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Cable kickbacks are an excellent movement for strengthening and adding muscle size to the glutes. The attachments you use for cable kickbacks are relatively similar, but choosing the right one is important for your comfort and safety.
So what attachment do you use for cable kickbacks? For cable kickbacks, you use an attachment that wraps around your foot or ankle and has D-rings to clip the cable onto. If you’re using an ankle attachment, look for one with padding so it doesn’t dig into your skin. You should also look for an easily-adjustable attachment that will stay in place during your workout.
To help you figure out which attachment you should use for cable kickbacks, I’ll discuss the importance of choosing the right one in this article. I’ll also explain some of the differences between the cable kickback attachments on the market and recommend three products for you to check out.
And because not everyone has access to a cable machine, I’ll also discuss some ways you can do cable kickbacks without a machine.
Importance of Selecting the Right Attachment for Cable Kickbacks
The three main reasons that it’s important to select the right cable kickback attachment are:
- It needs to be secure
- It affects how much weight you can lift
- It alters which muscles are targeted
1. It Needs To Be Secure
Using an attachment that securely fits around your ankle is important when doing cable kickbacks. You don’t want it moving around as you’re performing the movement since it can be distracting. You also don’t want it to come undone because it can’t handle the weight you’re working with.
Velcro ankle cuffs will be the most secure since you can adjust them to fit around your own ankle. However, you’ll have to monitor them over time to make sure the velcro doesn’t lose its stickiness. Straps that wrap around the top and bottom of your foot and around the heel are also very secure since they often have non-slip linings that maintain their grip on your shoe.
Wondering if you can train the glutes two days in a row? Check out my article Can You Train Glutes 2 Days In A Row? (Pros & Cons).
2. It Affects How Much Weight You Can Lift
How secure your cable kickback attachment is goes hand-in-hand with how much weight you can lift. An attachment with strong velcro or another strong fastening mechanism (like a hook and loop closure) will make it easier for you to use heavier weight because it will stay in place better.
The right attachment will also put less stress on your ankle so the material won’t dig into your skin and the pressure from the weight won’t cause bruises.
3. It Alters Which Muscles Are Targeted
The primary muscles worked during cable kickbacks are the gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) and, to a lesser extent, the hamstrings.
The attachment you use won’t make a significant difference in what muscles are worked for cable kickbacks, but some attachments do enable you to engage your glutes more. And if the attachment doesn’t stay in place and you change the movement pattern to accommodate it, it can make the exercise less effective.
It’s also important to note that different attachments are more versatile than others, and that in turn affects which muscles are targeted during different exercises. For example, an attachment with D-rings on the sides will make it easier for you to do weighted standing hip abductions, which work the hips and inner thighs.
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym and need to cut back on some isolation movements, check out some of my favorite compound glute exercises that also work the quads, hamstrings, lower back, and core.
The 3 Differences Between Cable Kickback Attachments
Not all cable kickback attachments are the same. The three main differences between them are:
- Attachment points
Ankle cuffs for cable machines are often made from neoprene, which enhances their comfort. Higher-quality attachments are also lined with padding to prevent the material from digging into your skin.
Some attachments consist of nothing more than a looped piece of nylon or cotton with a D-ring on the front. These attachments are sufficient enough, but they can cause irritation and be uncomfortable to wear for high reps if you’re using a lot of weight.
A few brands also sell attachments made out of leather, which are ideal for lifting very heavy weights. They also tend to last longer since there’s no risk of neoprene or cotton stretching out or becoming frayed.
Looking to add muscle mass to your glutes? Check out these 3 cable workouts that can add size to your glutes.
The most common cable kickback attachments fit around your ankle and are secured with velcro. Some only go around the ankle, but some ankle cuffs also have a stirrup strap that goes under the bottom of your shoe for added stability.
However, some cable kickback attachments loop around the top of your foot and the back of your shoe. They help reduce pressure on your ankle, distribute the weight more evenly, and can be beneficial if you have sensitive skin.
3. Attachment Points
A large majority of cable kickback attachments have just one or two D-rings on the front of the strap. But a few brands make attachments with multiple D-rings on the front, sides, and rear for more versatility.
It makes it easier for you to quickly switch from one exercise to the next (for example, transitioning from a glute kickback to a weighted cable lateral lunge) without having to readjust the entire cuff.
For powerlifters and anyone who’s training for overall strength, cable kickbacks can be a beneficial exercise to add to the end of your deadlift workouts. Learn more about other exercises that you can do on deadlift day in What Else Should I Do On Deadlift Day? (5 Examples).
3 Attachments You Can Use For Cable Kickbacks
If you’re looking for a glute kickback ankle attachment of your own that you can take to the gym or use in your home gym, I recommend the below three products.
1. Velcro Ankle Attachments
Velcro ankle attachments are typically made out of neoprene and can be secured with velcro. They have metal rings that you can clip the machine’s cable to. The higher-quality velcro attachments on the market also have padding to reduce the amount of friction on your skin when using heavy weights.
These types of attachments are easy to use and can be used for more than just cable kickbacks. For example, they can also be used for standing hamstring curls, lateral lunges, and hip abductions.
For a durable, comfortable cable kickback attachment, I recommend the Gymreapers Ankle Straps. They’re soft but strong and can handle a variety of exercises in addition to glute kickbacks. They also have an extra wide velcro strap that enhances their ability to handle heavier weights, and they won’t cause abrasions or bruises on your ankles.
To do cable kickbacks with this attachment, you simply need to wrap it around your ankle so the D-rings are in the front. Secure it to your desired tightness — it should be snug enough that it won’t move but not so tight that it’s cutting off your circulation. Clip the cable hook onto the D-rings.
If you need to, hold onto the machine or another sturdy surface for support. Kick your leg behind you while keeping your knee parallel to the floor. Make sure your leg moves in a straight line and doesn’t go out to the side.
Squeeze your glutes and hold the top position for a second, then bring your leg back down slowly. Touch your toes to the ground briefly before moving into your next rep.
2. Velcro Attachment With a Stirrup Strap
A velcro attachment with a stirrup strap is an excellent option if you’re worried about security. In addition to having a cuff that gets wrapped around your ankle, there’s also an additional strap that goes under the bottom of your foot. This not only helps keep the ankle cuff in place but reduces pressure on your ankle as you’re performing each rep.
I recommend the RitFit ankle cuffs if you’re looking for an ankle attachment with a stirrup strap. They’re sold in pairs, so you don’t have to waste time switching a cuff from one leg to the other. They also have three attachment points so you don’t have to move the cuffs around if you’re doing lateral lunges or hip abduction exercises.
With this type of attachment, you can perform cable kickbacks the same way you would with a regular ankle cuff attachment. The only difference is that you may be able to use more weight since the weight is distributed differently thanks to the extra stirrup strap.
3. Foot Harness
Foot harnesses are designed to fit across the top of your shoe and loop around the back of your foot for extra stability. Most are designed to fit both men’s and women’s shoes, and the better-quality ones are made with anti-slip technology so they won’t fall off.
These types of attachments are ideal if you have sensitive skin or if you’re dealing with an ankle injury and don’t want to add more pressure to the area. Many gym-goers also claim to feel more engagement in the glutes when doing kickbacks with attachments like these.
You can perform cable kickbacks the same way with a foot harness as you do with a velcro attachment. But instead of securing the attachment around your ankle, it goes around the top and bottom of your foot and around the heel. These attachments typically only have one D-ring on the front, but there are some that have multiple attachment points.
The IPR Fitness Glute Kickback PRO ankle strap is one of the best foot harness attachments on the market. It’s made from military-grade materials and features a patented design that helps protect your ankle joints and stays in place throughout your workout. It is expensive, though, so it’s best for bodybuilders or people who do cable kickbacks on at least a weekly basis.
In addition to using cable machines, blood flow restriction (BFR) is another excellent way to train the glutes. Learn how to do BFR training safely in my complete guide on blood flow restriction training for the glutes.
How To Do Cable Kickbacks With No Cable Attachments
Below are two variations of cable kickbacks you can do if you don’t have access to a cable machine.
1. Resistance Band Kickbacks
Resistance band kickbacks are good for home gym owners or if you’re working out in a hotel gym with limited equipment. Ideally, you’ll have loop resistance bands of varying thicknesses so you can progress the movement over time, but one band is enough when you’re just starting out.
- Stand inside the center of the band and place it around your ankles. If needed, hold onto something sturdy for support
- Keeping all of your weight on the non-working leg, kick your other leg straight behind you
- Make sure your knee stays parallel to the floor, your leg doesn’t travel from side to side, and your toes are pointed down
- Squeeze your glutes at the top, then bring your leg back down
- Touch your toes to the ground briefly before moving into your next rep
- Complete at least 10 reps on one leg, then switch and do the same number of reps on the other leg
2. Kneeling Glute Kickbacks
Kneeling glute kickbacks also require nothing more than a resistance band, making them an excellent cable kickback alternative to do when you don’t have access to a cable machine.
- Place a resistance band on the ground
- Kneel on the ground and place your hands on the floor on top of the band, making sure your back is flat and your wrists, forearms, and shoulders are aligned
- Put one foot through the other end of the band so it’s around the bottom of your foot
- Kick your leg straight back behind you while keeping your knee parallel to the floor and your toes pointed down
- Make sure your leg doesn’t swing out to the side
- Squeeze your glutes at the top and pause for a second, then return to the starting position
- Perform at least 10 reps on one side, then switch sides and repeat
Looking for more ideas on how to train the glutes? Check out my favorite glute isolation exercises that you can do with a barbell, resistance bands, and other types of machines.
Choosing the right attachment for cable kickbacks is important. Not only will it help protect your ankle joint and save your skin from abrasions but it will also ensure you’re able to do the movement correctly and effectively target the glutes and hamstrings.
The right cable kickback attachment should be easily adjustable so you can securely fit it to your ankle. It should also have a padded lining for enhanced comfort. Ideally, it will also feature some kind of non-slip technology so it won’t move around during your workout.
Attachments that go around your ankle are the most common, but you may also want to consider ones that go around your foot and heel instead. These can be particularly beneficial if you have sensitive skin or you don’t want to place a lot of excess pressure on your ankles.
Other Cable Attachment Articles
- What Attachment Do You Use For Cable Rows? (5 Options)
- Best Cable Attachments (10 Options For Home Gyms)
About The Author
Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.