Like the animal they’re named for, there’s no honor in kicking ass. All you’re lifting is your leg, after all – how hard can it be?
And who wants to do an exercise in naming a bucktoothed donkey in a straw hat, usually depicted as a mount for someone’s little sidekick?
But hold on, partner: Like that sidekick, ass-kicking is an underappreciated workhorse.
They fire up lazy muscles, improve mobility and ensure long-term health of your weakest joints.
Here’s how to do the ass kick right.
How to do the donkey kick exercise
- Get down on all-fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Your back should be flat, your neck neutral.
- With your arms straight, core engaged and knees bent 90 degrees, lift your right knee off the floor and press the sole of your right foot toward the ceiling. Squeeze your right glute (butt muscle) as hard as you can at the top of the movement.
- Reverse the move, lowering your right knee to the starting position.
- Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions, ensuring an equal number of repetitions with each leg.
Form tip while kicking ass
The most common mistake made when doing donkey kicks is putting stress on the spine in an attempt to lift the lifted leg.
It’s not necessary: the target muscles are the glutes — not the lower back — so you don’t have to lift your legs so that you’re arching your back excessively.
Test this tendency by squeezing your abs tightly as you move to the top of the movement.
Variation on kicking ass
Once you’ve got the base down, build it up with any of these options.
1. Double-leg donkey kick (mule kick)
This two-legged version, detailed here, requires additional explosiveness and athleticism.
2. Straight-leg ass kick
Start with your legs extended straight behind you, toes pointing toward the floor instead of up.
3. Pilates leg kick
A similar exercise, performed in the prone (facedown) position, where you curl your ankle upwards and lift your leg.
4. Resistance bands kick ass
The base move is performed with a band around your thigh, which provides additional resistance to the lifting leg.
5. Round ass kick
Base move, but instead of lowering your leg after lifting it, you rotate your thigh as far as possible to help mobilize your hip joint in all three planes of motion.
6. Kick weighted ass
Base move performed with ankle weights.
Target muscles by kicking ass
“The donkey kick is so named because it mimics the animal’s signature movement,” says Beachbody’s director of fitness and nutrition content, Trevor Thiem, CSCS. “But that’s true of the creature’s nickname, it will also help you create a great sculpture… you get the idea.”
The target muscle in donkey kicks is your gluteus maximus — the largest of the butt muscles — whose primary function is to extend your hip joint (think: rising from a sitting position).
Assisted by two small gluteal muscles, Gluteus medius And minimusAnd the hamstrings — the muscles at the back of your thighs — that help the glutes extend the hips.
In addition to helping you look better from behind, strong glutes and hamstrings help support your posture, protect your lower back and knee joints, and improve your speed and power when you run, jump, and play sports.