Butt Kicks, also known as butt kickers or bum kicks, are a great little exercise to get your blood flowing, and your lower body muscles fired up.
It’s commonly used by athletes to improve lower body performance and prevent injury, and this equipment-free, calorie-burning activity can be done from anywhere. And while it may look simple and easy, it can be challenging with enough intensity, or you can simply use it as a warmup/stretching exercise.
In this article, we’ve provided information on the muscles involved, exercises instructions, tips, variations, and how to incorporate into your exercise regime.
Here’s a guide to butt kicks…
In This Exercise:
|Butt Kicks Exercise Guide|
|Warmup/stretch||Compound||Thighs, Calves, Hamstrings and Glutes|
Butt kicks are a good lower body bodyweight exercise. Here are the main muscles involved in this activity.
The thighs or quadriceps are a four-headed muscle located on the front of the upper leg. Its primary function is hip flexion and knee extension. During butt kicks, the thighs are stretched when the feet are lifted behind the body.
The gastrocnemius and soleus are the calf muscles, located on the back of the lower leg. They function to plantarflex the foot and ankle and are largely involved in jumping and running. During a higher impact variation of butt kicks, the calves play a big role in the movement.
The hamstrings are located opposite the thighs, on the back of the upper leg, and are composed of three muscles: semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. The primary function of the hamstrings is hip extension and knee flexion. The hamstrings are highly involved in explosive lower body movements such as sprinting and jumping.
During butt kicks, the hamstrings generate extension force at the hip and resist knee extension.
The glutes or butt muscles consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus is responsible for most of the butt’s shape, and function and its primary function is to extend and externally rotate the thigh. It can also act as an extensor when force is necessary (e.g. from sitting to standing).
How To Do Butt Kicks
Butt kicks are not a complex exercise at all and most people in decent shape can do them.
To do it:
- Kick one foot behind up your body aiming to touch your butt, then do the same using the other leg. Start at a slower pace and if you’re physically capable, pick up the pace so that you’re jumping from leg to leg. Perform this drill for at least 30 seconds.
Here’s a video example…
Butt Kicks Tips
- If you suffer from knee pain, do these slow without the jumping motion.
- Land on your toes when performing but kicks. Don’t land flat-footed.
- Snap your feet back when doing these at a faster pace and involve the hamstrings.
- If you can’t kick your heels to your butt, continue to stretch and practice by doing a little at a time until you’re able to.
- Involve the arms if it helps to get a better rhythm going.
Here are three variations that you can do to increase the difficulty of butt kicks and really challenge yourself.
Moving/jogging butt kicks
Perform the exercise as explained above but rather than stand in one place, jog forward while kicking your butt! This should transfer better to more athletic activities and training. If you want to take it up a notch, you can do running butt kicks.
Single-leg butt kick
Think you can handle a more challenging and explosive variation? Try single-leg butt kicks. It requires more balance and coordination and works the muscles involved to a greater degree. Feel free to take your time at first and progress as you’re able.
High knees with butt kicks
This variation simply involved performing several seconds of high knees alternated with butt kicks. For example, you’ll perform high knees for 10-15 seconds, followed by 10-15 seconds of butt kicks.
How To Incorporate Butt Kicks Into Your Training Routine
Butt kicks are a versatile exercise because you can use it as a warmup, to prevent hamstring injury, to improve your cardio fitness, to stretch out your quads, improve your lower body explosiveness, and as part of your sports training.
If you’re just using butt kicks for the quads stretch and to warm up your hamstrings, or you want to minimize the impact on your joints, then you can do them at a slower pace, no worries.
For better application to sports and explosive movements, we advise picking up the pace and doing these more quickly, to effectively recruit the hamstrings in a more athletic manner.
We recommended doing 3-4 sets of 30 seconds total, at least at first, to get anything out of butt kicks. Then when you’re more advanced, you can increase the duration according to your goals.
To benefit even more from butt kicks, try out the variations that we’ve provided as they do add an additional and more beneficial element to this exercise or activity.
Butt kicks are a simple activity that almost anyone can do, and because you don’t need any equipment, that means you can do it anywhere which is very convenient. Whether you do it as a warmup, explosive lower-body exercise, cardio activity, or include it as part of your athletic training, there are benefits to be had. Just make sure to start off slow if you’re a beginner and gradually pick up the intensity to get the full experience.