Donkey kicks are one of the best exercises for focusing on the largest glute muscle (gluteus maximus), which is the one that shapes and lifts the butt. Looking better isn’t the only advantage to training the glute max though. Strong glutes are important for good posture, back care and sport and fitness performance. This donkey kicks challenge will get your glutes working and help to improve the benefits from any other exercise you do too.
Why working the glute max is important
Humans have a more developed glute max than other animals, because it plays a major part in keeping us standing upright. This means that when it becomes weak (which it often does due to inactive lifestyles and sitting too much), posture problems develop. Weak glutes are usually accompanied by tight hamstrings, tight hip flexors, weak abs and low back problems. Unfortunately, weak glutes are hard to target because they tend to “switch off” and allow other muscles to do the work. When this happens you need to do exercises that focus specifically on the glutes – often referred to as glute activation or glute isolation exercises. Donkey kicks are ideal for isolating the glute max.
The glute max also performs the action of hip extension – taking the leg behind the body. This action is important to walking and running. Although we move forwards in these activities, as we step forward on one leg, the other leg swings back, ready to take the next step. The more powerfully it can swing back, the more powerful the forward stride.
About this workout
Fitst warm up your glutes by doing alternating lunges behind – see below.
You’ll need some cushioning for your knees – ideally a ½ inch (15mm) thick exercise mat. If you don’t have an exercise mat, then use a folded blanket or quilt.
Please read these general exercise guidelines before you do the challenge
Donkey kicks challenge – the exercises
Lunges behind to warm up
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart.
- Take your right leg out behind your body and tap your toes to the floor.
- Bring your leg back to starting position and then repeat on the left.
- Complete 16 reps (8 on each leg).
How to do donkey kicks
- Get into an all-4s kneeling position.
- Making sure you keep your back held straight and your knee flexed at 90 degrees, lift one leg up towards the ceiling. Stop when your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Lower and repeat.
How to do the crossover
- This is the same as the basic donkey kick, except that as you lower your knee, you cross it over the other one.
How to do pulses
- For pulses, take your thigh to where is it parallel to the floor, then move 1-2 inches down and up from here.
Reps for each day
The number shown is for each leg. Where there is more than one exercise, do all reps on one side and then change.
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