What Happens To Your Body When You Do Donkey Kicks

While the popular exercise has a funny name, donkey kicks are nothing to laugh about. With proper form, this isolating exercise can offer maximum gains in the glute muscles, explains trainer Keaton Ray (via Women's Health). Ray says that donkey kicks are great for toning the butt because the movement targets the biggest glute muscle, the gluteus maximus.

Brook Benten, an ACSM-certified exercise physiologist, recommends donkey kicks for lower back and butt strengthening, sharing with Prevention that donkey kicks are easier on the joints than squats and just as effective. There are many variations of this move, but a traditional donkey kick can be performed by starting on all fours, with your shoulders, neck, and spine aligned. Once you are ready, lift one leg up by hinging at the hip, keeping the knee bent, and press your foot toward the sky, while ensuring you aren't arching the lower back. Bring the leg back down to the original position, then repeat (via Redefining Strength).

While this movement is ideal for strengthening and shaping your derriere, you might be surprised to learn that it also benefits other areas of your body.

Donkey kicks offer more than a workout for your butt

Ashlie Sustaita, a master instructor at an athletic club in Texas, told Real Simple that donkey kicks can do more than work the backside. "The shoulder and core muscles are also working to hold stability and posture through the movement," Sustaita adds, which is due to the exercise being performed on all four limbs. According to Lives Powerful, you'll see an improvement in balance, posture, and range of motion because donkey kicks target the shoulder muscles, core, and hips.

Healthline shares that using resistance bands or even a smith machine are both good variations to increase intensity when you need more of a challenge. You can also switch up your leg movement during the kick by adding a half-circle motion, a fire-hydrant, or switching from bent knee to leg extension (via Livestrong). 

Certified strength and conditioning coach Keaton Ray suggests incorporating donkey kicks into your fitness routine up to 5 times per week, either in the gym or at home. Ray shared with Women's Health that these are especially beneficial for those with desk jobs and can "improve posture and prevent hip and spine injuries."