Clam Shells, no longer Basic

Clam Shells are probably the most prescribed, butchered, over and under utilized exercises (if that makes sense) in the history of the world.  If you’ve been to PT to rehab your knee, ankle or hip you’ve most likely done them.  And if you’ve been to PT for a broken finger I guarantee you also got them as homework for that too.  Yes, Clam Shells seem to be the cure for everything!  Don’t get me wrong, I do like this exercise.  I just want to know why the heck people are so quick to add extra resistance to them and why there is never any attention to detail being paid!  When performed correctly, this can be a really helpful exercise for engaging the glutes, but beyond that, working on hip external rotation.  That is what this exercise is actually meant to do!  However, the internet is littered with terrible examples of how to perform this exercise when in reality, the answer to making it more challenging requires no external loads!

I’ve been playing around with some techniques to get more out of this exercise while also engaging every inch of your body to assist.  And that is what I’m showing you today!  In the video, I am only going to perform 2 reps of standard Clam Shells, but you will see it takes close to 30 seconds per rep.  That doesn’t mean I’m going slow on purpose, what I’m doing is bringing an enormous amount of irradiation (tension via activation, pushing my hand into the ground, and also pushing my bottom leg to the ground) to the table and pretending that I’m  lifting tons of weight with my leg making it impossible to move.  Another way to think about this is that the air is really dense and it should feel challenging to perform the rep.

If you do this correctly, your glute will go crazy, especially on the way back down to the starting position.  An important variable to remember, you want to keep the spine lined up so a pillow will help the neck out and you also want to increase the tension in your abs to help stabilize the spine.

Hop off the couch tonight and give this a try!

Cheers friends, S

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