It’s that time of the week again – time for another Best Butt Exercises post! This week, it’s the move you’ve all been waiting for, the donkey kick.

best butt exercises donkey kicks
“What do’ya mean you don’t know how to donkey kick?”



Exercise: Donkey Kicks
Muscles worked: Glutes, Hamstrings, Core (stabilizing muscles)
Jolie Recommends: As many as you can! (Or: 5 sets of 20 reps – though go for less reps if you’re performing these weighted, say 8-10 reps)
Difficulty rating: 2
Effectiveness rating: 8

Donkey kicks are great because they target the part of your butt that other compound exercises can miss. The movement of the leg backwards in the donkey kick is one that really only the glutes can do, as long as you don’t let poor form creep in (which can allow other muscles to take over).

Best Butt Exercise #13: Donkey Kicks

How to Do the Move
  1. Start on all fours on your hands and knees, with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips; all about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Tighten your core muscles so that you spine is in a neutral position.
  3. Keeping your core tight, slowly raise your right leg by hinging at the hip to bring it behind you. Keep the leg bent.
  4. Squeeze the glutes at the top of the movement and hold for a moment.
  5. Lower your leg to the ground and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  6. Repeat on the other leg.

The below video shows what the basic donkey kick movement looks like.

Perfecting Your Form

  • Your back and neck should be in neutral spine position, with the core tight for support.
  • Hips need to stay square to the floor.
  • Pause at the top of the kick and squeeze the glutes – try to get just that little bit higher with your leg by contracting the glutes!
  • Keep your back in neutral position, it’s very important not to let your back arch when you kick back. Hold your stomach and abdominal muscles very tight to prevent this.

Reppin’ It

I like to do 20 of these each side for 5 sets, with around 10 seconds break between sets for the bodyweight version.

To advance this one and make it even more effective, add weight. The easiest way to do this at home is by using ankle weights, or if at the gym you can try doing these with your kicking foot beneath a barbell on the smith machine. Or, hold a dumbbell behind your knee (although this can feel a little clumsy with heavier weights). I’ve also seen people add resistance by using a band, but haven’t tried this personally.

Best Butt Exercises: Donkey Kick
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3 thoughts on “Best Butt Exercises: Donkey Kick

  • January 13, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Hi Jolie!
    Your post is very easy to understand with the video.
    The donkey kick exercise doesn’t look difficult, I think I can do it too!
    I’ll give it a try.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • January 13, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Hey Sylvia, thanks for the comment! Hope you enjoy!

  • July 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I’ve used dumbbells with donkey kicks also. Very effective! You can also use a resistance band (the kind with the handles, not the mini bands). Do a church wrap around your foot, and hold the strap handles in your hands. That works well too.

    • July 26, 2016 at 12:52 pm

      I only recently found out the trick with using dumbbells for donkey kicks (wedge them in behind your bent knee!), but I think I prefer resistance bands as they are more stable than the dumbbell. In my opinion the dumbbell can have the tendency to shift left or right, especially as they get heavier, which can throw off your form. I’ll give the resistance band setup you described a go. Thanks for sharing!


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