Quadruped Leg Swings

By September 7, 2014 Glute Training, Glutes

Quadruped leg swings are good to perform either at the beginning of the workout for glute activation purposes or at the end of the workout for extra time under tension and metabolic stress. I’m able to get a huge burn in my glutes with these, but just like every other glute exercise, not everyone feels them primarily in the glutes. Make sure you’re moving mostly at the hips and not so much in the lumbopelvic region (I explain this in the video). Some people benefit from squeezing the abs (bracing the core) and glutes at the top of the movement, but this isn’t necessary for everyone. There are many ways to do quadruped leg swings, including:

  • Alternating between hip transverse abduction, combined hip abduction/extension, and hip extension
  • First hip transverse abduction, then combined hip abduction/extension, then hip extension
  • Alternating between hip transverse abduction and hip extension
  • First hip transverse abduction, then hip extension
  • Using ankle weights
  • Using elastic bands
  • Using a cable column

Make sure that if you add extra resistance in the form of ankle weights or bands, you feel it more in the glutes. The purpose of additional resistance is to increase the load on the glutes, but if you go too heavy, you don’t achieve this goal and you end up feeling it more in the hamstrings and erector spinae. Bodyweight is sufficient for many lifters. If ankle weights overly challenge the ability of your hamstrings to stabilize the knee joint, then you’re not yet ready for extra loading. When using bands, you want an upward vector so that there is tension pulling down on the hip, thus requiring end range hip extension torque. So make sure the bands (or cables) are positioned low in relation to the torso. Beginners need to master slow tempos before performing rapid tempos.

Toy around with these and figure out what works your glutes the best. Some do best with rapid dynamic movements, some do best pausing at the top of each rep, some feel the glutes more during hip transverse abduction when they internally rotate their hip, and some can move into hip hyperextension without irritating the low back whereas others need to stop a bit short. Hat tip to frequent guest contributor Derrick Blanton for reminding me about this surprisingly effective exercise.



  • Will Levy says:

    Nice variations as always Bret.
    I’m not sure if I’m offering this as a tip, an alternative, or just for your thoughts, but for the hip extension going straight behind, something I’ve incorporated with clients is to drop down to the forearms rather than propping up on the hands. This will put them in a subtle lumbar flexion at the bottom to further limit the lumbar extension at the top. Granted it limits the “swing” room a little more, though I usually teach it with a bent knee throughout anyway.
    Just a thought.

    • Bret says:

      Thanks Will! I appreciate the tip. I think Mike Boyle does the same thing with his progressions. I think it’s ideal to practice with bent leg quadruped hip extensions and bird dogs from the floor before moving onto the more rapid version I showed in the video. And it’s ideal to learn to control (limit, not completely prevent) lumbopelvic motion with slower bodyweight tempos prior to performing them rapidly. Thanks again.

  • Marcy says:

    I’ve always wondered why the different angles? Does that fire different areas? I do quadruped pulses with my heel pointed (foot flexed) in three different directions because I saw it on a video and it burns like h*##. Looking for a way to increase the work done between the back pockets.

  • Great exercise, love to use the cable as well as bands and or leg weights.

  • Steve says:

    Found this post/video really helpful. My glutes don’t appear to be “firing” no matter what exercise I do. I have been told they are “inhibited” but I have no understand as to why. I have been doing some similar exercises recently to try and get my glutes firing but was not sure that my technique/posture was correct.

  • Rita L says:

    Thanks Bret, this exercise feels really good! Thanks for all your info, I’m a fan! Your workouts and book has helped me grow good flutes in a year. (Pretty good for a tall latina who used to have negative booty 🙂

  • Adrian says:


    This is an amazing article. I want try this exercise on a reverse hyperextension machine. From your experience , which reverse hyperextension machine is the best one out there to perform this and a reverse hyperextension exercise?

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