Glute Kickbacks 101: Try These Butt-Building Exercises

Glute Kickbacks 101: Try These Butt-Building Exercises


Glute, booty, peach, kaboose, backside, butt. Whatever your preferred vernacular is, butt-building exercises are seemingly here to stay and we are not mad about it. If you follow fitness or wellness enthusiasts, chances are you’ve swiped through countless booty-focused “leg day” reels and TikTok videos, right? Well, there’s a reason for that, friends. 

While yes, a nice lifted backside is the result of continued and consistent glute exercises, that’s not the only reason why you should do them. Aesthetics aside, building a strong booty has some pretty amazing health benefits.

In this article, we’ll be laying out our favorite versions of the glute kickback, tips for excellent form, benefits and more.

What Is A Glute Kickback?

With a plethora of exercise names to remember, we are thankful that this one is aptly named and straightforward. During this exercise, you quite literally kick your leg back while working all three gluteal muscles. Don’t worry, we’ll get into form tips later.

But the quick answer here is that glute kickbacks are one of the best glute exercises you’ll ever do. Why? Because unlike squats and other go-to leg day exercises, kickbacks isolate all three of your gluteal muscles: the maximus, medius and minimus.  

In fact, glute kickbacks do not only help build a plump booty, they also work a broad range of other muscles in your body. Other secondary muscle groups that remain engaged while performing kickbacks  include your core, calves, quads, lower back and hamstrings. Thus, these will help tone these areas as well.

Starting to see why we love glute kickbacks yet?


photo of woman looking to the sky


As we mentioned before, a nice round booty is a huge motivator to keeping leg day consistent. However, it’s not all about looks. One of the major benefits of building a booty with kickbacks is that a strong core equals a strong back.

Increases Strength of Multiple Muscle Groups 

According to trainer of the stars, Sara Lewis, ”all the muscles in your body work together—that’s why you can’t spot reduce or strengthen just one muscle at a time. And three areas that work together a lot are your core, your butt, and your lower back.” Kickbacks will strengthen your back and core as well and that’s why we love them so much.

Isolates Your Glutes Unlike Any Other Exercise 

Secondly, kickbacks are amazing when it comes to isolating your gluteal muscles. This is one of the reasons why it’s so effective because your glutes can be super hard to isolate. 

Why is that important? Other booty-related exercises include squats, lunges, leg press and so on, give all the action to your quads and calves and treat your glutes kind of like an afterthought. This is because exercises that include larger muscle groups are likely to overcompensate for smaller muscles. 

But, with glute kickbacks you have the chance to seriously isolate your glute muscles and target your booty specifically.

Improves Balance and Stability 

Since a kickback requires a kicking motion, other muscle groups must engage in order to stabilize your body. Over time, this will improve the control you have over

When performing cable glute kickbacks, your leg moves behind you in a “kicking” motion. This causes other areas of the body to engage in order to stabilize your body. Finally, this leads to an overall improvement of the control you have over your body and increased balance and stability.

What’s more? Working your legs and booty helps to produce hormones including testosterone and cortisol. Some other notable benefits include:

  • Eases lower back pain
  • Improves posture
  • Can help reduce joint pain
  • Mental health benefits

Glute Kickbacks Variations

Don’t you hate it when someone is sitting on a popular piece of equipment, mindlessly scrolling on their phone while there is an obvious line up for it? Dude, gym edicate is definitely a thing. Kindly finish your sets and give us a turn. Right?

The good news here is that there are a few kickback variations to choose from if your go-to piece of equipment is taken.

Cable Kickback With Abduction

The cable machine is super popular at the gym as it has so many functions and exercise possibilities. So, the cable kickback is our go-to because it puts an emphasis on your gluteus medius and minimus as you squeeze at the top and slowly lower your leg back down. While it’s the same as a regular kickback, here you turn your body 90 degrees to the cable machine and lift your leg to the outside.

Glute Machine

This machine is not at all gyms, but will definitely do the job if you do happen to find it. There are few versions of this machine; some you are sitting while pushing an arm down with your leg, others will have you standing mimicking the cable glute machine.

Resistance Band Glute Kickback

Now, if you decide to skip the gym, no worries! You can still do glute kickbacks effectively while using a resistance band. All you have to do is connect between a door and a door frame and do your glute kickbacks, similar to what you’d do on a cable machine.


photo of woman staring out window

How To Do a Glute Kickback

Finally, let’s get to the juicy stuff. Now that you know the variations, let’s talk about how to do a glute kickback that will give you the best booty gains.

Since the cable glute kickback is the most popular (and mimics the proper movement no matter what machine you use) we’ll be referring to this machine. 

First, make your way to the cable machine and look for an ankle cuff attachment if it’s not already attached to the machine. 

Then, set the pulley system to the lowest possible setting and attach the ankle cuff around your ankle. If this is the first time you’re doing cable kickbacks, you may need to do a quick weight test to see what feels right. However, you can of course change the weight midway though your set.

Once you’ve set your weight, hinge from the waist and bend over so your back is almost parallel to the floor. We like to hold the cable machine with one or both hands for extra stability. 

While keeping a little bend in your planted leg and engaging your abs, contract your glute muscles and lift your other leg back as far as possible, in a slow and controlled motion.

Squeeze your glutes at the top and slowly lower back to the starting position. Repeat as many reps as you want.

Our rule of thumb is if you’re doing less weight (endurance-based) try doing 3 or 4 sets of 12-15 reps each side. If you’re opting for a heavier weight (resistance-based) then try doing 3 or 4 sets of 6-8 reps.


woman standing on treadmill at the gym

Avoid These Common Mistakes:

  • Standing up straight. Look, we’re all about having good posture. But in this case, standing up straight will mess up your range of motion and make it difficult to isolate your glutes.
  • Using momentum to make it easier. Instead of relying on momentum to perform glute kickbacks, make this movement slow, controlled and intentional. It’s so important to use the glutes to lift your leg back (not momentum) in order to get those sweet butt-building effects.

  • Range of motion is lacking. When you do not complete a full repetition, your kickbacks won’t be as effective. Be sure that you feel tension in your glutes before you lower your leg back down.

There you have it! Everything you needed to know about glute kickbacks. Thinking about giving them a try? We’d love it if you would tag us in your social media stories or reels. 

Stay bright, wellness warriors!