What Muscles Do Glute Kickbacks Work?

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There are many leg exercises you can add to your workout routine. Find out what muscles glute kickbacks work the most and whether this is enough.

Glute kickbacks are an isolation resistance training exercise that mainly works your glutes (butt), more specifically gluteus maximus, and your hamstrings (back thigh muscles).

If you use the right resistance, rep, and set ranges, glute kickbacks can help you grow and strengthen these muscles.

Your hip abductors (outer thigh muscles) and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) have to work to some extent to make sure that your leg goes through the desired trajectory.

You can also move your leg more outward instead of straight backward to focus more on your hip abductors (outer thigh muscles).

Next, your quadriceps work to some extent to keep your leg slightly less than stretched.

Additionally, your core muscles will work to a small extent to keep your spine straight.

Glute kickbacks muscles worked

The first thing to note is that whether you do glute kickbacks at home or at the gym with your body weight, a cable machine, resistance bands, ankle weights, etc. does not really influence what muscles you work.

You will focus more on certain muscle fibers within the muscles due to different amounts of tension at different points in the movement.

However, these small differences are not that important for most people.

To get a very consistent tension, the cable machine would be the best choice.

That aside, glute kickbacks mainly work your glutes (butt), more specifically gluteus maximus, and hamstrings (back thigh muscles).

These are responsible for hip extension aka bringing your thighs down and back. This is the main movement of the glute kickback exercise.

Your hip abductors (outer thigh muscles) and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) move your thighs inward and outward. These muscles work a tiny amount to keep your thighs at the right angles.

If you like the outer thigh muscle engagement, you can also move your leg more outward instead of straight backward in the glute kickback.

This modification would focus more on hip abductor muscles like your gluteus minimus, gluteus minimus medius, tensor fasciae latae, piriformis, and sartorius.

In a glute kickback with good technique, you also keep your spine more or less straight. To do this, core muscles like your abs, obliques, erector spinae, and lower back muscles have to work a small amount too.

Do glute kickbacks build muscle?

It is true that glute kickbacks are a resistance training exercise but that does not mean just doing them is enough to build muscle.

More precisely, you still have to use enough weight and do the right set and rep ranges. Besides that, enough rest and good nutrition are important for muscle gain too.

How much resistance you need for glute kickbacks depends on how strong your glutes and hamstrings already are. Luckily, there are rough guidelines to make things easier.

More specifically, to build muscle, you want to do around 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 (and potentially up to 50) glute kickbacks with resistance where you are just able to complete these sets.

Exactly how many pounds or kilograms this is depends on your personal capacity.

Over time, you will have to increase the resistance to keep growing your muscles with glute kickbacks.

In short, one of the benefits of glute kickbacks is that they make it relatively easy to challenge your glute and hamstring muscles enough to build muscle.

Make sure you also implement the right ranges of resistance, repetitions, and sets to see results.

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Where should you feel glute kickbacks?

You should mainly feel glute kickbacks in your gluteus maximus (main butt muscle) and upper hamstrings (upper part of your back thighs).

How do you target glutes on cable kickbacks?

To target your glutes on cable kickbacks you want to make sure you move your leg straight back and that you keep your knee at more or less the same angle.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.