What Are Leg Kick Back Exercises?

Close up photo of beautiful shapely woman in shorts
Get a better butt with leg kickbacks. (Image: Deagreez/iStock/Getty Images)

Leg kickbacks mimic movements you may make every day. Standing on one foot and extending one leg behind you is the same movement as a kickback. This puts your hip into extension — the opposite of flexion, when you kick your leg out in front of you. Extension is one of the primary movements your glutes — especially the gluteus maximus — are responsible for. Whether you want a better-looking butt or you want to get your glute muscles firing properly for running, cross-country skiing or any other sports where proper hip extension is crucial, kickbacks are an excellent training tool.

Types of Kickbacks

You can choose from a few versions of kickbacks, depending on your training goals, fitness level and available equipment. They fall into two categories: kneeling and standing cable kickbacks.

Kneeling Kickback

These entry-level kickbacks exercise are also effective for athletes working on getting their glutes to fire properly. You don't need weights to do kneeling kickbacks, but you can add light weight with an exercise cable if desired.

How to do it:

  1. Get down on all fours on an exercise mat. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  2. Contract your core muscles and ensure your spine is straight.
  3. Without changing the angle of your knee, extend your right leg back and up until your thigh is parallel with the ground. The sole of your right foot should be facing the ceiling.
  4. Contract your glute muscle at the top of the movement and hold for a count of one.
  5. Return to your starting position without touching your knee to the ground and repeat.
  6. Do 12 to 20 repetitions, then switch sides.

To add resistance, use a resistance band of the appropriate strength. Wrap the middle of the band around one foot and place the handles underneath your palms. Extend the banded leg out behind you, but change the angle of the knee to 45 degrees to keep the band from slipping.

Young cheerful sporty attractive woman doing fitness training, exercises for hips and butt on mat, full length isolated studio image on white background
Keep your knee at a right angle. (Image: fizkes/iStock/Getty Images)

Standing Cable Kickback

When you're ready to add more weight, use a cable machine with a low pulley. While adding weight will aid hypertrophy, or muscle growth, it can also compromise form and put pressure on the low back. Be sure to keep your core contracted and slowly progress with the weight.

How to do it:

  1. Stand facing a cable machine with your ankle secured in a strap connected to a low pulley.
  2. Hold on to the pole or bar directly in front of you for support, and step back far enough that the cable connecting your ankle to the machine is taught.
  3. Stand up tall and contract your core muscles. With a slight bend in your knee, slowly extend your leg behind you as high as you can go without bending forward.
  4. Contract your glute and hold for one second at the top of the movement, then return to the starting position with control.
  5. Do eight to 15 repetitions, then switch sides.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2018 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy. The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.