Exercise of the Week: Side Plank with Hip Abduction (Clamshell)

 In Mobility & Movement Blog

Luke Lewitzke

Certified A.C.E. (American Counsel on Exercise) Personal Trainer

Weight and Lifestyle Management Specialist

In this combination exercise, you are not only working your obliques, serratus anterior, and your rectus abdominus, but you are also working the hip abductor muscles of the gluteus maximus and medius, along with the tensor fascia latae. By strengthening all of these muscles, you can help reduce back pain as they all help support the lower back.

Performing the Side Plank with Hip Abduction (Clamshell)

    • Lie on your side with your elbow under your shoulder and your knees bent at 90 degrees at the hip and knee.
    • Drive the elbow and bottom knee into the floor and lift up into a plank, driving the hips forward while at the same time lifting the top leg up to engage the outer thigh of the top leg.
    • Hold this position for a 3-5 count and then lower down.
    • Remember to drive the hips back as you lower down.
    • Repeat for 10 repetitions on each side.



If the combination exercise is too intense, you can perform each exercise independently.

  • Start on your bottom knee, keeping your knees on the ground with your heels back behind you.
  • Your elbow should be under your shoulder with your shoulder at 90 degrees from your torso.
  • Push the floor away from you to create some separation/length in your shoulder joint, drive the knees into the floor, and lift your hips up to neutral spine.
  • It is important to keep your neck neutral as well (unlike in the picture where his head is tilted), as this will strengthen the lateral stabilizers of the neck.
  • Hold the plank for 10 seconds before lowering back down to the floor.
  • Rest for 5-10 seconds before repeating the same side.
  • Then switch sides.
  • Gradually progress the time of the plank up to 30 seconds each set.
  • Lie on your side with or without the resistance band placed above your knees.
  • Bend your knees and bring them slightly out in front of your torso with your heels slightly behind your torso.
  • Keeping the heels together, externally rotate at the hip, lifting your top knee up away from your bottom knee.
  • Make sure that you don’t rock your hips as you lift your leg.
  • Repeat the motion up to 10-15 times per leg.


  • Don’t perform the side plank if you are dealing with a shoulder injury.
  • If you experience any discomfort in the lower back or shoulder while performing the side plank with hip abduction, simply break it down and perform each aspect of the exercise independently.