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What Are Clamshell Exercises & How to Perform Them?

Strengthen your glutes and core muscles with clamshell exercises! Learn the basics of this effective exercise, including the benefits it provides to your workout routine.

Jayden Peters
What Are Clamshell Exercises & How to Perform Them?
Table Of Contents

Have you ever heard of clamshell exercises? Most people associate them with physical fitness, but if you've never tried them before and are looking to explore a new form of exercise that can help tone your body, you're in for a treat.

Clamshells are one of the best core-strengthening exercises available today - not only because they provide a unique range of motion when performed correctly but also because they target multiple muscle groups simultaneously!

Whether your goal is to slim down or bulk up your abs, glutes, and thighs, clamshells have what it takes to get you there fast. Get ready to learn how this powerful exercise works and how to perform it safely to start seeing results immediately!

Clamshell exercises can open a world of possibilities! It can help strengthen your hips and thighs and stabilize pelvic muscles while getting that glute goal you've longed for. The best part is - no gym equipment or massive space is required; this exercise can be performed anywhere with minimal effort.

Let's explore what clamshell exercises are in detail, their benefits, and much more.

What Are Clamshell Exercises?

Clamshell exercises target the hip abductor muscles outside the thighs and the muscles in the lower abdomen that help support the spine. These exercises often treat hip pain, improve hip stability, and strengthen the core.

The clamshell exercises also target the gluteus medius muscle in the hip, an important muscle for hip stability and movement. In addition to strengthening the gluteus medius, the clamshell exercises also work the rectus abdominis and obliques in the abdominal area, which helps with core stability and posture.

What's more? These exercises help improve balance and coordination. By strengthening the hip muscles, the exerciser can become more stable during activities like walking and running, which can help prevent falls.

Clamshell exercises can be done at home or in the gym, and they can be done as part of a more extensive workout or on their own. They are a great way to target the hip and core muscles, improve stability, and increase balance and coordination.

Why Try Clamshell Exercises?

You can say goodbye to lower back tension and hello to stronger hips, glutes, and pelvis. The clamshell exercise is the perfect remedy for all your aches in those areas, like a magical cure!

A study published by the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy found that it was one of the best exercises for treating or preventing injury problems. And if sciatica has been giving you trouble? Look no further than this easy hip-strengthening workout; your savior awaits!

If you want to sculpt and firm your backside, you need a workout routine targeting multiple muscles to achieve that round lift you seek. You can give yourself an all-over posterior boost with these specific glute strengthening workouts - they've been around for years but still get results every time.

Remember, your butt comprises three key muscles, but only one gets all the glory. The biggest -the gluteus maximus - might hog the spotlight thanks to its impressive size, but we can't overlook those other muscly players - namely, medius and minimus.

Ensuring these two stay caught up in a workout plan can help prevent injuries from overworked compensatory muscles elsewhere in the body. You can give your glutes a break with clamshell exercises that can protect you from overuse and injury!

So, this simple move strengthens the critical 'gluteus medius'- the outer edge of your backside that stabilizes the pelvis- and strikes a perfect balance between the inner and outer thighs as the pelvic floor. With the right combination of exercises and pre workout you can crank out those clam squats!

Who Should Do It?

Sports like soccer and tennis may require lots of running, but our hips often take the brunt. Runners, especially those prone to injury - pay attention! Most foot, ankle, and knee pain can be traced back to our hip muscles - meaning strengthening them is vital for keeping you out on the field.

For all runners, hip stabilization exercises such as clamshells may be your saving grace! Not only do they help prevent those pesky running injuries that can mess up training plans, but this exercise is a delight to perform on tight hips.

So remember to add it into your routine for a better balance between the glutes, thighs, and pelvic floor - you won't regret it!

How to Do Basic Clamshell Exercises?

Before knowing how to do basic clamshell exercises, keeping your cores engaged throughout the exercise is essential to avoid arching your lower back. If you experience pain or discomfort, immediately stop the exercise and consult your doctor or physical therapist. To do a basic clamshell exercise;

  • Lay on a mat on your side with your knees bent and your feet together. Place your upper arm on the ground and your lower arm on your hip or stomach.
  • Then, keeping your feet together, slowly lift your top knee towards the ceiling as far as possible without arching your lower back.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering your knee to the starting position.
  • Aim for 15-20 repetitions before switching sides or as tolerated.

Clamshell Exercise Variation

Another catch for clamshell exercises is that you can add variations to enjoy building your muscles if you get tired of basic clamshell exercises. Read on to see what else you can do with clamshell exercises.

Clamshell Exercise With Resistance Bands

Clamshell Excersise with Resistance Bands

Once you have mastered the basic clamshell exercise with resistance bands, increasing the band's tension can make a move more challenging. If you feel discomfort in your lower back, stop the exercise and focus on engaging your core and keeping your feet together. You can also increase the reps and sets you do per side.

  • Start by tying the band around your legs just above the knees. Bend your legs while lying on your side and stack your feet together.
  • Rest your head on your arm or a pillow and extend your free arm before you. Once in position, engage your core, press your feet together, and keep your legs as straight as possible. Then, keeping your feet together, slowly lift your top knee until it aligns with your hip.
  • Gradually lower your knee back down to the starting position. Keep your feet pressed together throughout the entire movement.
  • Do 10-15 reps on each side, keeping your core engaged, and your feet pressed together throughout the entire movement.

Clamshell Exercise With Exercise Ball

Clamshell Exercise With Exercise Ball

Keeping your core and glutes engaged throughout the entire exercise is essential when doing clamshell exercises with an exercise ball. Ensure that your hips remain stabilized, and your spine is aligned correctly. Additionally, make sure to use slow and controlled movements to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise and reduce the risk of injury. Here's how to do clamshell exercises with a balance ball:

  • Begin by lying on your side with your feet and knees together. Place the ball between your knees and your feet. Engage your core and glutes to keep your body straight.
  • Slowly lift your top knee as high as possible, keeping the ball between your knees and feet at all times.
  • Hold the position for two seconds before slowly returning to the starting position.
  • Repeat this exercise for 10-20 repetitions before switching sides or as tolerated

Reverse Clamshell Exercise

Reverse Clamshell Exercise

Reverse clamshell exercises are an effective way to strengthen your glutes, hips, and core. They are a great way to increase mobility, flexibility, and stability.

Start with a lightweight. As you get stronger, you can increase your weight. It would help have a mat or a soft surface to do a reverse clamshell exercise.

  • Begin by lying on your back and bending your knees while keeping your feet flat on the floor.
  • Place your feet together and your arms at your sides.
  • Gradually press your lower back into the floor. Keeping your feet together, slowly lift your knees towards your chest. As you do this, your feet should separate, and your legs should create a V-shape.
  • Once you have created the V-shape, hold for a few seconds before slowly lowering your knees back to the starting position. Feel a slight stretch in your inner thighs, hips, and glutes.


1. Do clamshell exercises hurt?

Clamshell exercises can cause discomfort in the hips and glutes, especially if done incorrectly or with too much weight. When done correctly, clamshell exercises can significantly strengthen the hip abductor muscles and improve balance and stability. However, if not done with proper form or too aggressively, it can cause pain in the hips, glutes, and lower back.

2. What clamshell exercises muscles work?

Clamshell exercises muscles worked include the gluteus medius and minimus muscles, as well as the tensor fasciae lata, which are all part of the hip abductor muscles. The clamshell exercise also works the hip extensors, such as the gluteus maximus, and the hip flexors, such as the iliopsoas. It also strengthens the core muscles as the individual must stabilize their torso to perform the exercise correctly. Additionally, it improves the range of motion in the hip joint.

3. What are seated clamshell exercises?

Seated clamshell exercises are a type of glute strengthening exercise. The feet should be flat on the ground to perform the exercise, with the knees bent, and the heels close together. The core should be engaged, and the spine should be kept neutral. The arms should be placed on the sides of the chair or bench, and the hands can be used to help control the movement of the legs. The clamshell should be performed slowly and with control, and the legs should be opened and closed for 10-15 repetitions.

4. Can you do clamshells everyday?

As we age, our body's mechanics can feel slightly rusty. You may not be able to move quite as you used to, or your problem area is feeling the wear and tear of everyday life. The good news is, adding a simple exercise into your daily routine is an easy fix.

Palpating your glute muscle while you do a movement can help prevent injury and alleviate pain while allowing you to move better overall. All this requires is just a few moments of your day - no excuses! And trust us, it's worth the effort. Try it out for yourself and see the results - happy feeling glutes are just around the corner!

The Bottom Line

Clamshell exercises are an excellent way to work your glutes and core muscles for additional strength and stability. They're a great addition to any workout routine and can be modified in many ways. Start with a light resistance band and progress as you get more comfortable with the move. It just takes a few minutes of practice each day to reap the clamshell exercise benefits before and after you do this efficient exercise. So, give the clam part of your shell some love!

Article Sources

  • Selkowitz, David M., et al. "Which Exercises Target the Gluteal Muscles While Minimizing Activation of the Tensor Fascia Lata? Electromyographic Assessment Using Fine-Wire Electrodes." The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, vol. 43, no. 2, Feb. 2013, pp. 54-64. PubMed,

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Jayden Peters

Mr. Peters is a US based health and lifestyle content writer. He thinks healthy living is about flexibility, balance and discovering what works for your body. He is has notable experience in topics including health and wellness, yoga, fitness equipments etc.

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