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Ask Dave: What Do The Glutes Do For Kicking?

What do the Glutes do for Kicking?

This is a question asked this morning. As you should be aware, if you follow my work, I love when my guys ask questions, it really shows they care about their training and want to understand the why behind the programs I give them.

In this instance the question came from Kyokushin Karate fighter Aneta. Here’s Aneta throwing a kick:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Aneta Meskauskiene (@aneta.rudyte) on Nov 1, 2018 at 10:32am PDT

So how do the glutes contribute to a kick?

Lets have a think.

As the glutes contract, they pull the leg back into extension and also external rotation.

So the runner above has the glute of her rear leg nearing maximal contraction (muscles short) and her lead leg nearing maximal stretch, it’ll hit max stretch once the foot hits the ground and she gets her weight into the lead leg.

But that’s running.

How about kicking?

To maximise our kicking power we need a whole lot of things going on. Our hips need to be mobile enough to open out and rotate, out core strong enough to rotate and brace and our standing leg able to push our hips into the kick.

The stronger our glutes, the stronger our hip extension, and that is the job of the non kicking leg.

For the kicking leg, we require the hip flexors to be strong, these muscles oppose the glutes and pull the leg forwards and in.

The Kick is truly a full body event, but the Hips are the keystone

Now, before we go any further, here’s a quick question….

Which two muscles groups are most people having issues with and spending ages either trying to activate or stretch them?

While i wait for your answer, here’s some Van Dammage

Got the answer yet?

Yes, we have people trying to stretch their hip flexors and activate their glutes.

Every fucking session

Without ever seeing any improvement.

Take a fucking hint people!

If it ain’t working, try a different tactic!

Lets instead try to STRENGTHEN the hip flexors and lengthen the glutes. The opposite of most peoples attempts.

Here’s a Reaching Lunge we use to lengthen the glutes under load:

As the glutes are under going a stretch they will begin to reflexively contract against that to bring you back out, getting nicely fired up in the process.

This exercise, if done right will offer the hip flexors the same opportunity you just gave the glutes, lengthening dynamically under load to stimulate a reflexive pull back:

Next are the shortening exercises. The two drill I show above both lengthen muscles so they can contract, these next ones are simpler contraction based drills. The dude presenting talks a lot, but his demo’s are spot on:

Now, I’m not one for making guarantees, but I’d be very confident to say that these exercises done in place of most of your current stretching/ foam rolling / activation drills will do wonders for your kicking ability.

Have a go and let me know how you get on.

And as ever, if you have questions, get in touch


Dave Hedges

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