Do you ever ask yourself what a holistic workout is or should be like? The perfect answer is heel kick exercise.
This workout regimen is a tried-and-true warm-up for sprinters and long-distance runners alike. It works your heart rate and your hamstrings and glutes like a fistfight!
The beauty of it is that you can do it as a complete exercise, besides the short stretching workout many people use.
Another thing to remember about it – also known as the butt kick – is that anyone can do it. It is not a reserve for athletes alone.
With the correct technique and practice, heel kicks effectively improve your lower body muscles and build power.
That said, how do you do a proper heel kick? Firstly, you do not require any specialized equipment to perform this exercise. Proper form is good enough.
- Stand with your feet about hip distance apart and your arms by your side.
- Contract your hamstring muscle as you push your left heel toward your buttocks.
- Put your left foot on the ground and slowly pull your right heel to your buttocks.
- Step on each heel alternately for a few more reps, adding speed each time.
- Maintain a steady jog-like tempo by switching between your right and left heels
- Flap your arms while doing this exercise to target your upper body.
- Flap your right arm forward at a 90-degree angle if your left heel is kicking your buttocks.
- Flap your left arm forward if your right heel kicks.
- Focus on fast leg turnover in the drill for at least 30 seconds.
- Do this exercise for longer as your fitness levels improve.
WHAT MUSCLES DO HEEL KICK WORK?
The butt kick brings several muscles into action. Here is detailed information about every muscle involved.
HAMSTRINGS AND GLUTES
Your hamstrings and glutes are the primary muscles worked during the exercise.
Hamstrings are responsible for moving the knee inward and outward. They also aid in the rotation of the lower leg in a side-to-side motion while the knee is flexed.
The hamstring muscle contracts and stretches the hip during a butt kick.
On the other hand, glutes play a critical role in keeping your upright posture. They serve as a link between your lower and upper body muscles.
Standing on one leg requires strong gluteal supporting the lower back and knee flexion.
The gluteus maximus aids in hip extension and the external rotation of the hip. This muscle also keeps your knee in front of your body at all times.
When doing a butt kick, your torso should be in a straight line from your neck to your knee. And hip flexors stretch in this position.
When you bend your knee as much as possible, your quadriceps, which are the muscles extending your knee, are also stretched.
HEEL KICK BENEFITS
Many athletes do the heel kick workout because it offers much more than stretching. Here are more benefits.
BUILD EXPLOSIVE POWER
The fact that this is a plyometric type of exercise builds explosive power due to force and speed from various muscles.
Speed is an even number in this exercise, and it continually improves your acceleration when moving about.
Primary muscles involved in this workout – hamstrings and glutes – gain more endurance.
STRONGER LEG MUSCLES
The lower body muscles are more involved during a butt kick: the legs shield the entire body weight.
The kicking also builds muscular endurance in your legs.
POWER UP SPRINTING
There is a reason why heel kick training is popular among athletes – it boosts sprinting power and jumping.
Heel kicks prevent injury by extending the muscles and improving blood flow to the upper-leg area.
ALTERNATIVES TO DO HEEL KICK
Several alternatives to this workout are simple to execute. They include:
ALTERNATE WITH HIGH KNEES
As an alternative to maintaining your thighs perpendicular to the ground, high kicks might help you target a new set of muscles.
- Complete an eight-kick set.
- Start with eight low knees and then move to high knees.
- Run on the spot while lifting your knees as high as possible.
- Make sure you land on the balls of your feet
- Alternate sets of eight butt kicks and eight high knees
- Begin with a 30-second run before taking a 30-second break.
- Make sure you take a break between each set of three repetitions of this exercise.
SINGLE-LEG BUTT KICK
Your hamstrings engage smoothly with the single-leg butt kick. It also stabilizes the muscles in the lower back. Do it this way:
- Stretch your legs fully while lying face down on the floor.
- Lean your upper body on your elbows to maintain your balance.
- Your belly button should be pushed into your spine, contracting your abdominal muscles and lengthening your spine.
- Bring your right heel up to your buttocks as you take a knee bend in your right leg.
- Kick your heel three times, then bring your foot down to the ground.
- Switch to your left leg and do it again.
- Lift each leg eight to twelve times.
MOVING BUTT KICKS
Do the following if you want to conduct a high kick version with this variation.
Raise your knees in front of you.
Your heel should be touching your buttocks instead of resting on your knee.
Keep going in this direction.
Start at a slow pace, and increase the speed.
Ensure high knees touch your buttocks when sprinting.
Ensure you land softly on the ball of your foot, with your hips aligned.
Repeat three or four more times.
HEEL KICK MISTAKES TO AVOID
It is a simple exercise but requires proper form lest you sustain an injury.
The worst mistake you could make is starting at high speed because it increases a sprain’s chances.
Secondly, always have a soft landing – on the balls of your feet with a tightened core.
Heel kick is an effective and wholesome exercise that increases your speed, and leg power, among other things. More interesting is that it is easy to perform and helps burn calories effortlessly.