If you’re looking to upgrade your squat workout, then look no further than squat kickbacks.
The added standing glute kick backwards will not only help further strengthen and tone your glutes, quads and hamstrings… but it will also help improve balance, stability and hip flexibility.
Whether you use it as part of a warm-up or a HIIT workout, this is an exercise you’ll definitely want to practice.
How to do Squat Kickbacks
To do squat kickbacks;
- Stand with your feet shoulder with apart, with your knees slightly bent and your arms by your side.
- Lower yourself into a squat position and hold for a moment. Keep your back straight and your head and chest up.
- Push down on your feet and raise yourself up to the starting position.
- Transfer your weight onto your right leg and pull your left leg back behind you until it is between 45-90 degree angle, performing a standing glute kickback. Keep your torso upright during this movement, leaning slightly forward.
- Hold for a moment and return this leg to the floor.
- Repeat the movement but transfer your weight onto your left leg pull your right leg back behind you.
- Repeat this for repetitions.
Squat Kickbacks Benefits and Muscles Worked
Squat kickbacks bring with them all the benefits of squats, including strengthening the glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves, as well as the additional benefits of including a backwards kick. The kick helps further strengthen and tone up the glutes and also improves balance and stability.
As you pull your leg backwards, your remaining leg needs to keep your whole body stable and balanced. This makes it a very useful functional movement to practice, supporting all sorts of everyday activities. The glutes are the biggest muscles in the body and help support better functional movement, including lifting yourself up out of a chair, going up the stairs and bending forwards. As a result, doing exercises that strengthen the glutes is well worth it.
Stabilizing your body on your remaining leg will also engage your hamstrings and calves to help keep your leg balanced, helping further develop these muscles during the exercise.
Adding in the extra movement also ups the intensity and as a result can help burn more calories and be a simple way to turn squats into a fun, effective varied HIIT workout.
Kickbacks also require good hip flexibility. If you are struggling with the movement and find you can only lift your leg backwards slightly, it may be a result of tight hips. Exercises like Asian squats, or using stretching aids like yoga stretching straps, can help to loosen up tight hips and improve lower body mobility.
Squat Kickback Progression and Variations
To change difficulty or add variety to your kickbacks, try some of these progressions:
Single Leg Kickbacks
Single leg squat kickbacks involve balancing on one leg for the whole movement, including the squat. This means doing a single leg squat, followed by a kickback. Single leg squats are much harder than regular squats, and require more strength, power and stability.
Pistol squats would offer even more progression from single leg squats, as they involve a more challenging single leg squat position.
Squat Kickbacks with Bands
Kickbacks with resistance bands are probably the most common progression of the exercise. The band is used to create additional resistance as you kickback, forcing your glutes and hamstrings to work harder, helping further tone up and strengthen these muscles.
Bands come in a range of thicknesses, so you can start with a lower resistance band and work your way up. Fabric bands are also a popular choice for kickbacks as they offer more comfort.
You can either place the bands around your ankles to create the resistance, or place them around the thighs, just above the knee. Placing them around the knee will mean your thighs need to push against them during the squat as well, which will mean the bands are forcing your legs to work harder for the whole duration of the movement, not just the reverse kickback.
Squat Kickbacks with Dumbbells
Holding dumbbells during the exercise is another great way to add progression. The dumbbells will engage more muscles and also require better balance when you are standing on one leg.
If you are looking to integrate new movements to create a full body workout focused around kickbacks, then dumbbells are a great option.
It would be a natural flow to combine something like dumbbell power cleans with squat kickbacks to really up the temp of your workout.
Holding the dumbbells on your shoulders as you squat down will also really increase the difficulty.
Squat Kickback Workout
Squats offer a great foundation for all sorts of workouts, including high repetition style routines as well as heavy powerlifting routines.
To begin with, try a workout such as
3 sets x 10 repetitions of squats with reverse kickbacks. Use bands or dumbbells to add difficulty, or try the final set using single leg squats.