Fire Hydrant Workout 101 Guide - Proper Form & Benefits

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 27, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
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As a professional coach who has helped thousands of clients, I have found that the fire hydrant exercise is one of the best daily routines you can incorporate to sculpt the glutes of your dreams.

The exercise mainly targets the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, the core, and the back.

If you want to know the benefits of the fire hydrants and the best ways to perform the movements, read on.

Quick Summary

  • To perform the Fire Hydrant Exercise, start in a quadruped position with knees below hips and arms below shoulders, then move one leg away from the body at a 45° angle, maintaining a 90° knee angle, before returning to the starting position.
  • The exercise includes variations such as using resistance bands, ankle weights, and incorporating movements like kicks, pulses, and hand lifts for increased intensity and muscle engagement.
  • A study published in PubMed confirms that varying exercises, like the different versions of the Fire Hydrant Exercise, helps improve muscle strength by targeting different muscle groups more effectively.
  • In my opinion, the Fire Hydrant Exercise is an excellent choice for anyone looking to enhance their lower body workout routine, providing both strength and flexibility benefits, especially when complemented with its various adaptations.

How To Do Fire Hydrant Exercise

Fire Hydrant

The fire hydrant exercise, with its roots tracing back to early fitness regimes, has evolved over the years from its initial application to a staple in modern fitness routines, demonstrating a rich historical journey in the world of exercise.

Personal trainers often advocate for the inclusion of the fire hydrant exercise in fitness programs, citing its versatility and adaptability across various fitness levels and goals, from enhancing athletic performance to improving daily functional movements.

Before beginning, keep a yoga mat on the floor to cushion your knees. I always recommend using a yoga mat to cushion your knees, as I've found it crucial for comfort during the exercise.

  1. To begin, come down to the ground in a quadruped position. Make sure your knees are directly below your hips, and your arms and wrists are directly below your shoulders.
  2. Engage your core and keep your back as flat as possible.
  3. Move your right leg away from the body at an angle of 45° and make sure your right knee is at an angle of 90°.
  4. After that, lower your leg back towards your body and the starting position. The whole movement is one repetition.
  5. Next, switch legs and follow steps 2-4 for the other leg.
  6. For optimal results, make sure you do three sets of 15 reps each.

Additional Tips

A tip from my coaching sessions: maintaining a straight back is key to perfecting the form of the fire hydrant exercise.

And if you want to improve glute strength and increase hip mobility, try to raise your legs without rotating your torso too much.

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Benefits of This Workout

  • The quadruped position enhances your core stability and simultaneously strengthens your base.
  • Stretches your hip flexors (the muscle group near the top of your thighs responsible for moving your lower body). Additionally, stretching these muscles not only improves the health of your hip joints but also hip movement and flexibility, according to the WebMD [1].
  • Sculpts your butt by targeting it from all angles.
  • Helps improve balance and coordination.
  • Strengthens the hamstrings, which in turn keeps the pelvis stable.
  • Improves proprioception [2].

Variations

fire hydrant with a resistance band

You can perform variations on fire hydrant exercises to target muscle groups the original exercise cannot reach. These modified versions also target previous muscle groups far more efficiently.

In my coaching, I've introduced clients to variations like fire hydrant with a resistance band, which effectively intensifies the workout. Here are some ways to do fire hydrants with a twist:

With a Resistance Band

One way to amp up the workout is to use a resistance band.

This can be placed above the knee, and the added stress helps target the muscle groups more effectively.

Keep your core engaged.

Fire Hydrant with ankle weightsWith Ankle Weights

Just like resistance bands, you can use ankle weights to make your exercise more impactful.

These increase the strength required to lift your legs, which in turn helps tone and strengthen hamstrings and glutes.

fire hydrant kickFire Hydrant Kick

The ‘kick’ version is the same as the original workout, except you straighten your legs after the lift instead of keeping them at 90°.

Also, make sure to tighten your core.

Stretch your leg completely for maximum impact on glutes.

Forearm Fire HydrantForearms Fire Hydrant

For better control and stability, you can use your forearms instead of your palms.

bear crawl Fire HydrantBear Crawl Fire Hydrant

If you want to ramp up the exercise intensity and feel the burn, perform fire hydrants by pushing down with your toes and keep your knees hovered in the air.

Then carry on with the standard fire hydrant movement.

fire hydrant with hand liftFire Hydrant With Hand Lift

Once again, this is the same as the usual exercise but with a minor variation.

If you’re lifting the left leg, keep your right hand one inch above the floor for a complete set (10 repetitions).

Then lower your right hand after the set.

Then do the same for the right leg, keeping your left hand above the floor.

fire hydrant with pulseFire Hydrants With Pulses

Rather than lifting your leg and putting it down in one motion, fire hydrants with pulses variation involves pulsing your leg three to five times.

And if you want to get more out of the exercise, increase the pulses.

Alternative Exercises

Woman doing side leg raises

If you’re looking for alternatives to fire hydrants and want to keep things fresh while also targeting the same muscle groups, take a look at these equally effective alternatives.

Varying your exercises helps improve muscle strength, according to the study published in PubMed [3].

In my training experience, I've found alternatives like side leg raises and donkey kicks to be highly effective.

Side Leg Raises

This exercise is a great alternative technique that targets the hip and the core.

  1. Start in a standing position with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Slowly lift your right leg as much as you can out to the side and then bring back your foot to the starting point.
  3. Do this for 30 seconds.
  4. Switch to the opposite leg and repeat.

To maintain proper form, squeeze your core during the exercise. Also, bend your knees, but only slightly.

Woman doing a donkey kickDonkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are an effective hip extension exercise. Here’s how to do them:

  1. Kneel on your hands and knees with your back straight, head facing down, hands directly below shoulders, and neck relaxed so that it is in line with the spine.
  2. Extend your left leg back and upwards towards the ceiling, keeping the knee bent at 90° while simultaneously tightening the gluteus muscle.
  3. Slowly lower your leg to starting position and repeat ten times before switching sides.

bird dogBird Dog

The Bird Dog consists of the following steps:

  1. Start on all fours with hands directly below your shoulders and knees below your hips.
  2. Raise your right hand off the ground, making sure it's in line with your right shoulder, and keep your fingers straightened. Simultaneously raise your left leg and keep it in a straight line parallel to the floor while making sure that your glutes are engaged. Hold the position for a second and return to the starting position lowering your limbs at the same time.
  3. Repeat the above step for the left arm and leg.
  4. When steps 2 and 3 are done, consider that as one rep.
  5. Do 3 sets for 20 reps for best results.

FAQs

What Does the Fire Hydrant Exercise Target?

Fire hydrants target hip abductor muscles like gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and gluteus maximus. They help tone and strengthen the thighs, hamstrings, abs, and core muscles as well.

Why Is It Called the Fire Hydrant Exercise?

It is called ‘fire hydrant’ exercise because the movement resembles a dog urinating on a fire hydrant. For this reason, it is also called dirty dog exercise.


References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/how-to-stretch#1
  2. https://www.webmd.com/brain/what-is-proprioception
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24832974/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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