How To Do Clamshells – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

  • By: gymtrix
  • Date: June 8, 2023
  • Time to read: 12 min.
How To Do Clamshells

Strengthen your hip abductors with our guide on Clamshells! We’ll teach you the correct form, what muscles they work, their benefits, and some variations.

Clamshells are a great way to activate and strengthen gluteus medius and minimus muscles. These are important for hip balance and stability. To start, lie on your side with knees bent. Then, open your legs like a clamshell while keeping your feet together.

You can make this exercise harder by adding resistance bands or holding the open position for longer. Don’t forget to switch sides to ensure balance in both hips. And, be sure not to rotate your hips or lift your heels while doing it.

Pro Tip: Engage your core throughout the exercise to maximize results and prevent unwanted movements.

Muscles Worked During a Clamshell Exercise

To target specific muscle groups during your workout, it is important to understand which muscles are worked while performing certain exercises. In order to help you with this, let’s take a closer look at the muscles worked during a clamshell exercise with a focus on hip abductor muscles and glutes. These two sub-sections will help you understand the role of each muscle group and their benefits, proper form, common mistakes and variations while performing clamshells.

Hip Abductor Muscles

The Clamshell exercise concentrates on the lateral hip muscles, often referred to as ‘outer hip’ or ‘hip abductor muscles’. These include the gluteus medius and minimus, tensor fascia latae, and piriformis.

Working out the Clamshell regularly increases stability and balance of the hip joint. It also decreases the chance of injuries during physical activities, improves athletic performance, and helps alleviate lower back pain.

This exercise activates other muscles too, like the gluteus maximus and quadriceps. But, it is essential to maintain correct form and technique to get the maximum benefits.

One can add resistance bands, ankle weights or increase repetitions gradually to boost the effectiveness of this exercise. This will help build strength and endurance while avoiding muscle imbalances. Incorporating this exercise into a regular workout routine can be advantageous in achieving great physical health.


The gluteal group—including the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus, and the tensor fasciae latae—plays a key role in hip stability and mobility during a Clamshell exercise. Engaging these muscles helps with lower body strength and good lower limb alignment. Gluteus medius contraction results in an outward rotation of the hip joint. The gluteus maximus extends and externally rotates the hip.

The gluteus minimus, though small, is important for internal rotation of the hip joint.

Tip: Contract the muscles throughout each repetition to get the best results. Try variations that use resistance bands or destabilizing surfaces to challenge your stability and proprioception.

Benefits of Clamshell Exercises

To reap the numerous benefits of clamshell exercises for your body, delve into the section ‘Benefits of Clamshell Exercises’ with its sub-sections ‘Improved Hip Mobility, Strengthening Hip Abductor Muscles, and Reduced Risk of Knee Injuries’. Learn how to improve your hip joint’s range of motion, strengthen your hip abductor muscles, and lower your knees’ injury risk.

Improved Hip Mobility

The clamshell exercise has been shown to increase the range of movement in the hips, essential for avoiding injuries during sports and exercises. This low-impact work out engages small muscles around the hip joint, leading to better flexibility.

Movin’ these muscles helps to improve balance and stability, as well as lessen lower back pain caused by inflexible hips. With this exercise, knee pain can also be reduced by lessening strain on the kneecap.

Including this workout in your daily routine could give lots of advantages to those hoping to improve their physical health. The clamshell workout has been part of physical therapy programs since the 1960s, and is still a great tool for athletes and fitness lovers.

Strengthening Hip Abductor Muscles

To boost the power of the muscles that pull your hip away from your midline, there are some exercises you can do. These routines use resistance or body weight to activate the hip abductor muscles. Hip abduction is a crucial movement which impacts posture and balance too.

  • Clamshells: Lie on one side with bent legs at 90 degrees, keeping ankles together. Lift the knee up.
  • Fire hydrants: On all fours with core tight, lift one leg out to the side. Don’t move it forward or backward.
  • Seated Band Abductions: Fasten an elastic band around a stable object. Sit down with one end tied to your ankle. Open the leg out to the side against resistance.

It is vital to stay away from cheating during these routines. So, maintain perfect form and fight momentum. Warm-ups before these workouts are necessary, especially for people who have been inactive for a long time.

Moreover, focusing on other neglected muscle groups like glutes and general lower body exercises such as squats can improve hip abductor muscles through cross-training.

Too much exercise could injure joints and cause tissue damage in the hips or knees. So, it is important to vary routine exercises in moderation and do the optimal number of reps without any discomfort.

Reduced Risk of Knee Injuries

Clamshell exercises are great for enhanced leg strength and flexibility. Regularly doing them can reduce knee injury risk.

The hip abductor muscles are strengthened, which keeps the knees stable.

Plus, muscle imbalances, which can put more stress on knees, are corrected.

Studies have shown that those who do clamshells often have better knee joint mechanics and less pain.

Other benefits of clamshells include improved core strength, balance, and posture.

To get the most out of this routine, it’s best to get advice from a professional trainer or physiotherapist.

Don’t miss out on improving your fitness. Incorporate clamshells into your workout plan!

How To Do Clamshells

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to perform clamshells correctly:

  1. Warm-up: Begin with a thorough warm-up focusing on your lower body and core muscles. Perform dynamic stretches and some light cardio to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for the exercise.
  2. Set up: Find a comfortable space on the floor or an exercise mat where you can lie down on your side.
  3. Position your body: Lie on your side with your legs bent at approximately 90 degrees and your feet together. Your hips should be stacked directly on top of each other, and your head should be supported by your bottom arm or resting on a small pillow.
  4. Align your legs: Make sure your feet, knees, and hips are aligned in a straight line. Your knees should be slightly ahead of your hips, and your feet should be in line with your hips.
  5. Engage your core: Before initiating the movement, engage your core muscles to maintain stability and protect your lower back.
  6. Initiate the movement: Keeping your feet together, slowly lift your top knee towards the ceiling while keeping your hips steady and facing forward. Be mindful not to let your pelvis rotate backward as you open your legs.
  7. Controlled descent: Slowly lower your top knee back to the starting position, maintaining control of the movement and keeping your feet together.
  8. Reset: Ensure that your body is properly aligned before initiating the next repetition. Make any necessary adjustments to your stance or body position.
  9. Repeat: Perform the desired number of repetitions, maintaining proper form and control throughout the exercise.
  10. Switch sides: After completing your set on one side, switch to the other side and repeat the exercise with the same number of repetitions.
  11. Rest and recover: After completing your sets on both sides, rest for an appropriate amount of time before continuing with your workout or proceeding to the next exercise.

Proper Form for Clamshell Exercises

To perfect your clamshell exercise technique, there are a few key elements to keep in mind. Focus on the start position, execution, proper alignment, and breathing to reap the benefits of this workout. By nailing down these components, you’ll maximize your muscle activation and minimize the risk of injury or common mistakes.

Start Position


  1. Lie on your side in the starting position with both knees bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Keep your ankles together and lift the top knee while keeping your feet connected. Your pelvis should not move.
  3. Make sure your feet are touching and your pelvis is still during the exercise. No lower back movement when raising or lowering the knee. Move slowly and steadily.
  4. Engage your core muscles throughout the exercise for proper alignment and to avoid other body injuries.
  5. Breathe regularly during each repetition.

Pro Tip: To increase intensity, use a resistance band above the knees or ankle weights.


Do Clamshell Exercises!

  1. Lie on your side. Angle legs at 45 degrees and press heels together.
  2. Keep feet together. Lift up the top knee as high as you can, while keeping heels together.
  3. Pause. Return knee to starting position.
  4. Repeat 10-15 times. Then switch sides.

Remember: Good posture is key to prevent injuries. No rotating hips or pelvis while lifting/lowering knees. Keep a stable ‘neutral’ spine position.

Experts say these exercises activate and strengthen muscles in the hips & buttocks: gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fascia latae.

Harvard Health says weak hip muscles can cause lower back pain or knee issues.

Proper Alignment and Breathing

Getting your body in the right position and breathing correctly is key when doing clamshell exercises. Proper alignment and inhaling air at the start will help strengthen your hip abductor muscles. As you exhale, your core gets stronger, helping you to stay stable.

Keeping your breath steady while doing the exercise will give maximum benefit. Focus on keeping your form the same, so that both hips remain level. If you feel any pain or discomfort, take a break from the exercise.

To get better results, it’s a good idea to add resistance bands or ankle weights. This will add pressure and make the exercise harder. Gradually adding more weights or trying new hip strengthening exercises can give better results.

Tips for Doing Clamshell Exercises

To improve your clamshell exercise, use these tips for better results. Take it slow and steady, focusing on quality over quantity. Vary the resistance to challenge yourself.

Take It Slow and Steady

When doing clamshell exercises, it’s super important to have a slow and steady pace. Going too fast can cause injury or bad form. Focus on the muscles and do each rep with precision. And always keep your core engaged, and exhale when lifting your legs.

Start with less reps at first. Gradually increase them over time. Push yourself, but be aware of any pain or discomfort. Also, make sure you have proper technique for glute activation.

On top of going slow and steady, vary your routine. Change up your cardio and strength training. This makes the workout more fun and engaging.

Use resistance bands or ankle weights for added resistance. This helps muscle activation and better results.

By focusing on mindful movement, increasing reps, adding variation, and getting resistance tools, you’ll get better overall fitness gains from clamshell exercises.

Focus on Quality Not Quantity

Quality is more important than quantity when doing clamshells. Focus on the form and technique of each repetition for better results. Engage your core and keep hips steady. Use a resistance band for added difficulty. Align your body to reduce injury risk.

Doing too many reps with bad form can lead to muscle imbalances. Quality control is key for balanced muscles and desired results. Don’t sacrifice proper form for some arbitrary number of reps.

Stay mindful and present during each exercise. Prioritize quality over quantity every time you do clamshells. Reach your maximal potential!

Vary the Resistance to Challenge Yourself

Maximize clamshell exercises by manipulating resistance. Adjust joint tension for muscles to adapt and become more active. Try these techniques:

  • Change band resistance per repetition.
  • Modify hip angle.
  • Use ankle weights on bottom leg.
  • Hold kettlebell or dumbbell.

Go further with donkey kicks and squats. Increased range of motion builds muscle and improves posture and power.

Uplevel the challenge by elevating one leg. This strengthens small muscles responsible for balance and stability.

Pro Tip: Mix it up to build strength and endurance. Adjust convenience according to comfort level.

Common Mistakes to Avoid While Doing Clamshells

“To avoid common mistakes while doing Clamshells, you need to focus on using your muscle power rather than momentum. Proper foot placement is crucial for an effective Clamshell. Engaging the right muscles is also critical for preventing injuries. In this section, we discuss the common mistakes to avoid while doing Clamshells with a brief on sub-sections including incorrect foot placement, not engaging the correct muscles, and using momentum instead of muscle power.”

Using Momentum Instead of Muscle Power

When doing clamshells, avoid momentum and use muscle power. Don’t let gravity pull your legs apart, but use your abductor muscles and slowly lift up. Remain in control with each repetition – pause at the top and don’t rush. Keep your bottom leg on the ground throughout the exercise to maintain proper form. To get the best results, do clamshells regularly and correctly. Learn the right form and technique, so you can get the most out of your workouts!

Incorrect Foot Placement

It’s key to have the right foot position when you do clamshell exercises. Bad placement will reduce the exercise’s effect and even cause harm. Here’s how to get it right:

  1. Line up hips, knees, and ankles and keep them even.
  2. Put a resistance band around your thighs, just above your knees. Lie down on one side of your body with legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Lift the top leg gently, ensuring it doesn’t twist or move forwards or backward.
  4. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down.
  5. Do this several times for both sides.

If you’re having trouble keeping proper alignment, you might be using the wrong muscles. Customized exercises may help.

Remember, don’t shift the foot too far forward over the other leg. Also, don’t cross your legs. That’ll increase abdominal pressure and make the exercise hard.

Good foot positioning will help your core stay stable and strengthen your glutes without stressing your lower back muscles. Mastering the right placement takes time, but will make clamshells more effective!

Not Engaging the Correct Muscles

Clamshells must be done with the correct muscles to avoid injury and get the most out of the exercise. Doing them wrong will stop you from reaching your goals.

When performing clamshells, focus on opening and closing your legs. Do not use your hips or lower back. Keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in a neutral position. Feel like you’re using the lateral muscles of your glutes to lift.

Also, keep your feet parallel. Don’t twist or rotate your hips too much. This will ensure all the right muscles are engaged.

Doing this will give you a better range of motion in your hips and buttocks. It will also help tone certain areas more quickly, with less chance of injury.

Variations of Clamshell Exercises

To take your clamshell exercise routine with “Variations of Clamshell Exercises” to the next level, explore different resistances and equipment. In this section, “Resistance Band Clamshells,” “Weighted Clamshells,” and “Stability Ball Clamshells” are the solutions to explore as they provide a range of benefits, including enhanced muscle activation and stability.

Resistance Band Clamshells

Try Resistance Band Shell Exercises – they use elastic bands to give extra resistance while performing clamshell movements. This activates your gluteus medius and minimus muscles effectively. Here’s a 4-step guide:

  1. Wrap a resistance band above your knees.
  2. Lie down on one side with legs bent at a 90-degree angle.
  3. Keeping feet together, lift the top knee until you feel tension.
  4. Slowly lower your leg back down. Repeat and switch sides.

You can also increase resistance by doing hip abduction or external rotation.

Resistance Band Clamshell Exercises are great for enhancing your workout routine. The band engages more muscle fibers, increasing neuromuscular activation and giving better results. So, don’t wait – include it in your exercise regime today!

Weighted Clamshells

Adding weights to Clamshell exercises increases resistance. This boosts glute and hip abductor power, as well as strength gains. Varying weights can help athletes develop lower body power and muscular endurance.

Weighted Clamshells tax core muscles more. This leads to better muscle control, stability and core strength.

By using weighted Clamshells in your routine, you get stronger muscle contractions. This optimizes neuromuscular adaptations and improves sports performance.

I have experienced improved athletics by doing this variation of clamshells. My sports performance has improved, and I am healthier now.

Stability Ball Clamshells

Here’s how to boost the clamshell exercise by adding a stability ball:

  1. Lie on your side. Place the ball between your ankles and bend your knees.
  2. Squeeze the ball with your legs. Then, raise your top knee towards the ceiling.
  3. Hold for a few seconds. Then, lower back down.
  4. Repeat a few times, then switch sides.
  5. To make it harder: add resistance bands or ankle weights.

Focus on control and stability. Try different tempos and ranges of motion to increase difficulty.

Pro Tip: Stack your hips and maintain good form to avoid strain or injury.

How To Do A Trap bar deadlift with low handles

Previous Post

How To Do A Trap bar deadlift with low handles – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

Next Post

How To Do Fire Hydrants – Benefits, Proper Form, And Tips

How To Do Fire Hydrants