It may have a silly name, but don’t be fooled: The butt kicks exercise offers serious benefits for every runner and fitness enthusiast.
What are butt kicks, exactly? They’re a moderate-impact movement that raises core temperature, lubricates joints, and stretches and activates lower body muscles.
That makes this exercise especially effective for getting your body warmed up for exercise, says New York City-based strength and conditioning coach Kristian Flores, C.S.C.S.
Before you try butt kicks for yourself, brush up on form and technique with these step-by-step instructions.
Butt Kicks: Step-by-Step Instructions
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and your arms bent 90 degrees at your sides.
- Kick your left heel up towards your left glute as you swing your right arm forward. Then, return your left foot to the ground so the weight is on the ball of your foot. Next, perform the same motion with your right heel.
- Keeping your chest up, your shoulders back and down, and your core engaged, gradually build up speed as you continue alternating feet until you’re running quickly in place. Pump your arms in rhythm with each step, making sure to land gently on the balls of your feet.
Trainer tip: “Don’t force your heels to your butt if it feels too effortful,” Flores says. “This should be an easy move that feels smooth.”
Butt Kick Variations
For slightly more advanced butt kick variations — which can also help you achieve proper running form — Flores recommends A-skips and B-skips.
Hop forward or in place on your right foot, bringing your left knee to waist height, and swinging your right arm forward. Land gently on the ball of your left foot and repeat, alternating between the two sides.
B-skips are similar to A-skips, except you’ll kick and extend your lead leg forward instead of bending your knee.
Benefits of Butt Kicks
There’s a reason butt kicks are a go-to warm-up exercise for runners everywhere.
- “The light impact fires up the central nervous system and works the stretch reflex to prepare the body for running,” says Flores.
- The butt kicking motion involves knee flexion, which helps to wake up your hamstrings — a prime mover in running.
- Plus, it also helps with the “kick” in your running stride, which increases stride length, and, therefore (potentially) speed.
- Among other things, butt kicks are a type of “form running” designed to clean up running form.
- For non-runners, butt kicks can be a great addition to any warm-up or workout. Use them to prep your body for high-intensity exercise, or incorporate them into your workout anytime you need a cardio boost.