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December 04, 2022 5 min read

If you are looking for some of the best exercises for burning fat and getting multiple muscle groups activated, you can get your cues from the animal kingdom.

The spider lunge, dead bug, bear crawl, donkey kick, and crab walk—to name a few. If you’ve ever done any of these rudimentary exercises, you’ll know that their range of motion typically includes multiple muscle groups, while boosting your heart rate.

The double-leg mule kick might be the most metabolic of the lot.

Each time your legs explode into the air, you engage not only your entire core, but also your shoulders, arms, hips, glutes, and leg muscles. Moving all those metabolically active tissues puts your cardiovascular system into overdrive.

Double mule kicks, also known as double donkey kick exercises are great progressive HIIT exercises. As you progress through the process of doing mule kicks with perfect form and technique, you can begin increasing the height of the lift to become almost vertical. It is possible to kick up to a full or partial handstand.

Muscle Groups Targeted by Mule Kicks

The upward press position engages most of the muscle groups in your body, from your shoulders to your ankles. It builds core and spine stability, together with leg and arm strength.

Double mule or donkey kicks are great for whole-body hypertrophy.

Muscle groups worked include:

  • Core

  • Upper arms

  • Forearms

  • Shoulders

  • Glute muscles

  • Hip extensors

  • Hip flexors

  • Hamstrings

  • Quadriceps

What are the Benefits of Mule Kicks?

Double-leg donkey kicks are full-body cardio moves that strengthen your upper body, improve flexibility and agility, raise your heart rate, and tighten your core muscles.

Abs – Image from Shutterstock

Mule kicks are also great glute exercises that activate the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus, and they boost explosive hip extensions.

Mule kicks build explosive power by training your fast twitch muscles to fire with every double-leg kick.

Double mule kicks are ideal for all, even those trying to lose weight.

And if you are looking for the perfect aid to help you reach your weight-loss goals, you’ve just found it. This compound exercise can help with weight loss efficiently by targeting multiple muscle groups at once without putting excessive strain on your joints.

Glutes – Image from Shutterstock

Mule kicks are plyometric exercises that can help you run faster and jump higher. They teach your body and muscles to fire fast and are particularly beneficial for field and track athletes, baseball, rugby, basketball, soccer, football, and volleyball players among other sports.

Explosive energy – Image from Shutterstock

How to do Double-Leg Mule Kicks

You don’t need any equipment for this exercise, although donkey kicks can be done on a Smith machine or other cable machines. Mule kicks are reasonably simple to execute if you’re a beginner and easy to adjust to make them more challenging as you progress. However, they are demanding, making proper warm-up stretches crucial for the upper and lower body.

Starting position: Begin by squatting down on your hands and knees with a 90-degree angle at your hips and upper legs and your hands shoulder-width or hip-width apart.

Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders, palms down.

Distribute your weight to have 50% of your weight on the balls of your feet and 50% on your hands.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Brace your core, glutes, and your lower back.

  2. Rock forward to place all your weight on your hands as you get ready for the explosive mule kick, taking care not to go too far forward and lose your balance.

  3. Push down on the balls of your feet and explode into a mule kick by rapidly kicking out with your knees bent and your heels tucked up to your butt.

  4. Land softly on the balls of your feet, reset and repeat the move.

  5. Start slowly and speed up as you get used to balancing all your weight on your hands.

  6. Once you’re comfortable doing the kicks with your heels to your but, you can build a set of 20 reps with explosive double-leg donkey kick variations.

  • Five reps with your heels to your butt.

  • Five reps keeping your heels to your butt at first, but kicking your legs out straight as you reach the top of the movement.

  • Five reps keeping your heels to your butt at first, but spreading your legs apart when you kick them out straight as you reach the top of the movement.

  • Finish with five basic mule kicks with your heels tucked to your butt.

Make it easier:

  • Perform the move with your hands elevated on a box or bench.

Make it harder:

  • Increase the speed of the kicks.

  • Increase the height of each kickback. Higher and longer kicks will increase hypertrophy.

  • It is possible to kick up to a full or partial handstand.

  • Increase the challenge and intensity of the mule kick workout by adding resistance like ankle weights or a resistance band, similar to doing the resistance band donkey kick.

TIP: You’re going to need enough space to perform the double-leg donkey kicks. Make sure no one is behind you and that your workout area is clear before you begin kicking.

What is the Proper Form and Breathing Pattern for Double Mule Kicks?

If you are a beginner, it is important to avoid injuries by getting your CPT to help you adopt the correct form. Engage your core and glutes, maintain a straight back at all times, and keep your neck, head, and spine in a neutral position.

Keep your elbows straight and breathe out as you kick your legs up. Inhale as you land softly on your toes and the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent. Beginners should stick to the version where the heels of the left and right foot are tucked to the butt before doing the straight-leg kickbacks.

Sets And Reps

Doing donkey kicks with both legs is an incredibly demanding compound exercise since you must support your entire body weight while you’re kicking the air like a mule. You might need to build up core and upper-body strength before tackling mule kicks.

Practice doing exercises that can help you with this, like standard donkey kicks where you do straight-leg kicks with your right leg and left leg separately.

You can also build core strength by doing quadruped bodyweight floor exercises like fire hydrants in which you do hip rotations to lift your left and right knee alternatively to strengthen the abdominal muscles, lower back, glutes, thighs, and hamstrings.

Other exercises to build strength include mountain climbers, planks like spiderman stretches, and the glute bridge exercise to increase glute strength, core stability, and lower back health.

Once you’ve improved your fitness level, you can include mule kicks in your workout routine. You should aim to do 2 or 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions each.

It is always a good idea to discuss any new exercise routines with a certified personal trainer to learn the perfect technique and ensure the use of the proper form.

However, if you experience any back pain or discomfort at any stage of the range of motion, you should stop and arrange to consult your physician. You might have to find a replacement exercise or do some adjustments to the mule or donkey kick technique.