How To Do The Clamshell

(Image credit: Unknown)

If you’re not incorporating some kind of animal-inspired exercise into your workouts from time to time, we reckon you’re doing fitness wrong. Not only are moves like the bird-dogbear crawldonkey kick and frog jump fun to do, they’re very effective bodyweight exercises that don’t require a gym. Which is fortunate because we don’t fancy jumping around like a frog in the gym.

The clamshell is another great move which takes inspiration from the natural world, and one that yields big benefits for the deskbound as well as runners and weightlifters. That’s because it engages and activates the glutes to strengthen the muscles in your bum and stabilise your hips.

It’s a terrific move to do as a warm-up ahead of lifts like barbell squats, or before a run, or to loosen up and get moving again after many hours at a computer. It’s also a great exercise for those who simply want more definition and strength in their glutes. And who doesn’t want that?

How To Do Clamshells

Lie on your side with your head resting on your arm, your hips and legs stacked one on top of the other, and your knees bent at a 90° angle. Your feet should be roughly in line with your hips and shoulders with your knees out in front of you. Place your other hand in front of your chest to support your body in this position so your hips don’t rotate.

Keeping your feet together, engage your abs and lift your top knee towards the ceiling. Raise the knee only as far as you can without your hips starting to rotate or the other knee coming up off the floor. Then lower back to the start. Do all your reps on one side, then switch.

You might not be able to lift the knee that far without your hips starting to rotate, but don’t worry – you don’t need to mimic a fully open clamshell to get the benefits of the exercise. The burning you’ll feel in your glutes after a few well done reps will attest to that.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.