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Cable Glute Kickbacks – How To, Muscles Worked, Form & Tips

What is a cable Kickback?

Cable Glute Kickback is a cable exercise that targets mainly your glutes. The Glute kickback is a good leg exercise that develop and strengthen the glute muscles.

The Glutes are the largest and strongest muscles in the human body, consisting of three parts, gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus. These muscles are responsible for ensuring the stability of the pelvis and hip movement maintenance.

In this article we would cover the muscles used when performing this exercise and take you through a step by step guide on how to perform the exercise with proper form.

It doesn’t matter if you want to get stronger, more athletic or even just look better, glute kickbacks need a place in your routine!

Cable kickbacks is an exercise that though may look easy, it takes skill and coordination. It is a lot tougher than you may realise.

Why Do Cable Glute Kickbacks?

Strong glutes not only look good, they serve an important purpose. Your glutes help you to maintain balance, without which, you would fall forward anytime you were walking. The glutes are the biggest, and often, strongest muscle in your body. Especially if you’re J-LO or a Kardashian… The glutes are connected at the tailbone or coccyx, and other surrounding bones. It is responsible for the movement of your hips and thighs.

Standing, jumping, climbing stairs, and even standing up all involve your glutes and when they become weak, it can cause:

  • Poor posture,
  • Unexplained knee or hip pain,
  • Inability to stand on one leg,
  • Lower back pain, and
  • Heel pain and inflammation.

Weak glutes not only impact your physical performance but your day to day life too.

What Muscles Are Worked?


Here are the muscles worked during cable kickbacks:

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus
  • Hamstrings

There’s the assumption that only squats and lunges are the way to build stronger glutes. This is true, but it is important to understand that squats and lunges do not isolate and work the glutes only, they also involve a lot of other muscles.

With cable glute kickbacks, you isolate and focus the resistance on the muscles.

This leads to full development and muscle recruitment through isolation. Think of this the same way you may do a tricep rope press down. You can build your triceps with bench presses, incline presses, and dips but you’re also engaging your deltoids and pecs. With a rope press down, you isolate the triceps and this is the case with cable glute kickbacks.

How To Do Cable Glute Kickbacks

glute kickback exercise

If you’re at a gym, find a cable machine with the low cable pully. If you have access to an ankle cuff attachment, that’s great. If not, you can use an ankle strap or a regular handle (if you can tuck your foot into it).

With the ankle strap on and facing the pully, the clip should attach at the front of your ankle and then:

  1. Step back a bit so you feel some resistance. Use your other leg for main support, you can also use the tower or pole for support (some cable machines have built-in handles next to the weight stacks),
  2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your abs tight,
  3. Slowly kick your leg back until your hip is extended and your glute is contracted, finally,
  4. Focus on squeezing the glute, holding it for 1-2 seconds and return back to the starting position.

How to do cable glute kickbacks

Aim for 12-15 reps before immediately switching over to the next leg for 12-15 reps. Rest 45-60 seconds and you can do 3 sets of this

Tips & Tricks

  • Perform a full range of motion.
  • Speed of the Exercise: 1-2 second(s) lifting or concentric phase, 1-second squeeze at the top and a 3-4 second lowering or eccentric phase.
  • Form is key here. This is an isolation exercise and a real focus should be on squeezing the glutes for full muscle recruitment and contraction. This applies to all other isolation exercises too. At the top of the movement make a focus on squeezing and concentrating on the muscle while under load. This forces more blood into the muscle fiber, creating more of a micro-trauma and this is what allows for greater hypertrophy.
  • Squeeze your glutes, the way you would at the top of a cable glute kickback, this will you get an 81% maximal voluntary muscle contraction, which is some of the highest muscle contraction of various gluteus maximus and medius exercises.
  • Perform cable glute kickbacks later in a lower body workout. You want to train bigger compound exercises earlier, while strength is up and you can use maximum muscle recruitment. This would include squats, deadlifts, leg presses etc. Cable glute kickbacks are perfect nearing the end of the workout as the glutes are warmed up and activated and can be targeted directly.
  • It may take you a few attempts to find the ideal weight. For example, if you can only do 5-6 reps, the weight is too heavy to be effective. However, if you can do 20+ repetitions the weight may be too light for results.
  • Ideally, while keeping good form, you shouldn’t be able to do many more reps than 12-15. When this becomes doable, it’s time to increase the resistance.

Wrapping It Up

No matter what your goals are; strength, muscle, athletic performance or just looking good, cable glute kickbacks can have a place in your program. This is not an ego exercise and does not require a lot of weight. The focus is on form, execution and a full range of motion.

Jamie Logie

Jamie Logie is a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and health and wellness specialist with a degree in Kinesiology and Food and Nutrition. Jamie runs a website and podcast called Regained Wellness. Jamie has worked in gyms in Canada, England, Australia, and the U.S and is the author of an Amazon #1 book called Taking Back Your Health.

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