How to Do Butt Kicks With Proper Form (Ultimate Guide)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 23, 2023
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With a wealth of experience in the fitness industry, I am well-versed in incorporating exercises like butt kicks into high-intensity interval training and CrossFit workouts to make them both challenging and enjoyable for clients.
But many people make some simple mistakes with the butt kick exercise that make them less effective.

So, our team of fitness coaches decided to put together this guide on how to perform butt kicks the right way, along with highlighting some common mistakes and a fun variation.

Quick Summary

  • By focusing more on getting your heels up as far as possible and reducing motion in your thighs, you’ll start getting a lot more out of your butt kickers.
  • The butt kick exercise is possibly one of the simplest-looking exercises that so many people get wrong.
  • When you add butt kicks to your warm-up routine or as part of circuit training, you can get your heart pumping in no time.

How To Do Butt Kicks With Proper Form

Performing Butt Kicks in motion

It might seem like an easy task to do the butt kicks exercise right, but let me give you some detailed instructions:

  • Set yourself up for building a bigger butt by standing tall with your feet about hip-width apart and doing butt kickers.
  • Keep your hands by your side with your knees slightly bent.
  • Bring your left heel up to your glutes and aim to make contact with the buttocks.
  • As you’re lowering the foot back down again, bring the right heel up to your buttocks and make contact.
  • The important thing to try and do is to only make contact with the ground with the balls of your feet.
  • Keep the alternating butt kicks movement of one foot down and one heel up going for as long as you can.
  • Aim to vary the intensity by gradually increasing the speed of the butt kicks and even try to stay slightly airborne.
  • Your options going forward are to speed up or increase the amount of time you do butt kicks.

To turn butt kicks into a total body exercise, you can involve your arms as well. I'll provide a nice variation below.

What Are The Benefits?

Illustration of doing butt kicks

The main benefits of butt kicks are that they are a relatively low-impact way to get the blood flowing as part of your warm-up routine.

But you’ll also be able to use this exercise as a way to lose weight faster by burning off more calories and dialing up the intensity.

The butt kicker also works to tone your lower body muscles, especially if you start doing them as fast as possible during high-intensity interval training [1].

If you’re doing these at higher speeds, you’ll find that your hamstring muscles will start burning.

One option you have is to attach some ankle weights during butt kicks. You’ll quickly find that you can only do half the amount of time.

The other thing you should find is that this movement starts to burn in your glute muscles, which can add some great toning to your buttocks [2].

“Butt kicks are a type of plyometric, or jump training, exercise. Exercises like these work your cardiovascular system and boost your strength and endurance while using only your own body weight as resistance.”

- Daniel Bubnis, M.S., NASM-CPT

Common Mistakes With Butt Kickers

As you can see above, the butt kicks exercise looks very simple, but people often make a couple of simple mistakes.

And if you know what to look out for, then you can make your workout more effective.

First of all, many people end up doing a combination of high knees and butt kicks.

It’s inefficient, and the best way to avoid that is to focus on keeping your knees pointing down. 

The second mistake I often see is that people don't land gently, which can have negative impacts on their joints.

Try to focus on landing like a cat during your butt kicks to achieve proper form.

Simple Variation

Woman doing butt kicks on a yoga mat

The simplest way to add some variation is to include upper body movement in your butt kicks.

What I would suggest is lifting the opposite arm to the foot you’re lifting. For example, as you lift your right foot up, bring your left arm forward and up over your head.

And to add more strain to such moving butt kicks, you could add some ankle and wrist weights.

You won’t believe how much-added benefit you’ll get from such butt kicks for both cardio and strength.


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