Hip Clam Exercise with a Plus - Mike Reinold

Simple Tweak to Maximize the Hip Clam Exercise

This week I wanted to share a quick video of a very simple tweak to maximize the hip clam exercise by really firing the glutes.  Rather than perform a standard hip clam exercise, the tweak is what you do after you lay down on your side with your hips bent to 45 degrees and knees at 90 degrees.  From this position, I want you to push your top knee outward, as if it were longer than the bottom knee.

Hip Clam Exercise with a Plus - Mike ReinoldI like to coach this by placing the hand on your hip to assure that you stabilize the upper half of your body from rolling too much.  In this position you can also really palpate the glutes with that hand while they are firing.  I also like to again coach them to push their knee out at the top of the clam, as well.

Notice that the amount of hip opening is not that much.  Essentially, by pushing your top knee outward, you are rotating your pelvis and placing the hip in a more abducted and externally rotated position.  This will allow the posterior fibers of the gluteus medius to really turn on, and also kick in the external rotation fibers of the gluteus maximus.  But you also preposition yourself in some external rotation, so the amount of clam opening will be less.  You should avoid opening the knees too much and rocking your upper body backward.  This is a common goal in the PRI world, who often describe this exercise and use it for pelvic reposition and integration exercises on the right side.  (For the PRI clinicians reading, this will obviously be familiar, for the fitness enthusiasts reading this, I recommend you get evaluated to see exactly what your body needs).

I’ve talked about how important the hip clam exercise is in the past and my past videos were pretty popular on the Mike Reinold Youtube page, so this is just another tweak you can add to your toolbox.

Simple tweak, right?  Try it!  Do a set of standard clams and then another with your top knee pushed outward, your glutes will be on fire!

If you are wondering, I called this the “Hip Clam Exercise with a Plus” in an article in Men’s Health, sort of like the “Push Up with a Plus” exercise for the serratus anterior.

Hip Clam Exercise with a Plus

Did you try it?  Are your glutes on fire?  What did you think about this simply variation of the hip clam exercise?


11 replies
  1. Mike Reinold
    Mike Reinold says:

    I do want to note for the non-clinicians in the group that may be reading this, don’t get too worked up about some of the comments discussing some of complexities in this exercise.

    I wanted to share a way to tweak your clam to get more glute activity. This is not a strict PRI exercise as the set up and positioning are not the same and intended to just enhance a clam exercise you are already performing.

    Yes, we use a similar version of the exercise for a lot more than what I have discussed in the article (as Julie mentions), but the take home is that by adding the plus, you add more of an emphasis on working the glutes in multiple planes of 3D motion.

  2. Julie Blandin
    Julie Blandin says:

    Since Mike and others are mentioning PRI here, I will help the readers understand what would be PRI about this exercise.
    In PRI’s world we would use an exercise similar to this to help shift an athlete in the transverse plane into the opposite hip.
    In order to facilitate this kind of hip strategy, we would prefer it to be a closed chain exercise, so we would keep their feet flat against the wall. Its typically not a lot of hip opening because we only move the femur into ER as much as the ankle mobility will allow.
    In PRI’s world we would also take away the excessive TL extension demonstrated above and make sure the core had some sagittal plane stabilization with a zone of apposition (and they dont have to blow into balloons to achieve this).
    The “plus” is the AF hip shift movement (AF is moving an acetabulum over the fixed femur), this would shift the zipper line of the athletes pants toward the left thigh. This shift puts each half of the pelvis is in a differnt position (like we see in gait, the bottom hip is in stance phase, the top is in swing).
    You have got to have a kinetic chain that knows how to integrate that strength gain. Training or strengthening the gluteal fibers just to strengthen them may not improve athletic performance. Whats the purpose of having strong glutes if you don’t have an ankle, knee, pelvis or spine that knows how to use that strength?
    This is an example of one of the principles I mentioned above – teaching an athlete to integrate in a transverse plane.

  3. Stephen
    Stephen says:

    Can you briefly comment on how you implement PRI in your regular treatments? I have taken myokin and respiration and looking to take cervical more to add to my cervical/TMJ knowledge base.
    For example: how many athletes/patients do you have blowing up balloons ;)

    • Mike Reinold
      Mike Reinold says:

      Stephen, I implement what I learned from PRI in everything I do, just like all the other groups and thoughts that I have integrated into my practice. That doesn’t mean everyone is blowing up a ballon, like you reference, but it does mean the concepts are integrated.

      I am sure that I do some exercises different than what PRI teaches, but perhaps based on the same principles and trying to achieve a similar goal, just like you can’t say the exercise above here is exclusively for PRI.

      I think Julie said it well above regarding the principles.

  4. Julie Blandin
    Julie Blandin says:

    Mike – can we talk about what “the plus” is for the readers, and how does it affects the bottom hip?
    Adam did you attend school in AZ? You don’t need to be 100% PRI, but understanding the principles (I.e. like the purpose of opposition muscles, how to create sagittal plane stabilization, how to look for and create stability in a frontal plane, and teaching athletes how to organize the correct muscles and integrate in a transverse plane, etc) will make you a much better coach, trainer or therapist.

    • Mike Reinold
      Mike Reinold says:

      I agree with Julie’s last comments re: PRI. We can talk about the PRI principles behind this type of exercise, how it impacts both the left and the right, etc., however this exercise isn’t exclusive to PRI and only for PRI purposes.

  5. Mike Reinold
    Mike Reinold says:

    Adam, I think you would be interested in PRI, even if you don’t end up practicing 100% PRI all the time, the info is worse integrating. I recommend.

    *** UPDATE – just noticed this was a typo! I was supposed to say “worth” integrating, not “worse!” ***

  6. Adam Reece
    Adam Reece says:

    Hey Mike, you made mention of PRI in this article and I would like to explore that concept. I was exposed to PRI in my 1st-year of PT school (not long ago.. last year) by a professor that was 100% PRI. I found myself a bit resistent to the material b/c of the panacea PRI was made out to be by this professor. I have tried to reflect on the experience and now believe there may be a time/place/patient that PRI techniques may be appropriate. What insight can you offer regarding PRI? Have you found these techniques useful with your athletic patient population?

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  1. […] Mike Reinold has also written a few good articles on the hip clam with other variations which can be read HERE and HERE. […]

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