The Fire Hydrant Exercise: Everything You Need To Know About The Popular New Fitness Trend

New fitness trends are always coming and going, and celebrities and social media “influencers” seem to constantly be claiming to have found the new “it” thing that will revolutionise your training. This has become particularly true of late when it comes to helping women obtain the “perfect butt”.

The problem is, these trends are often started by people who either don’t know what they are doing or are being paid by a company to promote what they are selling. This means the trends often turn out to not work or, at the very least, be less effective than its supporters are suggesting.

One of the current fitness trends that appears to have merit to it though, is the fire hydrant exercise. Another of the “butt developer” exercises, it promises a lot but can actually deliver.

What is the fire hydrant exercise and how do you do it though? Well, that is exactly what we will explain as we tell you everything you need to know about the popular new fitness trend.

How To do The Fire Hydrant Exercise

To perform the fire hydrant exercise, begin by getting down on all fours, with your hands, knees, and toes on the floor. Engage your core and keep it tight, while ensuring your shoulders and ankles are in perfect alignment.

Slowly lift one knee off of the floor and out to the side, away from your chest, moving only at the hip. Try to focus on contracting the glutes and the abductor on the outside of your leg throughout the movement. Pause at the top for a split second and really squeeze your glute as hard as you can.

Now, making sure to keep a 45-degree bend in your knee, slowly lower your leg back down to just short of the starting position and immediately begin the next repetition. Try to aim for 10 to 15 reps and then match it exactly with the other leg.

As you may have suspected based on the description of the exercise, it gets its name as it resembles a dog cocking its leg to urinate on a fire hydrant. Do 2 to 3 sets on each leg for maximum results.

What Muscles Does The Fire Hydrant Work?

The fire hydrant exercise is mainly designed to hit your glutes and the outside of your quads, which are known as abductor muscles, as they move the limb away from your core. The further you raise your knee out to the side, the more your glutes and abductors are actively engaged in the move. 

However, while these two muscles are the target of the exercise, they are not the only ones it hits. Other body parts like your arms and shoulders are also involved a small amount as well, as they are required to support your weight and balance your body during the exercise.

As you hold your leg in the raised position, your core engages to stabilize you, which will help to develop the ab muscles. Similarly, the rest of the muscles throughout the legs are activated, as they are required to keep your leg moving and in the correct position throughout the exercise. 

Benefits Of The Fire Hydrant Exercise

The fire hydrant exercise may seem like a simple exercise, but it is one that can offer a number of benefits for the human body. With that in mind, we will now take a look at some of the most popular and important of these benefits.

Greater Strength & Tone

The main benefit of the fire hydrant exercise is to develop the muscles around the hips and thighs, specifically the glutes and the abductors. It not only helps to improve the strength of these muscles but also their tone and definition, and even their size, depending on your diet.

It can also offer these benefits to a much smaller degree to the muscles of the core and throughout the rest of the legs as well. 

Core Engagement

As we touched on above, the fire hydrant exercise helps to activate the muscles in the core that are responsible for stability, including the abdominals and transverse abdominals.

Unlike exercises like crunches that hit certain parts of the abs, a fire hydrant trains them all at once with a static contraction in a similar way to a plank, just not quite as intensively. This makes it a great way to add some all round ab development to your leg routine, without needing any extra time.

Improved Balance, Flexibility & Stability

Due to the unique and somewhat unorthodox movement of the fire hydrant exercise, it can greatly help to improve the overall flexibility in the hips and legs.

It works on all 3 hip movements: extension, external rotation, and abduction, and they will gradually all become accustomed to moving through a new range of motion, making said movements easier and more comfortable to perform.

This, combined with the strengthening of the muscles and connective tissues that the exercise offers will also then enhance your mobility as well.

Finally, the exercise requires a fair deal of balance to perform properly. The more you push yourself each time, the better your balance will get. Factoring in the increases in strength and mobility with your improved balance will even enhance your overall stability as well.

Burning Calories

While not an obvious benefit of a static move, any time you use a muscle it requires calories to do so. Due to the sheer number of muscles activated and engaged by a fire hydrant exercise, it will actually burn a fair number of calories, meaning it can help you to lose weight while toning up.

Reduced Risk Of Injuries

If done correctly, the fire hydrant exercise doesn’t just help you help you make your body better, it also stops it from getting worse as well. By improving the strength, flexibility, mobility, and stability  of the muscles and joints in the core and lower body, it can stop them getting injured or damaged.

Fire Hydrant Variations

As we have established, the fire hydrant exercise has a lot of benefits it can offer. However, as with most exercises, it has its limits as well, and results from using it will eventually start to fall off. This means you will need to shake thing up if you hope to keep using it to great effect.

The following are what we feel are the best fire hydrant variations, to help keep your progress going.

Fire Hydrant With Resistance Band

To perform a fire hydrant with a resistance band, you need to stand upright with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and then loop a resistance band around your ankles, making sure that there is slight tension in the band in this position.

You then follow all of the same steps you would to perform a regular fire hydrant.

To get maximum effect from this variation, make sure you keep your core as tight as possible, focus on pushing your knees out as wide as you can, and keep your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. This will ensure you use proper form and have good stability throughout the exercise.

Fire Hydrant With Weights

Doing a fire hydrant with weights offers virtually the same benefits as doing a fire hydrant with a resistance band. The only difference is that you have much more freedom over your range of movement and a greater range of potential weights to use.

To perform a fire hydrant with weights, simply perform a regular fire hydrant while wearing ankle weights on each leg, preferably in the 5 to 20lbs range.

Standing Fire Hydrant

To do a standing fire hydrant, start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Breathe in deeply and squat down a little, slightly leaning forwards and moving one of your legs back a short way. Keep your elbows by your sides and bring your hands together in front of you to give your more stability.

Shift the majority of your weight to your front leg and slowly lift your back foot off of the floor while bending the knee on that leg to 90 degrees.

From here, you will try to perform the same movement you would in a regular fire hydrant, the only difference being that the leg moves slightly back on each rep, rather than straight out to the side.

Standing Fire Hydrant With Resistance Bands Or Ankle Weights

A standing fire hydrant then has its own resistance band and ankle weight variants. These are again done in just the same way as a normal fire hydrant while adding your choice of resistance. It is worth noting though, that these are considered by many to be the most difficult fire hydrant variations.

Fire Hydrant Kicks

To perform fire hydrant kicks, get on the floor in a kneeling position that is perpendicular (at a 90 degree angle) to a wall, with your feet resting against it. Put your hands flat on the floor in front of you with your arms at a 90 degree angle to your body as well.

Lift one leg up off of the floor and begin performing a regular fire hydrant, only make the movement slightly faster. Then, as your leg is coming up, extend your knee to kick out forcefully to the side.

At the top of your range of motion, your leg should be almost straight and the inside of your thigh nearly parallel to the floor. You also want to keep your foot flexed throughout the movement and, rather than pausing at the top, return immediately to the starting position and begin the next rep.

This fire hydrant variation is a great choice for improving the explosive power in your legs and glutes.

Hand Lift Fire Hydrants

Performing a hand lift fire hydrant requires you to get on all fours with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees, like you would for a regular fire hydrant.

Take a deep breath, activate your core, keep both your legs stationary, and raise one hand up and out to the side, until it reaches shoulder level, keeping a 90 degree bend in your elbow throughout.

Hold this position for one to two seconds and then lower your arm back down and place your hand back on the floor. Immediately repeat the movement on the other side and keep alternating sides until you have hit between 10 and 15 reps on each side. Rest and then repeat for 3 more sets.

Doing this will turn the fire hydrant into a shoulder and lat exercise, while also working the biceps and triceps as well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About The Fire Hydrant Exercise

Before we end our analysis of the fire hydrant exercise, I quickly want to go over a few of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) people have on it. This will ensure everyone knows exactly how to perform it and modify it, as well as what benefits it can offer, so you can add it to your own routine.

Do Fire Hydrants Widen Hips?

A common claim regarding fire hydrants that is circulating on social media is the idea that they can help you to widen your hips. Unfortunately, in reality, no, fire hydrants do not widen hips. In fact, a well-designed routine of exercise and nutrition is the only thing that can affect your hip size.

Do Fire Hydrants Help With Abs?

Fire hydrants are a good exercise to help you develop the strength of your core muscles, which can be extremely beneficial for abdominal muscle development. However, fire hydrants will not directly promote any major growth of the ab muscles.

If you want to build your abs and hope fire hydrants can be a part of the answer to do just that, you will need to do them with other exercises that specifically target all parts of the abs, such as planks, crunches, captain’s chairs, and cable wood chops, as part of an overall ab workout exercise routine.

Additionally, following a balanced diet that incorporates plenty of protein and a regular exercise routine that includes both cardio and resistance training can help to optimize muscle growth and fat loss throughout the body, which will not only develop the abs but also make them more visible too.

How Long Should You Hold A Fire Hydrant?

It is suggested you hold each side of the fire hydrant exercise anywhere from a few seconds all the way up to 20. You then also want to complete around 10 reps on each side and 2 to 3 sets of both.

The Fire Hydrant Challenge – Does it work?

The fire hydrant challenge is a popular social media trend that requires participants to do 50 fire hydrants a day, in order to achieve a “rounder butt”.

While there are benefits to performing fire hydrants as part of your exercise routine, there is no evidence to suggest doing them alone will achieve this result.

Fitness journalist Lucy Gornall tried the challenge as part of her research and noted down her results. She claims that, while it helped to burn calories and work the back and glutes a lot, it did not make her butt rounder, so did not “work” in the way that the challenge suggests it will.

Final Thoughts On The Fire Hydrant Exercise

A fire hydrant is a very useful movement for developing the glutes and thighs that fall somewhere between a static contraction and an isolation exercise. It works in a similar way to a glute machine, but gives you much more freedom to train when and where you want and vary the exercise.

While it isn’t the miracle exercise that some of the social media challenges make it out to be, it is still a useful tool to add to a workout for anyone looking to develop their glutes, thighs, or core.

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Steve is a retired professional wrestler with over 10 years of experience in the personal fitness industry. He is a certified personal trainer working with a wide variety of athletes as well as a fitness writer.

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