Booty workouts have never been more popular and as a personal trainer I couldn’t be happier because stronger glutes are a great goal and one I share. That’s a reason why I’m always deadlifting barbells.
The fire hydrant exercise is renowned for its ability to increase your glutes, as well as training your core and hip abductors. When my editor suggested trying 50 fire hydrants every day for 30 days I thought it was a good suggestion and was up for the challenge.
How To Do The Fire Hydrant Exercise
- Start on all fours with your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips directly above your knees.
- Engage your core and lift one leg out to the side, keeping your knee bent at 90° and ensuring your torso doesn’t rotate. Raise it as high as is comfortable.
- Pause, then lower, under control to the start.
- Do all the reps on one side, then switch sides.
For this challenge I split the 50 reps, doing 25 each side. So, was doing the fire hydrants exercise every day worth it? Here's what happened.
1. My butt didn't become rounder
As a bodyweight exercise, the fire hydrant won’t have much impact on the shape and size of your butt; It didn’t do anything for mine. In fact, walking up a hill several times would probably do more for me.
2. I did feel the burn
Naturally, doing 25 reps works your muscles hard and I felt that in my glutes. It was nice to do when I’d been sitting down all day and my butt muscles felt unused.
3. I was surprised by how hard my back had to work
The fire hydrant exercise also engages muscles in the back, particularly the lumbar spine in your lower back. It didn’t hurt my back, but it had to work hard to keep my torso and hips straight. If you do this exercise and feel pain in your lower back, then stop and assess your form. It may be that you’re raising your leg too high.
Fire hydrants challenge: my verdict
Don’t bother with this challenge. Seriously, if you want to grow or shape your glutes, get down to the gym, lift some weights, eat plenty of good food and be patient. That is how you achieve glute growth. Or, use ankle weights to make the exercise more resistance-based and perhaps follow it up with another glute exercise.
You can also incorporate fire hydrants as an activation exercise, to wake up your glutes before a weighted workout. Do the move slowly, while engaging the core and back and keeping your torso still. Activation is important to get the most out of a lower-body workout, so don’t skip it.
There are many other lower-body workouts and exercises that will elicit better results, as I discovered when I performed hip thrusts every day for two weeks.
Fire Hyrdant FAQs
What are fire hydrants good for?
This bodyweight exercise is great for working your glutes — the muscles in your butt. Strong glutes can help improve your posture and prevent knee, hip and back pain. The fire hydrant exercise also engages your core muscles to keep you stable as you move your leg.
Another benefit is improving hip mobility, which helps us to move more comfortably and it supports the spine. The fire hydrant is a hip abduction exercise where the hip externally rotates out — a movement that’s often neglected. Being in an all-fours position during a fire hydrant and maintaining a flat back so the hip can rotate out to the side encourages lower-back stability too.
Do fire hydrants grow glutes?
Fire hydrants are a good exercise to add to your glute-growing regime, but it has its limitations. To build muscle you need to follow the principles of progressive overload, increasing the challenge to your muscles over a series of workouts either by increasing the reps, weight or difficulty of another variable.
Adding weight to the fire hydrant is more difficult than a move like the hip thrust. Difficult, but not impossible. You can hold a weight plate on the side of your outer thigh (although this makes it harder to maintain your balance mid-move), or use ankle weights or a resistance band. Your best bet is to add fire hydrants alongside other glute-focused exercises, such as the hip thrust, glute bridge, squat and curtsey lunge.
How many fire hydrants should you do a day?
If you’re looking to grow your glutes, aim for no more than five sets with around 12 reps on each side. It’s best to add resistance at this rep range unless you’re a true beginner.
Want to get stronger? Here, try to use even more resistance and aim for six reps on each side for four sets or so. Those wanting to test muscular endurance should aim for more reps on each side. Look to complete four sets with about 18 reps in each set. For solely bodyweight fire hydrants, you can do more reps, as without the extra resistance it will take longer for your muscles to fatigue.
It’s also best not to do fire hydrants, or lower-body days in general, on consecutive days. Muscles need time to recover and it’s during rest days that they repair and grow.
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Lucy is a freelance journalist specializing in health, fitness and lifestyle. She was previously the Health and Fitness Editor across various women's magazines, including Woman&Home, Woman and Woman’s Own as well as Editor of Feel Good You. She has also previously written for titles including Now, Look, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Red and The Sun.
She lives and breathes all things fitness; working out every morning with a mix of running, weights, boxing and long walks. Lucy is a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios. Plus, she's pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to many classes of champagne and tequila on the rocks whilst out with her friends.
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