Most people can get helpful benefits from frog pumps but you may prefer something else. Discover a few helpful exercise alternatives.
Frog pumps are a glute bridge and hip thrust variation where you put your heels against each other instead of flat on the ground.
By doing this you work your hip abductor muscles (gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae) more on top of the typical engagement of glute bridge muscles like your gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and to a small extent lower back.
The result of this is that frog pumps can be effective for building muscle mass, help you burn more calories, and offer you more general exercise benefits to some extent.
That being said, you may not enjoy frog pumps, want to work more or fewer muscles, or want alternatives for other reasons. In any case, the frog pump substitutes below can offer you some or all of the same benefits.
1. Hip thrusts
This first frog pump alternative is generally considered the number one option when it comes to glute isolation exercises.
Hip thrusts are similar to glute bridges but instead of doing them on the ground, you will need a bench or any other stable object of the right height.
Take the following steps to do a hip thrust:
- Sit right in front of the bench or other object you will use with your back slightly over the edge. Make sure the object is stable. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width in a position where your knees will be at a 90-degree angle in the next step. You can hold a weight at hip level if you want.
- Move up your hips until your body is in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Slowly lower your body again.
Hip thrusts are mainly done to isolate the gluteus maximus (main butt muscle) as much as possible. Inevitably, you also get some hamstring and lower back muscle engagement.
That means this alternative has a more narrow focus than frog pumps.
A benefit of hip thrusts is that it is relatively easy to add extra resistance. This will likely be needed to grow and strengthen the strong muscles involved in this exercise.
One downside of hip thrusts is that they can require a good amount of time and equipment to set up.
2. Lying side leg raises
Lying side leg raises are another isolation exercise but this time the movement focuses on your hip abductors (gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fasciae) on your outer thighs.
A soft surface like a yoga mat can make this frog pump alternative more comfortable. Take the following steps to do a bodyweight side leg raise:
- Lie down on your side with your body in more or less one straight line and adjust for stability.
- Raise one leg upward as far as comfortable or until it is at about a 45-degree angle with the ground. Make sure the movement comes from your thighs, not your hips or the rest of your body.
- Lower this leg back into the position of step 1 in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions with the other leg.
Keep your movements slow and controlled to make your hip abductors really work hard. Additionally, remember to keep your hips still. Your legs should do the moving.
Additionally, individuals more experienced with resistance training may need resistance bands or heavy ankle weights to make the exercise challenging enough for muscle growth and strengthening.
To use ankle weights in this exercise you simply strap them on the upper leg.
In the case of resistance bands, you loop them around your upper legs. Try to choose a loop resistance band where you can still go through the full range of motion of the exercise.
For step-ups you will need a stable object strong enough to stand on. A plyo box, a stepper, and even certain weight benches are examples of suited objects for step-ups.
Once you have a good elevation, take the following steps to do two step-ups:
- Stand upright in front of the object facing toward it with your feet at shoulder-width.
- Raise one foot and put it on the surface of the object. Make sure your sole is entirely on the surface.
- Raise your body by exerting pressure with the leg of the foot that is on the object.
- Put your second foot next to the other one.
- Step down with the first foot.
- Step down with the second foot.
- Do a repetition with the other foot first.
Step-ups are not a complete substitute for frog pumps in the sense that they work the exact same muscles in the exact same amounts.
That being said, this exercise does also work your gluteus maximus and to some extent hip abductors and adductors to balance yourself in the parts where you stand on one leg.
Additionally, step-ups work muscles like your quadriceps and calves.
4. Cable glute kickbacks
For cable glute kickbacks you preferably have a cable machine and an ankle strap attachment. That being said you can also do this exercise with resistance bands and a good anchor but the resistance will be less consistent.
Once you have the right equipment, take the following steps to do a glute kickback with a cable machine:
- Put the cable pulley as close to the ground as possible and preferably use an ankle strap handle. You may be able to get away with a D-grip handle but this is less safe and generally not recommended.
- Stand with your face toward the cable machine and strap on the ankle band. You can hold the cable machine during the exercise for balance.
- Lean forward to about a 45-degree angle to a vertical line.
- Slowly move the foot with the strap back and with your knee slightly bent until your leg is stretched at an angle somewhat more vertical than just a horizontal line.
- Return your foot to starting position in a controlled motion.
As the name implies, the cable glute kickback is mainly a glute muscle, more specifically gluteus maximus, isolation exercise but similar to frog pumps you inevitably engage a few other muscles too.
One benefit of cable glute kickbacks over frog pumps is that you can easily adjust the resistance and can easily use high weights. A downside of this exercise is that the equipment requirements are stricter.
Something that can be a benefit or a downside is that you don’t work your hip abductor muscles to the same extent as frog pumps.
If you like this about frog pumps, you can also do your glute kickbacks more outward. This will require more effort from your outer thigh muscles and can in turn lead to more muscle growth and strength progress.
5. Standing hip abductions
Similar to frog pumps, standing hip abductions are relatively easy to do at home. Take the following steps to do standing leg abductions:
- Stand up straight with your feet right next to each other.
- Shift your weight to one leg so the other one hovers in the air.
- Slowly move the foot in the air sideways toward its side as far as comfortable. Move your leg, not your hips.
- Move the foot back into the position of step 2 in a controlled motion.
- Repeat the same number of repetitions with the other leg.
You can do this alternative with just your body weight but you preferably want to add some kind of resistance. This is important because gravity will not challenge your hip abductor muscles that much at the angle of this exercise.
Some of the best ways to do this are resistance bands, ankle weights, or a cable machine with an ankle attachment. You can also hold some type of weight against your outer thighs but this is not as convenient.
The cable machine is especially great since you can precisely adjust the resistance. At home where you don’t have these types of thigh gym machines, resistance bands can work great too.