The sun is shining and whether you’re in your garden paddling pool, or lazing on a Mediterranean beach, your bottom is likely to be seeing more daylight than it’s used to. If you’re looking to achieve the perfect behind don’t be fooled by the celebrity and catwalk images; many are airbrushed and a lucky few are blessed with good genes. But there are steps you can take to work that booty and give your bikini a butt it’s proud to showcase.
Trimming and toning your bottom is not an easy task. Unfortunately fat cells situated around the hips and thighs are less responsive than other areas of the body, so if you’re looking to beautify your bum you will need to work at eating carefully and doing enough of the right type of exercise.
There are three main muscles in our posteriors; the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus and they work together to enable our legs to move in different directions. It is these gluteal muscles that need to be focused on during your workouts. An added bonus of working and strengthening the glutes, is that your back will get stronger and more stabilised as they’re all connected to the hips, the lower back, and legs.
Hips and thighs are prime weight gain spots, especially in women, so if you are looking for a toned and defined butt, it’s essential to minimise excess body fat. Any regular exercise and a healthy diet will get rid of excess fat, so that’s the first step, and achieving a good looking behind involves a combination of aerobic exercise and strength work. Walking on an incline is good bottom strengthening cardio exercise; either walking up hills or on an incline of 5-7% on a treadmill. Climbing stairs also a great bum firming exercise and can be done at home, or even better, at a venue such as a tower or stadium. At the gym you can use a stair machine, elliptical, or arc trainer. Try climbing the steps two at a time for a value-added workout. Activities such as skiing, waterskiing, roller blading and skating are all good for bottom toning due to the pushing movements and extension of the leg. Running is also an effective cardio exercise for working the glutes, and it is better to do longer runs at a slower pace with long strides, rather than fast running.
After a good warm up and cardio session then you can start to work on strengthening exercises. Squats and lunges are the two best exercises for firming and toning your bottom. Make sure you stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart, and then slowly bend your knees to lower your hips closer to the ground as if you were going to sit down, but make sure your knees don’t go past your toes by keeping them positioned over your ankles. Using weights adds resistance and therefore increases the effectiveness of the work you’re doing.
Lunges are another must-do exercise if you’re looking to improve the shape of your bottom. Doing lunges also improves overall balance and core strength, and as with the squats, can be done with weights to increase resistance. When you do lunges ensure that your front knee is positioned over your foot and that your torso is kept upright. If you’re not used to lunges you may find that you can’t go too low at first, but with practise this will improve. The deeper the lunge the more your glutes will be worked.
Bridges and kick-outs are another couple of simple exercises that can be done at home which will work your glutes. For bridges, lie on your back with both knees bent and then thrust your hips upwards. Kick-outs simple involve kicking out a leg behind the body from a crawling position, alternating legs between sets of reps.
Improving the tone and definition of your derrière, as well as burning off excess fat are essential components of achieving a great behind. But there’s also the dreaded cellulite to consider. Cellulite is fat, water and lymphatic fluid trapped in collagen fibres under the skin. If this connective tissue becomes weakened, small pockets of fat and fluid push through to the surface of the skin becoming more visible, and the thighs and bottom are prime spots for cellulite to build up. Cellulite is much more prevalent in women as it is thought sex hormones also play a role in its existence. Exercise is an essential part of minimising the appearance of cellulite; when muscle tone is improved your skin has much better structural support, additionally, exercise increases circulation and boosts metabolism and lympathic drainage in the body, so the cells hold less water.
Reducing body fat will also help improve the appearance of cellulite, but it’s important not to crash diet as the loss of collagen stores can make it look worse. Ideally you should be looking to lose 1-2 lbs per week. Dermatologists also advise eliminating caffeine, sugar, and salty and processed foods from your diet. Dry body brushing is also said to help by stimulating the lymphatic system. It needs to be done daily, but can really add to the appearance of your skin overall. Using a firm body brush, brush in long strokes before a shower or bath, brushing towards the heart.
So hopefully now you have the knowhow to strengthen and shape your bottom as required. Let’s just hope the sunshine lasts long enough to show it off!
by Kath Webb
by Laura Briggs
by Kath Webb
by Kath Webb
by Jessica Ambrose