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What is the Fire Hydrant exercise?

The fire hydrant is a great exercise for people who have trouble activating the glutes. It’s an exercise that is used a lot in rehabilitation programmes for people who have had lower back problems. It also lends itself very well for general prehab exercises or as a warm-up.

Fire hydrants are a quadruped exercise, which simply describes a movement on all fours. Once in the quadruped position, there are a whole host of movements and exercises that can help strengthen and tone your core, glutes, hamstrings and quads. From the fire hydrant position, you could naturally flow into the Bird Dog yoga pose, for example. This can be really useful for creating effective stretching routines.

The fire hydrant is particularly effective at opening up the hips too, which improves flexibility and mobility in the lower body.

It can be used as part of a warm-up, stretching routine or mobility drill.

The good news is that the fire hydrant exercise is simple to do, and as a beginner you can give it a go and focus on small movements until you feel comfortable to rotate your hips higher.

It is also great for people who have problems with tight hip flexors and hamstrings. This is because you can’t fire the glutes properly if your hip flexors and hamstrings are tight.

When doing the fire hydrant exercise, you should try to keep your knee from going past your toes. This is because you will be putting more emphasis on the glutes. You can also do this exercise with a resistance band too, if you want to create more resistance and turn it into more of a toning and strengthening movement.

Video

Can you “stop, drop and go” within 15 feet of a fire hydrant?

YES. But, I would argue that you can also, “stop, drop, and stay” if you otherwise qualify for the exception to the fire hydrant rule.

Are Fire Hydrants Considered Public or Private Property?

Who owns a fire hydrant? Is it the fire department? The town or city? Some private owner?

That depends on the location of the hydrant.

Anytime a fire hydrant is on public property, it’s considered publicly owned by the city or town in which it’s located. 

It’s up to the city or town to inspect the condition of the fire hydrant (or hire a professional to do so), test the hydrant, and maintain it so it’s useful to firefighters for as long as possible. 

However, not every fire hydrant you see is necessarily public property.

If a hydrant is on a private lot such as someone’s home, then it’s considered private property. The International Fire Code or IFC has rules on how much water a private fire hydrant can contain. 

Some private fire hydrants have the same bonnet colors per water flow rate as public hydrants. 

The onus on inspecting and maintaining the fire hydrant is that of the property owner since it’s their hydrant.

Every year, they should thoroughly inspect the fire hydrant, especially the areas of exposed valves and piping. They also have to inspect the surrounding underground piping. 

The testing component includes trying the underground pipes at least once every five years if not more often.

The fire hydrant owner must also test for the drainage capabilities of wall or dry barrel fire hydrants as well as the flow of the hydrant once a year.

Maintenance encompasses clearing ice and snow from the fire hydrant as these accumulate. The hydrant owner has to prevent mechanical and other damage to the fire hydrant as well. If any threads, plugs, caps, and/or stems are dried out, the hydrant owner must lubricate these. 

It’s a lot of responsibility owning a fire hydrant, but some people do indeed decide it’s within their best interest to have their own hydrant. You’re much more likely to come across public fire hydrants though. 

7 Fire Hydrant Variations and Alternatives

Fire hydrants are a highly effective glute and hip exercise, but that doesn’t mean you need to do them all the time. There are several variations and alternatives you can use to keep your workouts productive and interesting:

1. Fire Hydrant with Booty Band

If you can do 20+ fire hydrants using your bodyweight, you’re probably ready to kick the intensity up a notch by using a booty band. Booty bands are wide, short resistance band worn above or below your knees to make lower body exercises more glute-centric.

Do the fire hydrant exercise as described above but with a booty band around your lower thighs or upper shins.

2. Clamshell

Clamshell exercise is a great exercise designed to target the hip abductors and hip external rotators. 

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your side. Stack your hips and bend your knees to 45-degrees.
  2. Rest your head on your lower arm and brace your core to stabilize your spine and pelvis.
  3. While keeping your feet together, lift and rotate your upper knee outward as high as possible without moving your hips or pelvis. Do NOT lean backward.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat before rolling over and changing legs.
  5. The accompanying video shows that you can also do this exercise with a booty band for added resistance.

3. Booty Band Goblet Squat

Squats are mostly thought of as a quads exercise. However, they’re also pretty good for your butt. Using a booty band means they also work your external hip rotators and abductors, albeit statically. If you are in a rush but still want to work your entire lower body in one, time-efficient exercise, booty band goblet squats would be an excellent choice.

How to do it:

  1. Put your band around your upper shins or lower thighs. Step out, so your feet are roughly shoulder-width apart, toes turned slightly outward. Push your knees out against the band. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest.
  2. Push your hips back and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Do not round your lower back, and remember to keep pushing your thighs outward.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.
  4. You can also do this exercise without the weight for an easier workout.

4. Lateral Single-leg Wall Ball Squat

As soon as you switch from a bilateral stance (two legs) to a unilateral stance (single leg), your deep hip muscles have to step up and start working harder to stabilize your pelvis. That’s why single-leg exercises like lunges and step-ups are such good butt builders. Here’s another single-leg exercise to add to your workout library: lateral single-leg wall ball squats.

How to do it:

  1. Stand sideways onto a wall. Place a stability ball between your hips and the wall and lean against it.
  2. Bend your innermost leg and use your outer leg to push your hips against the ball. Brace your abs.
  3. Bend your supporting leg and squat down until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor.
  4. Stand back up and repeat.
  5. Do the same number of reps on both legs.

5. Plie Squat

Taking your squat stance out wider than shoulder-width increases outer hip and glute engagement. Make sure that your toes are pointing the same way as your knees. Imagine you are screwing your feet outward and into the floor to maximize hip engagement.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. Turn your toes outward to about 45 degrees. You can turn your feet out more if your flexibility allows. However, make sure this movement comes from your hips and NOT your knees. Your knees and toes should point in the same direction.
  2. Stand up tall, brace your abs, and look straight ahead. You can also raise your arms out to the side or in front of you for balance if you wish.
  3. Keeping your torso upright, bend your legs, push your knees out, and descend until your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Try not to lean forward, and do not allow your lower back to round.
  4. Stand back up and repeat.

Read more about plie squat exercise here.

6. Frog Pump

Just like fire hydrants, frog pumps combine hip extension with abduction and external rotation, making it feel like a combination of hip thrusts and clamshells. The main advantage of frog pumps over fire hydrants is that this exercise works both legs simultaneously, making it a more time-efficient exercise.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down on your back on an exercise mat. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together, so you look not unlike a frog. Press your knees apart to engage your outer hips.
  2. Push your hips up by driving the outsides of your feet into the ground.
  3. Contract your glutes at the top of the movement.
  4. Return to the starting position and repeat.
  5. You can make this exercise harder by resting and holding a weight on your lower abdomen.

7. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts
Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts

Single leg Romanian deadlifts are often seen as just a posterior chain exercise. But, by standing on one leg, your hip abductors and rotators have to get busy stopping your knees from dropping in while keeping your pelvis stable. As such, this is a very worthy alternative to fire hydrants, even though it looks radically different. As an added benefit, the single-leg Romanian deadlift is also great for increasing mobility and balance.

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your legs together and your arms by your sides. Shift your weight over onto one leg and bend your knees slightly for balance. Brace your abs.
  2. Hinging from your hips, lean forward and reach down toward the floor. Do not round your lower back. Extend your non-weight-bearing leg out behind you as a counterbalance.
  3. Stand back up and repeat.
  4. Make this exercise harder by holding one or two dumbbells or a barbell.

Learn more about single-leg Romanian deadlifts here.

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