We often take our lower body for granted, concentrating on toning the upper body and arms over our legs. For those of you who do work out your legs, squats are probably the most popular choice to engage your leg muscles. This means that the spotlight often does not reach the glute muscles, which are responsible for your hip movement, helping you walk, and take the stairs.
Bodyweight exercises are highly effective to build muscle, lose weight, and maintain optimal levels of fitness. These exercises enable its practitioners to engage all major muscle groups and workout the entire body. As per research published in the journal Physiology & Behaviour, muscle growth could occur independent of an external load, as long as bodyweight exercises are performed through their full range of motion.
One such exercise is fire hydrants, which mostly targets the glutes or gluteus maximus, and to a certain degree, the core muscles as well. This exercise is a fantastic movement for toning the glutes, strengthening the back, and engaging the core. The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three gluteal muscles, and the main extensor muscle of the hip region.
To derive the benefits of this exercise, you must be mindful of the correct form and technique.
Step 1: On a mat, place your body on all fours (hands and knees).
Step 2: Ensure that your shoulders are placed above your hands, while your hips are above your knees.
Step 3: Now, engage your core, tighten it, and gaze down.
Step 4: Then, lift your left leg away from your body. It’s important to lift the leg at a 45-degree angle, while the knees remain at 90 degrees.
Step 5: Lower your left leg to the starting position to complete. Repeat with the other leg.
There are variations to this exercise, involving distinct movements, and use of resistance bands and ankle weights.
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Tones the muscles: The fire hydrant engages the glutes and the core. The bodyweight provides natural resistance that will compel you to exert harder than usual. This will gradually transpire into improvement in strength levels, eventually strengthening and toning these muscles.
Mobility: Glutes are a major muscle group in the pelvis and hip region, making it critical for your body’s mobility and functionality. Strong gluteus maximus enables the function of walking, going up and down the stairs, getting out of a car, and stepping to the side. Besides mobility, it also provides stability to the hip, making sure that you can function optimally while conducting your day to day activities. Although these are a powerful group of muscles, they are also quite prone to injury. So, it’s important to strengthen them with regular exercise and training.
Boosts overall fitness: The strengthening of glutes helps improve the body’s posture, reduces the risk of injuries due to the body’s enhanced balance, and reduces back and knee pain.
From a safety perspective, ensure that you have warmed up, as stretching will loosen up your muscles, increase your range of motion, and help prevent injuries.
So, ladies, try doing 10 to 15 repetitions of these exercises for optimal results. Tone your glutes and boost your mobility!