Doing donkey kicks can definitely offer benefits but how many you do and what resistance you use will impact your results a lot.
Donkey kicks are an exercise you typically do for its glute (butt) and hamstring muscle growth and strengthening potential.
To achieve these goals you preferably want to do 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 donkey kicks with a resistance where you can barely complete these sets and repetitions.
That being said, even more high-repetition sets (up to around 50 repetitions and potentially more) can help you grow and strengthen your muscles if you really push yourself to muscle failure.
If your glutes and hamstrings are not that strong yet, it could be possible that bodyweight donkey kicks are initially challenging enough to get to the amounts above.
As you get stronger, your muscles will need more of a challenge to keep growing and becoming stronger. At this point, you can start doing weighted donkey kicks to stay in the ranges above.
What do donkey kicks do to your body?
Before going into detail about how many repetitions you need to do, it is important to know why you would do donkey kicks in the first place.
Donkey kicks are mainly a resistance training exercise. In simpler words, doing donkey kicks in the right ways makes your body grow and strengthen certain muscles.
More specifically, this exercise mainly works your glutes (butt) and hamstrings. That means doing donkey kicks with the right repetition ranges, resistance, nutrition, and rest will make your bum bigger, not smaller.
How many donkey kicks should you do to build muscle?
To achieve the main goal of donkey kicks, aka grow and strengthen your muscles, you have to do them in the right amounts, do them with enough pressure, give your body enough nutrients, and rest enough.
How much is enough will ultimately depend on your current strength level and body. However, there are some general guidelines about how many donkey kicks you should do and whether to do them weighted or not.
Bodyweight donkey kicks
Many people think that you absolutely have to use weights but this does not apply to everyone and every muscle. Some publications conclude that only 30% of your 1 RM (1 rep max weight) can be enough to grow muscles (1).
In simpler words, if you can barely complete 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 50 donkey kicks, you can implement these amounts of sets and repetitions and really push yourself to failure to build muscle.
Weighted donkey kicks
That being said, it is true that the glutes and hamstrings are relatively strong muscles. For many people, bodyweight donkey kicks will be too easy to stay in the ranges above.
Additionally, it can be hard and uncomfortable to really push yourself to muscle failure in sets with a lot of repetitions.
For these reasons, you will likely want to do consider doing donkey kicks with extra weights to see more and faster progress in a more comfortable and time-efficient way.
Some examples of how to do weighted donkey kicks include ankle weights, resistance bands, and a medicine ball clamped between your leg.
Generally speaking, you want to use a weight where you can barely do between 3 to 6 sets of 6 to 25 donkey kicks per side.
That being said, similar to the bodyweight donkey kick ranges above, you can grow and strengthen muscles with higher repetition ranges too if you push enough to muscle failure.
You want to do workouts like these for at least 2 to 4 weeks to see glute and hamstring muscle growth results.
Should you do them every day?
Something important to note is that resistance training exercises like donkey kicks damage the muscles they work. This may sound bad but actually starts a variety of growth and strengthening processes.
At the same time, your body still needs time (and nutrients) to repair and grow the muscles. If you work the same areas too soon, you could interrupt these processes and in turn, reduce results.
Smaller muscles like for example your forearms tend to recover more quickly so you can train them more often.
However, since donkey kicks work big muscles like your glutes and hamstrings, you generally don’t want to do them every single day.
It is generally a good idea to implement at least one extra rest day in between workouts for the same muscles.
On these days, you can still do resistance training exercises for other muscles and cardiovascular workouts.