July 29, 2021 9 min read

What if there was an exercise that strengthened your hip and glute muscles while building a leaner core and improving your wellness?  It turns out that fire hydrants do just that!

Also known as quadruped hip abductions, fire hydrants are a can't-miss bodyweight resistance exercise.  They are best known for strengthening your hips and glutes, but they actually do so much more than that.

Want to know more? Here is our complete guide to fire hydrants, including the proper techniques, benefits, and variations of the exercise!

The Top Benefits of Fire Hydrants

We highly suggest adding fire hydrants to your lower body workout routine because they have so many benefits. Here are just a few of the top ones:

Medical illustration to explain hip muscles

1. Strengthens the hips and glutes

Lifters often overlook the hip and glute muscles for other muscle groups, including the back, shoulders, and legs. However, they perhaps don't realize the importance of strengthening the hips and glutes.

What makes having strong hips and glutes so important? Here are just a few of the top reasons:

  • Keeping the pelvis strong
  • Improving back posture
  • Reducing hip, knee, and back pain

Most importantly, having muscular hips strengthens the pelvis. The pelvis is the bottom of your entire core region and links your upper body to your lower body. When it is strong and stable, your whole body becomes stronger and stabler as a result.

The primary hip and glute muscles that get worked from fire hydrants include:

  • Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus
  • Psoas major and psoas minor
  • Iliacus

2. Strengthens the core and abdominal muscles

In addition to the hips and glutes, fire hydrants also strengthen the core muscles and abdominal muscles.Did you know that your core and abdominals are not the same things? The core includes more than 20 muscles in your stomach area, lower back, and hips. On the other hand, the abs are solely in your stomach area.

The core is an extremely robust muscle group that helps stabilize your entire body and coordinate movements, while the abs are purely for moving the torso. If you want a totally lean, toned, and well-built body, then you need to fire up both the core and abs.

Thankfully, fire hydrants do just that.The abs and core get fired up to help initiate the movement from the hip joint and keep your upper body facing the floor. As a result, you get a healthier and better-looking midsection. 

3. Perfect for at-home workouts

If you are not an everyday gym-goer, then fire hydrants are perfect for you! You don't need any equipment or a spotter to help you, so you can do them from home, a hotel room, or wherever you like! However, we suggest having a personal trainer give you a hand with them if you feel like they are causing you any pain.

4. Are a low-impact resistance exercise

Lastly, fire hydrants are a low-impact bodyweight exercise, meaning that they use your bodyweight for resistance rather than weights or a machine.  The best thing about low-impact bodyweight exercises is that they are usually easy on the joints.

Therefore, you are less likely to get injured doing them. If you struggle with arthritis or body aches and pains, try fire hydrants for strengthening your body without further hurting yourself.In addition to reducing the odds of an injury, low-impact resistance exercises have several other benefits, including:

Moreover, if you want to get stronger while improving your overall wellness at the same time, then fire hydrants are right for you!

How to Do Fire Hydrants With Proper Technique

Fire hydrants are a simple but excellent exercise. However, even though they are simple, it is still crucial to pay attention to your form. Improper form is likely to cause injuries and target the incorrect muscle groups. Moreover, if you want to reduce your risk of injury and reap all the benefits of the exercise, then you must pay attention to form!

Here is how to do the fire hydrant exercise with proper form:

  1. Get on all fours on a soft, flat surface. Your hands should be directly underneath your shoulders and your knees underneath your hips at about hip-width apart. Try to create one long line in your back from your glutes to the crown of your head.
  1. When you are ready, exhale and lift your right knee straight out to the side until it is at about hip height or opened to a 90-degree angle. Keep your knee bent as you lift it. Also, your knee should stay directly in line with your hips, and all of the movement should come from your right hip joint.
  1. Squeeze your glutes and hip muscles to keep your knee open, then slowly release the squeeze and lower your right knee back to starting position.
  1. Repeat! Do six to ten more reps on the right leg, then switch legs.

Because they are only a few steps and are a tiny movement, fire hydrants might seem easy at first. However, they are highly technical, which makes proper form extremely important! 

Therefore, keep in mind these couple extra form tips when doing fire hydrants:

  • Keep your back neutral: When you are on all fours, your back must be in a neutral position. Imagine as if there is a rod running from the crown of your head to your glutes. Most importantly, be sure not to arch your lower back, or you could experience potentially debilitating back pain.

  • Do not twist your spine: As you open your leg out to the side, your upper body should stay facing the floor. Do not twist your spine! Only lift your leg as high as you can while keeping your spine straight.

  • Lift your knee laterally: Your knee should open laterally, straight out from the side of your hip joint. Do not press your knee back or pull it forward, but open it to the side! Also, only lift your knee as high as you can while keeping it out to the side.

Top Fire Hydrant Variations

We love fire hydrants for toning the lower body, but doing them so many times over again is boring and ineffective. However, you can do fire hydrants then switch things up a bit with these top fire hydrant variation exercises! Not only will these exercises prevent boredom, but they will also increase strength in your hips so that you can improve your fire hydrant technique.

Here are our favorite fire hydrant variations:

  1. Attach ankle weights: Do you like the OG fire hydrant exercise but don't feel super challenged by them? If that sounds like you, the simplest way to switch things up and add some difficulty is to wear ankle weights. Ankle weights make it more challenging for you to lift the lower part of your leg off the floor. However, be careful not to overload your ankles. Putting more weight on than you can handle could cause your hip to rotate and spine to twist!​

  2. Use a resistance band: Along with using ankle weights, the other simple way to up the difficulty of fire hydrants is to wrap a looped resistance band around your thighs. The added resistance will force your glute and hip muscles to work extra hard to open your knee. All you need to do is wrap a resistance band around your quads and go!

  3. Fire hydrant pulses: Want to feel an intense burn in your glutes and hips? Simple! Just try fire hydrant pulses. Get into a regular fire hydrant starting position on all fours. Open your knee out to the side just as you would for a traditional fire hydrant.Then, instead of lowering your knee back to the floor, do tiny upward pulses with your knee. The pulse should only lift your knee an extra inch or two into the air. Do ten to twenty pulses, then lower your knee back to the floor.
  1. Fire hydrant kicks: Fire hydrant kicks add a leg extension on top of the regular fire hydrant. Get into a traditional fire hydrant starting position on all fours. Open your knee out to the side just as you would for a regular fire hydrant. Then, instead of lowering your knee back to the floor, kick your leg out until it is straight. Hold it for one to two seconds by squeezing your glutes, then bend your leg back to 90-degrees and lower your knee to the floor. Do two to three sets of nine to twelve reps!

Other Top Hip Abduction Exercises

Like we mentioned above, you can't fill up an entire workout plan with just fire hydrants. However, you can put together a complete hip abduction workout with fire hydrants, fire hydrant variations, and these other top hip abduction exercises. If you want to put together a total abduction workout and improve your fire hydrants, try these exercises!

Clamshells

Lay on a soft, flat surface on the right side of your body. Create one long line from your head to your toes. Your legs should stack on top of one another, and your body should open to the right side. Prop your head into your right hand and place your left hand on your left hip.

Press your knees forward about one foot while keeping your feet in line with your hips. When you're ready, exhale and open your left knee off your right knee while keeping your toes together. If you're doing this right, it should look like a clamshell opening!

Open your knee as far as you can while keeping your upper body forward, then inhale and drop your left knee back to starting position. Do ten to twelve reps laying on the right side, then flip onto the other side of your body.

Lateral Leg Raises

Lay on a soft, flat surface on the right side of your body. Create one long line from your head to your toes. Your legs should stack on top of one another, and your body should open to the right side. Extend your right arm long and rest your head on your arm.

When you're ready, exhale and lift your top left leg straight into the air. Lift it as high as you can or until the pinch in your hips is too much, then slowly lower back to starting position. Make sure to keep your body completely straight! Do ten to twelve reps laying on the right side, then flip onto the left side.

Curtsey Lunges

Finish out your hip abduction workout with curtsey lunges! Stand up tall with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips. Exhale and step your right foot backward and slightly behind your body to simulate a curtsey. Inhale to step your right foot back to starting position, then repeat on the left side.

Curtsey lunges are very similar to regular lunges, except you step backward and to the side rather than just backward. You should feel an extra pinch in your hip muscles!

Other Top Hip-Strengthening Exercises

While all of the above hip abduction exercises are excellent, they aren't the only hip exercises you should be doing. In addition to hip abduction, you must also do exercises for the other types of hip movements, including:

  • Hip adduction
  • Hip extension
  • Hip flexion
  • Internal, medial, and external rotation

Here are some of our favorite exercises for the other types of hip movements:

Glute Bridges

Lay flat on your back with your arms by your sides and feet pulled in towards your glutes. When you're ready, press into your heels to lift your glutes off the floor and keep lifting them until there is a straight line from your knees to your neck.

Fitness man doing bodyweight glute floor bridge

Imagine as if there is a string attached to your hips that suspends your midsection in the air. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the bridge, then slowly lower back to the floor.

Side-lying Hip Adduction

Lay on a soft, flat surface on the right side of your body. Create one long line from your head to your toes so that your legs stack on top of one another and your body opens to the right side. Slide your top leg backward off of your bottom leg while keeping your hips stacked.

When you're ready, flex your right inner thigh muscles to lift your right leg off the floor. It should only lift about two to three inches. Squeeze your inner thigh and hips, then slowly lower back to the floor.

Band Walks

Band walks have the double benefit of strengthening your hips and boosting your heart rate. That makes them perfect for building muscle mass and inducing weight loss. Wrap a looped resistance band around your thighs right above your knees. Spread your legs to shoulder-width apart and bend your knees to create mild tension in the resistance band.

When you're ready, take a step straight out to the right to increase tensity in the resistance band. Then, step your left foot to the right so that your legs are shoulder-width apart again. Take ten more steps to the right, then switch to the opposite direction.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of your fitness level or goals, we highly suggest adding fire hydrants to your workout plan! You will strengthen and tone your lower body while improving your overall physical and mental wellness.

When combined with upper body exercises, you can make fire hydrants a part of a balanced full-body workout.  Do not hesitate to start doing fire hydrants (and their variations) today!

 

Bonus tip: Want to build even stronger hip abductor muscles?  If so, then check out our guide to the top 10 best hip abductor exercises!


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