How To Do Cable Kickbacks Properly

Cable kickbacks are one of the best movements you can use to strengthen and isolate your glutes.

Aside from working your glutes, they will also work your other lower body muscles such as your hamstrings to increase your lower body strength.

Required equipment: Cable machine, ankle cuff attachment

Setting up:

  • Adjust the pulley system to the lowest height then attach the cuff to your ankle.
  • Hinging at your waist, bend over backwards so that your back is almost parallel to the floor.
  • If need arises, hold on to the cable machine for stability.

How to do it:

  • Plant one of your legs firmly on the floor then squeeze your abs and glutes.
  • Extend the other leg backward as far you can in a controlled fashion.
  • When you get to the top of the rep, squeeze your glutes once again and slowly begin returning to your starting position.
  • Repeat this motion as many times as you desire.

If you are new to cable kickbacks, you can start with 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions per leg.

6-8 reps per set would be ideal if you are using heavier weight.



Cable kickbacks primarily work all three of your glutes; the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus.

By working all of them, this exercise helps strengthen them as a single cohesive unit.


Although it primarily works your glutes, this exercise also engages your hamstrings, calves and quads.

These muscles help provide balance and stability to your body during motion.

In addition to the three muscles, the abdominal muscles also play a part in providing extra support.



Cable kickbacks focus on isolating and strengthening your glutes to give you extra lower body strength.

Stronger glutes help improve your fitness performance in other intense lower-body exercises in the gym.

They also improve your performance in athletic movements which rely on lower body strength, such as jumping and running.


This exercise isolates your glutes, making it even easier for you to work them.

It can be particularly helpful to you if your glutes are relatively weak compared to your leg muscles.


As you extend your leg behind you, the muscles in your calves, core, ankle and quads work together to stabilize your body so that you don’t fall. This will help improve your balance.

Furthermore, doing cable kickbacks in slow and controlled motions enables your target muscles to be highly activated which in turn increases your mind-muscle connection.

Increased mind-muscle connection improves your general body balance.



The hip bridge is one of the best glute-strengthening exercises that you can opt for if you want to take pressure off your back but still get results.

It mainly targets the glutes but your hamstrings, core, lower back and calves will also benefit from it.

How to do it:

  • Start by lying flat on your back on the ground, with your feet planted and your knees bent.
  • Then, push down on the ground through your heels and tighten your glutes to lift your hips up.
  • Hold your hips up for a few seconds then lower them to the ground. That’s a complete rep.
  • Repeat as many times as you desire.


The donkey kick is a low-impact exercise that tones, strengthens and stabilizes your glutes.

If done with the correct form, it also works your core and shoulder muscles.

How to do it:

  • Get on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under the hips.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles to helps stabilize your pelvis and back. Your chin should be slightly tucked and the back of your neck flat.
  • Squeeze your glutes to activate them, and then use the tension in there to lift your right leg upward and behind you. Your right leg should have a 90-degree bend the entire time.
  • Flex the right foot a bit.
  • Lift the right leg until it gets to the point where your hips rotate or your lower back scoops down. You want to make sure your hips stay level with the floor and your back is strong and neutral.
  • Bring the right leg back to the ground and repeat the steps on it.
  • Once you have completed all the reps on the right leg, you can switch to the left leg.

10-16 reps for 3 sets would be a good place to start.

For maximal results, you can combine this movement with other lower body exercises.



Most people fail to complete their reps while doing cable kickbacks.

They instead extend their legs a few feet back then draw them back in. This could render the exercise ineffective.

The effectiveness of this exercise depends on full range of motion more than anything else. The further you can extend your legs, the more tension you will create in your glutes.

Sometimes doing partial reps can be due to using a heavy weight.

Feel free to reduce the weight if you find it too heavy so that you can focus on increasing your range of motion.


Standing up straight limits your range of motion during this movement, making it harder to work the glutes.

Instead, try to hinge slightly at your waist and bend over backwards to increase your range of motion.


Another common mistake while doing cable kickbacks is swinging your legs back using momentum. Most times this occurs when you try to lift more weight than you can comfortably control.

This could limit the effectiveness of this exercise since it reduces tension in your glutes.

To avoid using your leg, try to focus on squeezing your glutes as you extend your legs backward.

This way, you will be able to use your glutes to produce power to drive your motions instead of your legs.


If you maintain the correct form and stay consistent, cable kickbacks will not only give you a rounder, stronger and more toned butt but they will also increase your overall lower body strength.

Add them to your glute workout routine today and start enjoying their many benefits already!