balanced on knees and hands on the floor. However, the exercise can also be performed from a standing position or while leaning forward.

The glutes can also be isolated for a workout using the glute machine, which uses a weightlifting machine to target the glutes.

The machine allows you increase the weight you lift, while the glute kickback bodyweight exercise uses only your own bodyweight to work the glutes, making this ideal for doing when you have no equipment or are working out in a restricted space.

glute kickbacks on floor

What muscles does the glute kickback use?

Glute kickbacks target the whole of the glutes, which includes the gluteal maximus, gluteal medius and gluteal minimus. This means the upper, middle and lower portion of the buttocks.

The glutes are vital for movement at the hips and we use the glute muscles whenever we walk or run. We also use the glutes when  squatting and climbing, and for all compound lower body exercises.

How to perform glute kickbacks

To perform glute kickbacks, support yourself on a mat or the floor on your hands and knees. Keep your hands lined up underneath your shoulders, your spin neutral and naturally straight, with thighs at 90 degrees to the ground, as though you are about to perform a box press up.

To begin the glut kickback slowly lift one leg back, keeping your knee bent, until the sole of your foot faces the ceiling and your thigh is parallel to the floor.glute kickbacks - man on floorYou can target the upper glute muscle by raising your leg higher or the lower glute muscle by keeping your leg at less than parallel to the floor.

When you leg is high you will feel a strong tension in the glutes as the muscles flex to hold the leg in position. Keep holding the position for a few seconds the release and return the leg back down to its starting position.

Alternate arm and leg extension

Perform the glute kickback exercise again using the other leg. You can also stretch out your opposite arm while lifting for an extended version of the exercise.

By reaching out your arm so that it creates one long line with your leg both parallel to the floor, you also incorporate your abdominals. the glute kickback becomes a compound exercise which also targets the abs, especially your side abs.

glute kickbacks - alternate arm and leg

Standing glute kickback

The glute kickback can also be performed from a standing position. Begin by standing up straight with knees slightly flexed and spin neutral. Slowly bend forward while lifting one leg back behind you and reaching your opposite arm out straight in front of you.

Keep your abs tensed to control your core and protect your back. Your upper body and your back leg should finish the motion in a straight line leaving you parallel to the floor. Your arm helps to keep you balanced as you lean forward.  glute kickbacks standing

Glute kickbacks with resistance band

Glute kickbacks can also be performed using a resistance band. To prepare for this simple lift, hold one end of the resistance band with your hand or around your wrist. The other end of the band should be held around the base of the foot.

To perform the glute kickback with resistance band, keep a controlled motion as you slowly push your foot back, keeping the band tightly in position across the sole of your foot. The resistance band adds more weight to the lift, making this an ideal way to increase resistance without using weight machines.  glute kickbacks - resistance band

Glute kickback and plank

Another interesting and effective way of performing the glute kickback is in combination with the plank. The plank is a bodyweight exercise that targets the abdominals.

To combine the plank and the glute kickback, you need to support your upper body on your elbows and forearms and your lower body on your toes. As you hold this plank position, raise one leg up behind you to perform a slow and controlled glute kickback.

plank glute kickback

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