ICYDK, the term “amphibian rear end” or “amphibian buttocks” is a not-too-kind way to describe an undefined posterior, reminiscent of the backsides that some amphibians have (you know you’ve seen it on Twitter). There’s nothing body-positive about the term when used for humans, and it should definitely be erased from your vocabulary. But there’s actually a frog-like glute exercise that you should get to know instead — the frog pump — though it’s similarly awkward to explain.
The frog pump is a super beneficial glute exercise, according to fitness experts — but of all the exercises you can add to your workouts, it might just be the most awkward to do in public. Not only are you thrusting your hips into the air and calling it exercise, but your knees are spread eagle, making the whole thing look like a visit to the gyno rather than the gym. But don’t underestimate it by appearance alone: The frog pump deserves a rotating spot in your workout.
More about the frog pump exercise and all its benefits, ahead.
The Frog Pump Exercise, Explained
It may seem like a trendy exercise move that’s a bit peculiar, but “the frog pump is not a new exercise — it’s been used for years in strength, Pilates, and yoga classes alike,” says Anel Pla, C.P.T., a personal trainer with Simplexity Fitness.
The frog pump is essentially a fusion of the butterfly stretch and glute bridge, and was created by trainer Bret Contreras, C.S.C.S. (aka the Glute Guy). Essentially, you lay on your back, bring the soles of your feet together to splay your knees, and thrust your hips up toward the ceiling, explains strength coach Albert Matheny, R.D., C.S.C.S., director at ARENA and co-founder of SoHo Strength Lab in New York City. It’s essentially the same movement pattern as a glute bridge, but with your legs in a different position.
Benefits of the Frog Pump Exercise
The main claim to fame of the frog pump exercise is how well it isolates and strengthens your glute muscles”
Specifically, it involves your largest buttock muscle, known as the gluteus maximus (the biggest muscle in the buttocks that functions to elongate your hips and rotate your legs outward), as well as your smallest buttock muscle, called the gluteus minimus (situated beneath the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, enabling you to move your legs outward and rotate them inward), as stated by Pla. (See: The Complete Guide to Your Buttock Muscles)
When buttock muscles are robust, your equilibrium improves, you experience less discomfort, and you have the added advantage of appearing aesthetically pleasing,” she declares. Possessing strong glutes will enable you to safely accomplish not only your workouts but also everyday activities.
Furthermore, the frog pump exercise activates these muscles without necessitating any additional load, making it particularly beneficial for individuals with existing knee or ankle injuries that prevent them from engaging in weighted glute-strengthening exercises such as a barbell back squat, goblet squat, or front squat. These same individuals might discover that performing weighted frog pumps is a method to incorporate load without triggering typical pain points.
Frog pumps also assist in learning how to activate your glute muscles in the initial stages so that you can optimize the movement — along with any other lower-body-focused exercise. “Most people spend their day seated working in front of a computer, stuck in traffic, or sitting on the couch and not engaging their glute muscles at all,” Pla explains. Over time, this can obstruct your ability to correctly engage (and hence recruit) all the muscles in your buttocks. Informally, this is referred to as inactive buttocks syndrome, and it can eventually result in hip immobility, joint pain, and lower back discomfort or strains, as Pla notes.
However, frog pumps can be employed to reeducate the body on how to activate those feeble and fatigued glutes. Due to the externally rotated position of your hips, you can activate your glutes to a greater extent than in most other glute exercises, including the standard glute bridge, as Pla clarifies. “There’s genuinely no alternative but to utilize your glutes from this [splayed] position,” she states. By regularly performing sets of the frog pump exercise (e.g. twice a week), you will be able to fend off inactive buttocks syndrome and actually tap into your gluteal power, allowing you to lift heavier weights and run at a faster pace, according to Pla.
The other muscle group that frog pumps aid in strengthening? Your hip abductor muscles, Pla states. And because they engage your hip muscles from an externally rotated position, frog pumps have the additional benefit of enhancing overall hip mobility — something that most individuals could benefit from. (See More: The Best Groin Stretches to Alleviate Stiff Muscles and Enhance Flexibility)
How to Perform the Frog Pump Exercise
Whether you’re executing bodyweight frog pumps or frog pumps with additional weight, bear these five steps from Pla in mind to ensure proper technique. Matheny suggests watching a video of the exercise that includes verbal cues (such as this YouTube video showcasing Contreras elucidating the movement or this one in which he provides cues for a bodyweight and dumbbell frog pump) before attempting it yourself.
A. Lie supine and bring soles of feet together in a “frog” (or “butterfly”) position, sliding feet as close to buttocks as possible.
B. If performing the exercise without additional weight, make fists with the hands and keep elbows on the floor so that forearms are perpendicular to the ground. If using a dumbbell, grip it on either end while placing it on the hips.
C. Draw navel downwards towards the floor to engage the core and press the lower back into the floor.
D. Then, while keeping the chin tucked in, the ribs down, and the shoulders on the ground, press down into the floor with the edges of the feet and contract the glutes to raise the hips towards the ceiling.
E. Pause at the top before slowly lowering the buttocks back down to the floor. Repeat.
Who Should Perform Frog Pumps?
Most individuals can benefit from the frog pump exercise. Specifically, it is ideal for those who have experienced difficulty activating their glutes in the past, or who regularly engage in targeted lower-body and glute training, says Pla.
That being said, frog pumps may not be advantageous for everyone: Approximately one-third of individuals may not feel the activation of their glutes during frog pumps due to their hip anatomy and gluteal structure, noted Contreras in an Instagram post. These individuals can try experimenting with their stance width, foot position, abduction or external rotation, depth, and pelvic tilt to determine the variations that work best for them, suggests Contreras. However, if the frog stance feels uncomfortable, it is advisable to avoid it and instead opt for a narrow- or wide-stance glute bridge.
One clear indication that frog pumps should be skipped is if one’s hip mobility prevents them from comfortably assuming the starting butterfly position. In such cases, it is recommended to perform basic hip bridges instead, suggests Matheny. “[These] require less hip opening. You can also modify frog pumps so that your hips are less open and gradually increase the hip angle over time,” he adds.
How to Incorporate Frog Pumps into Your Workout
The specific way in which you add frog pumps to your workout will depend on your fitness level, training approach, and fitness goals. However, generally, beginners should aim for 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions, while more advanced athletes should strive for 3 sets of 30 to 50 repetitions, according to Pla. “Another option is to turn it into a frog pump workout and perform as many reps as possible in a minute,” she suggests.
Once the higher volume becomes manageable, you can increase the difficulty of the movement by incorporating resistance bands or dumbbells into your frog pumps, recommends Matheny. You can also add load to the exercise by using a mini barbell, kettlebell, or slam ball. Since frog pumps effectively engage the glutes, they can also be included as part of an active warm-up to prepare the muscles for a targeted glute workout.
Thank you for your feedback!