Clamshell exercise: Learn the right way to do this move to strengthen hips

Looking for a hip strengthening exercise? Try the clamshell exercise, which can be done in various ways.
A woman getting ready to do the clamshell exercise
Clamshell exercise is great for your hips. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 8 Jun 2024, 10:30 am IST
  • 136
Inputs from

A clam opens and closes its shell, and this movement is used to do the clamshell exercise. Doing this regularly can strengthen the muscles in your lower body that are needed for doing day-to-day activities such as walking, and climbing stairs. To perform this exercise, you need to lie on your side and mimic a clam with the help of your legs. You can also use a resistance band to do the clamshell exercise. Read on to know how to do the clamshell exercise to strengthen your hips and more.

What is the clamshell exercise?

The clamshell exercise is commonly performed on the ground and typically engages the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles, which are part of the outer glutes, says fitness expert Rhea Shroff Ekhlas. It also works the tensor fasciae latae and external hip rotators, which are part of the lower body. When you lift your top knee while keeping your bottom leg on the ground, it resembles a clam.

A woman getting ready to do clamshell exercise
Clamshell is a hip strengthening exercise. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Clamshell exercise to strengthen the hips

The clamshell is one of the best exercises for strengthening hips and helping with injury prevention and treatment, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. By focusing on the muscle tissue of the external gluteal region, the clamshell exercise strengthens the hip abductors and external rotators says the expert. This improves the balance and mobility of the hip, reduces the risk of injury and increases the overall strength of the hip.

What are the benefits of clamshell exercise?

The benefits of clamshell exercises include stronger hips, and higher knee and pelvic alignment. Strengthening these muscles can also reduce the return of pain and save you from unusual injuries associated with vulnerable hip muscle tissue, says Ekhlas.

How to do the clamshell exercise?

To perform the clamshell exercise, follow these steps –

  • Lie on your side, straighten your legs and bend your knees at a 90-degree angle.
  • Rest your head on your lowered arm and place the tip of your hand on your hip for support.
  • Keep your toes together and raise your top knee as high as possible without moving your pelvis.
  • Slowly lower the kneecaps of the lower back to the starting position.

Variations of the clamshell exercise

Here are some of the variations of this hip strengthening exercise –

1. Clamshell exercise with a resistance band

  • Place the resistance band above your knees.
  • Do the same steps as the basic clamshell exercise, but ensure that the band stays tight.
Clamshell exercise with a resistance band
You can do the clamshell exercise using a resistance band. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

2. Reverse clamshell exercise

  • Lie on your side and stretch your bottom arm out along the mat.
  • Bend your knees at 90-degree angle and stack your top leg on top of the bottom one.
  • Put your top hand on the floor right in front of you.
  • Raise your top foot toward the ceiling with your knees together, and then bring it down.

3. High clamshell exercise

  • Lie on your side, making sure your hips and shoulders are in a straight line. They should be stacked directly on top of each other.
  • Your top hand should be in front of your chest.
  • Bend your knees and rest your head on your outstretched top arm.
  • Your knees should be together and down when you lift your feet.
  • Rotate your top knee open, keep your feet up, and bring the top knee back down.

Clamshell exercise is good to strengthen hips, but people with a hip or lower back injury should avoid it. Performing this exercise without proper form or regard for medical advice can worsen current injuries or lead to new ones.

  • 136
About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

Next Story