Donkey Kicks Exercise: How to Do

Donkey kicks is a simple butt exercise that you perform by getting down on the ground on all fours – like a donkey. And you kick your leg back.

As simple as it is, this exercise literally kicks your butt!

Here is 4-Step Donkey Kicks.

Exercise Instructions:

1. On an exercise mat, get down on your fours. Place your hands and knees under the shoulders and hips, respectively. 
2. Kick back the right leg to its full extension. 
3. Bring back the leg by bending at the knee and repeat on the other side. 
4. Complete 10-12 reps on each side for 2-3 sets.

How to Get the Most of Your Donkey Kicks

When performing a donkey kick, tighten your core and glutes. 

Avoid your leg from going higher than your hip level. 

Distribute the weight evenly and keep yourself balanced throughout the movement. 

Primary Muscles: 

  • Primary Muscles: Glutes, hip flexors
  • Secondary Muscles: Abs and core

Donkey Kicks Exercise

Donkey kicks exercise

Exercise Benefits

Donkey kicks are simple yet as effective as the basic squat, per the study by ACE.

As with the bodyweight squat, this butt exercise effectively targets and activates your glutes and firms and strengthens your butt and thighs. 

Though donkey kicks have similarities with a fire hydrant, it keeps its muscle activation in the gluteal regions, rather than engaging a wider range of lower body muscles such as inner thighs, quads, and hamstrings. 

Sets & Reps

The general guidelines for reps and sets for donkey kicks without any added weight or resistance are 10-15 repetitions per side for 2-3 sets. If you are new to exercise, start with fewer repetitions and sets. If you are ready for a challenge, add resistance by adding a resistance band. 

Other bower body exercises for the butt:

  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Glute Bridge
  • Step-up

For more tips, watch the video below.

Here’s how you perform the donkey kick exercise with a resistance tubing band in a few steps:

  1. Hold onto the ends of your resistance band, and place the center of the band around the sole of your right foot. Then get down on all fours so that your hands are shoulder-width apart and your knees are directly below your hips.
  2. Your back should be straight throughout the movement. Hold the band firmly, draw your belly in, and extend your left leg straight out behind you. Then draw your knee forward, but don’t let it touch the ground. Repeat 10-15 times. Switch legs and repeat.

Exercise Table

Reps Sets Level Location
10-15 3 Easy Gym or Home

The Takeaway

The donkey kicks is a simple, yet very effective butt and thigh sculpting exercise you can do at home and just about anywhere. The exercise can also be done without the resistance band, but using the exercise band will increase muscle engagement. It will also help the butt muscles to shape nicely, thanks to the added resistance.

For effective butt exercises, check out this list of butt workouts to try. 

Misato Alexandre


After making healthy living a priority, Misato lost over 20 lbs in less than 90 days. Instead of weight loss being a dreading experience, living the lifestyle of health and fitness granted her more happiness and joy than ever before. She co-founded Fitwirr to make health and fitness simple for everyone and share her tips through writing evidence-based articles on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise.

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