Fire Hydrant Exercise – How to Perform, Muscles Worked and Benefits

fire hydrant exercise

Fire hydrants are a form of bodyweight exercises that primarily work the gluteus maximus (the butt muscles).

They are called “fire hydrants” because the exercise resembles a dog urinating on a fire hydrant, lifting its back leg from a “quadrilateral” position.

This seemingly simple exercise is a staple for strengthening and toning the glutes. Weak glutes can impact all sorts of lower body movements and cause other muscles to compensate, often resulting in injuries down the line. Fire hydrants also promote better hip mobility and range of motion, helping improve all sorts of movements.

In this article, we explain everything you need to know about fire hydrants, with a clear step by step instruction on how to master the movement.

What is the Fire Hydrant exercise?

The fire hydrant is a great exercise for people who have trouble activating the glutes. It’s an exercise that is used a lot in rehabilitation programmes for people who have had lower back problems. It also lends itself very well for general prehab exercises or as a warm-up.

Fire hydrants are a quadruped exercise, which simply describes a movement on all fours. Once in the quadruped position, there are a whole host of movements and exercises that can help strengthen and tone your core, glutes, hamstrings and quads. From the fire hydrant position, you could naturally flow into the Bird Dog yoga pose, for example. This can be really useful for creating effective stretching routines.

The fire hydrant is particularly effective at opening up the hips too, which improves flexibility and mobility in the lower body.

It can be used as part of a warm-up, stretching routine or mobility drill.

The good news is that the fire hydrant exercise is simple to do, and as a beginner you can give it a go and focus on small movements until you feel comfortable to rotate your hips higher.

It is also great for people who have problems with tight hip flexors and hamstrings. This is because you can’t fire the glutes properly if your hip flexors and hamstrings are tight.

When doing the fire hydrant exercise, you should try to keep your knee from going past your toes. This is because you will be putting more emphasis on the glutes. You can also do this exercise with a resistance band too, if you want to create more resistance and turn it into more of a toning and strengthening movement.

How to do the Fire Hydrant?

Follow along to the step by step guide below to master the fire hydrant exercise.

You don’t need any equipment, although as discussed later, you can add a resistance band into the movement to make it more challenging.

You may also want to use a yoga mat as a cushion for your knees.

  1. Start on all fours, also known as the quadruped position, with your hand and knees on the floor.
  2. Place your arms directly under your shoulders and keep your back straight.
  3. Engage your core to keep your body stable.
  4. Raise your right leg outwards at a 45 degree angle (or as high as you can), whilst keeping your knee straight. Keep your arms and remaining leg locked in place and your back straight for the movement, so only your right leg is moving.
  5. Lower your right leg and repeat.
  6. Repeat the movement on your left leg.

The most common mistake in the fire hydrant exercise is either not keeping your back straight or rotating your back to help lift your leg. The focus is on glute strength and hip mobility, so just raise your leg as high as you can without rotating your torso.

Fire Hydrant Benefits

The benefits of the fire hydrant exercise are numerous. Some of the more obvious ones include:

  • It improves core strength and stability;
  • It effectively stretches the hip flexors;
  • It strengthens the hamstrings;
  • It improves balance;
  • It improves proprioception;
  • It builds coordination;
  • It builds confidence.

The fire hydrant exercise is also great for injury prevention. It improves core strength and stability which helps stabilize the spine. The hamstrings are strengthened which helps them to be more active in stabilizing the pelvis. The hip flexors are stretched which improves joint health.

The fire hydrant exercise also helps to improve balance and coordination. As this is an exercise that helps people to balance while in motion, it is very effective at improving balance.

Fire Hydrant Modification and Variations

There are a variety of modifications and variations of the fire hydrant, to change up the difficulty and muscles worked.

The fire hydrant also lends itself very well to flow into complementary movements such as donkey kicks, bird dog, weighted kickbacks, cat cow and more.

With Bands

Adding resistance bands is the easiest way to modify the fire hydrant and instantly make it more changing. Bands come in a range of thicknesses, the thicker the band, the more resistance needed to move it.

Add the band around the leg you are moving. This will force your muscles to work harder.

This will change up the focus of the exercise from being a hip opening mobility movement, to really a glute strengthening exercise.

  1. Start on all fours, also known as the quadruped position, with your hand and knees on the floor.
  2. Place a resistance band around your upper thigh.
  3. Place your arms directly under your shoulders and keep your back straight.
  4. Engage your core to keep your body stable.
  5. Raise your right leg outwards at a 45 degree angle (or as high as you can), whilst keeping your knee straight. Keep your arms and remaining leg locked in place and your back straight for the movement, so only your right leg is moving. Push against the resistance band. If it is hard to move, select a thinner band with less resistance.
  6. Lower your right leg and repeat.
  7. Repeat the movement on your left leg.

Standing

A standing fire hydrant brings will it all the benefits of the movement, with the added bonus of also improving your balance.

A standing fire hydrant is very similar to a side leg raise, but the focus should be on hip mobility, so bend your knee and focus more on your hips opening up.

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and keep your back straight.
  3. Engage your core to keep your body stable.
  4. Bend your right leg and raise it outwards at a 45 degree angle (or as high as you can), whilst keeping your knee straight. Keep your torso facing forward so only your right leg is moving.
  5. Lower your right leg and repeat.
  6. Repeat the movement on your left leg.

With Ankle Weight

As well as the modifications mentioned above, you could also use ankle weights to increase difficulty. Ankle weights offer a simple way to increase the strength required to do the movement, helping tone and strengthen the glutes and hamstrings.

Fire Hydrant Challenge

Looking for a fitness challenge that includes the fire hydrant exercise? Here at fitness drum, our virtual fitness challenges, ready-made exercise programmes and digital coaching create happy, healthy workplaces, at a delightfully affordable price. Get fit by following along to a fire hydrant challenge or one of the new fitness challenges added each month.

FAQ

What muscles are worked in the fire hydrant exercise?
Glutes, hamstrings, quads and core

What are some fire hydrant progressions?
Add resistance bands to increase the difficulty of fire hydrants.

Are fire hydrants good for beginners?
Yes, fire hydrants are a great exercise for beginners and professional athletes alike.

Do fire hydrants tone your glutes and thighs?
Yes, fire hydrants help to strengthen and tone your glutes and thighs. As with many quadruped exercises, they also help tone your core muscles too.

 

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