Exercise: Clam Shell/Lateral Leg Liftclamshell_NL

Target Body Part: Gluteus Medius

  • Primary Muscles: Gluteus Medius,
  • Secondary Muscles: Tensor fascia latae, Gluteus Minimus

Equipment Needed: Body weight, you can add a theraband between the legs

Performance Points:

  • Lay on one side with your legs stacked one on top of the other
  • For clam shell, bend your knees to 90 degrees. For Lateral Leg lift keep your legs straight
  • For the clam shell; open your knees by elevating the top leg, but keep your feet on contact
  • For the Lateral leg lift; lift your top leg off of the bottom one, keep your foot pointing forward. Do not let your toe point up toward the ceiling.
  • Lower to your start positions and repeat
  • Once your one on the one side do the other
  • COACH’S KEY: Try to point your toe up towards your knee as you do your leg lift to prevent you from turning your toe towards the ceiling.


  • If you are a beginner do sets of 10-15 reps on each side for 2-4 sets and you should feel a slight tightness in the side of your glute.
  • If you are comfortable and are doing this for glute activation warm up do 10-15 reps but only 1-2 sets before you begin your compound lifts to encourage to glutes to fire properly.


  • Beginner: If you are in the Clam Shell and the Lateral Leg Lift is too difficult to do properly add a short circular band around both of your thighs, above the knee, than do the exercise.
  • Advanced: To make the Lateral Leg Lift more challenging add a short circular band around both of your thighs, above the knee than, try the exercise being sure not to turn your toe towards the ceiling.

This exercise is just one of many gluteal activation exercises. Appropriate gluteal activation has been shown to reduce the rate of knee injuries such as, patellofemoral syndrome, ACL tears and general knee pain. Improving muscular endurance of the gluteus medius has been shown to reduce “hip drop” in long distance runners leading to more effective gait and reduced injuries. Improving gluteal activation allows for the glutes to be fired during hip extension instead of the hamstrings, which has been shown to reduce incidences of low-back pain. Improved gluteal strength allows for improved power production during explosive movements including, but not limited to, jumping, sprinting and Olympic lifting.

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