Clam exercises can firm up your backside.
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You should enjoy the up-and-down motion. And if you happen to catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror in the middle of a repetition, you'll likely break into a smile. You can't ask for more than that from an exercise - unless, of course, you expect to enjoy saying the name of it too. You'll find much to appreciate in the clam shell, also known as вЂњthe clamвЂќ or, simply, вЂњclams.вЂќ You'll resemble a clam while you perform this beginner calisthenics and Pilates exercise, which targets the glutes (the muscles of your buttocks), hip flexors and outer thighs.
Mimic a Clam Shell
Even clams benefit from a warmup, so before you do this exercise, get your blood pumping by jogging in place, pedaling a bike or jumping rope for five minutes. Then grab a mat or a towel and get started:
- Lay on one side with your legs pressed together and your knees slightly bent. Put your arm under your head to support your neck.
- Keeping the heels of your feet together and your bottom leg on the ground, slowly rotate your top leg up 6 to 8 inches.
- Lower your leg back to the original position.
- Repeat this up-and-down movement, which resembles a clam opening and closing, being sure to keep your heels together.
- As a beginner, try to do at least 10 repetitions before switching sides and repeating the movements.
As with any exercise, maintain proper form:
- Keep your neck still so that you don't risk straining it.
- Maintain control over your leg movements, keeping them smooth and fluid.
- Isolate your glutes. Your body should move from the hips, not from your back.
- Emphasize quality over quantity. The latter will come with practice.
Include Some Variety
As with most exercises, the clam shell can be done with variations. If you have a 3- to 5-pound hand weight and a resistance band, you can add two to your repertoire right away.
Add weight. Grab a weight and drive greater intensity to your glutes while toning your arms and shoulders at the same time:
- Proceed as if doing a traditional clam shell exercise, but hold a dumbbell in your upper hand. Support your head with your other hand.
- Raise your knee at the same time you lift the weight, keeping your elbow at your side. You probably will be able to lift the weight a few inches higher than your knee, but lower your knee and the weight to the floor in the same downward motion.
- Repeat 10 times, being sure to keep your lower leg pressed to the floor.
Add a band. Tie a resistance band into a circle if it doesn't already come this way. Then follow these steps:
- Place the band around both legs, just above your knees.
- Proceed as if you were doing a traditional clam shell, but contract your abdominal muscles to help stabilize your midsection.
- Raise your top leg and pause for a second or two at the top before lowering it to give your glutes a more intense workout. Work up to 20 repetitions on each side.