The clamshell exercise is one of the most effective movements to work the gluteus medius and menial.
Everyone wants a tight toned butt, but squats are normally the only exercise that people include in their fitness plan, but you need to work all three glute muscles in order to get a shapely derriere.
This is why the clamshell exercise is so important to create a balanced routine.
What Are Clamshell Exercises
A Clamshell exercise is a lying down movement with you laying flat with your knees at a 45-degree angle while moving your knee up and down while keeping your hips still.
This makes them an effective abductor exercise working the glutes, hips, pelvic floor, abs, and thighs.
How To Correctly Do A Clamshell Exercise
- Lay down on your left side and rest your head on your upper arm, with your feet and resting on top of each other, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. This is your starting position.
- When you start, you want to keep your feet together and your abs tight. Raise your right knee as far as high as you can without lifting your right knee off the floor while always keeping your feet touching.
- At the top of the movement, hold your knee up for 1 to 2 seconds and make sure to tighten your abs and glutes.
- Lower your knee back to the starting position and repeat until you complete the desired amount of reps. Then switch sides and repeat.
Here Are Some Clamshell Variations
How To Do A Clamshell Exercise With Resistance Bands
To increase the amount of tension on your glutes, you can add a resistance band to help you see results faster.
- Place a resistance band around your legs right above your knees.
- Lie on your right side, bending your knees at a 45-degree angle with your legs resting on top of each other
- Raise your left knee as high as possible without separating your feet or raising your right knee off the ground.
- Make sure to tighten your abs and glutes throughout the movement, pause at the top for 2 to 3 seconds, then switch to the other side, and repeat.
How To Do A Clamshell Exercise With Dumbbells
If you add a dumbbell to your clamshells, it will allow you to target your obliques and shoulders along with your glutes and hips.
You’ll want to use a light dumbbell; I recommend 3 to 10 pounds since you’ll be utilizing your shoulder muscles, which don’t need heavyweight to train them effectively.
- Lie on your left side with your knees bent at a 45-degree angle and your legs and feet resting on top of each other.
- Hold your dumbbell in your upper and keep your elbow at your side.
- Raise your arm and kee simultaneously until it points straight up; your upper elbow should always stay against your side as you move your dumbbell up and down.
- Hold at the top for 2 to 3 seconds and repeat until the desired amount of reps is completed, then switch to the other side and repeat.
How To Do A Reverse Clamshell
- Lie on your side, bending your knees slightly, and place a softball in between your thighs.
- Make sure to keep your feet together while squeezing your inner thighs.
- Repeat this until the desired amount of reps have been executed, then switch sides.
What Muscles Do They Work
Clamshells target the hips, glutes, and pelvis. The gluteus medius is the primary muscle used during a clamshell. It flanks your buttocks and stabilizes your pelvis.
Strengthening your gluteus medius will help you balance the effort between your inner and outer thighs.
Where Should You Feel Clamshells
If you’re using the correct form, you should feel the muscles tightening around the back of the hip, glutes, and abs.
What Do Clamshell Exercises Do
The clamshell exercise works the abductors strengthening the pelvic floor, hips, glutes, and abs.
It can help prevent and rehabilitate knee injuries and lower back pain.
If you want to lift and tighten your buttocks, multiple muscles need to be targeted. The squat gets all of the attention since it works the gluteus maximus, but you still need to work the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
This is where clamshells and other glute exercises will pick up the slack.
Benefits Of Doing Clamshells
- Strengthens and tightens your glutes – When you think about working your buttocks, the squat is always the first exercise to come to mind, but there are three primary muscles in your glutes, and you need to work all three.
- Create muscle definition – Adding resistance bands to the clamshell exercises will help create a defined posterior, and you can take it one step forward by using a dumbbell to build your shoulders and abs.
- Helps with knee injuries – Clamshells are one of the most prescribed exercises to individuals with knee pain since it helps to target the abductors, specifically the gluteus medius.
- Stretches the lower back – If you happen to have chronic back pain or flare-ups, if you’re able to lay on the ground without hurting yourself more, clamshells are very effective at loosening the back muscles.
- Strengthen your hips – When you make the gluteus maximus, medium, and menial stronger, you also make them more flexible, increasing strength in your hips and helping prevent injury as you get older.
Tips To Perform A Clamshell Correctly
- Keep your head resting on your arm as you perform the move and keep your neck muscles loose.
- Your lower knee should never lift off of the ground.
- Your feet should remain touching during the move.
- Keep your abs and glutes tight the entire move.
Who should Do Them
Anyone that is looking to tighten their buttocks, strengthen their hips and pelvis.
If you have back or knee injuries, studies have shown that clamshells are very effective.
Clamshells Help With Knee Pain
When you have knee and hip pain, you want to make sure you’re strengthening the abductor muscles and the glute muscles.
Clamshells happen to target both of these muscle groups; it’s a great exercise to start with until you get stronger to move on to better movements.
Anyone can benefit from doing clamshell movements, but if you’re trying to tighten your butt, strengthen your pelvic floor, hips, or abs, you’ll definitely want to add them into your fitness routine.
If you’re doing them to help rehab from a knee injury make sure you speak to your physician first to make sure you aren’t doing any further damage to your joint.