If you’re uncertain about your form while performing glute kickbacks on the cable machine, you’re not alone. But something as simple as excessive weight can result in, at best, failure to isolate and effectively work the glute muscle, and at worst, injury. Continue reading for a complete explanation of the cable machine glute kickback exercise, including how to perform it, the advantages of the exercise, and common errors to avoid.
How to Perform a Glute Kickback
For an excellent demonstration of proper form, take a look at this Instagram post from Emily Skye, an Australian Institute of Fitness–certified master trainer. In the tutorial, she mentioned that she often observes people performing this exercise incorrectly and provided a detailed breakdown of how to execute the movement to address any doubts.
In the video, Skye attached an ankle-strap accessory to a cable machine and wrapped it around one ankle. (You can purchase one on Amazon if your gym doesn’t have it.) She began the exercise by slightly leaning forward, with her feet together, maintaining a straight back and engaged core. Then, with her glutes activated and leg slightly rotated outward, she kicked her leg up and backward in a controlled manner, pausing at the highest point before lowering it back down.
Here’s the step-by-step process for performing a cable machine glute kickback:
A. Attach an ankle strap to the cable machine, then loop it around your ankle. Adjust the weight on the machine as desired. Stand with your feet together and slightly lean forward, keeping your back flat and maintaining core engagement throughout the entire movement.
B. Contract your glute to activate the muscle, then lift the leg attached to the machine behind your body with control.
C. Pause when you reach the top of the movement, then slowly and controlled lower back to the starting position.
The Key Advantages of Glute Kickbacks
So, why should you incorporate cable machine glute kickbacks into your routine? This exercise offers several significant benefits.
Isolates Each Leg Individually
In case you didn’t know, everyone has a dominant (meaning stronger) side of their body, but focusing on and working one side of the body at a time (known as unilateral training) helps balance your strength and minimize any asymmetries. “Unilateral training is often overlooked, but it’s crucial,” stated Alena Luciani, M.S., C.S.C.S., the founder of Training2xl, in a previous interview with Shape.
Yes, it has the ability to construct a more balanced physique, however, it can likewise aid in avoiding harm, provide you with the additional power you require to overcome a stagnant phase, and enhance stability and core vigor,” she supplemented.
The glute butt lift is an excellent method to challenge each glute individually so that your power is uniform throughout your entire posterior.
Enhances General Fitness Performance
Effectively target your glute muscles, as you do with the glute butt lift, and you’ll witness an improvement in other exercises where you may use those muscles — specifically your squats, lunges, and deadlifts. Just ensure that if you’re performing those compound exercises on the same day as the glute butt lift, you prioritize those larger movements before this glute isolation exercise.
Muscles Engaged in the Glute Butt Lift
No surprises here: The glute butt lift activates your glute muscles, and the American Council on Exercise has recognized the glute butt lift as one of the finest glute exercises available. More specifically, research has shown that it effectively targets the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius even more than other common glute exercises, such as squats. Additionally, you’ll also benefit by engaging your hamstrings. And since you activate your core if you maintain proper form, you’ll also be working on strengthening it.
Variations of the Glute Butt Lift Exercise
Please note that while Skye demonstrated glute butt lifts using a cable machine, certain gyms may have a specialized machine solely for glute butt lifts. However, there are simple ways to modify the movement to increase or decrease the difficulty level, depending on your fitness level.
Modification of the Glute Butt Lift
If this is your first time attempting this exercise, use lighter weights than what you believe you can handle. This will ensure you maintain proper form so that when you progress, you have a firm foundation. If you don’t have access to a cable machine or glute butt lift machine, you can also perform glute butt lifts with a long or mini resistance band, or simply use your body weight (either standing or on hands and knees) to achieve a similar glute workout.
Progression of the Glute Butt Lift
The most effective way to progress with the glute butt lift is by adding weight. Once you have a solid understanding of the exercise and find that your initial low weight or body weight alone feels too easy, add resistance to increase the intensity of the movement. You might also consider incorporating a glute butt lift into another exercise to create a compound movement, such as a squat glute butt lift.
The aforementioned form pointers persist, irrespective of the kind of kickback you are performing: It is crucial to ensure that you are activating your buttock muscles and not curving your spine.
Typical Errors in Glute Kickbacks
In her video, Skye mentioned that she often witnesses gym-goers performing cable machine glute kickbacks with subpar form. To start with, individuals have a tendency to use excessive weight, she clarified. “You should commence with a weight that is relatively lightweight. An ordinary misstep people make is overloading the pin machine, making it excessively weighty, and then they employ their body to elevate their leg. Consequently, the gluteus maximus muscles are not solely responsible for the movement, thereby defeating the purpose of the entire exercise,” Skye noted. Additionally, many people permit their back to arch, which could result in a potential injury to the lower back, she added.
Integrating Glute Kickbacks into Your Workout Routine
In her caption, Skye emphasized that if your principal objective is to develop your gluteal muscles, you should not solely rely on glute kickbacks. “I believe it is definitely an additional exercise that you can incorporate into your glute-focused workout (provided that you execute it with proper technique), but do not anticipate significant glute growth if it is the only exercise you rely on ‘for increasing the size of your buttocks,'” she wrote. “In my view, nothing surpasses hip thrusts, lunges, deadlifts, squats, step-ups, bridges, split squats, and so forth, for sculpting and strengthening the gluteal muscles!” (And bear in mind, dedicating too much of your attention to butt workouts can result in muscular imbalances.)
To summarize: Employ a weight that is light enough when performing cable machine glute kickbacks to ensure that your back remains in a straight position and your core remains engaged, and do not anticipate substantial growth solely from kickbacks.
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