High Clam - Pilates Exercise Instruction

The high clam exercise takes Pilates clam exercise to the next level, literally. Don't be alarmed, it's still an beginner exercise. But everyone, beginners through advanced, likes the high clam because it is a good inner thigh exercise as well as a toning exercise for the outer thigh, hips, and abdominals. It also helps strengthen the deep internal and external rotators in the hip. If you pay attention, you will find that this is a core stability exercise as much as a leg exercise.

What You Need to Perform the High Clam Exercise

You need a Pilates exercise mat or a firm, padded surface. You can do this exercise at home or at the gym or studio. You may see variations of this exercise performed with a resistance band around the thighs.


Set Up for the High Clam Exercise

Pilates Clam - Woman doing pilates excercise. Credit: Daniel Sambraus / Getty Images

The set up for high clam is the same as for regular clam:

  1. Lie on your side with your hips and shoulders in a straight line.
  2. Bend your knees so that your thighs are a little more open than a 90 degree angle to your body.
  3. Rest your head on your top arm as it is stretched out overhead, or bent, whichever is more comfortable.
  4. Place your top hand on the floor in front of your chest for extra stability.
  5. Stack your hips directly on top of each other vertically. Do the same with your shoulders. Use your deep abdominal muscles to keep this alignment throughout the exercise.

Lift Your Feet

Pilates At Home. Credit: thebalancedlifeonline.com / Google Images

Keep your knees together and down as you lift your feet, keeping them together,  away from the mat. This will create an outward rotation of the bottom leg and an inner rotation for the top leg. The rest of your body stays still.


Rotate the Top Leg Outward

The Knee Saga. Credit: thekneesaga.wordpress.com / Google Images

The inside edges of your feet stay together as you rotate the top knee open.

Give this move some effort by imagining that you have to pull your knees apart.


Knee Down/Feet Up

Pure Shape. Credit: www.wellandgood.com / Getty Images
  1. Keep your feet up but do an inner rotation of your top leg that brings the top knee back down to join the bottom knee. Imagine that you are slowly squeezing the air as you bring the knees together. This will help activate the inner thighs.
  2. Repeat the open and close, with resistance, 6 - 8 times.
  3. Rest and repeat if you wish.

More Side-Lying Mat Exercises

Now that you have a sense of how to stabilize side-lying exercises with your abdominal muscles, back, and pelvic floor working together, you might want to move on to more challenging side-lying exercises like the side kick series.

The Side Kick series includes the Side Kick Front/Back, the Side Kick Up/Down, Side Leg Lifts and Side Inner Thigh Lifts. If that isn't enough, go on to the Pilates Side Scissors.

There is a lot you can do to tone those muscles while reclining on your side like a Roman at a feasting table. Perhaps if they had done Pilates rather than gorging, the Empire might not have fallen!

Was this page helpful?