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Fire hydrants, also called quadruped hip abductions, are a type of bodyweight exercise. They mainly work the gluteus maximus, but some variations also work the core.

When done regularly, fire hydrants can sculpt your glutes, improve back pain, and lower the risk for injury.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of fire hydrant exercises and how to do them. We’ll also provide a step-by-step guide with a video for each exercise.

To get the most out of fire hydrants, it’s important to use the right form and technique. You can follow this video to learn how to do them.

Since the fire hydrant is a bodyweight exercise, you don’t need special equipment. You’ll only need a mat.

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your shoulders above your hands and your hips above your knees. Tighten your core and look down.
  2. Lift your left leg away from your body at a 45-degree angle. Keep your knee at 90 degrees.
  3. Lower your leg to starting position to complete 1 rep.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps. Repeat with the other leg.

Tips

Keep your core and pelvis stable. Your hip should be the only thing moving. Otherwise, your hips and glutes won’t activate properly.

When you lift your leg, point your foot toward the opposite wall. This will help your hip rotate correctly.

The fire hydrant is an excellent exercise for strengthening your gluteus maximus. Some variations also work the abdominal muscles, toning and strengthening your core.

As the biggest muscle in your pelvis and hip region, your glutes control three major hip movements. These include:

  • Hip extension. Hip extension moves your thigh back and away from your pelvis. It lets you walk and go up stairs.
  • Hip external rotation. This happens when your leg rotates outward. You use hip external rotation to get out of a car.
  • Hip abduction. Hip abduction lifts your leg away from the center of your body, which lets you step to the side.

The fire hydrant involves all three movements, so it’s a great glute exercise. It can help your glutes look more toned and sculpted. Having strong glutes also improves your posture, lowers your risk of injury, and reduces back and knee pain.

Once you’ve mastered the basic fire hydrant, you can try modified versions to challenge yourself.

Fire hydrant with resistance band

Fire hydrants can be done with a resistance band loop around both legs. The band will force your hips and glutes to work against resistance.

To do it, wrap a resistance band loop above your knees. Perform fire hydrants as usual.

Shop resistance bands online.

Fire hydrant with ankle weights

Using ankle weights will challenge your glutes and legs to work harder. If you’re new to ankle weights, start with a low weight. You can increase the weight over time.

After you put on the ankle weights, do fire hydrants as usual.

Want to buy ankle weights? Find them here.

Fire hydrant kick

Adding a kick to a normal fire hydrant will intensify the move. This will further strengthen the sides of your hip muscles. Here’s how to do it:

  1. When you lift your leg, straighten your knee to extend your leg. Return your knee to 90 degrees and lower your leg to finish 1 rep.
  2. When you kick, straighten your leg completely. This will work your glutes properly.

Fire hydrant with pulses

Another way to make fire hydrants harder is to add pulses. When you lift your leg, pulse 3 to 5 times. Lower your leg to complete 1 rep.

As you get stronger, you can increase the number of pulses.

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Fire hydrant with hand lift

To challenge your core, lift one hand while you do fire hydrants. This move is great for posture and back strength because it helps stabilize the spine.

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your shoulders above your hands and your hips above your knees. Tighten your core and look down.
  2. Lift your left leg away from your body at 45 degrees. Keep your knee at 90 degrees.
  3. Lift your right hand 1 inch above the floor. Repeat 10 fire hydrants while your hand continues to hover. Lower your hand to complete 1 set.
  4. Do 3 sets. Repeat with the right leg and left hand.
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Standing fire hydrant

Like normal fire hydrants, standing fire hydrants strengthen your glutes, hips, and core. They involve the same type of hip movement.

This exercise doesn’t put pressure on the wrists, so it’s ideal for people who have wrist pain or discomfort.

You can place your hands on the back of a chair for balance.

  1. Stand with your legs hip-width apart. Bend your left leg to 90 degrees.
  2. Lean your trunk forward and squeeze your core. Lift your leg to 45 degrees without moving the rest of your body.
  3. Lower your leg to starting position to complete 1 rep.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Repeat with the other leg.

To intensify the move, place a resistance band loop just above your knees.

The fire hydrant is one way to work your glutes, hips, and core. If you’d like to switch things up, try these alternative exercises in addition to fire hydrants.

These exercises will work similar muscles and add variety to your routine.

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Bent knee hip extensions

The bent knee hip extension strengthens the glutes and core, just like fire hydrants.

  1. Start on your hands and knees. Place your shoulders above your hands and your hips above your knees. Tighten your core and look down.
  2. Squeeze your glutes. Lift your left leg, keeping your knee at 90 degrees. Continue until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Lower your leg to complete 1 rep.
  4. Do 3 sets of 10 reps. Repeat with the other leg.

Like fire hydrants, bent knee hip extensions should only move your hip. Your back, neck, and opposite hip should stay still.

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Clamshell exercise

You can also strengthen your glutes and hip joints by doing clamshell exercises. This move is ideal if you don’t like being on all fours. It’s a bit easier on the knees.

  1. Lie on your left side and place your head on your left arm. Rest your right hand on your right hip.
  2. Bend both your legs to 45 degrees, stacking them on top of each other. Line up your hips and shoulders.
  3. Squeeze your glutes. Lift the top knee. Return to starting position.
  4. Complete 3 sets of 10 reps. Repeat on the other side.

To properly work your glutes, rotate your foot inward. This will line up your shinbone with your hips. If your foot rotates outward, the exercise will work your shinbone instead of your hips.

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Side leg raise

Side leg raises, like fire hydrants, work your glutes and engage your hips. The move is also called a standing lateral hip abduction.

You can do it with or without a resistance band loop.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. If you’re using a resistance band, place it just above your knees.
  2. Straighten your spine and face your toes forward. Squeeze your core.
  3. With your right knee slightly bent, lift your left leg to the side. Pause.
  4. Slowly lower your leg to starting position.
  5. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Repeat with the other leg.

If you need help staying balanced, place your hands on the back of a chair.

If you’re new to exercise, see a personal trainer or exercise physiologist before trying fire hydrants.

You should also talk to an exercise professional if you’ve had back, hip, or knee surgery. They can show you how to safely do fire hydrant exercises.

Before starting or modifying an exercise program, talk to your doctor first. They can explain the safest options for your fitness level. If they say it’s OK to do fire hydrants, start with a low number of reps. You can increase the reps over time.

Fire hydrants will strengthen and tone your glutes and core. They’ll also improve the way your hip moves. This can reduce back pain, help your posture, and make everyday movement more comfortable.