Working the glutes with heavy weights and awesome exercises like lunges, squats and deadlifts is awesome. But sometimes you need to take a step back and single them out.
Clam shells are a pretty universal exercise for working on the glute medius and minimus. I mostly like using them when I have a client who can’t find the butt muscles, it’s hard to miss them with these!
I have five different variations here, all addressing different movements of the hip and challenging both the stability and mobility.
- Feet Touching, knee lifts up and down (external hip rotation, stabilized)
- Knees Touching, foot lifts up and down (internal hip rotation, stabilized)
- Feet a few inches apart, knee lifts up and down (external hip rotation, destabilized)
- Knees a few inches apart, foot lifts up and down (internal hip rotation, destabilized)
- Leg straight, toes pointed at ground
Here are some keys to remember when adding these to your exercise program:
- Neutral spine still applies! Many times when someone is doing these for the first time it is easy to let the low back join the party. You need to maintain a stable lower back while producing the motion.
- If you find that you are limited in your motion, especially when the feet or knees are touching, make sure to seek out proper medical help. Limitations in mobility are best addressed there, and then reinforced.
- If you find that you have greater range of motion with the knees or feet touching versus when they are separated, chances are you have a stability issue. When a fulcrum point is used, the body is stabilized and can produce force in order to create motion. If the range of motion decreases after you destabilize that point, that means you do not have enough strength in the joint.
- If at any point you begin to lose range of motion while doing these, exercise is over!
Start with 10 reps from each position then progress from there. I like using these both as a warm up and as a cool down. Either way, they are a good pain in the butt!