How to do Cable kickbacks exercise for most effective glute work out:

Want to know about Cable Kickbacks? This is the complete and step by step guide that will clear all the things that are required for a cable kickbacks workout beginner!

What are the best glute exercise and good glute workout?

There are many exercises formed by trainers that work specifically for certain body areas. Here we will be focusing on kickbacks exercise and all about it. First of all, it is important to know how kickback workout is performed and what area it targets. You can also train glutes with Upright Exercise Bikes! Checkout Upright Exercise Bike Reviews. Before beginning any instructions on cable kickbacks workout you need to know about the glutes and then you will be introduced to step exercises for glutes.

What are your glute muscles?

You might be thinking about what is glutes in the human body. There are 3 gluteal muscles and it makes up the buttock and it includes gluteus maximum, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. Most of the exercises for glutes are Maximus gluteus exercises.

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Kickback is a way of kicking backward to an imaginary target and it is done to strengthen up glutes or triceps. For legs, kickbacks fall into two type of work out Standing Cable kickback and kneeling kickbacks and they tend to be the best glute exercises. When we are saying best it meant to be the best exercise for gluteus maximus and they are glute exercises for men.

  1. Standing Cable kickback.


While performing this you have to keep in mind that it works for the Glutes. It can be effective glute exercises for men at home with kickback exercise machine.

How to perform Standing cable kickbacks exercise:

You can perform this exercise with the use of glutes cable machine.

  • Face the machine and secure your ankle with the cable kickbacks ankle strap.
  • Make sure the strap is tight, you can grab the bar and lean back to make it taut.
  • Stand straight and start constricting the main muscle. With a minimum twist in your knee start pulling your leg back as far possible with bending forward in this way you can perform the bent leg kickbacks with using the bent leg kickbacks machine.
  • This directly works on your glutes muscle and hold on for 2 secs in the position with leg lifted and then come back to the original position.
  • Repeat this glutes workout in 10-15 repetitions and then switch sides and follow the steps again as this is known to be the best glute exercises.

2. Kneeling Cable kickbacks

This can be glute exercises with weight but it can also be performed without adding weight. This is one of the floor glute exercises that can be known as best at home glute exercise.


  • Come on the floor with hands under the shoulders alignment and knees under your hips.
  • Make sure your backbone is parallel to the ground and start contracting the main muscle.
  • Don’t switch the angle of your knees; take your leg high until your thigh is parallel to the surface of the ground.
  • Tighten your glutes muscles when your leg is high and make it one.
  • Return to your original position and repeat the sets for 10-15 times and switch sides after completing one set.

3. Cable leg extension:


This is another of top glute exercises that are known to work out for your glutes. It will work as a one-legged cable kickback for low pulley glute extensions same as cable glute exercise. For such standing kickbacks, you will need to do leg exercises on a pulley machine. It can be one of the weighted glute exercises to maximize the glute power.

  • Stand away from the low pulley and also face away. You need to put your foot in the boot that is attached to the machine through a cable.
  • Stand on one leg and start raising your knee backward for about 45º above the ground.
  • Your leg lifts for glute development and it will be one of the best lower glute exercises. Allow your leg to be linked with the cable so it is automatically pulled back.
  • Don’t raise your leg very high as it might damage the muscle. It is best to be performed on a kickback gym machine.

4. Hip hiking exercise

This will be known as side glute exercises and you to concentrate on it to know how to work your glutes. It is also best glute exercises at home and best glute workout for men, the work for the hip abduction for glutes.


  • To start this exercise stand you have to stand on the floor as it will be a standing glute exercise.
  • You have to put one of your legs on a steep and start lowering one side of the knee without bending your whole leg.
  • This glute workout will be much like single leg kickbacks.
  • You will feel one of your hips going down. Come back to the original position and repeat set of 15 and switch sides.

5. Quadruped hip extension

Quadruped hip extensions are another type of kickbacks workout and known to be the best workout for glutes. It can be performed on the Quadruped hip extension machine or you can get yourself the best glute band to perform cable kickbacks with bands.


  • Put one end of the band on the lower part of the leg and put another end on the ankle.
  • You have to face the point from where the band is attached and make yourself stable.
  • Make your head and torso straight and raise your knee back as high as you can but keeping the knee parallel to the ground for straight leg kickbacks.
  • Take yourself back to original position and repeats 15 sets.

6. Donkey kickbacks or mule kick exercise

It is done on the donkey kick exercise machine for ease but if you don’t have that you can easily start from the floor. Donkey kick machines are often available at the gym for glute extension. Such machines are known to work for cable donkey kick and donkey kickbacks exercises.


  • Get yourself a gym mat and place all four on the floor in a way that your hands under the shoulder and knees under the hips.
  • Make sure your spine is parallel to the bottom surface to avoid any back problem.
  • Start raising your leg high up to 90 º that your knee is raised to the level of your hip.
  • You don’t have to place your knee on the floor for getting back in position. Let it come only half way from what it was raised. You will work one side first as it is a single leg kickback and such are known for best gluteus Maximus exercises.
  • Repeat 10-15 sets and change the side.
  • If you are adding weight it will be hip exercise with weight.

7. Barbell Crabwalks


This works for different butt muscles and known to be barbell exercise for glutes.When you are performing this exercise it works for muscles glutes and this is an exercise for legs and glutes. You can either perform this exercise without any equipment or you can perform a resistance band crab walk that will be the best glute workout.

To perform this effective glute exercise follows the instructions below:

  • You have sat on the floor then bend your knees. Take your hand behind your butts and put your palm on the floor. This is a gluteus Maximum exercise for men so raise your glutes above from the ground for some inches.
  • You have to now walk in this position by moving your right leg forward and making your left leg straight and then tap your heel few times on the floor.
  • Once it is done return back to the original position and repeat 15 sets by switching sides.

This exercise will be great exercises for glutes and one of the best lateral exercises.

8. Kettlebell exercises for buttocks

This exercise is done with a kettlebell for glutes shape up and there are many other kettlebell glute exercises but we are showing instruction for the easy glute exercises.


The kettlebell exercise for glute exercise will be a great glute exercise. When you are checking out what exercises are good for glutes or how to exercise your glutes. You often encounter kettlebell exercises for bum listed in top 10 glute exercises. This is also included in gluteus Maximus exercises with weight more adjust in content.

Now, we will show the instructions for kettlebell hip thrust.

  • You have to put your shoulder blades on the bench and you have to spread your arms on the bench to increase your stability. If you are unable to touch the bench and put your arms on it, you have to raise your hips to about few inches above from the ground. In this way, you might be able to do it more easily.
  • When you are comfortable with putting your arms now bend your knees on 90º by making your feet flat on the floor.
  • This is a kind of butt kickback and done in the way of kneeling glute kickbacks.
  • You have a deep breath in and start to contract your core for the gluteus kickback as this will target your glut muscle.
  • It will be a bigger glute workout so you to perform a glute push down but lifting your hips up and holding on tight for some seconds. You don’t have to extend your lower back part as it might make you hurt.
  • This exercise is very amazing for glutes fitness and one of the most effective glute exercises and it will make your glute function.

There are many functional glute exercises to work on the glutes.

The above-mentioned exercises were specifically for Legs and glute by now we will have a look on one arm triceps kickbacks.

One Arm Triceps Kickbacks

As the leg exercise focus on glutes, this arm kickback will mainly focus on the building of triceps.


The instruction for performing a one arm kickback is with a dumbbell:

  • Pick up your dumbbell in your right hand and place your left foot in front or forward of your body and your right foot backward. After you have positioned your legs bend your torso a bit in the forward direction.
  • You have to start working your arms by raising your elbow backward and it will make your arm upper part parallel to the ground and start kick backing it until you feel your arm is fully extended.
  • When you want to get back to the start position lower your dumbbell in this way you will be back to the position where you have started.
  • You have to repeat one arm kickback on each of the sides in 10-15 sets and switch sides accordingly for best results.

Cable KickBacks Workout Split!

15 Reps of 3-4 Sets for Fat Loss Workout Program
7-12 Reps of 3-4 Sets for Muscle Muilding Program
5-8 Reps of 3-4 Sets with Heavy Weight for Strenth Building

Benefits of Cable leg Kick back or standing Glute kickbacks or cable butt kickbacks:

Standing glute kickbacks is one of the best workouts for glutes and it can be performed on a kickback machine or leg extension cable machine or in a way to perform kickbacks on leg extension machine. You can perform cable kickbacks at home if you have leg kickback machine and you want to do cable machine exercises for glutes. You need to have a cable kickbacks ankle strap to do the cable machine leg workout. This is one of the best glute exercises for men. You can read the instructions mentioned above to know how to do glute kickbacks on a standing glute kickbacks machine.

The exercise for glutes can be started from the glute training and you can start it by introducing glute kickbacks with weight. It can be glute training for men because it will be the best lift for glutes and formed into the most effective glute exercise or best glute workout for men for gluteus exercises. You just have to get a kickback machine to make the glute machine muscles worked.

It will develop the shape of your legs and hip as it targets the glute push. It is known to be working as glute max strengthening exercises. They are many types of exercises that work for the hip muscles and increase the hip extension. It will shape up the legs and its lower muscle and give a proper toning to your whole body.

The most famous types of exercise that are known to be working for the hips muscles are

  • Squats with barbell
  • Lunges with dumbbells
  • One legged cable kickbacks

You are recommended to repeat set of 3-4 at a time which will include repetition of 10-15 movements. It is better to perform all at the gym on a machine. It is a medium level exercise and knows to be working best for your lower body.

Machines that are used in the glute exercises:

1. Cable Kickbacks machine

This machine is used for the toning of glute muscles and it has a cable in it. The cable of the kickback machine makes you do kickbacks more easily without causing any trouble to the muscle. It will make your legs go back to the original position without causing any damage. These machines are almost available in every gym and they are known to be the most effective for the toning of glute muscle. They come in various types such as where you can perform a standing kickback and it has a shoe attached to it so you have to put your foot in the shoe. The shoe is then attached to a cable. The cable kickback machine also comes with weight and you can do kickbacks with the weight of your choice according to your strength.

Cable kickbacks machines also come in a different style where you can lay down on the machine and use it for the buildup pf your triceps. In this type of machine that works for your arms muscle you usually use it for both arms at a time.

2. Machine for Glute press

This machine is especially used for the donkey kick exercises or other similar motions. It is one of the most effective machines that are known to improve the strength of your core muscles and tone it very well. You can perform the exercise with this in a very way because it takes the complete support of your chest and you lay down your chest on the pad and start stretching and expanding your legs out from the behind and in this way your glute muscles will be stretched to the maximum. The best part about this machine is that you don’t have to bend your knees or bend your torso to perform the exercise with it. This is also easily available at almost every gym because it is very affected in the toning of glute muscles.

Variations in cable kickbacks exercise:

All of the exercises mentioned above are supposed to be working for glutes and they can be performed in different styles to obtain the maximum results. The variations for these exercises can be done by the following list below:

  • Standing

You can stand and perform this exercise, the variation is only depending on how intense of moderate you want your workout to be. Standing cable kickbacks are one of the most standard type of workout for men and it is known in top 5 glute exercises.

  • With weight

You can introduce some of the weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells in your regular glute exercise to make it more intense as it will increase the tension on your glute muscle and it tends to contract more.

  • With resistance band

It can be performed with the resistance band; this band is very effective you are doing it without a machine and in your home. It will increase the tension on your glute muscles so your legs will more contract.

  • Crab walk

Crab walk is also an intense type of workout that can be performed at home or gym. By walking in this way or upside down you have to raise your won’t body weight and even though you are not carrying any weight it will extend the tension on the contraction of your glute muscles.

  • Hip Thrust

Hip thrusting is an exercise that is done by standing, it is a moderate level exercise and you don’t have to work much hard to perform it hence you can feel comfortable in its performance.

  • Arms

When you are performing the one arm kickbacks it will make your torso to be pushed backward and your triceps muscles will come into work when it will be contracted. It will sculpt your torso and tone the muscles around the arm. It is also known to increase the strength of your upper body.

Mistakes in Cable kickbacks:

Most of the time people face muscles twist because of not performing the workout properly it is because of some possible reasons such as:

  1. Not keeping your spine straight.
  2. Bending your torso more than what is instructed
  3. Not keeping the legs in proper position.
  4. Not breathing in and breathing out properly
  5. Kick backing way to fast that might damage the muscle.
  6. Not using proper weights that is suitable for the workout
  7. Not utilizing proper machines that are specially made for the working of specific muscles.
  8. Overworking on the machines by not relaxing your muscles in between of the exercise.

Why Cable Kickbacks exercise important?

This exercise is very important if you’re specifically looking forward to building up your glutes muscles and triceps. There are many variations available and you can perform it according to any whichever suits your best. It can perform with the weight and without the weight or just by using your own body weight. Resistance bands and machines can also be used and can be performed at the gym with a kickback machine or just simply at home. You can even include different type of weight equipment such as dumbbells and kettlebells in your exercise. When you are using low-intensity weight it will enhance the development of your muscle. It will extend the torso and tone your legs better than the performance of any other exercise. It is known to be the best exercise for triceps and glutes and usually listed in top 10 exercises for men.

Hope you got everything about Cable Kickbacks in this guide and your all doubts has been cleared. See you in action and have a nice fitness journey! Share with other fitness freaks around you about this best cable kickbacks guide!

Top 5 Bad Glute Exercises and What to do Instead

But first we tackle some of the myths around training your glutes…

Glute Training Myths Busted

If you really want to train the glutes, you need to understand the main movements that the glutes are responsible for.

You also need to understand the fundamentals of muscle growth so we can effectively apply the right stimulus to build those glutes.

Time for the most results-based personal training company in the world to put some of these booty building myths to rest.

For physique, there are two main reasons that people train their glutes. To either build size and shape (or booty), or to try and shrink it.

What we’re really talking about when we talk about developing the glutes is adding size to the muscle, shaping your bum.

What people are talking about when they train their glutes because they want a smaller bum is what we call spot reduction – unfortunately, this is impossible. Training your glutes will not make your bum smaller. Let’s look at why.

You can’t spot reduce fat

Search around anywhere online for ‘bum building workouts’ and ‘bum slimming workouts’ and you’ll probably get many of the same exercises.

How would the same exercises both build AND reduce the glutes?

The answer is – they don’t.

Just because you’re working a muscle in a certain area, doesn’t mean you’re burning fat on that area.

When you do an ab crunch, you don’t burn stomach fat. So, workouts claiming to be ‘bum slimming’ are just flat out false advertising.

When you train the muscle of the glute, you’ll build muscles on your glutes if you accompany that training with the right nutrition.

This will build the size and shape of your glutes. However, you’ll need to be in a calorie surplus (at least sometimes) to achieve this.

If you are in a calorie deficit, you’ll lose fat. If you happen to be doing a ‘The Ultimate Bum Burning Workout v2’ from YouTube, that’s just coincidence.

You lost fat on your butt because you were eating well for your goal – the workout itself didn’t burn fat on top of the glutes!

So to be clear, if you’re training your glutes because you want them to be smaller, you’re wasting your time. Every single glute exercise is a bad glute exercise for burning fat on the glutes.

If that’s the goal, check out some of the many articles on training (and eating) for fat loss on our website.

With that myth (that keeps hanging around), out of the way, let’s get talking about the best and worst exercises to develop your glutes.

What do the glutes do?

To properly train all fibres of the glutes (gluteus maximus to give them their full name), we must consider all the ways that the glute moves the leg. The glutes perform three main movements. They extend, abduct and externally rotate the leg.

Extension of the leg would be a glute kickback.

Abduction of the leg is when the leg is lifted out to the side away from the centre line, like when taking a step to the side.

External rotation is when the leg turns outward, pointing the feet out like a duck.

So, the best exercises to work the glutes need to cover these three main actions of the muscle, while adhering to the three fundamental principles of hypertrophy discussed above.

How to Get Great Glutes

If you want to develop your glutes these four main principles will help develop them fast.

1.Muscle Tension

Time under tension is essential for muscle growth. We always try and ensure muscles stay under tension when training for hypertrophy (muscle development). One way to do this is to keep the muscle you are working ‘squeezed’ – never relaxing it. Actively squeezing a muscle throughout the exercise will keep it under constant tension.

To properly achieve this, you need to learn the movement first. Only then can you start using the squeeze to create a strong ‘mind-muscle connection’ to the working muscle. If you don’t have a strong mind-muscle connection to the glutes, you’ll struggle to engage them and make them the prime mover in the exercises we talk about later.

2. Load

If you don’t place enough load through a muscle, it won’t grow. That doesn’t mean that the weight needs to be heavy by any means. You should have perfect technique and a good mind-muscle connection before loading. When you do start loading, it shouldn’t compromise that technique or that squeeze – if it does, it was too heavy.

The optimal time under tension for muscle growth is between 20 and 90 seconds, so any weight that doesn’t lead to failure by the end of 90 seconds wasn’t heavy enough.

If you can perform an exercise for over 90 seconds before reaching failure, it’s not a good exercise for growth. This applies to quite a few of the popular but misguided exercises that we’ll look at next.

3. Eccentric

The eccentric (lowering) portion of an exercise has the greatest impact on muscle growth.

Therefore we focus on slow eccentrics during our hypertrophy training.

If you want to build the glutes, then exercises that have an eccentric component are important. They must also allow you to control the eccentric phase properly.

This lets you increase the amount of time spent during the eccentric phase of the lift as well as generally increasing the time under tension for the set.

4. Proper Range

If the exercises you perform for your glutes aren’t taking the muscles through their full range of motion, you’ll get poor development.

Does every exercise need to take the glutes from full flexion to full extension? No, but a proper glute workout should target the lengthened, middle and fully contracted ranges of the glute.

With these principles in mind, here are the top five bad glute exercises we see performed in the gym all the time, and what to do instead.

Bad Exercise #1 – Glute Kickbacks

The glute kickback seems to have become the staple exercise of nearly every glute workout in the world. Done to death in all its variations, from cable to bodyweight in every angle imaginable, this must be the most popular terrible exercise out there.

It seems great – it’s one of the few exercises that isolates hip extension and as a result you can ‘feel the burn’. But here’s why it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

The classic glute kickback or ‘donkey kick’ is performed on all fours with body weight. There’s just no load. You may be able to produce a bit of tension by just squeezing the glutes but the weight of your leg just isn’t enough load to produce any significant results.

Performing the kickback with an ankle strap on the cable is getting more common to try and combat this.

However, this generally makes the exercise more difficult to isolate. Often the lower back (or whole body) become in involved to try and swing the weight up.

As a result, all tension is lost from the glutes and the eccentric phase is completely neglected. No good for building great glutes.

Do Instead – Romanian Deadlifts

The Romanian deadlift offers many of the same benefits of isolation as the glute kickback, but allows you to properly load the exercise. It can be tough to maintain tension in the glutes on this exercise if you are unpractised with the technique.

Once your technique is well grooved, however, you’ll find that squeezing the glutes and maintaining tension becomes easier and your glutes will start developing faster than ever before.

Bad Exercise #2 – Abductor Raises

The abductor raise is from the same family as the glute kickback. You know the one, right?

Just lay on your side and just raise your top leg up a thousand times or so.

The positive is that it works the glutes in abduction which not many exercises do. The negatives are that there is no load and very little tension.

This is one of those ones that you’ll see performed for minutes at a time, hundreds of reps.

An exercise that is light enough to be done for such high reps will have no impact on the muscle’s development – it’s a waste of time.

Do Instead – Abductor Machine

This often under-rated machine works the glutes in nearly the exact same way to the abductor raise, but you can load it. It, therefore, allows you to progressively overload the exercise by adding extra weight and creating higher levels of tension.

Bad Exercise #3 – Half Squats

People don’t intentionally half squat – but many do. Sometimes it’s not knowing any better, other times it’s a lack of range of motion or it could just be letting the ego pick the weight.

Not squatting with full depth will limit glute development and could place excess strain on the lower back and knees.

Do Instead – Full Range Squats

To clarify, this means hamstrings fully covering the calves or ‘ass to grass’.

A full range squat is not just down to hip crease just past the knees. That may be acceptable competition depth in powerlifting, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. The glutes must work harder and are better recruited when the crease in the hip is at maximum – when well below parallel in the squat.

Therefore, to properly train the glutes through their full range you must squat all the way down.

This is a great exercise for working the glutes in extension because they are taken from full flexion to nearly full extension with each rep.

Bad Exercise #4 – Box Jumps

Believe it or not, we’ve seen this one on quite a few glute workouts. Yet there is no load, very little eccentric, no tension and no range. If you want to avoid every single one of the fundamentals of physique development, then this is the exercise for you.

Box jumps are a great plyometric exercise for developing explosive power in athletes when performed for low reps. They may work as a metabolic conditioning exercise in very skilled and well-trained individuals with athletic backgrounds, which could aid fat loss. What they are not (really, really not) are a ‘booty shaping’ exercise.

Do Instead – Lunges

Lunges will elicit greater glute activation because the hip goes through a much greater range of motion.

In addition, you can load them, unlike the box jump. Lunges are also superior for metabolic conditioning. They are a much more efficient and safe way to raise the heart rate and deplete the muscles of the lower body for optimum fat burning.

Bad Exercise #5 – Side Steps with Bands

First, let it be said, if this exercise is being used for glute activation, then it’s a great exercise for that purpose. If it’s being used to build the glutes, then it’s not a great exercise.

There are two main issues with this exercise for glute development. The first is that there is no eccentric – no lowering of the weight. Since this is so heavily associated with muscular development, any exercise with no eccentric has limited uses.

In addition to this, the load is not consistent or measurable. Yes, different bands might have different tension but they can stretch over time, changing the tension they provide.

In addition to this, the stimulus isn’t consistent. This is because you might step 30cm sometimes and other times step 40cm, which changes the ‘load’. This is because how much tension the band gives is directly related to how stretched it is. This makes it very difficult to progressively overload.

Do Instead – Reverse Hyperextensions

The reverse hyperextension is a great exercise to target the glutes in extension.

It can also be used to train the glutes in external rotation if the legs are allowed to twist outward slightly at the end of the range. There are not many exercises that target this action of the glute which makes the reverse hyper a great inclusion to any glute workout.

Final thoughts…

Don’t make these five big glute training mistakes. If you want to sculpt your physique, anything less than the best exercises just won’t cut it – unless you want to spend the next 10 years chasing a dream without making it your reality!

Want to train with world-class personal trainers and get a taste of the real UP training experience?

Psst! Hey you. Yeah, you, in the weight room. You may be working hard, but here’s betting you’re not working to your full potential—or seeing the results that you should. That’s because that machine you’re on (or that technique you’ve been taught, or that routine you’ve fallen into) isn’t really all its cracked up to be. To offer you some better ways to strengthen and condition, we talked to personal trainers Tom Holland and Lance Cummings—two guys who coach indoor and outdoor elite athletes, and who have seen plenty of inefficient, overrated, or even downright dangerous exercises in their day. Here’s what they wish they could say to those guys in the gym, and the moves they’d like to prescribe them instead.

Hip Abduction/Adduction Machines

(Photo: YPB/Flickr)

Most machines that involve (a) sitting and (b) toning just one muscle group aren’t worth your time, says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and Chief Fitness Officer of Austin-based Motility Training, LLC. “They may be helpful to beginners, to help get you strong—but then you should really move away from the machines pretty quickly,” he says. Why? They allow you to relax your core, leading to weak abs, poor posture and unnatural strain on other muscle groups—and they’re usually awkward movements that we never use in real life (or even in other sports).
Instead, try: Standing hip abduction and adduction. Stand next to a cable machine and strap the ankle cuff to the ankle farthest from the machine. (You can also tie a wide, flat resistance band around a stationary post and loop your ankle through that.) Stand on the opposite leg and raise your cuffed leg straight out to your side for abduction, with the cable acting as resistance. For adduction, switch legs or rotate your body so that the cuff is on the ankle closest to the machine, and bring your lifted leg across your body. Even though you’re only moving one hip at a time with this variation, Holland says, you’re also working your core—and more muscles throughout your legs—at the same time.

Leg Extension Machine

(Photo: Technogym/Flickr)

The seated leg extension or knee extension machine has similar problems, says Lance Cummings, training director at SEALFit (a training center staffed by former Navy SEALS) in Encinitas, California; it’s too easy to forget about sitting up straight and engaging your core. Plus, he adds, “Anything that sits you in a machine is going to limit your range of motion and mobility.” The leg extension machine also adds unnecessary stress on the ACL, a Mayo Clinic study found, which can be especially risky for athletes who are already hard on their knees.
Instead, try: Freestanding squats and lunges. In the same Mayo Clinic study, squats were found to put less stress on the joints and better strengthen the quads. The researchers determined that “closed-chain kinetic exercises,” in which the foot is fixed on the ground and the joints all move together, were safer than “open-chain” ones in which the foot hangs free and the foot, knee, and hip joints all move independently.

Smith Machine

(Photo: Sandra Copra/Flickr)

This machine allows you to squat with a weighted bar, without worrying about dropping it on yourself as you go (you can secure it at any time if it gets too heavy). But a University of Saskatchewan study found that squats with free weights boosted muscle activity 43 percent more than those done on the Smith Machine. The fixed track that the bar travels on forces you into an awkward position, says Cummings, allowing you to only move the bar straight up and down, rather than a more natural down-and-back as you bend your knees.
Instead, try: Flipping a tire. Sure, you could do free-weight squats too—but for an even more functional, full-body workout, Cummings suggests getting out of the gym. “Pick up a tire and flip it 20 times,” he says. “That’s going to work not just your legs, but also your lower back, your arms, and your core.”

Kipping Pull-Ups

(Photo: Petranek Fitness/Flickr)

Another exercise that can be killer on the rotator cuff, says Cummings is the kipping pull-up—a move that involves swinging or kicking on the pull-up bar to gather enough momentum to hoist yourself up. It’s often used by beginners working their way up to to full pull-ups (or by anyone who’s burnt themselves out and is too tired to keep doing them unassisted), but Cummings worries about the prospect of injury and sloppy technique. “Once your form starts being compromised, it’s time to shift to a different movement or get off the bar and rest until you can do more quality reps.”
Instead, try: Assisted pull-ups with bands. If you can’t do full pull-ups without wriggling around too much on the bar, use a looped resistance band to make it easier. Loop the band through itself around the pull-up bar to secure it in place and place your feet in the opposite end so that it helps to pull you up.


(Photo: Resistance WEar)

“You wouldn’t do bicep curls only halfway and expect to get full muscle development, so why should you do crunches that only use half of your abs’ range of motion and expect to get full ab development?” says Cummings. Crunches will strengthen your middle abdominals, he adds, but it leaves the upper and lower muscles unchallenged— and, therefore, unchanged.
Instead, try: Sit-ups on a stability ball. Sit on a large stability ball and walk yourself forward just enough so that when you lean back, your shoulders, back, and tailbone are supported across the top of the ball. Place your hands behind your head and tuck your chin slightly as you perform a crunching/sit-up motion, curling up until just your upper back is off the ball. Slowly uncurl, allowing yourself to come back to your starting position across the ball. Because you are leaning back slightly more than you would on the ground, this move increases your range of motion, says Cummings—and also the range of muscles you’re working as you move.

Russian Twist

(Photo: Yavomo/Flickr)

“This is a good movement—but most people don’t do it right,” says Holland. “They sit down and lean back and they tap a medicine ball from one side to another, but they basically just turn it into an arm movement and nothing else.” The move should be executed with the ball held straight out in front and small twists coming from the core. But even for people who start out doing it correctly, it’s easy to get lazy and fall back into bad habits, he says.
Instead, try: Side plank with rotation. “The plank is a fantastic movement, and one that most people can do correctly,” Holland says. To make it more like the Russian Twist, add in side planks on either side, complete with “threading the needle” twists. From the side plank position with your top arm in the air, bring your extended arm down and tuck it under your body as you twist forward, bringing your torso almost parallel with the ground and your arm hovering beneath your chest. Rotate back to side plank and raise your arm overhead again, then repeat several times on both sides.

Strength Moves Standing on a Bosu

(Photo: Focus Fit Gym/Flickr)

“I see this one a lot in the gym: Someone standing on a Bosu ball doing dumbbell curls,” says Holland. Moves that work more than one body part are generally a good thing, he explains—except when one component cancels out or sabotages the other. “Sure, you’re activating your core when you stand on the Bosu, but then you’re unsteady and wobbly, and you can’t lift as much with your biceps.”
Instead, try: Bicep curls and balance work—separately. “You’re better off tackling each part of this independently,” Holland says. “If your goal is to strengthen your arms, focus on your arms and do bicep curls on solid ground.” If you’ve got proper form and technique, you should already be engaging your core, he adds. Save the more intense balancing acts for yoga class—or at least for a time when you’re not trying to juggle a heavy, potentially dangerous dumbbells in each hand.

Glute Kickback

(Photo: Train Body and Mind)

This move, often referred to as the “Donkey Kick” or “Butt Blaster” machine, feeds into the myth that you can “spot reduce” fat on just one part of the body, Holland says. “More women use this, but I see men on it too—thinking that they’re going to tone their glutes and reduce fat deposits on their butt, and it just doesn’t work,” he says. The move involves resting on your forearms and one knee while you kick the other leg up and back behind you, pushing against a weighted platform.
Instead, try: Step ups. “If you want to get outdoors, use a bench and step up on it using one leg 15 or 20 times, then switch to the other leg,” says Holland. “That’s a much more natural movement that happens in the real world, and that’s going to strengthen the entire leg rather than just targeting one muscle group.”

Barbell Deadlift

(Photo: Reactive Gym/Flickr)

“This is another great movement and it can be very effective, but it’s too advanced for most people,” says Holland, referring to the act of bending at the knees to lift a (usually very heavy) barbell from the ground to about waist height. “Most trainers don’t even teach it correctly. It’s vey high-risk, and it’s much easier to get hurt than it is to do it right.” (Two common mistakes, according to the American Council on Exercise: Arching the back too much during lifting and lowering, and not raising and lowering your hips and shoulders together.)
Instead, try: One-legged floor touch. Balance on one leg with your standing knee slightly bent, and hinge at the waist until you can just touch the ground with your fingertips—10 to 15 times per leg. “You can do this indoors or outdoors, and it’s much safer,” says Holland. “You’re not loading your spine, you’re working on balance and coordination, you’re activating your hamstrings and your glutes—it’s very functional.” Want to add weight? Hold onto a dumbbell or medicine ball, but nothing too heavy. “It’s all about slowing down the movement and engaging the muscles, rather than loading it up with weight and encouraging back problems.”

Tabata Training

(Photo: Wild Training/Flickr)

This buzzword is making a big splash in the world of high-intensity interval training: Essentially, it’s a type of workout that includes 20 seconds of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. In a 2013 Auburn University study, Tabata was found to burn 13.5 calories a minute, and to double a person’s metabolic rate for half an hour afterward. The problem, Holland says, is that most people don’t work hard enough during those 20 seconds intervals: “Gyms have watered it down, so that when they incorporate it into a fitness class it’s not nearly intense enough,” he says. “You need to be past 100 percent of your VO2 max—really going all out—for it to have those kinds of results.”
Instead, try: Mixing up different routines. Tabata is a good thing to incorporate into a longer workout, if you’re really going to push yourself with all-out explosive moves like sprints or burpees, says Holland. But on the days you don’t have it in you, it’s probably more effective to focus on longer, lower-intensity intervals. Plus, it helps to mix up your routine and challenge your body in new ways, he adds. Just as you shouldn’t jog the same three-mile loop of your neighborhood every day, for example, you also shouldn’t let yourself get complacent with the same types of intervals, either.

Filed To: Strength and Power TrainingInjury PreventionCoreAbsLegs Lead Photo: CREATISTA/iStock

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  • Cardio Equipment
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    • Pilates Machines
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    • Functional Trainer Machines
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    • Dumbbells
    • Dumbbell Racks & Weight Racks & Barbell Holders & Weight Trees
    • Weight Plates
    • Functional Training Equipment
    • Kettlebells
    • Barbells
    • Medicine Balls
    • Boxing Equipment
    • Gym Flooring
    • Stretching & Yoga
    • Machine Attachments
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Glute Machine

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What is the glute machine?

The glute machine is an isolation exercise for the lower body. The user stands still and rests forward on the machine, lifting their weight by moving their leg backward using their glute muscles.

The movement created by the glute machine is sometimes called the glute kickback. This movement can also be performed as a bodyweight exercise.

What muscles does the glute machine work?

The glute machine works the glute muscles and to a lesser degree the hamstrings. These are the muscles around your buttocks: the gluteal maximus, gluteal medius and gluteal minimus.

The glutes are important muscles in the body, providing support to the upper body and assisting in mobility by helping move your hips.

The glutes are powerful muscles, which are worked by any walking or running movement, as well as squats. The glutes are involved in all compound lifts for the lower body.

The glute muscles are also used as stabilising muscles for movements using the upper body.

How to use the glute machine

To use the glute machine (sometimes called the glute kickback machine), you first need to choose the appropriate weight for this strong muscle. Adjust the height of the leg pad so that it rests just behind your knee.

Stand at the machine with your leg in front of the pad. At this starting position, your knee should be lifted forward with the pad positioned comfortably under it.

Hold the bar in front of you for balance and keep looking forward. Sometimes there are arm pads to rest your forearms on. There will also be a front pad for resting your stomach/hip area on. You should lean forward onto this and keep your back straight.

To begin, push your knee down and bring your leg back up behind you slowly to lift the weight. Keep looking forward throughout the motion with your non-working leg held stable.

Hold the lift at the top of the movement for a few seconds, then slowly lower the weight by bringing your leg forward and knee up at the end of the movement.

Sometimes the glute machine or glute kickback machine can also be used in more of a standing posture with the foot pushing straight back to lift the weight, rather than the leg pushing upwards and backwards.

Cable kickbacks for glutes

You do not have to use a glute machine to lift weights using your glutes. A cable machine can also be used effectively to target the glutes.

Simply attached your ankle to the cable and steady yourself by holding the bar in front of you. Slowly move your leg back using your glute muscles to lift the weight.

At the top of the movement you will feel a tension in the glutes, hold for a few seconds, then slowly release the weight by moving your leg forward, bringing it back down to touch the stack.

As with all lifting movements, try to perform the cable kickback for glutes in a slow and controlled movement. The controlled release is just as important as the lift for working the muscle.

The glute machine is ideal for finishing off a legs workout if you want to target the whole buttock area.

An alternative for when you are not at the gym is to perform the glute kickback as a bodyweight exercise. This is a simple exercise that can be performed lying down or standing up with limited space.

How to Do Cable Machine Glute Kickbacks with Proper Form, According to Emily Skye

Zyabich/Getty Images

If you’re iffy about your form while doing glute kickbacks on the cable machine, you should definitely tune in to Emily Skye’s recent Instagram post. The trainer posted a comprehensive breakdown of how to do the move to clear up all your questions. (Related: Why Your Butt Looks the Same No Matter How Many Squats You Do)

In her video, Skye said she often sees gym-goers doing cable machine glute kickbacks with less-than-stellar form. For starters, people tend to go too heavy on the weight, she explained. “You want to start with a weight that is fairly light,” she said. “A common mistake people make is they put too much on the pin machine and it’s way too heavy and then they’re using their body to get their leg up. Then the glute’s not doing all the work so it defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.” Many people also allow their back to curve, which can lead to a lower back injury, she added. (Related: The 30-Day Butt Challenge That Seriously Sculpts Your Booty)

In the video, Skye clipped an ankle-strap attachment to a cable machine and wrapped it around one ankle. (You can get one on Amazon if your gym doesn’t have one.) She began the exercise leaning forward slightly, feet together, with her back straight and core engaged. Then, with her glutes engaged and leg slightly turned out, she kicked her leg up and back with control, paused at the top, then lowered it back down.

Note that while Skye demonstrated glute kickbacks on a cable machine, some gyms also have a dedicated glute kickback machine. You can also perform glute kickbacks with a long or mini resistance band, or with just your bodyweight (either standing or on hands and knees), and get a similar glute workout. Skye’s form tips still stand, regardless of which type of kickback you’re doing: It’s important to make sure you’re engaging your glute and not arching your back.

In her caption, Skye stressed that if your main goal is glute muscle growth, you shouldn’t just be relying on glute kickbacks. “I think it’s definitely a bonus exercise you can add into your glute day (providing you have good technique) but don’t expect much glute growth if it’s the only exercise you’re relying on ‘to grow your butt,'” she wrote. “In my opinion, nothing beats hip thrusts, lunges, deadlifts, squats, step-ups, bridges, split squats, etc. for glute building and strengthening!!” (And remember, focusing too much of your efforts on butt workouts can lead to muscle imbalances.)

Recap: Stay light enough to keep your back straight and core engaged, and don’t expect insane growth from kickbacks alone. With those pointers in mind, you won’t have to just *hope* you’re doing them right.

Glute kickback cable machine

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