The peculiar name of this exercise usually causes many people to think that they have no idea what it is or how it’s performed, but the reality is, fire hydrants are an incredibly popular stretching exercise that you have most probably seen people practicing in the gym, or even within a yoga class.
There are several reasons why the fire hydrant has become so popular, and an integral part of many people’s workout routines, and it’s well worth knowing about the benefits of this exercise and how to perform it properly so that you can also practice it from time to time enhance your flexibility and work on your core strength.
Here is the full breakdown of the fire hydrant exercise, including how it is practiced, and the benefits that come from doing it regularly.
Why Is The Fire Hydrant So Popular?
The fire hydrant has been around for decades at this point, and actually used to be more well-known as the quadruped hip abduction exercise.
One of the main reasons it has been able to enjoy such immense popularity over the years is that it is one of the most effective exercises for strengthening the gluteus maximus.
The gluteus maximus is a large muscle that plays a big part in maintaining our upper body strength which helps to improve our posture and relieve any stress or pain in the back.
There are still other exercises that work on this particular muscle, including hip thrusts and stiff-legged deadlifts, but the fire hydrant tends to be the easiest to perform and requires absolutely no equipment, so for many people, it is much easier to slot into an exercise routine compared to its competition.
How To Practice Fire Hydrants?
As mentioned above, you won’t need any equipment to perform a fire hydrant, but since it is still a bodyweight exercise, it can make things much easier if you have a mat below you during your practice.
Here is how to do a fire hydrant the correct way:
Step 1 – Start on all fours and keep your wrists underneath your shoulders, and your knees hip-width apart.
Step 2 – While keeping your knees bent, lift one leg up away from your body so that it reaches a 45-degree angle. The only other part of your body that should be moving along with your leg is your hips.
Step 3 – Bring your lifted leg back to the starting position, and you will have completed 1 rep. Repeat, and then switch legs.
Tips For Practicing The Fire Hydrant Exercise
When you perform a fire hydrant, you’re going to notice that a lot of the work is being done by your core, so it can help to focus on squeezing your core as much as possible during practice so that you can lift your leg up easier with each rep.
If you’re having a little bit of trouble rotating your hip enough to lift your leg, try pointing your foot to the opposite wall to make the extension a lot easier.
When you lift your leg up, the hardest parts of the body to keep still are the core and pelvis, so it can be worth paying most of your attention to keeping them firmly in place when practicing the exercise so that your hips and glutes can benefit as much as possible from the stretching.
Benefits Of The Fire Hydrant
The main purpose of the fire hydrant exercise is to strengthen the gluteus maximus which can help with upper body strength and maintaining a good posture, but there are still many other, more specific benefits that come from practicing it regularly.
Let’s take a look at what some of these major benefits are:
- Hip movements – The glutes play a big part in controlling hip movements, specifically hip extension, external rotation, and abduction. All of these are related to the flexibility of our hips and how much strain we can place on them, so practicing the fire hydrant can allow our hips to feel much more flexible.
- Reduce back pain – A bad posture is one of the biggest causes of back pain for many people, and since the fire hydrant is the best way to resolve this issue, it can also be a great remedy for this common pain, making everyday movements a lot more comfortable.
- Less risk of injury – The fire hydrant is a great exercise for warming up the hips and activating the glutes before you undertake a long workout session, so it lessens the risk of you pulling or damaging a muscle in this area.
- Works on neglected movements – When you practice a fire hydrant exercise, you will be using a movement within the “transverse plane” which is usually neglected by many people in their glute and lower body workouts, despite how beneficial it is to keeping our joints healthy.
Variations Of The Fire Hydrant
While the fire hydrant exercise we have talked about today is by far the most popular, there are a few lesser-known variations that put a slight spin on the original technique, these are:
- Bear crawl fire hydrants – This technique is a lot more demanding and far more intense, requiring you to hover your knees off the ground before performing a normal fire hydrant. This will improve your balance and stabilize your core, but it requires a lot of practice to pull off correctly.
- Forearm fire hydrants – If you want to make fire hydrants a bit easier, try placing your forearms rather than your palms on the floor which will help grant you more control and stability.
- Weighted fire hydrant – A person practicing a weighted fire hydrant will use a resistance band on their legs to test their lower body strength, making this a more intense workout which is great for strengthening the gluteal muscles.
A lot of people will dread working on their glutes during a workout because of how demanding the exercises can be, or how much equipment is required, but the fire hydrant makes this much easier, providing an easy, quick, and effective way to strengthen the core and the gluteus maximus.