Updated: Oct 10
There are many reasons to strengthen our gluteal muscles such as, assisting with back, hip and knee pain resolution and prevention!
Glut Medius strengthening has been shown to assist with hip, knee and back pain. One of our first got to exercises for glut medius strengthening is the iconic ‘clam exercise’ and all its variations including holds and even using resistance bands.
However, recent evidence with the use of electromyography, (which measures muscle response through electrical activity), has shown that clams are NOT the most effective exercise to target glute medius.
The aim of these studies was to determine how much activation of the glutes including gluteus medius really occurs during various exercises including clams. They found that clams (even with resistance) are not as effective in activating glute med when compared to other exercises. These exercises included standing hip abductions, side lying hip abductions and side planks.
The takeaway from this is that when you are aiming to strengthen your glute medius muscle clams might not be the number one priority for this, yes, they may be great for someone with low-level strength or who is just starting their rehab. But, for those who really want to strengthen their glute medius muscle, instead try and complete side planks and you can progress this by adding hip abduction - which means bring your straight leg up to the sky when in a side plank position.
Bishop, B. N., Greenstein, J., Etnoyer‐Slaski, J. L., Sterling, H., & Topp, R. (2018). Electromyographic analysis of gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and tensor fascia latae during therapeutic exercises with and without elastic resistance. International journal of sports physical therapy, 13(4), 668.
Boren, K., Conrey, C., Le Coguic, J., Paprocki, L., Voight, M., & Robinson, T. K. (2011). Electromyographic analysis of gluteus medius and gluteus maximus during rehabilitation exercises. International journal of sports physical therapy, 6(3), 206.