Is it just us, or is the world glute crazy? 🍑
We love us some glutes, but we don’t love them just because we want a nice tush…we love them because the glute muscles are key supporters of the core, pelvic floor and, well, the whole body!
The glutes help to create stability around the pelvis, to form a strong base for our body and the movements of our arms and legs.
That’s right. Your glutes help your legs AND your arms!
Then there’s the core. The functions of our abdominal and pelvic floor muscles rely on the pelvic stability created by our glutes.
During pregnancy our hip and glute muscles tend to become a little lazy as our bellies grow and our centre of gravity shifts forward. After baby is born, we need to spend extra time and attention to wake these all-important muscles up and get them back on track!
THAT is why we always recommend you give your glutes a little extra love, especially in postpartum.
OK, cute cheeks are another good reason.
Lunges and squats are where it’s at, but they don’t always hit ALLL the angles, and that’s where targeted little moves like the classic clamshell exercise come in. In fact, the clamshell is one of the top exercises we see our Physiotherapist friends prescribing for everything from pelvic floor dysfunction to knee pain!
Dara has put together a video of 5 of her favourite Clam variations because – let’s be honest – you can only do so many clamshells before you get B.O.R.E.D! These variations take you to next-level efficient by adding in more muscles AND help you from getting bored as F while you do that all-important glute work.
Hit play on this video to learn these 5 awesome moves! Then check out the written cues below to perfect your clamshell and learn how you can integrate these movements into your fitness routine.
5 clamshell variations for a strong butt & core
Come down onto your back with your knees bent, stacked and in line with your bum. As you inhale allow your belly and pelvic floor to relax and expand. On your exhale think of your pelvic floor and lower abdomen hugging in slightly as you lift your top knee, keeping your feet together. Inhale to lower the knee back down and repeat approx. 10 times/per side.
Legs up Clamshell
Here we go, time to take it up a notch. This variation challenges your oblique muscles more than the standard version. The obliques along with the deep abdominal muscles have to work to keep your body stable throughout this movement. With this variation keep your knees stacked but lift the bottom leg off the floor. Keep your feet together as you exhale and lift your top knee up, just as you did in the regular clamshell movement.
Clamshell +Leg Lift
We’re getting a bit fancy with this move! Keeping your bottom leg on the ground this time, lift your top knee up, keeping your feet together. Then lift your foot up to come in line with your knee. This extra lift encourages a little more work for those external hip and glute muscles.
Clamshell + Leg Extension
This variation creates length in the front of the hip joint, which can be an area of tension for a lot of us. Keeping your bottom leg on the ground, lift your top knee up and stretch your leg out long, so your foot comes in line with your hip.
Side plank + Clamshell
Side plank is a great way to train your oblique and deep abdominal muscles and is is the ultimate multi tasking movement. Bring your elbow under your shoulder with your feet and knees stacked (as in regular clam). Press down through your feet, knees and elbow and lift your bottom hip away from the floor. Keep your hip lifted and as you exhale lift the top knee up.
*Make sure your abdominal muscles don’t become hard and pushed out when you are lifted in side bridge. If you feel outward pressure in the abdomen, lower your bottom hip to the floor and keep going with the clamshell movement in the legs.
How to incorporate these exercises into your routine:
Use the above exercises as a warm up/cool down circuit before a yoga flow, weight training or cardio workout
Pair these with some core exercises for a major core and glute workout
Try one or two of these between heavier weight training exercises to help you get connected to your glutes and encourage deep core engagement.
You might want to check out these complimentary exercises as well to build your own workout/sequence:
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