Whether you spend all day confined to your workdesk or are a full-time powerlifter, there’s a good chance you’ve got tight hips. Luckily, the right mobility work can help you open up your hips and alleviate discomfort both in everyday life and during your workouts.
The frog pose comes from Sanskrit yoga, where it is known as Mandukasana. This yoga pose mainly targets your hips, specifically your adductors and glutes. It’s something you can do in the gym as part of your warm-up routine, or at home if things are feeling tight. Here’s how to leap into the frog pose.
How To Do the Frog Pose
The frog pose is an intermediate-to-advanced static stretch commonly performed during yoga routines. If you’re partial to strength training, you can use the frog pose to improve hip mobility, which should carry over to some of your favorite leg exercises.
Equipment Needed: All you’ll need for the frog pose is yourself. If you don’t have a cushioned surface to practice on, you might want to consider grabbing a large yoga or exercise mat.
- Step 1 — Get down into a quadruped, on-all-fours position as you would for a bear plank or most push-up variations. Put your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders and situate your knees under your hips.
- Step 2 — Gather yourself, and then exhale while slowly sliding your knees laterally out to the side as far as your flexibility allows.
- Step 3 — Keep the insides of your knees, your shins, and your ankles in contact with the floor as you push deeper into the stretch. At a certain point, you may need to drop down onto your forearms rather than supporting yourself with your palms.
- Step 4 — Once you hit your limit, pause there and practice low, deep breaths, allowing the floor to passively stretch out your hips and groin.
Modifications: If you’re experiencing knee pain, try placing two small towels under each of your knees, though bear in mind that this may make your movement a bit slippery. You can also stay perched up on straight arms rather than dropping to your elbows.
Coach’s Tip: As with any yoga pose, breathing is essential to feeling calm and centered during frog pose. Take long breaths through your nose and exhale through your mouth, contracting the muscles in your lower abdomen as you breathe out.
Frog Pose Variations
The frog pose can be incredibly challenging to the muscles and soft tissues in your groin. If you’re not quite ready to incorporate it into your routine, here are a couple of suitable variations you can do instead.
Half Frog Rock
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Why Do It: This pose is great if you want to really challenge your hip flexibility but need a bit more external stability. Stretching one hip at a time reduces overall discomfort and lets you hold onto something for support if needed.
- Get into a full kneeling quadruped position and then kick one leg out to the side until that knee is fully straight.
- The kneecap of your “down” or support leg should be in line with the toes of your straightened leg if viewed from the side.
- Support yourself with your hands under your shoulders and then use the floor to gently push your buttocks backward to sink into the stretch.
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Why Do It: Wall frogs are a great beginner variation of the frog pose. Having support from both the floor and the wall allows you to control how aggressive the stretch is at all times while relying on external support as needed.
- Lie on the floor on your back and scoot your butt up against a wall.
- Walk your feet up the wall and then bring them back down until they’re pressed against the wall and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
- From here, open your knees, parting your legs and pushing your kneecaps outward to the side (with your hands if desired) to stretch your groin.
Frog Pose Alternatives
The frog pose is all well and good, but it isn’t the only way to open up your hips. If you want to stretch and strengthen your hips and thighs at the same time, consider performing some strength training exercises instead. Try these two moves:
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Why Do It: If you were to view the starting position of the sumo deadlift with your head tilted, it would look remarkably similar to a good frog pose. Sumo deadlifts are popular in powerlifting because they help you move a lot of weight efficiently, but the wide-legged posture is also great for stretching your groin muscles.
- Load up a barbell with a pair of plates and step up to it. Take a very wide stance and turn your toes outward significantly (think 10 and 2 on a clock face).
- Exhale and slowly sink your hips straight downward toward the barbell, forcefully pushing your knees out toward the plates.
- Continue dropping your hips until you can reach the bar and grab it with a shoulder-width, double overhand grip.
- Ensure that your back is flat, then brace your core. Push into the ground with your legs to stand up with the bar.
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- Stand upright and clasp your hands together at chest level. If you want to add weight, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in the goblet squat position.
- Slide one leg out to the side while keeping that knee perfectly straight.
- As you slide your “kickstand” leg out to the side, slowly push your hips down and back to sit into a squat.
- Pull your straight leg in while pushing into the floor with your bent leg to stand up, then perform the same motion with the opposite leg.
Who Should Do the Frog Pose
The frog pose isn’t just for dedicated yogis. If you need to improve your blood circulation, flexibility, or just feel better from head to toe, the frog pose is for you.
There’s no getting around it; physical inactivity contributes to sore muscles, tight and achy joints, and more. Luckily, even a small amount of daily moving or stretching can help you feel more limber and improve blood circulation. If you spend a lot of time in a chair or on the couch, consider performing the frog pose a few times a day to loosen up your lower half.
Getting strong doesn’t mean you need to give up your mobility — in fact, performing well in the weight room depends on using a full range of motion. Tight or restricted hips will make it difficult to squat deep or perform exercises like the sumo deadlift in the first place. This is where the frog pose comes into play.
Benefits of the Frog Pose
The main reason you’d perform the frog pose is to increase hip flexibility or alleviate discomfort. But the benefits of this yoga pose go a bit beyond that.
More Hip Flexibility
The primary purpose of the frog pose is to loosen your groin. Specifically, your large and powerful hip adductor muscles, which can grow tight and inhibit free movement. The frog pose specifically targets this area of your hips and lets you ease into that range of motion at your own pace.
You Can Go At Your Own Pace
Yoga poses scale from introductory to advanced. You may be a bit nervous to jump into a hot yoga class with more experienced practitioners — in such a case, you need at-home yoga poses you can do yourself. The frog pose is relatively straightforward, isn’t especially acrobatic, and you can take it at your own pace rather than diving in all at once.
Convenient To Perform
Some yoga poses only feel appropriate to perform in a studio. Others require lots of prep work and progression. But the frog pose is accessible and convenient; you can incorporate it into your bodyweight exercise routine, or sink into it a few times during a long workday.
Muscles Worked by the Frog Pose
The frog pose only works a few specific muscles, but you’re guaranteed to really get them engaged and into the game. Here’s a brief rundown:
There’s no actual muscle called the “hip adductor” — your adductors describe a number of different muscles on the inside of your thigh, including the vastus medialis, rectus femoris, adductor magnus, pectineus, and so on.
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These tissues either partially or primarily fulfill the role of adducting your hip or thigh, which is to say, bring your leg inward toward your midline.
Most deep hip stretches will also test your hamstring flexibility to a degree. The hamstrings and adductors are closely linked, and inhibition in one may affect the other. Since the hamstrings also cross your knee joint, certain frog pose variations will engage them a bit more than the standard movement.
Most yoga poses engage your core to some degree. By deeply flexing your hips, the small supportive muscles that attach to your pelvis and support your abdomen need to contract isometrically as well.
Common Frog Pose Mistakes
The frog pose may be an isometric exercise with no moving parts, literally. That said, you can still diminish the efficacy of the pose by committing these common errors:
No yoga pose benefits from haste. Rushing through an intermediate (or frankly even a beginner) yoga pose will not only rob you of its benefits, but may even lead to straining a muscle in the process.
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Make sure you meet yourself where you’re at; don’t force your body into a range of motion it is not accustomed to. Give yourself the time you need to actually stretch your hips out and be patient.
Rounding Your Back
The muscles in your hips attach to your pelvis, which can bend back and forth. You should try to maintain an anterior pelvic tilt and not round your spine like a cat when you perform the frog pose. If you feel the need to tuck your tailbone under your body to get further into the frog pose stretch, you’re forcing a range of motion you aren’t ready for .
Don’t rock back and forth when you perform the frog pose. The intent is to push into the end range of your hip mobility and then idle there while your mind and body relax. Rocking your hips back and forth may increase blood circulation, but you need to spend time in the uncomfortable portions of the stretch if you want to reap the benefits.
If you’re still wondering about the frog pose, check out these common questions:
You can use the frog pose to stretch your inner thighs and open up your hips. The frog pose makes for a great warm-up movement before a lower-body workout as well.
No, performing the frog pose won’t actually make your hips wider or change your anatomy. What it does do is stretch out the soft tissues that attach to your skeleton; your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and so on.
As with any yoga pose, the length of time you spend in frog pose depends on your experience level. If you’re new to yoga, the pose might feel uncomfortable or intolerable for more than a few seconds at a time. As a general rule, to reap the benefits of a static stretch it is best to hold the position for up to 60 seconds.
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