Pure Gym Limited

Cable Kickbacks

What Is A Cable Kickback?

Personal Trainer demonstrating how to do cable kickbacks, a glute focused exercise

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The cable kickback is a glute isolation exercise that is performed on the cable machine. This exercise strengthens all three glute muscles, the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. They are a unilateral exercise, which means they train each side of the body individually. Unilateral exercises are great for improving muscular imbalances which can result in greater overall strength as well as reduced risk of injury. 

While the hamstrings, quads, calves and core help to stabilise the movement, the glute muscles are the key driver in this exercise. Because of this, cable kickbacks an effective way to increase strength and size of the glutes, as other stronger muscles are unable to take over the lift as they might do in compound exercises like squats or deadlifts.

In addition to building strength and size of the glutes, cable kickbacks can help to improve balance and coordination as the exercise requires you to balance on one leg while kicking back the other.

See our other glute kickback variations: glute kickbacks, donkey kicks.

Commonly Asked Questions On Cable Kickbacks

How To Do Cable Kickbacks Without Ankle Strap

Most gyms will have dedicated ankle straps to use with the cable machine. If you’re unable to find or use an ankle strap, you can use a D handle to replicate the ankle cuff by placing your foot through the handke.

What Do Cable Kickbacks Work?

Cable kickbacks work all three gluteal muscles, the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimise. This exercise also improves overall lower body and core stability.

How To Feel Cable Kickbacks In Glutes

If you struggle to feel cable kickbacks in your glutes, it’s like that your form needs correcting. Make sure you are hinging forward at the hips and engaging the core to keep a neutral spine and avoid using momentum to swing the weight. It should be a smooth and controlled movement.

Cable Kickback Tips

Having good form is key to isolating the glutes in this exercise – poor form is likely to recruit the lower back instead. Once you have hinged forward, engage your core by pulling the belly button in towards the spine to flatten your back. Once you are set up correctly, focus on using your glutes to drive the strap back. If you are unable to move the weight without swinging your legs to create momentum, drop the weight.

How To Do Cable Kickbacks

  1. Attach the ankle cuff to the cable pulley and set it on the lowest setting. Attach the cuff to your ankle.

  2. Face the pulley and hinge forward by about 45 degrees at the hips. You can hold on to the pulley machine for support if needed.

  3. Engage your abs, then use your glutes to drive back your leg as far as possible.

  4. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and pause for a second before slowly returning back to the starting position.

  5. Finish your reps and switch sides.

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.