How to Do Fire Hydrants: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a fire hydrant exercise to help improve glute, hip, and core strength, plus modifications to make it easier or harder.

Published Date: May 1, 2023
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Want a quick and easy exercise that will help alleviate back and hip pain from sitting in your desk chair all day? Want to also tone your glutes and challenge your core muscle at the same time? (Umm, yes please.) Enter the fire hydrant. The fire hydrant exercise is a simple yet effective bodyweight exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime. 

Here, learn about the benefits of the fire hydrant exercise, including how it can strengthen your glutes, improve your hip mobility, enhance your core stability, and help prevent injury. We will also provide tips on how to perform the exercise correctly and offer modifications for different fitness levels. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned gym-goer, the fire hydrant is an excellent exercise to add to your routine.

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Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

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What Is a Fire Hydrant Exercise?

The fire hydrant exercise is a bodyweight exercise that targets the glutes, hips, and core muscles. And yeah: You’ll be mimicking how a dog might behave at a fire hydrant. It involves starting on your hands and knees and then moving your leg out and up toward the ceiling. It’s a great exercise to incorporate into your lower body or core workout routine. You can also do it on its own as a quick and effective exercise — a few reps after a long day of sitting at your desk or as a morning stretch to shake out some stiffness can go a long way. 

What Muscles Do Fire Hydrants Work?

Fire hydrants help strengthen and tone the muscles in the lower body, particularly the hips and glutes, which are essential for maintaining balance, stability, and posture. More specifically, fire hydrants target the: 

  • Gluteus medius, which is located on the side of the hip. It’s responsible for hip abduction (moving your hip away from your body) and your ability to rotate your hip out.  

  • Gluteus maximus, which is the largest muscle in the buttocks. The main function of the gluteus maximus is hip extension, helping you straighten your hip when you move your leg backward during activities like walking, running, or climbing stairs. It also helps stabilize the pelvis during movements such as running, jumping, and lifting heavy objects. 

  • Hip adductors, which bring the leg toward the midline of the body. The hip adductors are located on the inside of the thigh. They work with the hip abductors to maintain proper balance and stability during movement.

  • Hip abductors, which help move the leg away from the midline of the body. They’re located on the outside of the hip and play an important role in activities that involve moving the legs apart, such as walking and running. They also stabilize the pelvis during these activities, which helps to prevent excessive side-to-side movement and maintain proper alignment of the lower body.

  • Core muscles, including the transverse abdominis and obliques, which help stabilize the spine and maintain proper posture during the movement.

Fire Hydrant Benefits

Fire hydrants improve your hip strength and mobility by putting your hip through its full range of motion. This can be particularly beneficial for people who sit for long periods of time, as it can help counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting on hip mobility. Strengthening your butt and hips also makes it easier to do activities like: 

  • Walking

  • Running

  • Getting up from the floor

  • Climbing stairs

  • Bending down to put your socks and shoes on 

Fire Hydrant: Exercise and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Fire Hydrant

Fire Hydrant

Fire Hydrant

Fire Hydrant

To do a fire hydrant: 

  • Get into a comfortable position on your hands and knees. (It may help to do this on a yoga mat or another soft surface.) 

  • Lift one leg off the floor, moving your knee out to the side and toward the ceiling. Keep your knee bent during the entire movement. 

  • Hold this position for a few seconds, squeezing your glute muscles together as you do so. It also helps to pull your abdominals in to help keep your pelvis steady and your spine neutral. 

  • Bring your knee back to the starting position. 

Everyone is different and it’s important to listen to your body, which is why you may need to modify the fire hydrant to meet your needs. 

Fire Hydrant Modifications

Fire Hydrant Modifications

Fire Hydrant Modifications

Fire Hydrant Modifications

To make fire hydrants easier:  

  • Reduce your range of motion by limiting how far you bring your leg toward the ceiling. 

  • Reduce how long you hold your leg in the air to minimize time under tension for your glutes. 

  • Do the exercise on your elbows instead of your hands to reduce the amount of weight on your upper body.

To make fire hydrants harder: 

  • Loop a resistance band just above each of your knees to add resistance and challenge your outer hip and glute muscles more. 

  • Increase how long you hold your leg in the air to increase time under tension for your glutes. 

  • Add ankle weights to make lifting your leg toward the ceiling more challenging. 

You can apply one of the above modifications to make the exercise easier or harder, or multiple modifications at once. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Gluteal Muscles. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Gluteal_Muscles

  2. Hip Abductors. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Abductors

  3. Hip Adductors. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Hip_Adductors

  4. Dale, P. (2021, September 16). Fire Hydrant Exercise: Muscles Worked, How-To, Benefits, and Alternatives. Fitness Volt. https://fitnessvolt.com/fire-hydrant-exercise/